Personality Problems: The Stampede
Written By: Liam Watts
I love taking personality tests. Not only can they eerily reflect truths about yourself, but they can also reveal insights into how other people perceive you. OKWU recognizes their value as well, which is why the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test is a requirement for formation courses. While StrengthsFinder is a great resource, Myers Briggs, Four Temperaments, and DiSC profile are also robust personality assessments. If you’ve never taken any of these personality tests, I would highly recommend you do so.
Recently, several people on campus have been discussing enjoyment and how it relates to engagement. In a way, it’s paradoxical because when you’re enjoying something, you’re more likely to be engaged in it, but we often must engage with something before we come to enjoy it. This led my group to think about personality assessments. One of the insights that can be gleaned from personalities relates to the types of tasks and conversations that people intrinsically enjoy. Different personalities enjoy engaging in different things, or to say it another way, different people like different things.
In theory, then, some people will be more engaged in a project or conversation from the start because they enjoy it more. As stated earlier, enjoyment breeds engagement, but enjoyment also has the effect of increasing fervor. This can be good and bad. Passion and excitement are praiseworthy attributes; however, they can also be dominating. If not tempered, these attributes can easily create a stampede over others and prevent them from having the chance to engage where they might have otherwise. If people are never given the chance to participate, they may never have the chance to enjoy.
Let me give an example. Within Meyers Briggs, there are four personality hierarchies: analysts, diplomats, sentinels, and explorers. Not all intelligent people are analysts, and not all analysts are intelligent people; however, analysts (by definition) do enjoy intellectual problem-solving more than the other personality types. Now, this is not to say other personality types don’t think critically or engage in intellectual problem solving, but analysts truly enjoy this process.
So, if you took a random sampling of people and asked them to think critically about an intellectual problem, the analysts in the group are the ones most likely to engage the conversation. This is not because analysts are smarter, more educated, or because they think more quickly, but because they enjoy the topic of discussion. All other factors that lead to engagement being equal (such as comfort, extroversion, or topic familiarity), this should be true for the analysts. Replace the intellectual problem with a creative one, and you’ll find that the more creatively inclined personalities, like explorers, will lead the discussion because this is a sphere that they enjoy. If someone enjoys something, they are more likely to participate.
Of course, it’s okay that not everyone will enjoy every question, discussion, project, or task. However, I believe it’s true that most things are better with friends. So, if you want to encourage others to participate and engage in your passion, in your eagerness don’t trample those who are less enthusiastic than you. Pay attention. You’ll be amazed how ridiculously easy it is to stampede over other people when you’re more excited and passionate about something than they are. Conversely, by giving someone the chance to engage, you both might be surprised to find they actually enjoy it too.