I am orange, what colour are you?


Today I attended the AoSEC Curriculum and Middle Manager Development event. It was absolutely brilliant and I now feel completely inspired to start getting involved in the SAR process (yes..amazing I know!) however, the morning session on managing and motivating challenging staff delivered by Dr. Anna Ashby from ACT Consultancy and Training really struck a chord with me.

We started off by looking at what makes some people demotivated, and it was clear that we all knew and worked with people who fell into the various categories we considered. This was interesting and useful, but the best part of the session was trying Glazov’s (2008) What Colour is your Brain test.

There are a series of questions in this personality test that you mark yourself against on a scale of 1-4 and eventually after a bit of embedded functional maths, you get a total score for each colour, which are Yellow, Blue, Green and Orange.

On identifying our colours, Anna started describing personality traits and characteristics that can be associated with each brain colour, and as is always the case with these things, us mere mortals are amazed at how well a test less than a side of A4 can appear to know us better than our nearest and dearest do! So as this blog title suggests, I am orange. Which, if you read one of my other posts, actually makes me an orange buttercup which pleases me immensely, as not a massive fan of the colour yellow…

Anyway, so what do these colours mean? Well I wrote down a few of the characteristics Anna shared with us:

YELLOW – these people like order, paper trails, spreadsheets, they are tidy, use tick lists, hate lateness, love preparation, are communicative and like objectives and targets. Often found in law and business, and I would also think in quality assurance roles.

BLUE – blue brains are empathetic, enjoy the arts, are understanding and considerate. They prefer face to face contact over email, display clear moods through their honesty and believe in love not war. Often found in professions such as media, hair and beauty, counselling and psychotherapy.

GREEN – these are analytical chess player types, can be told what to do but not how, need to make sense of situations, excellent independent thinkers. They don’t show their emotions easily but can be very sensitive, make excellent mathematicians and engineers.

ORANGE – drivers and leaders, they don’t plan but instead just get on and do it. They want to see results then move onto the next project, hate whining and moaning from others and are the change embracing task jugglers. Often found in jobs linked to leadership, sport and construction.

What is also interesting is that Yellow and Blue brains each make up 40% of the population, whereas green and orange each account for 10%.

So what does all of this mean and how can it help me? Well it has helped me to see that many of the people I work with are just a different type of person to me, and now I can see which type they may fit into, I may well be able to communicate with them better. I can now also see my own frustrations in a different light – they a MY frustrations, they do not reflect badly on the other person, but rather suggest that I am frustrated because someone else doesn’t fit into my brain colour way of working, rather than just being wrong.

I also found it interesting that the orange brain frustrations such as waiting, conforming to someone else’s schedule and a measured approach are also ADHD brain frustrations. So does this mean orange = ADHD? Or that ADHD is a misdiagnosis of orange brainedness? Are they related? Not related?

Who knows, well, probably the psych people do but for me it just confirms that being who I am is fine. It’s ok, in fact, it’s pretty great because I am colourful and interesting, just as we all are, and that although labels can be useful and helpful, what we need to remember most is what the labels mean and how that can inform the ways we communicate and deal with each other in order to see the best in ourselves and or colleagues and students.


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