20 Jan 2015

Have Major Career Ambitions? Marry This Type Of Person

A conscientious spouse may influence your ability to be successful in the workplace.

A study out of Washington University in St. Louis tested several theories for how a spouse’s personality traits might influence their partner’s performance in the workplace.

After studying over 5,000 married couples in the course of 5 years, their findings suggest that having a conscientious spouse contributes to workplace success.

“Our study shows that it is not only your own personality that influences the experiences that lead to greater occupational success, but that your spouse’s personality matters too,” said Joshua Jackson, PhD, assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences and lead author of the study.

Conscientious is one of the Big 5 Personality traits and the common features of this dimension include high levels of thoughtfulness, with good impulse control and goal-directed behaviors. Those high in conscientiousness tend to be organized and mindful of details.

Workers who scored highest on measures of occupational success tended to have a spouse with a personality that scored high for conscientiousness. One of the reasons for their success is that their conscientious partner created conditions that allow the other spouse to work more effectively.

In addition, a worker may be likely to emulate some of the good habits of their conscientious spouses, bringing traits such as diligence and reliability to bear on their own workplace challenges.

I decided to take the Big 5 personality test myself to see where I landed on the conscientious bench mark and I scored in the 95th percentile as “very well-organized, and can be relied upon,” which made me think about what it means to me to be a conscientious partner.

The description above fits me well, but how will it affect my partner? As it relates to influencing the success of your partner, I believe that it’s all about how you choose to support them.

Supporting your partner is not about agreeing and enabling. To support someone is to challenge them, stand beside them and give them the space they need to grow as a person.

To support them is to cheer for them and believe in them as the person they are today, and for who they may become. You have to know and remind them of who they are even when they don’t believe in themselves.

Help when you can and you are asked, but don’t take over their responsibilities. Show them how by your own example not by dictating what they should do.

That’s what it means to be a supportive partner and whether you score high on the conscientious personality trait or not (you can take the test here), you can still be the support your partner needs to succeed.


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