It takes all kinds / by Annette Tait

There’s an old joke about “Our town’s so small we don’t have a town drunk – everyone has to take turns.” If you get past the “town drunk” part, there’s a ring of truth to the statement – it takes everyone to get the job done.

 The first step was a three-part survey where participants chose the personality traits they most identified with to determine which of the four Real Colors was their strongest.

The first step was a three-part survey where participants chose the personality traits they most identified with to determine which of the four Real Colors was their strongest.

Not too long ago we were at one of those solo events for rural women – Ladies Ag Night -- which started out as an evening of fun and learning for the ladies but has branched out to include the gents as well. We had some fun, enjoyed an up-and-coming comedian who shared her typical, but hilariously told, experiences as a city girl learning farm life, and learned a bit about the personality side of Real Colors.

No, this wasn’t one of those “what not to wear” color profiles. It was the 10-minute – okay, more like about 45-minute – tour through a system that helps people identify their strongest personality leanings, understand how people who fall under the other colors see life, and how to best work together. It’s a lot of fun, and some of the groups’ list items and moderator’s comments had us rolling – not laughing at each other, but with each other in agreement.

In a nutshell, everyone self-selected behaviors, values, and beliefs they connected most strongly with. There were several phases that used different methods, so as to reach a more accurate result than could be achieved using a one-size-fits-all model.

 Group discussion and list-making for each of the four Real Colors led to self-reporting of personality traits and further discussion by all present.

Group discussion and list-making for each of the four Real Colors led to self-reporting of personality traits and further discussion by all present.

It wasn’t the first time we’ve done this, and our results weren’t surprising. What was really interesting, though, were some of the side conversations. “I never would have pegged you for an orange!” “Wow – I always thought I’d be more of a green.” “Do you see how many blues there are?” “Gold? I sure didn’t see THAT coming!”

Don’t be misled – there were broad ranges in the final numbers. Some people’s primary color was far and away their strongest, with the other three trailing far behind. Others were in a much closer numerical grouping, and there were plenty between the two extremes.

The best part was the side discussions of how people saw themselves when the color they selected suggested different skill sets than they expected. We talked among ourselves about how analytical traits combined with empathy, how leadership traits combined with flexibility, and how great people skills and valuing relationships helped offset competitiveness and the affinity for structure.

 NDSU Extension Agent Vanessa Hoines leads discussion on how the different Real Color personalities act and interact.

NDSU Extension Agent Vanessa Hoines leads discussion on how the different Real Color personalities act and interact.

Think about it. Logical, scientific, research-oriented (green category) people are great to have on a committee looking at revamping the park or making improvements to the school. They’ll get the details and the numbers straight. But adding other traits to the mix will make the committee even better. Bringing a few golds into the group will add greater organization, conservatism and positivity – traits that help move the project forward, while also playing devil’s advocate when needed. A blue or two will help keep everyone working together by using their insight and caring to help consider the needs of those who use the park or the school, while also helping to keep peace when disagreements arise. And let’s not forget the orange category – these folks are great trouble-shooters who like to keep the working environment positive. Need to raise money for the project? Orange traits like persuasiveness and optimism shine at recruiting volunteers and fundraising.

As you can see, all of the traits have value, and all of the personality “colors” bring something to the table -- some off-setting others to create a better whole. And -- no matter the size or scope of the project -- who doesn’t want the best possible outcome?