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Know Thyself: A Brief Explainer on Personality Tests
Socrates once said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Another famous -crates from antiquity (Hippocrates) and his contemporaries believed four internal humors governed an individual’s temperament.
If he posited that theory today, you could wager with confidence that a slew of online quizzes designed to reveal which humor governs you would soon circulate the internet. (Oh hey — here we go. Better late than never, right?)
The point is that people love, and have always loved, analyzing, thinking about, testing, and attempting to measure.
Fast forward 1000+ years from the heyday of the -crates to the early 20th century, and the story of personality testing really heats up. Practitioners of the budding field of psychology were busy exploring uncharted territories inside the human mind. Their groundwork laid a solid foundation for the explosive interest in personality testing that co-emerged with World War I and a correlated spike in documented mental illnesses. Probably about a third of U.S. companies had jumped onto the personality testing bandwagon.
The Key Players
Today, there are quite a few options when you’re in the market for a little insight. Here are the key players in the personality quiz:
The Big Five
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator
Is personality testing the new astrology?
According to people who know what they’re talking about, it’s healthy to be skeptical about the results of your personality tests.
As one expert told Scientific American, “You should be skeptical. Until we test them scientifically we can’t tell the difference between that and pseudoscience like astrology.”
Truth. But TBH, many of us gravitate toward personality tests and quizzes not for ironclad accuracy but instead for insight.
To be continued…in the section below👇.
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You Do You. You Quiz You.
As we mentioned above, one of the key benefits of personality quizzes — scientific validity aside — is insight, and also self reflection with a delicious side of self awareness. Like astrology and the horoscopes it generates, personality quizzes can come with an irresistible cache of intimate knowledge.
If you agree, then this section is for you. Find the attributes you identify with to get your mantra, your jam, and your best work productivity tool. If you identify with all the characteristics and types below...more power to you. No one can tell you you’re wrong.
You consider yourself practical, organized, driven, and thorough.
(Like, for example, Enneagram 3s or Myers-Briggs ISTJs, ESTJs, and ESTPs.)
Your motivational quote: “Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good.” -Marcus Aurelius
Your jam: I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash
Your best work tool: Strides, a goal-tracking app
You consider yourself conscientious, loyal, relationship-driven, and empathetic.
(Like, for example, Enneagram 6s, Enneagram 2s, Enneagram 9s or Myers-Briggs ISFJs, ENFJs, ESFJs, and ISFPs.)
Your mantra: “Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.” -Confucius, The Analects
Your jam: You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Randy Newman
Your best work tool: Bonusly for peer-to-peer recognition.
You consider yourself values-driven, idealistic, visionary, and curious.
(Like, for example, Enneagram 1s, Enneagram 4s or Myers-Briggs INFJs, INTJs, INFPs, and ENFPs.)
Your motivational quote: “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” -Audre Lorde
Your jam: Imagine by John Lennon
Your best work tool: Corkulous™ Idea Board
You consider yourself logical, analytical, goal-oriented, and efficient.
(Like, for example, Enneagram 5s or Myers-Briggs INTPs, ENTJs, and ISTPs.)
Your mantra: “And thus, the actions of life often not allowing any delay, it is a truth very certain that, when it is not in our power to determine the most true opinions we ought to follow the most probable.” -Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method
Your jam: Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen
Your best work tool: monday.com for project management
You consider yourself resourceful, charismatic, strategic, and confident.
(Like, for example, Enneagram 7s, Enneagram 8s or Myers-Briggs ESFPs and ENTPs)
Your motivational quote: “Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.” -Margaret Thatcher
Your jam: Run the World (Girls) by Beyoncé
Your best work tool: A Boss Personal Planner
Stranger Danger? Not if You Know How to Talk to Them
“The right way to talk to strangers is with caution and humility,” Malcolm Gladwell states in Talking to Strangers. Throw in some “mindfulness” and you’ve got a recipe for easily connecting with anyone, anywhere. Here’s your guide to performing a mindfulness stranger scan (loosely based on a classic mindfulness body scan meditation and supplemented with some knowledge nuggets from a former FBI agent). Take a look at the environment you share with this person.
How does this environment make you feel?
How do you imagine the environment makes the other person feel?
Adjust your body language, vocal volume, and tone to best suit this environment.
Notice the other person’s body language to establish a baseline.
Inventory their posture, facial expression, stance, and unconscious movements.
Try to understand how this person might be feeling at this moment.
Adjust your body language, vocal volume, and tone to best suit or even mirror this mood.
Hear the other person’s words.
Summarize how you’re interpreting their words to demonstrate you’re listening and that you want to understand
Ask clarifying questions
Nod and maintain eye contact to demonstrate listening
Pay attention to shifts in their tone of voice and body language as they speak
Repeat all these steps throughout your exchange, being especially mindful of any changes (both potentially positive and negative) in body language. (For example, an increase or decrease in eye contact.)
Take deep calming breaths as you adjust/modify your behavior according to your insights.
Recognition: The Universal Strategy for Building Rapport
There’s one strategy that will help you work with any personality type in any work setting: Recognizing them, applauding them, and complimenting them.
Recognition is like the shadow nutrient almost everyone — regardless of personality type, office culture, or work preferences — needs to survive and very often craves.
“Whether your team is fully remote, hybrid, or in-person, the most important way to engage your team is by ensuring there is psychological safety — the ability to take interpersonal risk on a team without being shamed. You can do this by giving positive recognition when a team member takes a risk and fails, and by being vulnerable as a leader through sharing your own missteps,” Jocelyn Thompson, Principal and CEO of WorkVision Consulting told Bonusly.
In other words, generously doling out recognition using a platform like Bonusly is a pretty safe bet for being universally easy to work with.
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In case you missed it...
Amber Petty is hosting the free "Perfectionist's Half-Assed Writing Challenge". Join the live training on how to write more, worry less, and tell the "it's not good enough" voice to F off.
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