If we are not careful we could all get labelled! Whether it is the Myers Briggs type indicator, or an Enneagram number, we each can appear as a certain type of person. I am like this….and you (if you have completed the same questionnaire) are like this….
Personality tests can be extremely helpful. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator certainly helped me, about twenty years ago, understand why I drew energy from being on my own for periods of time (‘I’), went with my hunches more often than not (being extremely ‘N’ for intuitive), love to be organised (‘J’) and was often in touch with feelings (‘F’). Actually, I probably knew most of that, but the Indicator affirmed me in who I am. It made me realise that others were different from me, but that it was ok to be me.
Then a few years later I was introduced to the Enneagram, which further helped me to understand who I am, but even more helped me to understand the behaviour of others. I began to realise why colleagues and friends behaved as they did, and how my understanding of them, and my own self, could help me relate better to them and their behaviour.
This week we have been working with another tool, the Gilmore and Fraleigh Friendly Style Profile. This profile helps us understand our preferred working styles in both calm and storm, and to see how, when working in teams, we can bring out the best in one another. I have gained a lot from understanding why I can be impatient with certain types of people – and to differentiate between those who analyse, those who direct, those who harmonize and those who perfect. It also has helped to clarify why I sometimes do all of these, in calm and storm, as, having completely the questionnaire, unlike most on the course, I have discovered I don’t have too many extremes but have a bit of everything.
None of these tests holds the total key to who I am, but each helps me to understand how my behaviour and tendencies differ from those of other people, and how we can therefore get the best from one another. The key to relationships is understanding, and so any help we can get to improve that can only be good. When so many relationships fall apart, become strained, or go stale, a little bit more self knowledge is a very positive thing.
The wonderful thing in all of this is that there is no such thing as a bad ‘Type’ – we can appreciate our diversity – knowing that each of us is loved and special. As the Psalmist writes we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’