Personality Style or Weakness – you are the judge

One of the persons reporting to me mentioned he has bad memory and so he cannot quickly respond to out-of-context questions. He further inferred from this that this weakness will stop him from doing his job effectively.

After more discussion, it was clear to me (though I leave this decision to the person himself) that it is not so much a memory problem but instead a manifestation of his personal style where he is not very good at quick response when put in a spot. So my advice to him was to understand this aspect of himself more deeply and see how he can avoid being put into such situation (or use his other strengths to get out of it!), rather than treating this as a weakness and trying to acquire skills (memory enhancement, public speaking courses?) to mitigate this.

This is not an isolated incident, I have been part of many conversations where people want to treat every uniqueness or difference as a weakness and try to fix it. Many times, such effort at fixing a ‘weakness’ wastes efforts and cause frustrations. Individuals are much better off spending that time in analyzing such situations where this ‘weakness’ manifests itself and see if they can learn more about themselves and their preferences in such situations to adapt to it better. Once you know more about yourself, your style, your preferences, you will be much better at handling such situations. Of course, you still need to invest time in being reasonably OK at some of these skills, but the effort required to be OK can be considerably less than trying to be very good.

Taking my personal example, I am very bad at doing public speeches, but I am good at quick thinking (responding to random questions). After having seen myself fail miserably multiple times in situations where I am asked to talk about something to a large audience, I realized this ‘weakness’ about me and now I try to avoid such situations as much as I can. When I can’t, I try to convert such situations into Q&A opportunities where I just need to respond to people (which I consider my strength) rather than come up with monologues

Moral of the story: think about return on time investment when you try to ‘fix’ a perceived ‘weakness’, it may just be your personal style that you need to understand more and adapt to.

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