Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Throwing Rocks Through the Johari Window

Dave and I took personality tests before we got married... I don't have the results in front of me - so I might be talking out of my rear end... but I remember two results that seem so unlike me, it's maddening...

I'd like to talk about the veracity of personality tests. You see, I question them, but I don't even know if I can - as I, like Tom Cruise would say 'don't know the history of psychology.') Bill, the man who proctored the "exam" gave us few instructions. One - even though you have three choices, either Yes, I don't know, or "?," don't choose "?." He said we'd get a better score if we committed one way or the other. This freaked me out a little - but I'll get to that in a minute.

He also said the results of the personality test really don't vary throughout the course of a person's life. He said he took the test, retook it years later, and it never varied. He's still just a Bill - yes, he's only a Bill...

The only personality test I've ever taken (barring the ones Trixie and HP link to on their blogs) is the Meyers-Briggs. I took it in college, along with the members of a leadership team I was a part of.

The test was fascinating - on the group level - because it explained why our leadership team wasn't getting along. We were all over the chart - all opposites of each other - and the proof was in the pudding. We argued. We cajoled. We fussed. We "challenged." I finally left the group. (I'm not a quitter. As I had recently finished an economics class, I wrote it off as a simple matter of supply and demand. The demand on my time vs. my supply of annoyance...) The Meyers-Briggs test also surprised me. It told me I was an introvert. I never realized I was introverted...

Doesn't that sound funny? I mean, how could one not know? I was always the one cracking jokes, telling stories. I didn't mind being in front of groups all that much (as long as I knew what I was going to say)... I liked some people... I thought I was very extroverted!

The truth was, however - that I disliked a lot more people than I've ever liked - and when push comes to shove, I am the most energetic and creative when I am alone. I refuel quietly.

Anyway, the test I took most recently told me equally surprising things - this time, however, they made no sense. It asked a series of questions like "What do you prefer: Springtime or the Mountains? (that wasn't really a test question - but the test contained similarly odd little comparisons that made me crazy - and I felt funny answering them). It also asked a series of "Fill in the sequence" questions... Like "What's next? 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8....."

I felt like I was taking the MCATS... or going for a second GED (just kidding.)

The test told me, in no uncertain terms two things that shocked me:

One, That I am not a warm person.

Two - that I easily adapt to change.

It's not that I don't WANT to be cold or malleable... It's just that I don't believe I'm either.

I hate mean people - am always looking for someone to be nice to, and often go out of my way to show a kindness, hold the door for someone - or just to smile and say hello. I have actually prayed for people who cut me off on the highway! (Lord, I pray that they don't hurt anyone else, amen). In my mind, I am warm and toasty!

Regarding change, I hate it! I freak out at everything. The day I moved into my new house, I had a nervous breakdown because one of my moving volunteers cancelled... I still feel guilty for missing an appointment that I missed a month ago... I don't really think I adapt all that well...

It's like someone had thrown a big rock through every pane of my Johari Window.

It's been two weeks since I've taken that test - and I'm still not over it. Today, I explained my test results to a client. We were in Payless Shoestore buying props for a photo shoot. With props in hand, we stood in line, chatting, and minding our own business. When we approached the cashier, she looked at us, and blurted, "I have no friends, and either does my boyfriend!"

As she began her tales of woe, I wondered if I'd stepped into the secret taping of the "Postsecret Pilot TV Show." She told us more about her life than we really wanted to know... about how she and her boyfriend they met at How all of her old friends abandoned her - spread out after highschool and moved on after college... and on and on and on.

Ok. On my way out of Payless, I looked at my client in what I must admit, must have been a fairly "UNWARM" manner. "This happens to me all of the time!" I said.

To be honest? The part of me that doesn't adapt well has never gotten used to it!


  • At 4:55 PM, Blogger Sarabeth said…

    Are you sure you weren't me when you took that test?

  • At 7:53 PM, Anonymous DF said…

    I identify very strongly with your extrovert-introvert dichotomy, and I've read quite a bit of the Myers-Briggs stuff, and it makes sense to me.

    If you are like me, then your primary way of recharging is by spending time in solitude.

    However, if you are sensitive/a feeler type, you are uncomfortable in situations where it's clear there needs to be smooth, harmonious interaction between people and there won't be if you're sitting there like a clam.

    Church is a perfect example of this type of interaction. Religion/spirituality can be very uncomfortable for people. Naturally a sensitive person who is kind wants to make it easier for people to open up or feel at home.

    So you go to your secondary strength, which is extroversion. You and people around you start thinking of you as an extrovert.

    I used to tell people, "I think I would make a really great hermit," and they would fall on the floor laughing. But inside, I was yearning for solitude like water in the desert.

    After about 15 years of burning myself out in church using my secondary skill of extroversion, I crashed. I will never again be as involved with people in church as I used to be. I just don't have the psychic resources.

    So that's my story. Whatever fits you, great. And if you want to talk more by email, let me know. I'm rootin' for ya.


  • At 11:57 AM, Blogger Trixie said…

    (Sarabeth, I was thinking the SAME thing about you and Kelly!)

    I took a test with my management team here at work about 4 years ago. One of the measures of this test would be how "outside" your comfort zone you performed with the thought being the more "performance" the more stress. We should ideally all have jobs where we are the same person at the office that we are at home. This would equal zero stress.

    I would have told you that I am the same

    Guess what? I'm not!

    The test showed that when I went to this job (not the one I have now but the one before) I morphed into someone very different. Hence - no surprise - I was stressed beyond belief. Eventually I worked myself into 50+ extra pounds and bad mental health. I had to leave that job.

    I wonder now if I took the test again would I show that I was closer to my "home" personality. It would be an interesting look.

    Oh. Yeah. One of my big stress points was that I was more introverted at home/socially and far more extroverted at work.


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