Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Does Everyone Fit in a Box?
During my fifteen years in Corporate America, there were two or three times that I had to take a personality test. I don’t remember all the official names, but after answering several questions, I landed in one of four boxes on a piece of paper, each labeled with one or two general words that defined “me.”
One time, I was bored by it; another time, I had fun. My coworkers and I had to mark a yellow sticky on each other’s backs to give our opinion of the person's personality.
My husband and I also took a test during a marriage retreat. This one was fun because it defined us with “colors!” We were red, yellow, blue, or green – our dominant personality, and another of the four colors as our secondary personality. A church leader jokingly said, “All you red people (controllers), take notice of who all the green people (givers) are because they have a hard time saying no.”
This subject came to mind when I asked a tennis teacher if she had more openings in her class for nine to twelve year olds…on the day of the first class. She only had four signed up, but the following day she told me several more showed up.
“Everyone procrastinates,” she said, which made me wonder if the procrastinators fit in one of the personality boxes or in another popular categorization, “Type A or Type B.”
(Click here to see Wikipedia’s entry on the “Four Temperaments” and click here to see the “Type A and Type B Personality Theory” entry; or Google “personality test.”)
I suppose these tests are used to place individuals in positions of work where they will be most comfortable, productive, and best able to benefit the organization - a worthy goal.
I didn’t pay attention to the A-B thing until I began working at a large corporation in 1984, filled with college recruits. “I’m type A,” one young woman said, “and I hate it when I can’t get an immediate and direct answer!”
“Ohhhh…” I thought. So that’s what the media is defining as those likely to have a heart attack.
After leaving Corporate America to get married and have children, I thought I’d relax and go with the flow. (ha ha) But even motherhood proved to be non-exempt from a scheduled day. A new friend suggested we get our five year old girls together to play. “Sure, good idea,” I said. We lived in the same neighborhood; I knew it would happen soon. But she said, “When?” and right then, I had to get it on the calendar.
I’ve always remembered that conversation. She was “proactive” (another current buzz word), and I was impressed.
My guess is that the people who researched and studied to assemble these tests can vouch for the necessity, accuracy, success, and benefits. But at my age, hopefully, I’m done with them. I’ve always been an independent type, and whereas I have landed in one of the four boxes when tested, I prefer operating outside of the box, jumping into whatever box I need during any given situation.
As for Type A-Type B – I think I’m in the B box, because I never say it. All my Type A friends announce it on occasion. I’ve never heard anyone announce that they are Type B.
What word(s) defines your dominant personality? Are you Type A or B? How do you feel about these tests?