This article explains the Ofman Core Quality Quadrant, developed by Daniel Ofman in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this effective communication skills and behavior tool.
What are core qualities?
Everyone can sometimes be annoyed at someone else’s behavior. We think other people are difficult and we feel that they should make an effort to change their behavior. But do ‘difficult’ people really exist? According to people behavior expert Daniel Ofman the answer to this question is no! Every human being has certain core qualities and these qualities can be very different from person to person. Big differences in these core qualities can cause a certain friction between people.
The Ofman Core Quality Quadrant Model
In order to gain an understanding of the mutual relationships, Daniel Ofman developed a core quality quadrant or core quality quadrant model from which it becomes clear why this friction arises. Someone’s core quality could be directly opposite the behavior one is allergic to.
Subsequently, Daniel Ofman indicates, how a core quality can go too far and transgress into a pitfall and in which way this core quality could take on the challenge to adjust behavior.
The core quality is someone’s natural positive quality that has not been learned. This strength of the personality can, however, go too far to the point where the strength becomes a weakness. Example: punctual and tidy.
When the limit has been exceeded Daniel Ofman speaks of a pitfall, in which the quality has a negative effect on the environment and also is an obstacle for the person in question. Example: perfectionist and overly organized.
Each core quality has a sunny and a dark side. The dark side could also be called distortion. The distortion is not the opposite of a core quality, but rather a core quality that goes too far and misses the mark. For example, flexibility can turn into fickleness. When this is the case, flexibility suddenly becomes a weakness. In short, a pitfall can be described as too much of a good thing.
The pitfall is noticed sooner than a core quality. Someone who is decisive and firm can quickly be seen as pushy. Regardless of whether this is appropriate in some situations, this is simply part of this person’s core qualities. Core qualities and pitfalls are inextricably linked. It’s important to make sure the pitfalls don’t happen too often.
The positive opposite of the pitfall is the challenge, which is a good supplement to the core quality. The challenge provides more of a balance. Example: leaving things as they are and learning to postpone.
The challenge is like a second gift in addition to having the core quality. The positive opposite of being pushy is being patient or reserved. Pitfalls and challenges are complementary processes. It is about achieving a good balance between flexibility and consistency. If the balance shifts too far towards flexibility, there is a chance that flexibility will turn into fickleness. In order not to fall into this trap, it is necessary to take up the challenge.
The allergy is directl opposite of the core quality. When someone goes too far in their challenge that is linked to the core quality, there is a risk that quality will deteriorate into the allergy. Example: untidy and disorganized.
A person’s pitfall is often the source of irritation or conflict / tension. This is especially the case when one person’s pitfall turns out to be someone else’s allergy. The average person turns out to be allergic to the opposite of his or her core qualities. An energetic person will have a tendency to not cope well with passivity; he or she is allergic to passivity. The more often someone is confronted with their own allergy in someone else, the greater the chance will be that he or she will fall into the pitfall. A decisive person runs the risk of being pushy, accusing someone else of being passive.
The formulation of allergy makes Daniel Ofman’s Core Quadrant Model complete. In the quadrant, the relationship between qualities, pitfalls, challenges and allergies quickly becomes clear.
The difference between qualities and skills
Terms such as qualities and skills occur frequently in the recruitment process of many companies. These two are often confused, but are fundamentally different. Core qualities, as expressed in Ofman’s Core Quadrants, are characteristics that belong to the essence or core of a person. They are innate to the person. Person-related qualities are the powers or strengths that people think of when they hear a certain name. Examples of core qualities are orderly, decisive, caring, diligent and more.
Core qualities are not behaviors, but rather possibilities that can be attuned to. The same goes for broadcasting a live stream. The live stream is of good quality if there is a stable network connection in combination with properly functioning equipment. In the same way, people also have qualities that can be tested. Everyone is born with some core qualities, but that’s not all. Everyone is also born with a number of pitfalls, a challenge and an allergy.
The difference between qualities and skills is mainly due to the fact that qualities come from within and skills are learned: nature vs. nurture. The clearer a person is on his own core qualities, the more consciously these qualities can be used. Those who have strong perseverance know that they will function well in situations where the time span is stretched. They also know that persistence in their lives is useful both professionally and privately.
An Ofman Core Quality Quadrant Model example
Below you will see an Ofman Core Quadrant Model example in practice on the core quality “punctual and tidy”.
Application of the Ofman Core Quality Quadrant
Many people are allergic to the behavior of other people out of fear of the fact that they may have the same behavior hidden deeply within themselves. Ofman’s core quadrant does not only provide information about other people’s actions, it also provides information about one’s own actions. Applying the core quadrant, will create more sympathy for one another and for different situations.
Ofman’s core quadrant can be applied personally or to groups / others. The Core Quadrant structures information about yourself and other people. It is important to first fill in your own core quadrant before using the method for or with someone else. Always focus on the positive qualities (core qualities) of the other person. This is a prerequisite for understanding, possible change and awareness. The application of the core quadrant creates more empathy for each other in different situations.
Keep in mind that some people fill out the personal core quadrant based on how they want people to perceive them. This creates a risk that incorrect terms will be used. Always use nouns to describe the qualities of yourself and others, such as: perseverance, kindness etc. and not words like pushy or unpleasant.
Ofman Core Quality Quadrant list, examples versus pitfalls
By giving depth to our understanding of the different, personal core qualities and pitfalls, it is easier to understand that a pitfall could be perceived as an allergy by someone else. By using self-insight people will discover that a core quality sometimes goes too far, which could irritate other people. Below you will find a list of some examples of core qualities and their pitfalls.
- Core Quality perfectionist -> pitfall: faultfinder
- Core Quality Helper -> pitfall: Meddler
- Core Quality Successful employee -> pitfall: Social climber
- Core Quality Romantic -> pitfall: Hothead
- Core Quality Observer -> pitfall: Know-all
- Core Quality Loyalist -> pitfall: Slave
- Core Quality Bon vivant -> pitfall: Party animal
- Core Quality Leader -> pitfall: Dictator
- Core Quality Mediator -> pitfall: Busybody
Using core qualities in the workplace
Employees who can use their core qualities in the workplace are more engaged, less likely to leave, perform better and will benefit the business results. The best way for organizations to leverage the strengths of employees is through the managers.
The above facts stem from research of a large study on human behavior and strengths by Gallup. Employees who can tap into their strengths every day are six times more likely to be involved in the work they do. The study uncovers a compelling link between strengths and employee engagement in the workplace. This association has the potential to accelerate performance as organizations work to improve both factors.
How do I develop my core qualities?
In addition to identifying and discovering core qualities, developing them is also very important. The best way for people to grow and develop is to identify what comes natural to them: how they thin, feel and behave, and what their talents are. They can then build on those talents to develop strengths or the ability to consistently deliver perfect performance.
The same Gallup study found that building and developing employee strengths is much more effective to improve performance than trying to fix weaknesses. As mentioned, the best way to do this is through the managers in the workplace, but this is where the challenge lies in practice.
A quarter of all American workers say their core qualities are ignored in the workplace. Forty percent of that share indicates that they are even discouraged from using their qualities.
Focusing on employee strengths by a manager has a profound effect on employee engagement. That’s because managers play an important role in maximizing the realization of potential of these employees. It is the managers who can enable employees to capitalize on their strengths.
Tips for using the core qualities of employees
Below are some tips for effectively assessing, deploying and developing the strengths of employees.
- Do not immediately assume that everyone knows his or her strengths. Many people often take their greatest talents for granted or are not fully aware of their talent. The Clifton StrengthFinder by Gallup can be used to identify strengths.
- Find creative ways to apply strengths in ongoing projects to achieve common goals. Help employees get to know each other’s strengths and understand how they can complement each other.
- Use meetings to help team members identify each other’s strengths.
- Integrate employees’ strengths into the assessment interviews and help them set goals based on those strengths.
Summary Core Quadrant Theory by Daniel Ofman
Daniel Ofman’s Core Quadrant Theory is a valuable method to gain insight into the relationships between employees. Specifically, it concerns behavior of employees to which other employees are allergic. With difficult or deviant behavior, people assume that this person himself is difficult. However, in fact, these behaviors more often arise from the pitfall of a particular core quality.
The model consists of several parts. Firstly, there is the core quality itself. This is a natural positive trait in someone. This can turn into a negative trait. This is called the pitfall of the natural core quality. Every quality has such a downside, but this is not always noticed. An example of this is flexibility that turns into fickleness.
The challenge is the positive opposite of the pitfall. The challenge creates more balance between the threats and opportunities of strong qualities. In the example of flexibility, the challenge ensures that there is a good balance between consistency and flexibility. If the balance threatens to move too far towards flexibility, there is a chance that flexibility will turn into volatility or fickleness.
The last part of the model is the allergy. The allergy is diametrically opposed to the core quality. An example of this is passivity vs. proactivity. A proactive person is likely to be allergic to passive behavior. In turn, a proactive person can be described as decisive and pushy, when telling others they are passive.
Now it’s Your Turn
What do you think? Do you recognize the Ofman Core Quality Quadrant? What is your experience regarding behavior and effects like challenges, pitfalls and allergies? What are your success factors for good behavior analysis to understand certain behavior?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Ofman, D. (2004). Core Qualities: A Gateway to Human Resources. Cyan Communications.
- Ofman, D. & Weck, R. van der (2004). The Core Qualities of the Enneagram. Scriptum.
- Core Quality International. (n.d.). Our mission and vision. Retrieved October 15, 2020, from https://corequality.nl/en/our-mission-and-vision/
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