The funniest part about personality tests for me is that whenever I read the relationship section of any given personality type, the people closest to me line up perfectly with types that are theoretically the best companions for my type. As someone with a “maverick” personality, it always irks me a little that I fit so neatly within the box, but it also fascinates me that personality types really are that influential in our lives.
One of the best byproducts of this so-called navel gazing is that as you make these discoveries and have these lightning bolt moments about yourself, you develop a new appreciation for the unique motivations, reactions, personalities, and tendencies of other people as well.
That doesn’t mean that you suddenly like everybody or you never get annoyed with anyone again, but you do develop a willingness to try to get to know people better, to try to understand what makes them tick and why they react to certain situations.
And it gives you a better perspective for seeing how your significant other’s personality dictates the way they respond in certain situations, how the things that cause conflict between you and your children are parts of their inborn personalities, why a friend acts in a way that seems neurotic…in a completely different way than your own neurosis, and so on.
It’s given me a new empathy for people who are predisposed to melancholy, something that used to really annoy me because I considered it solely a choice. It’s shown me that while there are useful strategies you can use for resolving conflict, the way people naturally respond to conflict (one person’s need to walk away before attempting to resolve it or another’s desire to talk it out right away) are not necessarily good or bad.
I read a fortune cookie proverb recently: “We judge others by actions; we judge ourselves by intentions.” I don’t know about you, but this is 100% true in my own life. My natural inclination is to try to explain my motivations and my intentions when I make a mistake or hurt someone, but when someone else makes a mistake or hurts me, I want them to pay for their actions instead.
Learning about personality is really all about the motivations and intentions behind each personality type. As we learn more about our own, we’re then more willing and better able to consider them for other people as well.
Ultimately, that leads to stronger relationships, better conflict resolution, and more grace for the people around us.
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
1. “We judge others by actions; we judge ourselves by intentions.” Does this proverb ring true in your own life? How do you feel when other people judge you by your actions instead of your intentions?
2. Has learning more about your own personality helped you to view other people differently or with more grace? Can you think of a time that learning about someone else’s personality changed your view of a situation or conflict?