Knowing and Using Your Workplace Strengths Part One: Openness

Knowing and Using Your Workplace Strengths Part One: Openness

Rachel Stewart Johnson

Psychologist | Driven by communications about human behavior in Work

Changes feeling relentless this month? Your “Openness to Experience” drives your ability to respond.

Current disruptions to daily life are the most severe in the lifetimes of most adults in the paid workforce today. In the midst of this, maintaining your focus at work presents unique challenges. Everyone has components to their personality that will function as strengths they can draw upon. Today we’ll discuss how to effectively manage one of the “Big Five” dimensions of personality: Openness to Experience.

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What does high Openness look like in everyday life?

Openness to Experience refers to an individual’s approach to novelty: is it welcome and sought-after, or does it cause hesitation and worry? In workplaces, people who are high in Openness tend to be willing to change their shift schedule, pilot a change in procedure, switch to a new team, or adopt a new approach to getting work done. They don’t mind working alongside different coworkers every week. If an urgent new action item emerges, they can drop what they’re doing. Outside of work, they are curious, enjoy new destinations, try new cuisine, and tend to get bored when days are too routine.

If you have a higher level of Openness, you’ve probably been asking a lot of questions lately about pandemic response. You’ve read or listened to different perspectives. You’ve expressed your ideas about approaches and solutions, and you’ve been willing to adapt both your personal responses and your beliefs as conditions change and information emerges.

High Openness: Tools to Use

At Traitify, we include “Tools to Use” in our personality assessment results that enable job candidates and others to apply their personality strengths into on-the-job performance. Here are some Tools to Use for gaining workplace value from high Openness during our international crisis:

  • Use your curiosity. Make use of gaps in your daily calendar to research topics you haven’t had time for in recent months, like new equipment options.
  • You’ve got ideas. Share them. Communicate about everything from getting the most out of video chat software to improving sanitation procedures in the workplace.
  • Information is power. You’ve been reading and learning lately. Providing information to others can promote calm and boost morale.
  • Change boosts your brain. Your new workplace procedures can trigger creative new ideas. Take advantage of your “reset” to see issues differently and avoid complacency.
  • Be a morale booster. You’re not troubled about the loss of everyday routines. Help coworkers who are having a harder time adjusting by being positive and task-focused.

What does low Openness look like in everyday life?

What about those of us who are lower in Openness? In workplaces, these coworkers tend to be great at doing the same thing day in and day out. They are happy diving into a routine task without wondering what else they could be doing. They have an appreciation of the company’s collective wisdom and history. Outside of work, they are often “regulars” at a particular coffee shop or dining establishment, follow a daily routine, and dislike when familiar buildings are torn down or businesses in the neighborhood close.

If you have a lower level of Openness, you’ve been reluctant to change your habits in the midst of the international response to the coronavirus. You feel a sense of disbelief about the extent of the changes required, and have a sense of loss that can be a distraction during the workday.

Low Openness: Tools to Use

Lower Openness can bring value to the workplace during this time:

  • Dive in. Use extra time to buckle down and work through backlogged to-do’s, like double-checking inventory records or updating spreadsheets.
  • Get the setup set up. You appreciate proven methods. That makes you well-suited to establishing new routines and keeping others on task. Help set new guidelines and monitor how others are able to follow them.
  • Everything old is new again. Use your knowledge of traditional approaches to bring unexpected insights to your organization. That dusty old manual or handbook, for example, might be a forgotten treasure trove.
  • Stay the course. While others might want to go overboard with new business strategies or changes to on-the-job methods, you’re great at understanding what’s feasible.
  • Play the long game. Mindful of what has worked in the past, you can help prevent rash decisions. “Slow and steady” is your approach to the workplace. Counterbalance others who have a more reactive approach.

Understanding your personality and those of your coworkers can help you make the adjustments necessary during this unprecedented period. By recognizing that we all have strengths that can apply to unsettling situations, we can play to those strengths, meet our organization’s needs, and address our mental health by remaining productive.

Don't know your personality?  Find out for free

This period of widespread disruption makes it harder to stay on your professional “A game,” whether you’re an entry-level employee or a manager. To learn more about Knowing and Using Your Workplace Strengths for other dimensions of your personality, follow the links below:


To find out how to utilize the power of personality for yourself and your company, connect with Traitify’s team for more information.


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