by Lucille Lo Sapio

How often has your boss, colleague or client reacted poorly to your work output or ideas because you just didn’t understand their perspective? Imagine how much better communication would be if you could know their personality type and how to best influence them. You might just get a better understanding of how they see the world, and from that, how you can work better together.

You’ve probably taken a psychological test or two to determine your own personality type. We’ve been doing that since Hippocrates’ time. One of my favorites is Psychogeometrics, developed in 1978 by Dr. Susan Dellinger. It’s based on the notion that we are attracted to certain shapes and forms based on our personalities, attitudes, education and experience. And once you determine which of those personality types you’re dealing with, the better equipped you are to communicate effectively.

Look at the five shapes below. Which one are you most drawn to? Then look at the quick indicators below to see if they match up with your personality.


Think about which shape best fits your boss or spouse, and then consider how you can use this knowledge to influence them.

BOXES want everything in the right place at the right time with no surprises; they are meticulous, analytical, traditionalists and often perfectionists. If a BOX makes a commitment, you can count on them to keep it. The negatives? They can be anti-social, have tunnel vision about their beliefs and are resistant to change.

BOX bosses expect you to be prepared, make appointments to talk with them and stay within the allotted time. If you want to win an argument, do your homework and be prepared with hard data. BOX customer? Don’t expect to sell on the first call.

TRIANGLES get to the point. This shape symbolizes leadership, so expect ambition, competitiveness and a bottom-line person. They don’t easily get sidetracked, they set goals and they are driven. They always want to take over and be the team leader. Expect a TRIANGLE to interrupt you, work hard, play hard and use a power handshake. Anyone you recognize?

TRIANGLE bosses are committed to excellence, give clear direction and are great in a crisis. But they do not tolerate mistakes and have difficulty admitting their own. They like to delegate, but take the credit. How do you deal with them? Do your job well, show leadership and make communications direct and succinct.

RECTANGLES are in a state of transition. That makes them more inconsistent, unpredictable, inquisitive and open to change. The RECTANGLE wants something better, so they can suffer from low self-esteem. Don’t be surprised if they’re forgetful.

If your co-worker is a RECTANGLE, they’ll be prone to accusing others of “dropping the ball.” They’ll change procedures on the fly or make midstream dramatic changes. You may have to be ready to pick up the slack and pose questions to make the RECTANGLE stop and think about the implications of their decision. Good luck!

CIRCLES are the friendliest shape and the best communicators. They have the most difficulty when they must deal with conflict. They are accommodating and a group’s stabilizer.

At work, CIRCLES will try to ensure the best work environment because they are not power-oriented but more concerned with people. It’s difficult for a CIRCLE to make a decision, so get others to buy in first when you need their support.

SQUIGGLES are constantly thinking up new schemes. They are creative, intuitive and the opposite of the BOX. SQUIGGLES are naturally expressive and always excited. As a result, they tend to be very motivating as well as witty.

At work, SQUIGGLES are very competitive and, since they’re also very persuasive, they often succeed in getting their ideas accepted. They will become impatient with co-workers when they’re not understood. Squiggles hate paperwork and can’t understand why it’s necessary. Solution? Ask them to find a way to minimize it!

Now, have fun with it. Figure out if your boss is a TRIANGLE or if your favorite client is a CIRCLE and think about how you can use this knowledge to get your ideas across and accepted by them. You might even want to use Psychogeometrics to figure out how to get your kids to pick up their clothes!

  1. OK…I’ll come clean. I’m a circle.

  2. Jerilyn – Nothing wrong with being a circle. Of all the shapes, circles are the most people-oriented, accommodating and nurturing. I’d hate to be in a workplace without circles!