lj idol season nine | week nine | 1232 words
Keep Calm And End This Meme
Who can resist those random online quizzes that come around? Thanks to those, I now know that I write like David Foster Wallace, I am more like John Watson than any of the other BBC Sherlock characters (though my Personality Defect is being a Robot), and that my TV boyfriend is Chuck Bartowski.
When I first took that last quiz, I didn't even know who Chuck Bartowski was—so how accurate could the results be? A couple of years later, when we started watching the show, I realized that he was totally my type. Chuck is sweet, smart, and he likes to laugh—which is also true of the man I married. I do worry about anyone who might have gotten Gregory House as their result. Are those people who like to wear skimpy clothing and be regularly insulted? That's definitely the way House would treat them. Who needs that?
Our office used to offer a class in personality styles and behavior, which is based on the Merrill-Reed four-part quadrant/subquadrant scheme:
Your peers fill out anonymous surveys about your behavior, and the results determine your personality "type." This approach is more about how you're perceived than how you see yourself (and in a work environment, that's more important). Then you attend a training class.
One of our first exercises was very revealing. Everyone was separated into a group of their own 'quadrant' to work on a project with a time limit. I was an Amiable Driver, in a group with a driver of each flavor. The first thing the Driver Driver said (through clenched teeth) was, "I am not a Driver Driver," pretty much proving the opposite! We discussed our project, and quickly formulated our idea. The Expressive Driver insisted on throwing in some random thing not related to the goal, but I persuaded the Driver Driver and Analytical Driver that including it wouldn't really harm the larger outcome. We inadvertently represented our 'types' to the letter, and it was completely automatic. Scary!
When the time was up, the Analyticals had not finished the assignment (too busy arguing over details—this is typical). The Expressives had accidentally completed some other unrelated project, and both the Drivers and Amiables had finished satisfactorily… but the Amiables had enjoyed themselves immensely, and were practically humming with happiness. The class taught you how to better recognize and value other people's styles, and become more in synch with them, and was much more helpful than I'd expected.
Our company has drifted away from this kind of training. My current manager suggested that our team might take the Myers-Briggs test instead, and then meet up and discuss our personality types in the hope of better understanding each other. She hasn't mentioned it again, but Myers-Briggs is one of the most popular approaches to social styles these days (for better or worse). Plus, there are free online tests for it. Why not give one of them a try?
I wound up with the same personality type as my daughter, who is very much like I was at her age. However, in the larger population, it's rare—and found in only about 0.08% of women. I always knew I wasn't like most other women, but still! That's pretty unnerving.
This is the INTJ personality type—Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging. As I read the various descriptions of it, the assessment is a lot more truthful than I'd like:
Have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry it through. Skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance – for themselves and others.
You can see how damning that last part is, and one website helpfully offers a summary of "Ways INTJs can irritate others," including,
…being single-minded or stubborn, not taking sufficient account of current realities, and not expressing appreciation for the contributions of others (particularly where it hasn't been fully competent). You may not delegate enough, and to others it can appear that you make decisions that are unrelated to the present facts.
The tendency toward global ("big picture") thinking and strategizing includes getting a thorough grasp of a system or idea, and what's needed to make it successful. I thinks this also leads to a strong tendency to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others… but you may expect everyone else to do the same, and often, they don't or won't. They'll frustrate you, and in return feel that you judge them harshly (and by normal standards, you probably do). They'll trip over problems that you think are utterly foreseeable, while most people actually don't think multiple steps ahead—so the problems are not obvious to them.
Multiple Myers-Briggs sources really hone on the biggest weakness as having difficulty in romantic relationships, because of being too logic-focused and utterly disliking 'social games' (which can include basic flirting). Remember that Personality Defect Test up above, with the Robot result? This is really similar.
Often, these tests ask you to make choices without context. Is logic the best way to make decisions? Probably most of the time—unless you're deciding something about relationships or feelings. In that case, you may factor in some logic, but ultimately you have to feel good about your decision— so, emotion needs to weigh heavily. Do you tend to keep a lid on your emotions? The test can't tell whether that's because you have no emotions, or because you're private/introverted/easily hurt. I try not to inflict anger on other people (but don't always succeed), and try not to leave myself open to getting hurt except by people I know very well. My daughter is much the same, and that isn't a lack of emotion at all.
Attempts to classify people externally from afar are always suspect—I've seen Hillary Clinton listed as both an INTJ and as several other things. This site lists some famous 'potentials,' and even separates them into positive and negative sections. It starts off with Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla (maybe), Stephen Hawking, and some out-of-the-box social-structure thinkers such as Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Martin Luther, and Jean Paul Sartre (some INTJs obviously have a strong revolutionary streak). But then you get down to people like Vladimir Lenin (maybe), Ted Kaczynski (the Unibomber), and Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik.
I.e, a collection of murderers, maniacs, and manifesto-writing terrorists. Whyyyyyyyyyy?
I know why, actually. Any personality trait taken to extremes can cause problems. The cautionary group of "negative" representatives is about what you'd expect for those who have initiative, a disdain for random rules and authority, and too little heart. They prize their version of the "ultimate rightness" over actual human beings. When you inflict your vision on the world instead of trying to persuasively argue for it, the effects can be just devastating.
If you're interested, you can find your own Myers-Briggs Type Index. Both of these tests gave me the same results. But will that knowledge help you? Will you like what you discover?
For my MBTI type, one should clearly stay away from writing manifestos! Though this entry itself has gotten pretty long, hasn't it?
Also, avoid narcissism! As well as possibly memes (Internet and otherwise), because half the time, "Meme" = MeMeMeMeMe!
Well, uh-oh. Somehow, we've arrived here anyway.
Does that mean I'm already doomed?
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