Are You a Squiggle?

28 Mar

 

squiggle9My most popular blog of all time is about this quick personality exercise – so I thought I would revisit the topic with a little updated editing. I originally wrote articles on WordPress (now I write on LinkedIn as well) and this 2011 post continues to get daily visits even though I never promote it (Old Blog Post).

Are you a square, circle triangle, rectangle or other?

Quick, without thinking – go with your gut and answer that question in your head (better yet, quickly draw it on paper) before you read the rest of this and we will dig into your answer in a minute. If you are thinking about your answer 10 seconds later, this exercise probably won’t be accurate.

shapes1Many moons ago, I met Connie Podesta (Connie’s Site) at a conference. Connie spoke over the lunch hour on this very topic of shapes and the personalities typically attached to them. Based on how people answered (first silently in their head), she described the likely personality traits of the individual with surprising accuracy. For example, Connie said, “the circles are probably talking right now…” and sure enough, I was talking at my table.

This is an oversimplified exercise and admittedly, a little silly. But similar to many personality assessments, there is some real accuracy to it … and it only takes 20 seconds! Give this exercise a try and don’t fret about the results as we are all a bit of each of the five shapes. I often ask this as an interview question to candidates, depending on the position. I’m not only curious about their answer, but I like to “read” their reaction to the question as well.

Note that I modified the original exercise on two accounts:

  1. I found that too many people were answering squiggle when given as an option (just because many people thought it was clever or funny) so I changed it to Other.
  2. I also added a rectangle because there was a void between squares and triangles. And those who choose rectangle seem to fit my personality description below.

copSquare: They are typically organized, work hard, love structure and want more order in the universe. Squares dislike situations where they don’t know what’s expected. They prefer working alone and are logical, sequential thinkers who often collect loads of data and file it so it’s easy to locate. Squares have trouble saying, “I’ve got enough information,” to make decisions. They strive to label everything as black or white – and they usually dislike this shape exercise more than the others! Your librarian or the next police officer who pulls you over is probably a square. I hope your CFO is a square.

edisonRectangle: They are a seeker and an explorer who is always searching for ways to grow and change. Rectangles often ask themselves “Who am I? What is the world about?” They are the most receptive of the five shapes to new learning. Rectangles are the least attached to a specific ideology and often cause their co-workers confusion when changing from day-to-day. Most people go through rectangular periods of their life when they’re in a state of change. Thomas Edison was probably a rectangle.

Steve_Jobs_Headshot_2010-CROP-780x611Triangle: They are decisive leaders who focus well on end goals. Triangles are self-confident and carry strong opinions. They can be dogmatic and shoot from the hip. Triangles like recognition and put stock in status symbols. American business has been run by triangles, and this shape is most characteristic of men. A huge positive is that they can communicate well with all the other personalities. Steve Jobs was a triangle.

marilynCircle: They get their energy from other people and work well with others due to their ability to communicate and empathize. They read people and can spot a phony right off. Circles like harmony and have more difficulty in dealing with conflict or making unpopular decisions. They can be swayed by other peoples’ feelings and opinions. They can be very effective managers in egalitarian business structures. Circles like to talk! Marilyn Monroe was a circle.

ladygagashockingpics2

 

Other / Squiggle: They are creative; a “what if” person who’s always thinking of new ways to do something. Squiggles are starters, but struggle with finishing because their mind never stops as they leap from A straight to Z. These catalysts do not like highly structured environments and can’t tolerate the mundane due to their shorter attention span. If squiggles don’t get excitement at work, they’ll find it elsewhere in life. Undoubtedly, Lady Gaga is a squiggle.

 

What’s your shape?

Beyond this shapes exercise, I’m a big fan of personality assessments like DiSC, Myers-Briggs and Strengths Finder 2.0. Over the years, I’ve probably taken 40-50 different assessments. I also like the Kolbe index and at our company, we always use a sales assessment for our candidates. In addition, I’d recommend a plug-in tool on LinkedIn called Crystal which analyzes the personality of a connection based on an algorithm that studies their communication style.

I think even the worst assessment forces you to go through an exercise of self-reflection. Even if the results don’t seem accurate, you will examine your personality, habits, strengths and weaknesses. Even the worst assessment accomplishes this.

I personally feel that the best aspect of these assessments is when you share them with your boss, co-workers or significant other. When I have an employee take an assessment, I share my personal results with them as well. I’ve found that it fosters an easier discussion about their weaknesses. We all have a personality and none of them are wrong – they all come with positives as well as negatives. By identifying these, it’s easier to work with others.

If I’m a circle and you’re a square, we can poke fun at ourselves – and objectively, discuss the value and strengths we both bring to the company or team. We’re all great and all a little crazy. Be aware of your weaknesses and focus on your strengths!

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

drew@blueoctopusllc.com

blueoctopusllc.com

 

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