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Each individual has core qualities. Often, we hardly notice these core qualities ourselves. They come so natural to us that we really don’t register them as anything special.

Yet, knowing your core qualities offers great insight into what triggers you in others, and in your own pitfalls and challenges. Daniel Ofman developed a model around core qualities, which also illuminates these other elements.  His work creates understanding around ourselves and our relations with other people. When you understand the core quadrant of your quality, it is much clearer why you respond to others the way you do.

Each Core Quadrant is comprised of 4 aspects:


the Core Quality

A core quality is a special strength, something you are really good at, or for which you are often praised by others. To you, it may be nothing special though: you believe anyone can do it. It is an inherent quality that can either be suppressed or developed.
For example: decisiveness, considerateness, carefulness, courage, orderliness and flexibility.

the Pitfall

A pitfall is ‘too much of a good thing’. The positive aspect of a core quality is over the top, turning your strength intoa weakness.
For example: helpful becomes meddling; careful becomes fussy; flexible becomes capricious.

On the other hand, if the pitfall is clearly visible, you can often recognize someone’s underlying core quality because of that specific pitfall.
For example: someone who acts inflexible may have decisiveness as a core quality. Someone with an unyielding attitude may be a go-getter at the core.

the Challenge

A challenge is the positive opposite of a pitfall. Having identified the negative, transformed behavior (the pitfall), youcan start looking for the challenge.
For example: in a nagging person, the positive opposite (the challenge) is patience (the core quality is decisiveness).
And: in a capricious person, the challenge is orderly behaviour (the core quality is flexibility).

The core quality and the challenge are complementary qualities. The objective is to strike a balance between the two. If the challenge is underdeveloped, the core quality must be improved to find the balance.

For example: It is not necessary to become less decisive, but to develop more patience, resulting in a patient decisiveness without nagging.
Or: find a balance between flexibility and orderliness.

the Allergy

The core qualities can also be used to identify potential conflicts with the people around you. People tend to be ‘allergic’ to too much of their own challenge in other people. The allergy is ‘too much of a good thing’ of the challenge, as well as the negative opposite of the core quality.
For example: the negative opposite of the core quality decisiveness is passiveness. Too much patience may also degenerate into passiveness. The more people are confronted with their own allergy, the greater the risk that they resolve to their own pitfall.
For example:the decisive individual starts nagging in response to too much passiveness in another person.

Learning about interactions with others, using the core quadrant

  • What happens when you meet someone who shares your core quality?
    Most often, you’ll respect each other, but in certain circumstances, especially when under stress, both of you will turn to nagging. You can probably easily identify each other’s pitfalls.
  • What happens when you meet your opposite?
    Often this results in contempt, characteristic of a situation in which you are confronted with your allergy. This type of confrontation makes you vulnerable to your pitfall.
    Awareness of this may help you to identify your pitfall and thus prevent this from happening.
  • People are usually allergic to the exaggerated version of what they themselves need most (their challenge). In other words, you can learn a lot from people you have a hard time dealing with.
  • When you encounter someone whose behaviour is your allergy, you might be able to recognize this behaviour as the overstated version of the other person’s core quality. If you look at it from this perspective, you might be able to help the other person find the core quality behind that pitfall. If this succeeds, the core quality may create a perfect basis of cooperation with your own core quality.
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