Everyone remembers Winnie The Pooh, a beloved story of a boy and his imaginary world of whimsical animal friends in the 100 Acre Forest. But did author A.A. Milne have a deeper psychological meaning behind his characters? There is a popular theory that each of the eight animals represents one of the eight psychological functions of cognitive thinking that make up our human brains and each one is a useful analogy for understanding these functions. So how can this help you to understand other people and how they tick? I have often used the Winnie The Pooh theory as an ice breaker question when meeting new people because it starts up a conversation on fondly familiar ground that puts people at ease as they recall happy childhood memories. It gives people an opportunity to talk about themselves and who doesn’t love to do that? And it gives me an insight into their personality. Although the characters are two dimensional, they function as parts of a whole human mind, we can learn which personality traits someone favours over others, how they think other people perceive them and who they aspire to be. All of this is very useful information when it comes to your work colleagues. When you know how somebody views themselves and what their motivation is, you can adapt your approach and communication style to suit this individual, thus allowing for a more successful working relationship and team dynamic. Next time you have an opportunity ask your colleagues ’Which Winnie The Pooh character do you relate to the most?’. You may gain a new perspective about the people you see every day and get the tools to optimise your relationships.
1. Pooh: Introverted sensing
Pooh lives for the comforts in life, sensory pleasures which in his case are sleeping and good quality honey! The person that relates to Pooh is affable, friendly and easy going but their good natured pursuit of comfort can often be at the expense of others. This person sees themselves as happy, calm and if they are honest, a little lazy! They place value on the attributes that make them popular amongst their peers and often inspire a compulsion in others to organise and care for them as they come across as dreamers, lacking in common sense and making it up with lovableness. Poohs tend to require more motivating within a team as they may have a tendency to coast, but they have great people skills that can have a positive influence within a group situation.
2. Tigger: Extroverted sensing
Tigger is a capricious charmer, creating fun and havoc in equal measures with often exasperating results. The person who relates to the most outgoing Pooh character cares far more about what others think of them than they let on. They will use attention grabbing humour and unexpected behaviour to disguise a fundamental need for approval that could actually stem from low self-esteem. A Tigger will be the workplace clown, bringing a refreshing sense of fun to a team that can be vital in creating a positive working atmosphere. They value this ability and thrive off popularity but in doing so, run the risk of overstepping boundaries. This person is likely quite impatient, preferring projects with immediate results but he or she will work with enthusiasm and respond very well to positive reinforcement. Gently encourage this colleague to think ahead and learn from mistakes to bring out their best.
3. Eeyore: Introverted feeling
Every group of people needs an Eeyore, but no one really sees his true value. Eeyore is the introverted, unsung hero in your workplace. The person who is quiet, keeps their head down and has a brittle exterior that makes their true personality and wisdom a revelation when you finally get to know them. Your Eeyore knows that they have a perceptive understanding of the people around them but they don’t always have the skills to communicate this compassion to others so they go unnoticed and unappreciated. They feel misunderstood so they create a barrier that can come across as defence. They see this as their own doing and they can become very pessimistic about their self-worth. Eeyores are probably very skilled in one focus area of their job and are very conscientious employees. If you take the time to get to know your Eeyore, you will probably find they are a wealth of unexpected insights and thoughtful and generous colleagues that are quietly facilitating the team and business in all sorts of unnoticed ways.
4. Piglet: Extroverted intuition
Piglet is a born worrier. As a very small pig in a very large forest he has many fears and a lot of energy to focus on them. A person that relates to Piglet is always looking towards the bigger picture and trying to foresee the problems and obstacles ahead that could panic and derail them. Piglets view themselves as fairly insignificant and vulnerable to disaster, which actually makes them great planners and problem solvers. Their constant worrying can frustrate others that work to a less frantic rhythm because Piglets thrive on reassurance and understanding. In a work environment, a Piglet type will fear failure so much that they will work harder than everyone else but distract colleagues as they seek this reassurance. This person will respond well to positive reinforcement and reminders of their significance -just don’t endorse a situation where you are relied upon for constant support because this behaviour is simply their process for achieving fantastic results, at the expense of your time.
5. Owl: Introverted intuition
Owl is the wisest, most intelligent creature in the forest. This is his belief and as long as everyone else is convinced, it must be true! Owl has great pride and self-esteem and although his heart is in the right place, he is often undiscerning about his flaws and mistakes, creating problems for himself and those around him. Those that relate to Owl have great memories, retaining all kinds of useful information. This gains them a reputation of intelligence and wisdom that they feel compelled to live up to, even if they don’t always have the experience to back this up. They value this reputation with others and it becomes a vital part of their identity so they fear failure as an embarrassment they would do anything to avoid, even mild deception. Owls can make great leaders within a team, they are eloquent communicators and negotiators and need gentle reminders not to take life so seriously that it becomes their downfall.
6. Rabbit: Extroverted thinking
Rabbit is an amazing organizer. If it wasn’t for him, absolutely nothing would ever get done around here, aren’t we all lucky to have such an industrious Rabbit! The Rabbit in your workplace will be the one running around, multi-tasking like a demon and taking the whole world on their shoulders. Their motivation comes from feeling essential. They thrive on this pressure and they will make personal sacrifices to achieve this goal. A Rabbit type is a wonderful personality to have within a team because their organisational skills truly are exemplary, but if left unchecked, our Rabbit risks taking on too much and feeling put upon because they are willing to work harder than the more laid back team members. Rabbit is in such a rush to get everything done, patience and considerate communication can be forgotten, their stress levels creating negative reactions in colleagues. Rabbit types benefit from understanding; simply vocalising that their efforts are noticed and appreciated is enough. Rabbits could be fantastic leaders if they could only learn to relax and delegate more.
7. Kanga: Extroverted feeling
Kanga is the carer of her animal friends. Her heart extends beyond her immediate family to encompass the whole forest. Okay so in the 1920’s when Winnie the Pooh was written, gender roles were less diverse and Kanga’s character is the sole female given the traditional role of ’mother’ within the woodland society. That being said, every group of people needs a Kanga type to act as the heart and moral compass. The person that relates to her is motivated by the needs of others and values the gratification that comes with helping and caring. This is the team member that never forgets a colleague’s birthday and will always vouch for the underdog in a dispute. Kanga’s desire to facilitate others can sometimes come at the expense of their own success as the needs of others are placed above their own. Their concerns will not always be well received by workmates that prefer the independence to make their own mistakes. This person will be a loyal team member with empathy to spare for everyone, they will be quickly upset by conflict but they are the best person to root out the hidden cause and be on hand to calmly resolve it.
8. Roo: Introverted thinking
Roo is the baby of the group. Filled with wonder for the world he beholds, he absorbs information and experiences but he must be led to understanding so his adventures can be a source of learning. He doesn’t have the tools to process this on his own. The person that relates to Roo is afraid to be taken seriously. Outwardly they want to be perceived as fun and light hearted and will dive in head first to any new experience. They are aware of their lack of wisdom and as a result they can be easily impressed and easily led into negative situations. Roos are afraid to stand on their own, preferring to rely on their colleagues for guidance. Playing the part of the innocent is a safer path because it is easy to achieve small victories and gain forgiveness for errors when your peers’ expectations are already low. Roos may not try as hard as their team members but they are likeable and popular none the less. They are crying out for a mentor that can encourage them to trust in their own abilities, take more worthy risks and develop from their mistakes.
9. Christopher Robin
Lastly we come to Christopher Robin. The boy that started it all, the only 3 dimensional character in the Winnie The Pooh story. If someone tells you they relate the most to Christopher Robin, it may seem like a dull or stubborn choice. Why, he is the only character that is not a whimsical animal, everyone else was happy to play along! Actually, while this choice appears to be contrarily lacking in imagination, Christopher Robin is imagination. It is within his imagination that all the others exist, therefore they are all an element of his personality. Are you sure this person isn’t running your business? Because they probably should be. This person is probably very intelligent and has recognised the motivation of your question, has analysed each character in relation to themselves and come to the conclusion that Christopher is the most important. Watch out, you’ve been sprung! Christopher Robins are well rounded, successful individuals. They are ambitious but have the patience and understanding to make thoughtful colleagues. They are motivated by a desire to achieve and be in control, while this can come across as somewhat Machiavellian, their hearts are in the right place and they have the wisdom to recognise the value of their team members. This person may be slightly aloof from the group dynamic, keep them involved, their opinion will always be worthwhile and it makes sense to be their friend -they could well be your boss someday!
So which characters do you think your work colleagues are most like? Maybe when you ask them they will surprise you. Which character do you relate to the most? Let us know in the comments section below.