My sympathies

With a wife with majors in Psychology and Counseling I’ve absorbed some of her skepticism of popular personality assessments. However, she and I both feel they’re interesting ways of starting a dialog about how people approach their environment.

I took a few assessments at work for a Teamwork class and remember myself as an “INSP”. Most friends are shocked at the ‘I’ because I seem to do fine around people, but I recharge best by having some solo time. For the Intuitive and Sensing I’m stronger on the Intuit side but was almost 50/50 between Sensing and Thinking. While I was midline on most of the traits, Perceiving (vs. Judging) was the trait where I was most strongly identified.

In their blog, dbug, Brian & Stephanie Reindel discuss the role of personality in “The Architect and the Mastermind”. In their examples I thought it was interesting the Thinking trait seemed dominant, however although I seem more of an ‘S’ I still sympathize with the article’s statement;

“I possess an insatiable desire to build something useful. The sole purpose of any system is to be the focus of my criticism, and suggestions for improvement are a necessary outlet. Any application I build, after finished, is undeniably worthless, and must be completely refined, streamlined, and re-built.”

I’m sure “worthless” was meant spiritually as in the ever pursuit of perfection, but I suffer from many forms of this flaw. I’m less fearful of something actually being worthless, because that would imply I finished. Perhaps a greater failing is creating something never shared, and thus worthless to the greater good.

However, this personality trait manifests in more insidious was, such as when I quit before I finish because I perceive flaws too strongly. Or I capitulate by investing too much upfront time, never actually starting and thus never technically failing, but the end result is the same or worse then having failed in the attempt.

That was one realization I had from reading their article. For some other interesting perspectives of your own check it out.

About jay

I'm trying to build something interactive where I can learn from others and hopefully share useful knowledge too. thecapacity@gmail.com
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5 Responses to My sympathies

  1. Pingback: thecapacity : What do I win… ?

  2. jay says:

    Brad,
    I like the attitude on personality tests and I think you’re right. They’re good for “initiating the conversation…”.

    I also know Molly’s not 100% against them. We had to take a “marriage potential” questionnaire (or some such thing) where we learned “we’re not spontaneous enough” and some other such comments.

    Even without arguing whether spontaneity itself is good or bad, it was more fun to debate why in the world the test thought we weren’t spontaneous.

    Regardless of any of those findings (or the “conclusions” from the numbers) we really did enjoy the conversation.

  3. Brad says:

    I’m not so sure I share the skepticism of personality tests… so long as expectations are set properly. I agree that they shouldn’t be used as a pass/fail criteria or to pair up people with “complementary” personalities. To me, the value of a personality test is that it offers a stimulus for personal reflection & introspection.

    One can draw an analogy between personality tests and fortune tellers. Both make broad, general statements. (ex. “ISFPs are peaceful, easygoing people”… “You’ve lost someone important to you”) We view these statements through our personal “filter” (ie. our experience, our attitudes, our mood, the phase of the moon, etc) and assign them a meaning that makes sense in our world view.

    So to me the value is in examining a) what meaning we assign, b) why, and c) how we feel about it. For example, when I take the test, I come up as an ISTP. Reading the description on Wikipedia (would include the link but I’m not sure how it would turn out in the comments) I think it’s pretty accurate. However, that could be because it fits with my preferred self-image. Obviously Jay was able to gain some insight based on his interpretation of the description of his personality type. So in that respect, I think there’s value…

    For starting a dialog, I prefer the Johari window (check your del.icio.us from February). It’s an interesting comparison of your self-image with how you’re perceived by others. What’s really intriguing to me is the difference in perception between people who know you in a personal environment vs. a work environment (not to mention people who know you in both).

  4. jay says:

    Hmm,
    I must have misunderstood what you were saying… Let me see if I can pull up my class folder….

    I’m indeed an INFP, I believe I meant to say I was nearly 50/50 on the N/S.

    Yea you’re in trouble now… I’m bringing this whole class home for you.

  5. Molly says:

    I remember talking to you while you were writing this post….however, you can’t be an ‘INSP’ because N/S are the poles of the second trait – Sensing/iNtuition.
    By saying that you were 50/50 on sensing/thinking I’m guessing you meant Thinking/Feeling. This would make your Myers-Briggs type an “INTP or INFP”….which by the way is a great complement to my own “ENFJ”. (not that we put much stock in this kind of thing anyway!).

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