Personality expert Allison Mooney Unzipping the mind


As someone who has based most of my life’s work on the power of human psychology, I am so excited to have Allison Mooney, a leading personality expert, on the blog to talk about unzipping the mind to improve your business, quality of life and completely transform any relationship.

Prior to becoming a professional keynote speaker, Allie had a career in the airline industry with Ansett New Zealand and Qantas International as a manager of their Business and First Class airport lounges. After attending a conference based around the different personality types, Allie was impacted so profoundly that she knew she had to embark on a career helping others improve their own lives and relationships.

Fast-forward 20 years, Allie now inspires thousands of people around the world with her simple yet powerful concepts through keynote speaking and her book Pressing The Right Buttons. I sat down with Allie to chat about unzipping the mind, and how understanding our own, and other people’s personalities is an absolute game-changer. Please welcome Allie to the blog!

Thank you Kerwin! The importance of understanding and respecting each other’s differences is the key essence in what we need to create in developing high performing teams, and a happy home life.

The FBI draw on key personality factors to get into the criminal mind, so why can’t we use it to talk to people and relate to them and bring more harmony into the world?

Understanding the four key personality types, by recognising what they are and how they make people tick has dramatically changed not only the way I run my business, but also all of the key relationships in my life, which is why I’m now dedicated to helping others become predictors of people’s behaviour by observing others.

Not for the intention of categorisation, but to speak to them according to “their world” – from their perspective. Looking at how people come across can give us clues as to how to relate to them better.

The four personalities

  • A playful personality wants to have fun.
  • A powerful personality wants to get things done.
  • A peaceful personality wants no conflict.
  • And a precise personality wants to get it done perfectly.

These are the four dominant personalities, but most often we’re a blend of a couple of these. But we can’t be born with the opposing personalities. For example, you can’t be a playful and a precise because one is outgoing and the other is a lot more self-contained. You can’t be born a powerful-peaceful blend because one is strong and deliberate and gets things done, and the other is a much more reluctant leader.

Breaking down the personalities

The Playful

The playful is always stylish. They spend their money on clothes and just want to be noticed. They walk down the road and see themselves in the window and go, “Man do I look good today!” They’re flashy and they have smiley eyes. When they meet you they have to hug you. And maybe their desk is a bit messy, but they are too busy doing fun things to organise their desk.

Playfuls ask who. Who’s used that product before? Who’s going to be working with me? To a playful, it’s all about relationships and relating to people.

The playful will get out of bed for attention, affection, approval and acceptance. And while some people don’t want to give them the stardom, I’ll tell you right now, if you don’t they will go looking for it somewhere else because it’s oxygen to them.

Playfuls bring innovation, ideas and creativity to a team. To celebrate success and achievement a playful will always be up for a party.

The Powerful

A powerful is much more functional in their dress. They are powerful dressers.

They are decisive in their approach, a little bit restless and very confident. They speak short, direct and to the point. Powerfuls are concerned about results and will often ask what and when questions. What do you want done and when do you want it done by?

A powerful person wants to be appreciated. They want appreciation and credit for all that they have done. And they demand loyalty. Loyalty is everything to them and if they get a sniff that you’re not, they will get rid of you quick as lightning.

You can see why a powerful’s biggest fear would be loss of job or sickness. Why? Because that would mean they can’t produce. And they want to produce because they are the machines.

Powerfuls bring focus and assertion to the workplace. A powerful would be like to be recognised with a trophy to acknowledge their accomplishments.

The Peaceful

The peaceful is very much a conventional dresser. They are not impacted by external, they don’t have to prove to the world that they are beautiful so clothing is no big deal. They are soulful and they don’t make demands on others. They have a calm approach and are usually very relaxed.

Peacefuls will always ask why. And sometimes people don’t give them the why, and therefore they just dig in. They are stronger than any other personality but it’s that internal strong, that hidden will of iron.

A peaceful person respects harmony and values. They want to be respected for who they are, not what they do.

Peacefuls bring clarity to a team because they are the brilliant listeners on this planet. They bring incredible clarity, diplomacy and mediation. To celebrate their success the biggest reward to give a peaceful is the day off because they just love the day off!

The Precise

The precise has everything in place. I always say I don’t like getting too close to a precise because they will probably pick lint off me! They’re kept together by starch and hairspray, and everything is perfect. I wish I could be like that! They are much more serious about life and cautious in their emotions, they are not going to share a lot until they trust you because trust is everything to them.

A precise is always asking how. How can we get this done? Give me the details? They are the smart people on the planet because they ask how, and I always say in business if you have a precise team member ask them, “How can we do better?” Because they always have a plan B.

A precise person needs support, sensitivity, silence and space – a space to call their own.

Precise people bring methods, strategy, compliance and the rules to a team. They are the rule makers which is good because we all need rules. A precise personality loves to celebrate by spending time with family.

Unzipping the mind

To uncover someone’s personality we need to unzip the mind, so I go through this little acronym called the I-PIE which stands for identify, plan, implement and evaluate.

When I first go into a room my aim is to relate, so the first thing I will do is try and identify their personality. Then I need to plan how I might need to adjust. If I’m meeting a precise I might need to become more formal. But you never stay in this state because otherwise you lose your authenticity, it’s just about modifying yourself slightly.

I’ll put my hand out to shake theirs and I keep in mind that they’re a precise so they’re only going to put out on a need to know basis. They don’t want to hear all of my stories about what happened on the motorway this morning. They just want the facts.

So I try and speak their language. I get into the facts, the structure and the logic and that’s my application for implementation. In that moment it’s about what they need. I’ll talk about timeframes, I’ll be punctual and I’ll tick the boxes. And they will be thinking, “Great, this is someone I can relate to”.

On the other hand, I’m a playful, so if a precise was meeting me for the first time they would need to have the sense to ask me how my day is going because I want to build a relationship before I get into business with someone. So they need to drop the coolness and bring a warmer vibe into the encounter.

So the next time you go into an important meeting, go in balanced and be adaptable.

The powerful and the precise are very task orientated.

The playful and the peaceful are very relational orientated.

So if you don’t know all of this and you’re working with someone who is a polar opposite, it can be a real struggle to get each other.

Go into every situation thinking about what the other person needs.

As a business owner if I was growing my business I would be much more deliberate about what I need. And it may not be easy to do that because as a business owner it’s not always comfortable being around people who are different. But an opposite can be the very thing you need to bring in new skills and capabilities into the business.


It’s the same in a marriage, naturally we are attracted to an opposite. And it’s funny because people tell me all the time, “Allie the only thing I have in common with my partner is that we were married on the same day”.

I’m a playful-peaceful personality and my husband is a precise, so very opposite. We’ve been married for 47 years but there was a time in our marriage when we were facing some real challenges.

I used to get so frustrated at him. He was always on my case. He’d open the dishwasher and go, “Don’t you think if you pushed that to the side and that one to the back and that one over there, then there would be more room and we wouldn’t have to put the dishwasher on as often? We could be more economical”.

If you couldn’t guess, saving abilities are so important to this man.

So he would be giving me advice about the dishwasher but I would interpret that as criticism, and I wilt under criticism. I thought he had a personal vendetta against everything I did!

The reality was, he wasn’t out to get me, but for years my husband treated me how he thought I needed to be treated. He would treat me as he wanted to be treated. He relishes space so he would give me space – I don’t want space, I want people around me!

But now we understand that it’s not about treating people how you want to be treated, it’s about treating people how they want to be treated.

So as my husband serves me he brings that into the equation, and I will serve him by giving him space when I go away so he can have those quiet moments to restore his soul. He’s a hard worker but likes to do nothing as his way of recharging.

Understanding this has been the glue that’s kept us together through tough times. And when he sees things differently and I get frustrated, I step back and realise he’s much more ordered and structured and I’m not, I’m more random and he’s not. My husband has a tendency to labour and linger and loses me after the sixth sentence, but I have learnt to respect and hear him out because he’s got gold in there – I’d never looked for the gold because I was thinking, “Oh paleease, just get to the point”.

When we can appreciate these differences, we can allow them to become strengths and because of that we are so much more connected.

Can you imagine being with someone exactly like you?

A playful goes off looking for fun but ends up fighting for the limelight with another playful.

A powerful and powerful will always lock heads about who is right and who gets the last word.

Two precise people can become so nit-picky with each other they struggle to move forward.

If a peaceful looks for someone just like them can you imagine a Saturday night there? What do you want to do? Oh I don’t know, what do you want to do? Oh I don’t know.

Nature vs nurture

We’re very complicated people, however the main part of who we are comes in our DNA and personality comes out of that. So if we’re born with our personality, we’re born with a need. So what I need as a playful is in that area of affection and acceptance. I hate being socially left out so that is part of my inner need.

As I’ve gotten older though, wisdom comes and I don’t have that same requirement. I don’t go around in this needy capacity wanting people to fill my tank but let me tell you, 80% of the world walks around with that need because no one has filled their tanks.

But by nature your personality is also formed on how you’ve been raised. I’m a playful and I had a powerful dad and he influenced me when I was growing up, he influenced me in a very powerful way so I have traits of that.

When we go into business we build traits, competencies and skills into our world because we have to. I can talk in a powerful and precise way because I’ve learnt competencies and traits in those areas. I’ve had to learn how to be ordered as a business person but my primary personality and style is still always going to be playful.

A pathway to get close again

I just want to leave you with this final story.

A very successful businessman was at a conference where I was speaking. He stood up just before I was ready to finish and he said, “I’d never usually speak up at something like this but as I’ve listened to your talk, I’ve reflected on family and I’m a failure”.

“I’m a failure because most often I come home and my 17-year-old son is lying on the couch watching TV and eating and it troubles me. I’m just frustrated by him because when I was his age I was down at the rugby club. I was in every sports group, I was always busy after school, I was even a school prefect, and this kid restores his soul by just lying on the couch.

But you’ve told me today that he is my peaceful son, he works hard, he comes home from school, he talks to his mother, he does his homework and then rest is his reward. But I’ve never allowed him to do that because I’ve always told him, ‘Get off the couch, get down to the rugby club, do this, do that,’ and that’s just not in his nature,” the man confessed.

And he was right. His child was obliging but he will never grow into being a powerful like his father wanted him to be and that set that father up for disappointment.

This man went home and his relationship and connection with his son completely transformed because for the first time there was an acceptance of each other.

I can’t tell you how many emails I get like this.

I know I have the best job in the world because through understanding each other, people can reconcile and see a pathway to get close again. It works in families, it works in relationships and it works in business. It’s so simple.

Note from Kerwin: Just wanted to say a BIG thanks to Allison for the interview as understanding how to relate to others is critical to success in all areas. Even if you take just one idea from this article you will find more success in more areas of your life.

Kerwin Rae