Friday, February 18, 2011

Personality - Please Understand Me :)

About five months ago while visiting a friend, she made me sit down and take the personality test presented in Please Understand Me II (and just for the record, I think that's a pretty lame title). I'm not a huge fan of personality tests and I've never taken one on Facebook, like "Take this quiz to find out what Jane Austen character you are", but my friend had been raving about the books for weeks so I was curious to find out more.

So of course I didn't have time to read the long book while visiting my friend but I did skim through several of the personality types and I may or may not have read most of the dating section at 11:00pm with a flashlight. The lights were out and we were at a church family camp. :)

Once I got home I rented it from the library and started talking about it non-stop to my family and then eventually my friends. I think it ranks right up with Crucial Conversations and How to Win Friends and Influence People for learning how to get along with others!

The author bases his personality test off the famed Meyers-Brigg test, so you don't have to take his test if you've taken that test. He then takes the test results a whole step further than Meyers-Briggs did when describing groups and types. He divides everyone into four personality groups, with four personality types making a group. So far, I've had friends from every group take the test and I've been amazed about how uncannily the author can "label" people.

Of course, one of the dangers with these sort of things is you certainly don't want to go around putting everyone in a box! Sure, some people you meet will agree with every single thing in their personality profile, but obviously, most people just tend to lean one way stronger than the other. Or some people may be evenly split between several personalities and understand both sides. And just because you are strong on the "feeling" side, doesn't mean you can't think. :)

Another danger is using it as an excuse for your sinful tendencies, you know, the "I'm just made that way" excuse. Or using it as an excuse for pride! As a cousin pointed out, it can be like the self-fulfilling prophecies that horoscopes make: "Why.... of course... I'm a kind and generous person!"

Now moving on to the fun stuff. First off, I think the title Please Understand Me, should be the complete opposite point of the book. I know that what I find most helpful from reading the book is being able to understand OTHERS better. Just like knowing what someone's religious beliefs are when getting along with someone is helpful, it also really helps (me, at least) to know what their personality emphasizes. I know I've had times where I've had no clue where someone was coming from and how to respond and now I do.

Another thing I like about the book is that it helps you appreciate people different from yourself. God makes us all wonderful. :)

And it does help you understand yourself better. I've been convicted from reading this book and it has helped me understand where some of my "sin tendencies" come from. Not that I can magically get rid of them, but I think it's been helping me nip them in the bud quicker. In fact I told Scott about a month ago that I was working on not being scornful (a tendency of the Rationals apparently), and he promptly (and honestly) commented "Yeah, you've been a lot better about that." Oh my. So yeah, I'm working on not being so scornful.

Oh and just a note, this is not from a Christian viewpoint at all. I should probably read some Christian personality books after I get over this concussion. :) I also wonder if there's biblical precedent of four personality groups relating to the four sides
of the cherubim, etc, as talked about by James Jordan... And there's probably a whole bunch of points that I've forgotten that I will remember tomorrow morning....

So anyways, here's a summary from the website (which also features the test that's in the book). The test online only sorts you into a group, whereas the book sorts you into the specific type, but it's a lot of fun to poke around and read more about each type on the website.

Keirsey Temperament Website - Overview of the Four Temperaments: "

The Four Temperaments

  • As Concrete Cooperators, Guardians speak mostly of their duties and responsibilities, of what they can keep an eye on and take good care of, and they're careful to obey the laws, follow the rules, and respect the rights of others.

  • As Abstract Cooperators, Idealists speak mostly of what they hope for and imagine might be possible for people, and they want to act in good conscience, always trying to reach their goals without compromising their personal code of ethics.

  • As Concrete Utilitarians, Artisans speak mostly
    about what they see right in front of them, about what they can get their hands on, and they will do whatever works, whatever gives them a quick, effective payoff, even if they have to bend the rules.

  • As Abstract Utilitarians, Rationals speak mostly
    of what new problems intrigue them and what new solutions they envision, and always pragmatic, they act as efficiently as possible to achieve their objectives, ignoring arbitrary rules and conventions if need be.

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