Personality Goes a Long Way in a Truck Driving Career

by Joanna S. Tyler

Every day, truck driving schools graduate hundreds of new drivers ready to take the last of their CDL tests before looking for work. Some of those drivers will immediately embark on careers that will last decades; others will not make it through the first year or so on the job. The difference between the two groups often comes down to one thing: personality.

The personality of a driver goes a long way toward determining whether the individual enjoys longevity and relative success in trucking. More positive personalities tend to do a lot better. This is not to say someone with a more negative personality cannot work as a trucker for 30 years before retiring; it’s merely to say that those with positive personalities tend to find more success along the career journey.

Office Staff, Dispatchers, and Management

If the truck driving industry operated as a factory assembly line, the driver would be the last station on that line. Thousands of man-hours have already been invested – from sales to freight tracking to dispatch – before the trucker gets a load and pulls away. And every one of the workers who has had a hand in the process also has his or her own personality as well.

Unfortunately, personality conflicts can arise between truck drivers and office staff, dispatchers, and even management. The driver whose personality allows him or her to avoid these conflicts as often as possible is a driver in a better position than one who cannot seem to get along.

Driver personality is most critical where dispatchers are involved. As any experienced driver can tell you, dispatchers have the ability to make a trucker’s life extremely happy or a living hell.

Police Officers and the DOT

Experienced drivers know that personality is crucial when dealing with police officers and DOT officials. They have jobs to do as well, and they do not appreciate truckers with bad attitudes that make their jobs more difficult. They just want to do their jobs, get trucks back on the road, and get home safely to their own families.

Experience dictates that a driver is polite, friendly, and forthcoming in all interactions with police and the DOT. The more pleasant the interactions, the more likely drivers are to avoid trouble.

Shippers and Receivers

Lastly, unnecessary conflicts can arise between drivers and their shipper/receivers at the drop of a hat. A driver with a positive personality is one who knows how to defuse potential conflicts before they begin. Knowing how to say the right thing at the right time, or sometimes just keeping one’s mouth shut, is often the solution.

The other side of that coin is the driver who makes a point of being antagonistic toward shippers and receivers. Being antagonistic is one way to guarantee an unhappy career characterized by the worst loads, the longest hours, the least amount of time spent at home, etc.

So, what are employers looking for when it comes to driver personality? Experienced drivers who go out of their way to make sure things run smoothly rather than constantly looking for trouble. They are looking for team players who view what they do as just one part of a much larger operation. Experienced drivers with the right personalities are considered gold in the trucking industry; companies seek them out aggressively.

The average truck driver is a hard-working man or woman just looking to make a living and get home to his/her family. The ones with the best personalities can enjoy a decades-long career that is rewarding, fulfilling and an overall good experience.

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