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A matter of... pause, think, respond

Natalie Campbell Rodriques

Thursday, June 24, 2021

The ability to listen, pause, and think/research before responding is immeasurable in the return it will bring to each of us across all spheres of life.

Personality types are often taken for granted and treated anecdotally. It is not uncommon to hear, “Lorraine has a director-type personality, and Marcia is more laid back.” What, though, does any of this actually mean?

What are the true differences between a Type A and a Type B personality? As posited in the field of management, Type A personalities tend to be driven and focused, while Type B tend to be more relaxed and less prone to showing high levels of stress.

Type A personalities are seen as getting the job done, but studies have not been able to show that Type B personalities are any less able to get the job done at the same level. Somehow, though, the director-like personalities tend to have the loudest voices in a room and are often considered more capable.

Over time, and with the popularity of social media, a downside of Type A personalities is coming to the fore. That is, it is now being noted that this group of individuals have a greater propensity to speak without thinking. Before now, this group could survive for a very long time before it is noticed that they are causing greater harm than good. At times the harm is in a relationship or in the professional realm; either way, the result can be damaging on all fronts.

When one thinks of professions in which pausing to think and slowing down is most needed, the typical ones are accounting, auditing, and medicine. Who wants a doctor who moves too quickly and speaks before first thinking? On the other hand, I have never heard anyone say this characteristic is one they would like from their country's politicians. This I believe to be a blunder on our part.

We need politicians to be mindful, well-researched, focused, and not constantly putting their proverbial feet in their mouths. The average politician in the developing world is of the Type A personality group; there is no doubt about that. As a people, we still gravitate towards the charismatic leader who fills any space they occupy. It is only recently that we have turned our minds to giving the quieter personalities a fair chance in our politics.

As our politics matures and we recognise and see the value in cerebral acumen, let us also shun people who, time and time again, speak without thinking and are always in a hurry to speak on issues they have not researched enough.

We must begin to ask for a more conciliatory way of carrying out the country's affairs versus unnecessary grandstanding and the dissemination of false and fake information with a view to one-upping.

Jamaica has always needed us, as a people, to get more involved and to hold leaders accountable, but even more so now as we try to recover from the ills of a pandemic.

As a people we love idle banter and we love loose talking, but more has to be expected from politicians who have the privilege of serving Jamaica and her people. It cannot be that the priority is to shame and take down before it is to listen, pause, think/research, and then respond. No matter the personality type we can do better. In fact, we must demand better.

Natalie Campbell-Rodriques is a senator and development consultant with a focus on political inclusion, governance, gender, and Diaspora affairs. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or