I have, for as long as I can remember, been a keen observer of people. Over the years, it has helped me to understand them better and later in my professional life, try and manage them effectively. I have had the opportunity to lead a team of 300 professionals and interact with different personality types. There are all kinds of people I have engaged with but there are two specific types who have captured my attention. Often I have met one immediately after the other and the difference between the two is so stark that one has to condition oneself before the changeover. It is a bit like moving from a very hot outdoor environment to a super-cool air-conditioned room without spending anytime in between in a neutral environment to adjust the body temperature. While there are thermostats available for machines, human beings have no such equivalent to help them adapt to extreme personality types.
The first type, who I refer to as A approaches others around him with the mindset – ‘How can you help me?’ Any new acquaintance or old association is viewed from this perspective. If she or he is not in a position to help, A either has no or little interest to engage or may just get into a monologue, for instance, narrating all past achievements. A‘s constant endeavour is two-fold: to either impress others or seek commendation from them. Sometimes, it is both.
Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to leaveOscar Wilde
The second kind, who I call B, views her or his environment from the perspective of ‘How can I help you?’ The B type is ever ready to help, in any way possible. To be of assistance, comes naturally to B. It does not matter, if the person being assisted is known or unknown, as long as there is an opportunity to help.
Why name them A & B?
The A type is derived from the word ‘after’. For A, it is first and foremost, about self. Everyone and everything else comes afterwards. B is an abbreviation for ‘before‘ and refers to the type of people who always think about others before self. It is the striking contrast between A & B that makes them so fascinating to study. The former cannot get enough of her or himself while the latter is too busy to worry about self. A rarely does anything without any self-interest. For B, service to others is always before self. A‘s efforts are directed at self-promotion or self-aggrandisement. B thrives in making self useful to others. A is always selfish. B is forever selfless.
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.Winston Churchill
Meeting A & B back-to-back can cause different reaction depending on who you meet first. If you meet A first and then B immediately after, you are thankful and leave feeling good. If the sequence of meeting is reversed, you end up with a not-so-pleasant taste in your mouth. In either case, an interval between meeting the two can make adapting easier. If there is no time lag between both meetings, you just have to learn to cope.
Usually, after such an experience, when one has some time to think, one is bewildered at how different can two individuals be. But then one realises that it is nature’s way of creating balance. If everyone behaved the same, the world could get monotonous. Or so you tell yourself, whether you believe it or not.
All of us are familiar with A & B types in our circle of friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. One feels blessed to have B type in close company. They make everything easy around you. On the other hand, if your close friends exhibit type A personality, they will always have expectations from you, which you may or may not be able to meet. You have got to know how to deal with them, in a manner in which you can help both.