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Almost all development work today is done on teams, both due to the complexity of our work and the sheer volume of it. As time has gone on, development work has also become more intensely collaborative, and “throwing work over the wall” has been acknowledged as being a terrible idea. As a result, the personalities of one’s coworkers has become more and more important. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), developers exhibit a lot of personality quirks that are common in the larger population, but we often have our own unique “spin” on them.

It’s important to realize that most personality quirks, no matter how irritating, are there because they serve a purpose. Sometimes a personality trait was useful in dealing with a dysfunctional environment in a previous workplace, and sometimes the personality trait is currently useful in your current environment. Personality is often closely tied to emotional reactions to a situation, and as a result, you often find that you have to address those emotions in order to work well with a person with certain personality traits.

While extreme versions of personality traits are often a serious problem, more mild versions of certain personalities can still create some difficulties in a work environment, both at the individual and team level. The trouble is, a lot of these personality characteristics are supremely useful in some circumstances as well, so you probably don’t want to cause someone to change their personality. Rather, you want to figure out a way to work with them so you get the upsides while avoiding the downsides. In some cases, their personality will change over time, but that’s something that is their choice, not yours. You just have to figure out how to deal with it in the meantime.

There are a lot of personality types in development that can create problems in team dynamics, but it’s important to realize that these personality types are there for a reason and that they serve as an adaptation to a specific environment. When encountering (or embodying) these personality characteristics, it’s important not only to see how they annoy you and cause problems, but to also see where that viewpoint is useful. It’s also very useful to figure out how to engage with that viewpoint, both to help with team dynamics and to help the individual growth of team members.

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