Understanding the Dynamics of the Doshas in the Workplace
While there are many career quizzes and job aptitude tests to place you on an optimal professional path and help employers hire suitable matches for available positions, it may be that there’s no better test for such than an Ayurvedic dosha quiz.
Knowing your dosha is akin to knowing yourself—it gives you an awareness of what fuels you, what your skillsets are, and who and what can cause you strife.
Each dosha’s bhutas (elements) and gunas (attributes) help you use your dosha as a predictor to your behaviors, thoughts, and mental and emotional tendencies.
Though an understanding of your dosha isn’t foolproof in helping you land the right job, it can give you the footing you need to set out in the right direction, and hopefully with a little more happiness and ease.
Possible Strengths and Struggles in the Workplace
Whether it’s a personality trait, an innate ability, or an area of life that requires more attention and effort, your doshas can give you insight into the possible strengths and struggles that are specific to your work.
And while a dosha’s characteristics may steer you towards one career over another, it’s important to remember that you can have any dosha combination and be compatible with any line of work.
The important thing is that your work gives you more energy than it takes, allows you to do what you love, and leaves time at the end of the day to be present with the people most important to you.
Vata’s Strengths and Struggles
Strengths: People with dominant ether and air elements, or vata dosha, get an energy surge with change. They like the newness of things, which can give them an edge in professions with workdays that are less than predictable.
Creativity is a strong suit, too, so expect to find vatas in jobs that encourage creating, dreaming, and imagining. And with their mobility and lightness, quick thinking is on their list of strengths, making fast-paced environments a comfortable place for vatas.
Struggles: The light, mobile, airy qualities that support vata’s strengths can also cause struggle in their work. They may have difficulty meeting deadlines, sometimes because they forgot, sometimes because they lost interest, and sometimes because they couldn’t focus long enough to get the job done.
Vatas have a tendency to get overwhelmed when there is a lot on their plate, which can exacerbate even more vata issues like scattered thoughts, restlessness, and difficulty following through.
A workday or schedule that is routine could easily feel monotonous to a vata, and as a result, vatas can get bored easily and spend limited time with a company—leaving in search of something new and exciting.
Pitta’s Strengths and Struggles
Strengths: Being the only constitution comprised of fire, pitta is the most driven of the doshas. This comes with a determination, focus, and sharpness of mind that makes them some of the best planners, organizers, and detail-oriented people around.
Not only do they excel in these areas, pittas love opportunities and projects that are presented to them and flourish in work settings that offer structure, routine, and goals.
Struggles: As pittas are confident and have a general desire to lead, they may struggle with authority, particularly if they feel they are more qualified for the job or aren’t being provided with the challenges or responsibilities they need to thrive.
Similarly, having their eye on more senior positions, they’ll do almost anything it takes to get there, including working additional hours outside of the office. As such, pittas need to be on alert for burnout, being overly rigid, or leaving too little time for family, play, and other things that bring them joy.
Kapha’s Strengths and Struggles
Strengths: The earth and water elements give those with more kapha an incomparable amount of steadiness and mental endurance. Projects (and people) that require patience and continued focus are in their wheelhouse.
They don’t give up quickly or easily, which also makes them some of the most loyal employees one could have. Opposite of vata, they like to move slower and at their own pace, so the less stimulating and more routine their workplace and schedule, the better.
Struggles: Kaphas struggle with change—they can get stuck in a job that they don’t necessarily love but stay in it because the thought of moving on is much more uncomfortable. It can be difficult for them to adapt to new policies and procedures—not impossible, but it will take more time for them than most.
And conflict averse, kaphas may have trouble speaking up for themselves, having their ideas heard, or even delegating tasks to others. In general, they’d rather be support staff than be in charge and tell others what to do.
Roles and Relationships in the Workplace
Being on the right career path, working in an ideal setting, and checking all your dream job boxes isn’t a guarantee for feeling happy and fulfilled at work.
Having a boss that understands your preferred way of communicating, a coworker that collaborates with methods that are cohesive with yours, and direct reports that can be adaptable and dependable can make almost any task or work environment pleasant.
While it could take years before really knowing someone you work with this well, being familiar with their dosha can give you an edge on getting acquainted and establishing a harmonious professional relationship.
Here’s a brief guide explaining some of the key characteristics of the doshas in different professional roles to get you started.
Vata in the Workplace
As team leaders or bosses: Vatas often advance to leadership roles because of their innovative and creative characteristics, yet they can lack the structure and organization we come to expect in our bosses.
This could be frustrating for pittas and kaphas who are outcome-oriented and like predictability, and exhilarating for other vatas who thrive on all things fresh and new.
As coworkers: The light-hearted and open-minded vata can be refreshing for those seeking coworkers who are versed in their brainstorming skills and willingness to communicate.
Should this vata staff member become out of balance, those collaborating with them may need to offer them some grace when focus is lost and deadlines aren’t met. This could lead to a pitta coworker becoming irritated, while the earthy kapha may have a little more tolerance and patience.
When vatas collaborate with one another, you’ll see copious amounts of creative concepts and designs generated, but the actual execution of them may be lacking.
As employees or direct reports: If you’re looking for an employee who is quick on their toes and can pivot with ease, seek out a vata. Not only are vatas willing to change, but they have a knack for inviting in the new and reshaping the old.
This can create a state of imbalance if a vata boss has a vata employee, as both will always be seeking the next best thing and don’t have the heavy water and earth elements to keep them grounded while doing so.
Meanwhile, both pitta and kaphas will embrace vata’s creativity and adaptability, but pitta and kapha might bristle at having vata direct reports—vatas can be so enamored by starting new things that they have difficulty sticking to the schedules and routines that pitta and kapha love so much.
Pitta in the Workplace
As team leaders or bosses: Though any dosha can flourish in leadership roles, pittas are most likely to seek them out and feel most comfortable making the decisions, taking on extra responsibilities, and delegating tasks to others.
Where pittas should take caution is when their position of control leads to them being controlling, and their own expectations are forced onto others.
This is especially true with vata employees that may desire more freedom than constraints, and kaphas that may take longer to get started—without as much fire in their constitution they might lack the spark or motivation pitta bosses expect in their staff.
As coworkers: Much like they did in group projects in school, pittas will pull their own weight and then some—taking over responsibilities for others, especially when the pitta person feels it could be done better.
You’ll find pittas to be punctual, dependable, and responsible coworkers, but even when on equal playing fields, it’s in their nature to want to take the lead. This works out well if they work with vatas or kaphas, but it could rub other pittas the wrong way and lead to internal competitions.
As employees or direct reports: You can expect your pitta staff members to meet deadlines, show up on time, and log extra hours to get the job done right. In this sense, they make dreamy employees.
However, pittas often have promotions and professional advancement in mind. If they feel this opportunity is threatened, they may quickly go from being cooperative and team-oriented to competitive and individualistic. They’ll need autonomy to stay happy.
Kapha in the Workplace
As team leaders or bosses: Kaphas often advance to leadership positions due to their longevity within and loyalty to a company, but they do not typically seek them out. While they are more than capable to carry out these roles, they prefer to leave the decision-making to others. This isn’t for lack of confidence, rather that extra responsibilities, even when it might involve a pay raise, isn’t overly appealing to them.
Thus, when kaphas become bosses they are generally very laid back, open to the ideas of others, and happy to give their staff lots of independence.
This tends to make all doshas pleased to work for a kapha. Still, being reluctant to implement changes can make vata staff agitated, while a kapha boss’s lack of spark and fire can be frustrating to pittas.
As coworkers: The compassionate kapha seamlessly fits into the role of coworker. They love to support others, but at the same time, they are fine to work in solitude—a blend that makes collaborating with kapha a cinch.
As employees or direct reports: As kaphas naturally feel at home being a contributor and cheerleader for others, they make very dependable and devoted employees. They may need some extra nudging to get going on projects, and they often rely on external sources of motivation given the absence of fire in their constitution.
They’re very compatible with other doshas in the workplace, but kaphas may find working with a vata boss overstimulating and could find pitta leaders to push them harder than they’d like.
Embracing Work as a Place of Learning and Growth
Ayurveda reminds us that every aspect of life can be an opportunity to learn, grow, and tune into greater balance. Those who spend many hours of the day at work can use it as a platform to apply the principles of Ayurveda to cultivate a harmonious and inspiring environment.
In the workplace, we can learn to let the gifts of our own doshas shine, while also honoring the different minds, habits, and approaches of our coworkers. We can even learn to lean into our less dominant doshas to find greater balance and well-being.
- If you have a predominant vata constitution, you can benefit from the grounding energy of kapha and the sharp focus of pitta to balance vata dosha.
- If kapha is your predominant state, pitta’s fire and vata’s lightness can help balance kapha by keeping you moving and motivated.
- With pitta as your predominant dosha, you can balance pitta by leaning into kapha’s patient compassion and taking a cue from vata’s ability to move on and not get stuck in the details.
At the end of the day, we are part of a greater whole—deeply connected to the places, projects, and people we spend our time with. Learning to recognize and appreciate the dynamics of the doshas in the workplace can ultimately connect us to a meaningful network of creativity, support, and inspiration.