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Discovering Your Play Personality at Work

Picture this: It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon, and you’re at a local park. You see children laughing, running around, completely engrossed in their world of pretend play. You can’t help but smile at their joy and freedom. Now, what if I told you that the same sense of fun and creativity could be harnessed to make your work life more enjoyable and productive? Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?

Welcome to the world of play personalities. This isn’t about regressing to childhood or turning your office into a playground. Instead, it’s about unlocking a part of ourselves we often forget in our professional lives – our play personality. Knowing and understanding your play personality can lead to increased satisfaction at work, better teamwork, and even a boost in productivity.

In this article, we’re going to explore the eight different play personalities and how you can use this knowledge to transform your approach to work. Whether you’re a Joker, an Explorer, a Competitor, or a Storyteller, there’s a unique and fun way for you to bring more joy and success to your career and your team.

So, are you ready to play your way to a more fulfilling work life? Let’s dive in!

Discovering Your Play Personality

For those of you who read our recent blog post on play, you might remember the mention of Dr. Stuart Brown. He’s quite the expert in the field of play, being a psychiatrist and the founder of the National Institute for Play. He has identified eight distinct “play personalities”.

These aren’t rigid categories or boxes to fit into. Instead, think of them as shades on a colour spectrum, blending into each other. You could identify strongly with one personality, or see bits of yourself spread across several.

Each play personality reflects a different way people naturally prefer to engage with the world, have fun, and express themselves. It’s like having a personal joy blueprint! And guess what? This blueprint doesn’t just apply to your time off work, but can also be an amazing tool to bring more joy and satisfaction to your professional life.

Let’s take a closer look at each play personality:

1. The Joker:

The Joker loves humour and light-heartedness. They’re the life of the party, always ready with a joke or a funny story. If this is you, consider bringing more humour into your work. It could be as simple as sharing a funny meme with your team or brainstorming creative, out-of-the-box ideas.

2. The Kinesthete:

The Kinesthete loves to move. They might be an athlete or dancer, or simply someone who thinks better while pacing. If you’re a Kinesthete, try incorporating more movement into your workday. Stand while you work, take walking meetings, or introduce team-building activities that get everyone up and moving.

3. The Explorer:

The Explorer is driven by curiosity. They love to learn, whether that’s new skills, ideas, cultures, or environments. If you’re an Explorer, seek out opportunities for learning and growth at work. Attend workshops, take on challenging projects, or propose a ‘learning lunch’ where team members share their knowledge.

4. The Competitor:

The Competitor is motivated by challenges. They thrive on competition and love to win. If you’re a Competitor, set challenging goals for yourself and celebrate when you achieve them. You might also enjoy roles that involve negotiation or strategic thinking.

5. The Director:

The Director enjoys planning and executing scenes. They’re often organised, detail-oriented, and great at delegating tasks. If you’re a Director, look for opportunities to lead projects or initiatives at work.

6. The Collector:

The Collector loves to gather information or things. They might be the person with the most books in their office or the one who knows the most industry trivia. If this applies to you; your love for collecting and organising can translate well into maintaining and updating records, creating efficient systems, and ensuring important information is easily accessible to all team members.

7. The Artist/Creator:

The Artist/Creator enjoys making things. They might be a writer, painter, musician, designer, or coder. If you’re an Artist/Creator, find ways to incorporate creativity into your work. Your ability to think outside the box can lead to fresh solutions that others might overlook.

8. The Storyteller:

The Storyteller has a rich imagination and loves narratives. They might be drawn to roles like marketing, public relations, or content creation. If you’re a Storyteller, use your skills to create compelling brand stories or to make presentations more engaging.

As you read through these play personalities, did any of them resonate with you? Perhaps you found yourself nodding along, recognising these traits in yourself. That’s your play personality peeking out!

But if you had trouble resonating with any, try this little exercise:

Think back to your childhood days – those carefree times when ‘work’ was a foreign concept and play was your full-time job. Do you remember how you used to spend your time? Perhaps you were the child orchestrating elaborate make-believe scenarios with your toys, a hint of the Director in you. Or maybe you were always out and about, climbing trees, and exploring your neighbourhood, the early signs of an Explorer.

Interestingly, our play personalities often take root in these early years. As children, we gravitate towards activities that bring us joy, which is essentially what play personalities are all about. So, if you’re having trouble identifying your play personality, revisiting your childhood pastimes might provide some clues. But remember, just as we grow and evolve, so can our play personalities. It’s not about fitting into a box; it’s about understanding what makes you tick.

So, take this journey of self-discovery, not with the pressure to define yourself, but with the curiosity of a child. Embrace the joy of play and watch it transform not just your work, but your life. Because when we infuse our daily lives with play, we’re not just existing; we’re truly living. Now, isn’t that a beautiful thought?

Applying Play Personalities to Teamwork

Now that you’ve discovered your play personality (or personalities – because who says you can only have one?), let’s delve into how this can transform your work life.

Understanding your play personality can also help you navigate teamwork more effectively. Imagine being part of a team where everyone understands each other’s play personalities. The Joker brings levity and creativity, the Competitor drives everyone to perform their best, the Director ensures everything runs smoothly, and the Storyteller makes sure everyone stays engaged and informed. By acknowledging and valuing the different play personalities in a team, we can foster a more harmonious, collaborative, and productive work environment.

If you’re looking to inject some fun into your team dynamics and make your workdays more enjoyable, here’s a lively exercise that could just do the trick: 

Step 1: Discover Your Play Personalities

Start by encouraging each team member to identify their play personality. This could be done through an engaging workshop or interactive session where everyone completes a fun questionnaire or takes part in different activities that allow their play personalities to shine through. Remember to keep the atmosphere light and enjoyable – after all, play is all about having fun!

Step 2: Share and Celebrate Your Play Personalities

Once everyone has identified their play personalities, create a platform for sharing these discoveries. This could be a team meeting where everyone presents their play personality, explaining what it means to them and how it influences their work style. Encourage team members to share personal anecdotes or experiences that highlight their play personality. This not only fosters a deeper understanding of each other but also builds a culture of appreciation and respect for individual differences.

Step 3: Harness Your Play Personalities for Better Performance

Now comes the exciting part – leveraging these insights to become a better performing team. Here are some strategies:

  • Create Balanced Teams: When forming project teams or committees, consider the play personalities of the members. A balanced mix can lead to a more dynamic, effective team.
  • Tailor Communication and Motivation Strategies: Understanding a team member’s play personality can help in tailoring communication and motivation strategies. For instance, a ‘Competitor’ might be motivated by targets and leaderboards, while a ‘Storyteller’ might respond well to narrative-based feedback.
  • Enhance Problem-Solving: Different play personalities can bring unique perspectives to problem-solving. Encourage ‘Director’-type personalities to structure brainstorming sessions, while ‘Jokers’ can infuse creativity into the process.
  • Foster a Playful Culture: Embrace a culture that celebrates play. This could include incorporating playful elements into the workday – think team-building games that cater to different play personalities, or ‘play breaks’ to recharge and boost creativity.

In conclusion, remember that the magic of play isn’t just for the playground – it holds the power to transform our workplace culture, too. When we bring our play personalities into the light and celebrate them, we’re not just building stronger, more effective teams. We’re also creating a work environment that is engaging, vibrant, and deeply fulfilling. So, let’s embrace the power of play and watch as your team reaches new heights of success, all while having a whole lot of fun!