Sometime around 2012 I became intrigued by personality typing systems. I had a loose introduction to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and a deeper introduction to DISC. After implementing DISC in a work setting I started to realize how helpful systems such as DISC can be toward working with others. The real magic though came when I used DISC to help me understand myself better.
In the years since I’ve slowly read up on other similar systems. Then, around mid-2018, I came across Anne Bogel’s book Reading People. Anne aims to give an overview of many such systems, which I’d say she succeeds in.
If you’re looking for some high-level descriptions of typing systems, Anne does a good job outlining them in her book. From this high-level perspective, you can choose which system(s) to go deeper on.
My only critique of Anne’s book is that she doesn’t scrutinize any of the typing systems in her writing. I would have loved to see her touch on that side of each system, as each has its opponents. That said, the book remains a great primer for anyone interested in that alone.
“I’ve come to think understanding personality is like holding a good map. That map can’t take you anywhere. It doesn’t change your location; you’re still right where you were before. But the map’s purpose isn’t to move you; it’s to show you the lay of the land. It’s the tool that makes it possible for you to get where you want to go.” (p. 15)
I love this picture of a map. The question I’m left with is this: how accurate is this map? How skilled were the cartographers? Is there a legend that shows me how to read the map? Etc.
“We all live in the first person. I experience the world through my eyes; we all do. But each of these personality frameworks, when used thoughtfully, gives me eyes to see the world from someone else’s point of view for a little while. It’s a simple way to try out a new perspective, a different worldview. And once we’ve caught a glimpse of the world through someone else’s eyes, we won’t soon forget that point of view. It changes us, and it changes the way we read others.” (p. 20)
I love the paragraph above. This puts an emphasis on the empathic benefits to gaining more awareness about the various personality frameworks.
These are the frameworks discussed in this book:
“All the personality tests in the world won’t mean anything to you if you’re not honest with yourself about your own personality and the personalities of those around you.” (p. 28)
“Appearances can be deceiving, but your mental state, feelings, and sometimes even physical reactions will key you in to which is your real world, the external works “out there” or the internal world of your thoughts.” (p. 43)
“Once you understand yourself, you can stop fighting your natural tendencies and plan for them instead.” (p. 43)
“We are all different, even different in our expressions of introversion or extroversion. By understanding ourselves and how we might be different from others, we can better appreciate other people and the way they are wired. And with practice and experience, through trial and error, we’ll get better at making the right decisions for ourselves, as well as for the people around us.” (p. 54)
As I started this chapter I realized that I’ve heard people call themselves “a highly sensitive person” but didn’t realize it was a measured thing. This chapter was really interesting to me. I can see some of the HSP stuff in some people around me, and in myself as well. I’m interested in taking the assessment she talks about.
The HSP assessment can be found at http://hsperson.com/test/. The test seemed a bit too loose for my taste, but I took it and selected 16 of the 27 questions as “true” for me. If you select 14 or more you probably fall into the HSP camp. So I’m there. But not by much.
Common triggers for HSPs:
“The first thing you need to know about highly sensitive people is that their nervous systems are what they are. People can grow and develop in countless ways, but there is no volume knob they can access to turn down their nervous system’s naturally elevated response to stimuli. This trait is hardwired.” (p. 64)
As I read through this chapter I find myself wondering if misophonia is at all connected to being a highly sensitive person.
“The bad news for HSPs is that they have many things draining their fuel tanks. The good news is that they can control some, maybe even many, of those factors.” (p. 65)
Here are some things important to intentionally prioritize for HSPs:
“Understanding is the greatest gift any parent can give their highly sensitive child.” (p. 71)
“Experiencing more does have advantages. This trait makes you a kind and caring friend, an empathetic and wise counselor, an insightful employee, and a spiritual seeker.” (p. 72)
I didn’t take any notes in this chapter because I’m well acquainted with The 5 Love Languages. Here’s a list of the love languages, just so I can feel like I added something relevant here:
This was the only thing in the table of contents that I’d never heard of.
“Unfortunately, all parents project themselves onto their children to one degree or another, and we expect them to resemble us more than we ought. It’s a hazard of being human, and of being the authority figure in that particular relationship.” (p. 96)
“The more I paid attention to the way we interacted, the clearer it became that the real thing that needed fixing was my point of view.” (p. 97)
“Under Keirsey’s framework, two factors determine terperament: how we use words (what we say) and how we use tools (what we do). According to Keirsey, all of us lean toward being concrete or abstract in our words usage and are either cooperative or utilitarian in our tool usage.” (p. 99, emphasis mine to call out key words)
This assessment is free at https://profile.keirsey.com/#/b2c/assessment/start (I got Guardian Protector, though I question this a little since it’s paired to ISFJ in MBTI.)
“When I start talking about temperament with people, sometimes they’ll ask, ‘But which temperament is best?’ My answer is always, ‘Best for what?’ Each temperament has certain characteristics; we cannot be all things to all people. Each temperament has great strengths, but no one temperament has every possible strength. We can’t be traditional and cutting-edge, detail-oriented and big-picture-oriented, staid and spontaneous.” (p. 108)
“Reality check: no one individual can meet all our needs. It’s like wanting your spouse to be tall, except on the days you’d rather they be short.” (p. 109)
“The point of the four temperaments isn’t to put people into boxes or to definitively describe all human behavior. The point is to get us out of the boxes we’re trapped in by helping us grasp the insights we need for improved empathy through better understanding. When we understand what’s happening with regard to people’s varying personalities, we can appreciate their differences — and the fundamental need for those differences — instead of doing what we usually do, which is get all crazy about them.” (p. 113)
This passage above sums up my interest in this book, and all source materials as well. The pursuit of empathy and the tools to teach it are important to me. I love that she called it out here. (Though I think it could have been written in any part of the book, not just the chapter about Keirsey’s Temperaments.)
“According to Keirsey’s framework, or any of the others in this book, two reasonably well-adjusted people can build a relationship that works well for them, no matter their temperaments. The key is to understand the factors at play, appreciate each person’s strengths and weaknesses, and enter the relationship with realistic expectations.” (p. 113)
I had a very loose understanding of MBTI before reading this chapter. After reading this, and the following, chapter I’m getting it a bit more. I later took time to actually go through the assessment.
The letters are for:
After reading the descriptions I wasn’t sure where I fell. Thankfully she goes deeper in the next chapter which helped me narrow it down better.
“The MBTI is focused on personal growth. At its core, it assumes that self-understanding leads to growth.” (p. 127)
“A broad distribution of type strengthens an organization and prevents it from being lopsided. Without all the types working together, an organization will have points of weakness.” (pp. 128 – 129)
“Conflicts that arise due to personality differences can be troublesome but fairly innocuous, as long as we’re able to diagnose what’s happening. Not all relational conflicts are personality conflicts, of course, but many are. And those can often be effectively managed when we enlist the aid of a good personality framework to see the world through someone else’s eyes for a bit.” (p. 137)
I appreciate the end of the passage above. The emphasis isn’t on how a personality framework fixes anything. It just gives one the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes when they need to. The approach is from the inside out, not the outside in.
Overall, the author suggests you need a professional facilitator for the results to be truly accurate and effective. She did mention a free version though which I plan to take. You can find that at https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test. (I got INFJ‑A here, then got ISTJ from the official Myers-Briggs online assessment.)
“…the only way to truly determine your MBTI type is to identify your [cognitive] functions and the order you use them in.” (p. 140)
There’s a hierarchy to how the functions play out:
We don’t tend to notice or think about our dominant. It’s just natural; instinctive. We’re more aware of our auxiliary since it’s typically in opposition to our nature.
“Many of us notice that our personalities seem to shift as we move into our twenties and thirties and chalk it up to our MBTI type changing because we’re maturing or we got married or we had kids or we took a new job. That’t not what happens. We don’t change out MBTI type, but we develop and strengthen those processes that characterize our type that are already present. We become deeper, more complete versions of ourselves.” (p. 148)
“We all engage in work, whatever that looks like, and the StrengthsFinder assessment can help us see how our strengths fit into all that stuff.” (p. 157)
(This assessment is included in the purchase of the book StrengthsFinder 2.0. I’ll include a link below if you want to check that out.)
“I appreciated how my results specifically suggested that I partner with people who have themes different from mine so that, together, we can accomplish things I wouldn’t be able to do on my own.” (pp. 166 – 167)
I didn’t capture much from this chapter because I chose to read through StrengthsFinder 2.0 itself.
This was my primer for the Enneagram. I already had another book I bought, The Road Back to You, for a more focused dive into the subject. Ultimately I’d recommend that book as a starting point for the Enneagram — if you’re looking for one.
“The Enneagram fosters the self-awareness and self-examination necessary for personal and spiritual growth.” (p. 172)
“Think of each type as seeing the world through a unique paid of glasses. These glasses sometimes bring us clarity, but they can also distort our vision in big and small ways.” (p. 173)
This is my favorite illustration of the enneagram as a tool. I think I’ve heard Suzanne Stabile speak to it the most.
“The Enneagram pinpoints not our weaknesses but our motivations — the underlying reasons that drive everything we do.” (p. 174)
“Growth is a multistep process, but it is an actual process.” (p. 179)
“The goal is, as always, to become more ourselves — our true selves — instead of getting tripped up by the stumbling blocks that tend to befall each personality type. Personal growth takes us out of unhealthy reflexive actions and enables us to be more fully ourselves, more present, more aware, and more intentional.” (p. 180)
“It’s often our glaring weaknesses that confirm our type.” (p. 184)
“Until we learn to pay attention to our own patterns of behavior, we are powerless to change them.” (p. 188)
“To a large extent, our mindsets determine the quality of our friendships. When we don’t feel we need to prove that we’re worth something — whether to ourselves or to others — we’re free to appreciate other people for who they are.” (p. 198)
“Learning more about personality types has helped me make peace with the way I was made (even though some days I’d rather trade myself in for a different model). It has helped me understand the people I love, live with, and work with, and it has helped me accept the way they were made, which is to say, differently from me.” (p. 201)
“My personality traits don’t determine my destiny, but they inform it, and I’ve accepted that.” (p. 201)
“Because I understand myself better, I can navigate the world a little better.” (p. 202)
All excerpts © 2017 by Anne Bogel
© 2020 Erik Reagan unless otherwise noted
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