Difficult People Decoded: The Thinker
This week we take a closer look at Fives: thinkers, philosophers, observers, or analysts. These are the folks in the office that are always trying to figure it all out. They are not necessarily geniuses, they just like studying. Their interests are often narrow and deep, like Norse Mythology.
Fives tend to freeze or clam up when uncomfortable. They feel empty without knowledge. These are the ones who can’t give you a straight answer and have to constantly stop and think.
They hoard information. They can spend hours mindlessly researching insights. They are so eager to absorb information that they can also be oblique about what they exactly know.
“Behind Fives’ relentless pursuit of knowledge are deep insecurities about their ability to function successfully in the world. Fives feel that they do not have an ability to do things as well as others. But rather than engage directly with activities that might bolster their confidence, Fives ‘take a step back’ into their minds where they feel more capable. Their belief is that from the safety of their minds they will eventually figure out how to do things—and one day rejoin the world.”
As a result, their shadow is a version of greed: avarice. When unhealthy, Fives withhold their time and knowledge to others they do not trust.
Therefore, to heal, they need to do is what scares them most: be generous. Share your knowledge. Make an effort to be social while maintaining that dire need for privacy. Work on developing your emotional instinct and make contact with other people. This requires consciously moving beyond the head and dropping into your own heart.
The CEO of a company I worked for was a textbook Five. We nicknamed him The Professor. He corralled knowledge from across the company and lived to catch the senior team in misinformation (“got ya” moments).
This ivory tower style of management eschews feelings. Company morale took a hit. Consequently, the CEO was able to navigate the fallout by being generous with his time. He scheduled roundtable breakfast meetings with different cohorts, which eventually included every employee at least once. It did not solve the company’s problems, but the gesture showed he was willing to be open about the state of the company. It was a start.
- “Let’s think this out carefully”
- “I try…“I think…”
- Seeks Privacy
Examples: Albert Einstein, Oliver Sacks, John Nash (A Beautiful Mind), Stephen Hawking, Georgia O’Keefe, Salvador Dali, Alberto Giacometti, Emily Dickinson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Agatha Christie, James Joyce, Jean-Paul Sartre, Susan Sontag, Ursula K. LeGuin, Clive Barker, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jane Goodall, Eckhart Tolle, Alfred Hitchcock, Marlene Dietrich, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, David Fincher, Jodie Foster, Annie Liebovitz, Bobby Fischer, Julian Assange
How To Work With A Five:
- Respect their privacy
- They hate pressure, make giving them space a priority
- Avoid being too curious about them personally
- Opt to discuss philosophical ideals and values
- Let them share their feelings first
- Don’t rush them into anything