14 Oct Type-casting and Personality Tests in Business
You’ve probably taken a personality exam at least once in your life, for work or for pleasure, or even both. The most notable is probably the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. There’s also DISC®, which is rising in popularity, and a multitude of other variations. Not only can these be fun and help you get to know yourself better, but they can also provide useful information to professional teams about communicating with one another.
While no one fits neatly into one personality category at every moment of every day, these assessments help us understand someone’s general predilections. It’s important to know and play to your strengths. Personality tests in the work environment can give you the ability to know and play to the strengths of your entire team. Unless you truly understand other peoples’ needs and point of view, it is highly unlikely you can forge a meaningful business friendship.
At some times, type-casting people (via formal personality assessments or by snap judgment), can be dangerous. We may misread, underestimate, or limit our perceptions of others. For example, just because somebody responds a certain way on a personality test does not mean that they are incapable of changing or acting outside of that type, depending on their environment or circumstances.
One person can act in any or all of the various “personality types” depending upon (1) the actions of the other party; (2) emotional intelligence gleaned from that party; (3) attachment to good or bad news happening in one’s personal life; or, (4) passion for the immediate topic, meeting, outcome, etc. In other words, the immediacy of one’s surroundings may override his or her normal disposition. Additionally, many personality tests like DISC® work from the assumption that every person has each personality type, just in different degrees or strengths.
But type-casting to some degree is a necessary way to “wrap” out minds around a person’s basic traits and expectations. We are then more comfortable assuming that the person will behave within a prescribed pattern. Thus, we know what to expect from him or her, within reason, which allows us to focus our energies on the issues at hand or what is immediately on our minds.
We all “profile” others, whether consciously or not. We have to; if we don’t, our brains would be constantly overstimulated, and our immediate behavior will become potentially erratic. We will have a difficult time just relating to others without making any baseline judgment. However, while predetermining one’s personality preferences is helpful for initially framing the interaction, narrow-casting someone many detract from your chances of building a deeper relationship.
Personality types are a very useful tool in getting to know and learning how to work with new people, but it’s important to be aware of everyone’s feelings and motivations. Be wary of stereotypes, and let your intuition and natural instincts rule your reactions.
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