If you have ever spoken with me for longer than five minutes, I have probably asked you what your Myers-Briggs type is.
If it wasn’t your Myers-Briggs type, it was likely your Enneagram number or love language — I’m a little obsessed with personality tests.
Before I took one, I thought these tests’ results would be minimally helpful at best. However, my perspective changed when I began to notice traces of those results across almost every aspect of my life.
Knowing yourself, your tendencies, your motivations and the things that drain you or make you tick is vital to personal and relational maturity. Before I took these tests, I assumed everyone’s thought processes resembled mine. I assumed other people should understand why certain actions would offend or gratify me. After learning from these quizzes, I communicate better, knowing my reasoning might be foreign to other people.
These tests might not be as accurate or relevant to everyone as they have proven for me, but they have potential to make us drastically more self-aware, which can affect relationships with family, friends and even ourselves.
The root of much conflict is miscommunication. Self-awareness reminds us to ask other parties important questions and see beyond the surface of others’ actions or words to identify motivations or hurts that might spur argument or retaliation from other people. When I first read my Enneagram number’s description, I was surprised not simply at how accurate it was, but at the fact that the majority of other people do not think the way I do. Recognizing unique tendencies in my thoughts and behavior help
me navigate disagreements, especially when the root of them is simply a difference in personality.
Tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or 16 Personalities, basically the same test) address not only elements of our personalities, but also the way those factors integrate to create idiosyncrasies, needs and preferences many people of the same type share in common. Understanding my type has bettered me in work and social contexts and has been incredibly relevant to friendship and family dynamics. Understanding that my type’s tendencies are rare but not wrong has removed much self-doubt from my life.
Knowing yourself leads to a higher capacity for leadership, whether of other people or of self. Recognizing our strengths is crucial to developing skills and even relationships. Acknowledging our individuality develops our appreciation for ourselves and the way we function, creating space for creativity in how we carry out daily tasks as well as more significant projects. This creativity is innovative and produces better leadership ability.
The Clifton Strengthsfinder, with which most Baylor students are already familiar, is a great resource for identifying individuality. Other tests, like the Five Love Languages, illuminate tendencies in behavior and perception of other people’s actions. Knowing my love language and the languages of friends and family has prevented more misunderstandings than I can count, and I can’t recommend highly that test highly enough.
Personality tests and their results might seem useless or simple, but they deserve a chance. They might change the way you communicate, lead and love. Do a little self-research, if not for yourself, for the people around you. The difference it makes could be huge or small, but either way, it’s worth it to try.