Customer Centric Lessons from “Divergent”


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While it may not carry quite the same professional relevance as the DiSC test, the personality factions from Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” are a fascinating study of human behavior.  We all of us have a default frame of mind by which we approach the world, and chances are, it is one of the five outlined below.  By viewing our support centers through the “Divergent” lens, we are likely to learn something new about our analysts and ourselves.  The following is a brief commentary on each faction complete with tips on how to succeed with it’s membership.


Dauntless Dauntless – Who above all else value bravery.

The Dauntless have an insatiable desire to be the hero.   They often build extra urgency into situations that do not require it in hopes of saving the day.  Even when they have nothing to do, a dauntless will act extremely busy.  It is all part of keeping up the appearance that their services are in special demand.  Being treated as just an average member of the team may cause them to undermine your leadership.


How to succeed with a Dauntless – If it is danger they are looking for, give it to them!  Who better to manage critical  situations?  They will tenaciously pursue a resolution and fight for the customer.  They are not afraid to step on the occasional toe to get what is needed.  Offer frequent alignment checks to establish top priorities and prevent them from getting carried away in their own passion.  When they try to take on an unnecessary burden by themselves, remind your dauntless that many would-be heroes have shown their true colors as goats.


Erudite Erudite – Who above all else value knowledge.

Erudite pursue learning with an avaricious vigor.  Within a knowledge centered support environment, IMG_5803information is the ultimate currency.  In this way the Erudite are rich.  They will dive head first into a set of release notes…the very same document that everyone else opened up for 20 seconds, skimmed the first paragraph, and closed forever.  While they may know more than others on your team, they have a tendency to be self-serving. In their continual quest for knowledge, they may consider it a hindrance to slow down and educate others; whether verbally or in the form of public knowledge base submissions.

How to succeed with an Erudite – Challenge them to admonish the rest of the group with the information they are receiving.  See “The Real Rock Star.”  As they demonstrate efforts to learn for the greater good of the team, reward them with exposure to exciting things.  As you prepare our metrics, challenge them to review the numbers and offer an interpretation.  Seeing data become actionable intelligence will breathe new life into an Erudite.


Candor Candor  – Who above all else value truth.

This is most likely the “pot stirrer” among your ranks.  They conveniently remember all of your weakest moments.  They make bold statements and carry a loud opinion.  Somehow they manage to find out all the office gossip before you do.  There is value in these traits, however, as they bring a strong voice and accountability to your group.  A lack of accountability is one of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” as captured by Patrick Lencioni, making this an essential contribution.

IMG_5807How to succeed with a Candor – Do not try to silence them!  They will only resent you.  Candor see the world in black and white.  They expect you to bring fairness to all situations.  The important thing with this individual is communication – both early and often!  If they understand the reasons behind your decisions, they are more likely to buy in and encourage others to do the same.  In those cases where you don’t see eye-to-eye, allow the creative tension to make you both better.  As long as you have created an environment of respect and trust, a candor will be happy to have constructively voiced their opinions even if they aren’t adopted.


Abnegation Abnegation – Who above all else value selflessness.

You will find more abnegation minded people in customer service than any other department.  Let’s face it- if we did not sincerely enjoy serving others, support would be a poor career fit.  Abnegation are generally patient and empathetic, making them prime candidates to pacify an angry caller.  It will be difficult for them to say no to a customer, however.  Having established policies and a documented service catalog will be essential tools for this agent.


How to succeed with an Abnegation – Dig deep to understand how this team member thinks.  Oftentimes, they will not divulge their true feelings until it is no longer possible to hold them in.  At this point the situation is often irreparable.  Be sensitive when introducing new initiatives that are competition based, as this will put an abnegation at war with themselves.


Amity Amity – Who above all else value peace.

Arriving lastly to my personal favorite, Amity.  We just want to feel good about the work we are doing, IMG_5800and we sincerely desire to share this feeling with those around us.  A sense of community is paramount, leading us to sometimes value relationships over results.  Conflict makes us sick.  Making decisions as an individual can be a terrifying prospect.  We would much rather consult the entire group and gain universal agreement before taking even a minor risk.

How to succeed with an Amity – Consider projects carefully before turning them over to Amity.  If you are leading them down a path that will result in conflict, it is likely to end in failure or frustration.  Amity view the workplace as a relationship gold mine, so allow them to plan your social events, baby showers, birthday parties, etc.  Most importantly, never ignore them.  Even if they are doing a fantastic job, they need to hear that from you on a regular basis.  The more time that elapses without this confirmation, the more they start to imagine a false conflict.  A kind word from you will empower them to take the occasional leap of faith and be challenged in new ways.

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A heightened sense of awareness in regards to our tendencies can be a powerful thing.  Of course, we never want to put ourselves in a box or predestine certain actions.  I believe each person possess qualities that can open our eyes and challenge us to be better, in the same way that “iron sharpens iron.”  Let us learn from the open mind of Tobias Eaton and his dauntless tattoos ……”We’ve all started to put down the virtues of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own.  I don’t want to do that.  I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and honest.”

Not sure where you fit in?  Take the personality faction quiz here.

Orginally posted at on April 7th.

* Photo Credit – Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite logos are from All other images are my own.

Nate Brown
Nate Brown is a perpetual student of the world’s greatest experiences and the people who create them. Having spent the first decade of this career managing a complex technical support environment for Occupational Health and eLearning software, Nate transitioned to Customer Experience 2015. After authoring The CX Primer, Brown was dubbed the “CX Influencer of the Year” by CloudCherry in 2019. As a passion project, Nate created CX Accelerator, a first-class virtual community for Customer Experience professionals. Nate currently serves as the Chief Experience Officer for Officium Labs.


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