If you read one thread of books and teachings on the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of human existence you will find that life is full of polar opposites: High/Low, Good/Bad, Large/Small, In/Out, Up/Down, Right/Wrong, Loud/Quiet, Left/Right, Fire/Water, Heaven/Earth, Yin/Yang, etc. The list goes on seemingly forever. At the same time there seems to be a pattern of threes in life that is more dominant than twos: Religion, culture, folklore, luck, games, sports, language, social organization, etc.
It is easy to choose two or four polar extremes to classify people into convenient personality types. Introversion/Extraversion, Thinking/Feeling, Detail/BigPicture, Organized/Scattered, etc. If you combine a few of them you can easily come up with an arbitrary number of 2, 4, 8, 16, 64, or more tiny little boxes to explain everybody’s observed behaviour.
You can then go out and make up a test to see if people neatly fit into your set of boxes (types). Statisticians can help you prove that you are right regardless of the data you collect. (You already know not to read too much into the statistics about anything.) Now you have a nice little package of personality types and can write a PhD thesis, write books, start marketing, go on a speaking tour, be on TV, become a celebrity of sorts, offer training seminars, etc. and have a real business. Cool!
Many people have already done this and they have great businesses. I speak with executives that use these trainings in their companies all the time. The participants love them because they are very enjoyable and entertaining. Mostly giving back to the participant exactly what they entered into the inventory.
I like to ask if anybody has actually been able to use these models in their daily business. The answer is always no. The question is: why can’t anybody effectively apply any of these personality type systems to their daily communication and interaction? I don’t know for sure, but it sure seems like they are all arbitrary arrangements and everybody has to choose a polar extreme for it to work out. Once it gets past a few I can’t keep track anymore because I am too busy doing what I am supposed to be doing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t fit into a tiny little box of a personality type that someone made up without really understanding me. People are more complicated than that. Casting people into types tends to lose sight of the individual’s uniqueness.
The simple fact is that there is no physical, biological, genetic, anthropological, scientific, or any other evidence to support these theories. There is also no way to ensure that someone doesn’t change because all information you have is based on that person’s situation when they took the test. However, it is useful for starting a conversation and getting people to talk about their experience and situation. If you are new and/or inexperienced in social interaction, then these tools are a great place to start. If you read the work of the Psychologist Carl Jung or Alfred Adler you will find this to be their original intent and nothing more.
People are individuals. They don’t fit into tiny little personality boxes.
The first step is to understand yourself – Self-Knowledge.
If you haven’t noticed yet, it’s not so easy to do if all you have at your disposal are personality types that put you into little boxes. Look for a way to understand yourself as an individual with a stable (unchanging) basis that has some grounding in how the brain actually works. Then you will start down the path to understand how and why you handle life the way you do.
If you don’t already know, which is ok because most people don’t, go on a journey and find out who you really are.
What is your nature that doesn’t change and what is situational and can change?
Don’t expect a quick answer either. It takes time and work.
From there we can talk about how to understand others.
Let me know if I can supply you with any resources or a place to start.