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The Cactus and Snowflake at Work

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The Cactus and Snowflake at Work

How the Logical and Sensitive Can Thrive Side by Side


15 min read
7 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A heartfelt plea to follow the Platinum Rule: Treat others as they want to be treated.

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Devora Zack claims everyone falls along a personality continuum that reveals how they think, behave, speak and make decisions. Knowing where you, your colleagues, friends, and family fall on the Snowflake-Cactus spectrum can help you temper your tone and words, thereby improving your relationships, and consequently, your effectiveness in work and life. Snowflakes and Cacti appear in every profession. Men lean toward Cactus and women Snowflake, but significant numbers land in between. Zack’s not entirely subtle observances boil down to good advice: Treat others the way they want you to treat them.


Everyone falls somewhere on the Snowflake-to-Cactus continuum.

Only you – and nobody else – fit perfectly into any category, but you – and everybody else – do possess innate proclivities and predispositions that associate with one of the two broad personality categories of Snowflake and Cactus. Neither term is pejorative. In general, Snowflakes “feel.” They possess greater sensitivity and lead with their hearts. Cacti rely more on rationality and logic than on emotion; they lead with their brains and can come across as prickly.

About 70% of men lean toward Cactus and about 60% of women toward Snowflake. This means you cannot make blanket assumptions based on gender about where a person may fall on the continuum. Both categories contain introverts and extroverts. Introverted Snowflakes might have deep feelings and Cacti might have strong opinions, but both tend to keep them to themselves. Extroverted Snowflakes and Cacti express feelings and opinions more freely.

Based on seminal psychologist Carl Jung’s typology, everyone falls somewhere between Cactus and Snowflake extremes. Your place on the spectrum...

About the Author

Graduate of Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania Devora Zack consults with the Smithsonian Institution, Pfizer and Delta Air Lines.

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    J. M. 4 months ago
    Great summary
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    M. H. 1 year ago
    Thank you very much! it is best summary, because Comprehensive and broad perspective.
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    C. N. 2 years ago
    Great ideas and concepts. The more we’re aware of personalities, the better we can work together. <br>It’s just unfortunate The author chose to use the word “snowflake” since a certain political party has made that word very negative and I imagine that having that word in the title would turn off a lot of potential buyers.

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