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Personality Psychology in the Workplace Essay

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Updated: Oct 19th, 2021


The study of personality is a broad study that goes back to the Greek philosophers Hippocrates and Galen. Personality psychology involves a person’s motivational and attitudinal attributes that are pivotal in the selection, interpretation and processing of information from the internal and external environment. Human actions and behavior can well be understood if we are aware of the fact that the prism of the mind orders the experience of the situation. People do not only respond to the objective characteristics of a situation but they pay more emphasis on the meaning that situation presents to them.

It is from this background that this paper seeks to inquire into the role of personality in shaping interpersonal relationships at the workplace. It adopts a humanistic approach in describing the role of personality in shaping the behavior of people. The first section presents a situational synthesis of the pivotal role of personality in social skills, training and its implication in the working environment. The second section explains on the interpersonal relation associated with the workplace. The practical application of personality in this situation observes that behavior is much hinged to the situation a person is exposed to; hence the last section gives recommendations on how the working situation can be improved.

Humanistic/ Existentialistic approach in understanding personality: A practical situational analysis

Salesmen’s performance at work is pegged on motivation, deviation, job satisfaction and teamwork at the workplace. They are motivated either to improve on their status or on the achievement of tasks assigned. Extraversion is a necessary aspect of a salesman. Openness to experience as demonstrated by the extrovert salesman positively correlates to job satisfaction while the introvert salesman is reserved. The social environment of the workplace determines the level of arousal. Extroverts experience their optimal points of arousal in the work place as opposed to introverts who are highly aroused outside the workplace. The personality of the Salesmen is crucial in the deviation at the workplace. This occurs when an individual voluntarily resolves to actions that threatens both the individual and the company. Interpersonal deviance such as hostility and rudeness towards other people and organizational deviances such as stealing and withholding efforts demonstrates the role of personality in the workplace. Salesmen who have a positive attitude towards the workplace are less likely to pursue deviant behavior than those with a negative perception towards the job and the workplace.

Introverted conscientious salesmen are likely to be present at work. Extraverted salesmen are more satisfied in the workplace while their introverted counterparts are kess satisfied in the workplace. Extroverts have friends that motivate them to go to work as opposed to introverts who skip work to avoid extra stimulation.

The perceived limitations of psycho dynamics theories in their failure to convincingly address and explain issues such as the meaning of behavior gave birth to the humanistic approach. This approach is distinct from other approaches in the way it understands the human to be challenged by temporary existence. Humanist psychologists argue that the meaning of behavior is greatly personal and subjective. Humanistic psychology is a contemporary manifestation of a new approach from the traditional behaviorism and psychoanalysis. This approach recognizes that existence is centered on the physical, organic and symbolic experience of man. The goal is to facilitate a platform of understanding that will promote the study of human behavior.

Situations are social constructions by members of a culture or sub-culture…from the point of view of situational analysis, personality can be described in terms of the choice and avoidance of certain situations, and the adoption of certain styles” (Argyle, M and Graham, A.J 1981 pg 396). The changing workplace phenomena have put the role of personality in a new light. Understanding individual differences and their consequent implications for behavior at work is connected on the counterproductive behavior, contextual performance, learning and retaliatory behavior. The human mind is a divided entity; the false self and the true self and as such it is in a constant struggle between things a person may want to avoid and the ones to embrace are in a conflict. At the work place someone may sound normal but deeply inside he/she is impaired. This encourages a sense of responsibility and self discovery of the meaning and purpose of situations.

The humanistic approach theory suggests that a comprehensive understanding of the human nature and his performance at work requires an analysis of three components: The person, the situation and the elicited behavior. Research in industrial organizations reveals that a person’s difference from other workers is attributed to personal traits that distinguish the uniqueness of the person. Different settings influence the influence between personality and behavior. Emotional processes are known to interfere with performance and disrupt on-going activities of people. The performance consequence of emotions in work is evident in the judgments and behaviors of people. Moody states, bias memory and cognitive interference influence the performance of the task.

Proponents of the humanistic psychology such as Abraham Maslow and Carl Rodgers were convinced that neither psychoanalysis nor behaviorism adequately explained the reason why people behaved the way they did.

Interpersonal relations

The ability of a salesman to be a team player in the workplace is essential for job performance. The workers feel they are contributing to the success of the business. Personality is very crucial in determining how a person interacts with others in the workplace. Introverts tend to reserve and keep to themselves while the extrovert explores and maximizes the interactions.

Humanistic theorists are optimistic about the potential of mankind for positive socialization and mutual co-existence. The humanistic techniques inform employers and industrialists of the need to encourage participatory managerial orientation where people are encouraged to interact in the designing and promoting a common objective. Interpersonal relations can be enhanced via decentralization and delegation of responsibilities. The interpersonal relations of man are seen in the curiosity of man to interact with other men.

Though the full significance of man’s relations to man may not be directly evident, the complexity of feelings and actions that can be understood at a glance is surprisingly great. (Argyle, M and Graham, A.J 1991) The psychology of interpersonal relationship emphasizes the human and social needs of employees in the working environment on the quality and quantity of output. The basic point of humanistic approach in the work place is that workers are motivated by the social needs and their identity need for identity accomplished through their interactions with each other.

Reccomendation on how the situation can be improved

Despite overall similarities human beings differ from personality and intelligence. To make effective and successful organization a humanistic approach that focuses on the needs of people should be adopted. Personality at work is responsible for the consequent roles of individuals at work. The workplace should be made free from impersonality and replaced by cohesive environment where the collective objective of the team overrides individual desires. The search for meaning and social change is driven by psychological drives that motivate people towards achieving the things they need. An understanding of what drives people to behave in certain ways will help to improve this situation.

Secondly, the workplace should be designed to promote and fulfill the pursuit of self actualization and not just task satisfaction. The close linkages between philosophy and humanistic approach seek to identify a positive model for human growth by adopting Maslow’s idea that a human’s ultimate goal is attaining self actualization. This will facilitate positive personality development and improve on this situation.


  1. Argyle, M and Graham, A.J (1991) Personality at Work. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press.
  2. Feist, J and Feist, G (2003) Personality and work.
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