Why is everyone around you so dysfunctional?

Clashing, arguing and generally not getting along with people in the workplace could have everything to do with the way you see the world, according to workplace personality guru, Michelle Bowden.

Bowden is presenting her speech “Why is Everyone Around You So Dysfunctional?” at The Safety Conference Sydney, which runs from October 24 to 26 at the Sydney Showground. The address will help show how an understanding of personality differences leads to a healthier, safer work environment.

While many people have taken personality tests and profiles in their careers, Bowden says her presentation covers research at the next level. It involves interpreting the “filters” through which everyone sees the world.

“Every conversation, everything we do happens through these personal filters. When we understand the various filters, we can better understand things like why we simply like some people and not others, how to get the best results from each other and still enjoy positive relationships,” Bowden explains.

By understanding the filters, she says employers can better place workers in appropriate roles. This leads to less workplace stress, less sick leave and a more enjoyable work environment.

“I find that often people seem to whinge and moan and complain about how everyone else is at fault when relationships or results don’t happen,” Bowden says.

“Realising that everyone is different and that we need to treat people carefully and respectfully, can lead to a safer, happier, healthy and much more productive work environment.”

Understanding your filters and the filters of others gives employees greater ability to create strategies for dealing with other people so they achieve results.

She also says understanding filters can reduce workplace bullying. Once organisations focus on various filters, it creates greater tolerance across people. Without this understanding, bullies often just think the people who are different from them are simply wrong or getting in their way.

“Giving these people an insight into themselves can reduce bullying behaviour and create a less toxic workplace,” Ms Bowden explains.

Two examples of conflicting filters are the ‘matcher’ and the ‘mismatcher.’

People who are matchers, she says, look for where they can match or agree with what the person is saying. Matchers agree with the communicator and add value to the subject. People with a matching preference are excellent in customer service roles.

The mismatcher, on the other hand, looks for holes in an argument. It is commonly thought that these people are negative, but that is not the case, Michelle Bowden says.

“Mismatchers often play the role of ‘devil’s advocate,’ and can stop projects from failing because they see risks before they occur. They are excellent analysts, project managers and risk assessors, among other roles.”

“If someone says, ‘it’s a beautiful day,’ a matcher is going to reply ‘Yes it is! And the sky is so blue and gorgeous’ — they add value. Whereas the mismatcher might comment that we really do need the rain,” she explains.

“Neither preference is right or wrong. In fact, both preferences are fundamental to the success of organisations.”

To find out more about how understanding and interpreting filters can lead to a better workplace environment, listen to Michelle Bowden’s address at the Safety Conference Sydney.

The Safety Conference and The Safety Show Sydney will run from October 24 to 26 at Southee Complex and The Dome, Hall 2, respectively at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.

For more information, phone Australian Exhibitions & Conferences on + 61 3 9654 7773, email or visit

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