Using Personality Test Insights in Real Life


I love personality tests. I used to just love the idea of them, learning things about yourself and whatnot. I guess I used to treat them more like horoscopes -- information that makes you nod and think hmm interesting, but never actually take action or make changes based on it. In the last year or so, I've really been trying to use that information learned to make me into a better person. 

My favorite personality tests are Myers Briggs, Enneagram, and The 5 Love Languages. And just so you know where I'm coming from, here are my types:

  • Myers Briggs - INFJ -- INFJs have an inborn sense of idealism and morality, but what sets me apart is the accompanying Judging (J) trait. INFJs are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting positive impact. INFJs have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in. 
  • Enneagram - Style ONE (The Good Person), Non-Resourceful -- Ones usually work very hard to live up to their potential and to help others do that same. Being non-resourceful means you may get overly intense when you try to be good and right, or to make the world better. You may feel that if you could just be perfect, you would avoid being criticized. You may get angry and resentful when things aren't done right, and be very critical of yourself when you've done less than a perfect job.
  • 5 Love Languages - Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation

So basically, I'm a self-critical worker bee with lofty goals and high expectations. I've found that knowing that about myself and then knowing the people I regularly interact with's personality types has helped me tremendously.

With Relationships

Matt's a tough one with personality tests. He doesn't like being put in a box (I love boxes because I feel like they help me understand). That being said, last I checked (his types change a lot), he matched me for Myers-Briggs & Enneagram (although he is resourceful in Enneagram), and was Words of Affirmation & Quality Time for 5 Love Languages. 

For us, this has meant that we both share the idealism and the desire to see things and personal/relational development to advance. The main difference is our timelines. When I notice something that needs to be done, I need it done immediately. Matt is much more patient and thought-out than I am with all of that. He also has a different sense of urgency because he doesn't obsess over things the way that I do. This has definitely caused conflict, but it's something that now that we know it about each other, we can work to help make the other person feel loved and respected, which often means working outside of our own timelines. He has that same patience for other people too -- this is something I really want to develop. He's not quick to criticize others, in the way that I am. He sees the potential in people and understands that they will get there in time. 

With love languages, he has had to learn to hold my hand more often than he would think to do himself and I have had to learn to put my phone away when we are sitting on the couch watching TV. Even though those things we have learned to do are not natural to us, we know that they make the other person feel loved, so we do them.

Obviously, those insights are unique to us, but the idea is not. It's valuable to understand where your partner is coming from and what makes them feel loved and understood. I highly recommend sitting down together to discuss the way you process things and not just naively think that everyone things or should think like you (I'm often guilty of this thought process).

With Friends & Family

My best friend couldn't be more different than me. She's an ENFP and a Gifts person. In our friendship, that means that she often is the one reaching out to hang. As an extrovert, she has more social capacity to hangout than I do. So by the time I've gained more capacity, she's feeling neglected. This is something that we've both been working on -- understanding each other's capacities. For her, it means being understanding if I just need to rest. For me, it means going out of my natural way to reach out to her over text, to call her, and to invite her to hang out. I know those things make her feel loved, so I have been working on doing a much better job of showing them. I also try to be mindful that she likes to be sent stuff. Even something as little as a $5 Starbucks gift card makes her really happy. 

Inevitably, these insights will look different for different relationships. I'd love to get my mom to take some personality tests so that I could better understand her. I think that people don't often try hard enough at friendships. One of my extroverted friends mentioned the other day that most of her friends are introverts, and that they pull the introvert card to bail on her all the time. That's not good! It's valuable to talk through and understand these things about our friends and families.

In the Workplace

A lot of start-ups are doing personality tests as part of their interview/hiring process. I think that is extremely smart. Someone can be incredible at the actual work, but if their personality type doesn't fit well with the people they work closely with, that's not ideal. Someone will likely end up unhappy. If your company didn't do that in the process, you might be in a situation where you and your colleagues don't always see eye-to-eye. That's tough! I think it's healthy and perfectly acceptable to talk through these types of things with your team. At the end of the day, you want to produce good work, and it'll make the path there much easier if people put in the effort to get to know how to best work with one another. 

I wish more companies understood this. Teams that understand each other better get along better. And getting along better improves job satisfaction. Happy teams produce better work. 

For Yourself

Self care -- always gotta address it. People with personality types that make them inclined to care for others first often forget about themselves. People like me who are hyper critical tend to be overly hard on themselves. Understanding how your brain naturally perceives self is important to better self care. As with all of these other relationships, seeking to understand is a good thing to do, that includes seeking to understand your relationship with yourself. Knowing that I can be too hard on myself is good because when I criticize myself too harshly, I can remember that that is my tendency and soften my thoughts. I can remember to think of the positive side. 

I'd highly suggest taking some of these tests, whether it's just for self understanding or for improving relationships with those around you. Seek first to understand.