Wednesday, 15 August 2012

OF COURSE someone like me would say this!

Does this bug anyone else?  Have you ever had that feeling like someone thinks they 'get' you?  Maybe they do, and maybe they don't; but the point is that, if you're like me, you don't WANT them to!

You don't have to read far into my blog to learn that I have a love/hate relationship with personality tests.  I have a real aversion to the idea that a) a 10 minute quiz will reveal deep inner secrets I otherwise would never have known about myself, and b) I, along with all other humans, can be lumped into one of four easy categories.  Kierkegaard said, "Once you label me, you negate me." (don't be impressed - I learned it from watching Wayne's World - about 1:50 in)
  I am complex and mysterious, dammit!  You can't pigeonhole me!

On the flip side of that coin, there is the argument that's most succinctly put by those clever ancient Greeks: "KNOW THYSELF".  The value of these quizzes and evaluations is that, in the best case scenario, they can shine a light on some of the motivations or reasons for our often confusing reactions to stimuli.  Your brother gets a new promotion and you get jealous instead of happy.  You stand up for yourself and feel guilty instead of empowered.  Good heavens, humans and their silly reactions and motivations.  If the tests help, let's mandate them for all of us!  A little self actualization would do us good!

So, in summary, I guess: I want to know myself, but I don't want you to know me.  Or at least, I want to be the FIRST one to figure myself out.

Anyway, I'll get off my hobby horse.  Here's the point: there is a danger here that we can forgive (ignore) people for anything if it's just their pesky personality getting in the way. 

Remember when I was talking about getting yelled at (I'm this self referential only because I don't read enough)?  Well, imagine that you exited getting chewed out thinking, "Well, I know that person has a commanding, task oriented personality and only considers the cost to relationships after the damage has been done", then proceeded to write off the whole experience because "that's just the way they are, and they're just having an emotional reaction to the whole thing."  That'd be great!  Because that would mean you don't have to change any behaviour!  The deficiency all lies in that other person's personality.

This is something that happens to emotional people all the time.  Imagine being this person:  You don't like confrontation - it's your worst nightmare.  Harmony is what you always work toward.  However, some issue has gone on long enough, and it's time to confront the aggressor.  You are so nervous and out of your comfort zone that you start to cry.  Then, the person you are confronting starts to COMFORT you and tell you not to worry about it.  THEY ARE PLACATING YOU!  Just because you were crying did not mean that you had legitimate concerns that had to be dealt with!  Personalities be damned!

If you're in customer service, I bet you do this too:
When I have a difficult phone call with a customer at work, it is much easier for my ego if I jump to the conclusion that the difficult person is also a crazy person.  If they are irrational, then I don't have to deal with the fact that I may have actually failed to deliver what I promised to.

But what if it's my wife, who may be overtired, but is ALSO really upset that I sat on my butt all night while she cleaned dishes, changed laundry, and fed, bathed, and tucked in the boy?  It's easy for me to write off the anger because she's overtired.  AND, conveniently, if I let myself off the hook for those jobs, she will probably ALWAYS be overtired by the time she has a moment to confront me about it!

There is no english language.  I say this because we all use the same words, but few of us ever understand each other.  KNOW THYSELF, so that you know what language you speak.  And learn about the personality types of those who are close to you, so you can learn what language they speak, too.  That way, you can take the words they say, and translate them into your own language.  Everyone speaks in code.  You risk misinterpreting people if you fail to comprehend that.  Not every message comes across exactly as it's intended.
Don't make the mistake of writing people off just because "that's just them, being them."  Believe it or not, everyone has a reality just like yours, and they believe as much as you do that what they say is important, even if that's hard for you to incorporate into your perception.