This post is by Nathan Robbins. I could stay up all night talking with him about his ideas. His use of personality typing to understand other people goes a long way toward improving relationships.
George Carlin once said, "Have you ever noticed that anyone who drives faster than you is a maniac, and anyone who drives slower than you is an idiot?" It's true, we tend to view any person who thinks or acts in a way other than we would as mean, air-headed, stubborn or just plain dumb. Interacting with people through this lens can lead to a great deal of frustration, heartache, and hurt feelings.
We naturally have the tendency to seek out people who think like we do, like the same things, and even say the same catch phrases. But no one does things exactly the same as us. That's a great thing, though, because I can't think of a more boring relationship! We are bound to run into conflicts, differences of opinion, and friends who think that your favorite sweater makes you look twenty years older, and don't seem to have any problem with telling you.
Everyone has a unique personality, a unique way of viewing the world. Your ability to understand it and take it into account when dealing with them can determine the strength of your relationship. I've listed below a variety of different types of personalities (based loosely off of Jungian Typology and Myers-Briggs Type Indicators). Try to apply these types to yourself and the people closest to you. How close to your personality are they? After you have a pretty good idea of who is what, the most important part is to realize that these differences are a GOOD thing. We need them. Desperately.
These people are impressive. They either have the funniest anecdotes, the greatest talents, or the most unique viewpoints that they are happy to share with you. You can either resent them for stealing the limelight whenever they get the chance, or you can just enjoy their creative energy and knack for finding so much joy in simply being alive.
Often found lost in a book, a video game, or a new theory, they are known for being anywhere but in the present. They have a better sense of what they don't want than what they want, so often lack the motivation to pursue fixed goals. To some they can come off as lazy or procrastinators; others learn to run off with them in their fantasies and views of the way the world could be.
These are the people who know what they want, and they know what they need to do to get it. They quickly take in loads of information and can make accurate decisions based off of it. It can be very frustrating to deal with them if you want to go a different direction than they do, but when you're on the same side, you can accomplish things you never thought possible.
All in Focus
This type has championed a cause and are most often found trying to tackle it alone, whether it be intellectual pursuits, or trying to solve all the problems of the world. They are even-tempered steady, and hard-working. Some people can easily become frustrated with their lack of spontaneity, but a wonderful balance can be struck by sticking to the old notion of work hard first so you can play hard later.
All of the above types are matched with one of the types below. Some pretty fascinating combinations result:
Eutopians want to make the world a better place. They try to see the best in everyone and everything, and can become extremely disappointed when they don't find it. It can be tiring to try to keep up with their optimism and wade through their low periods, but if you can stand the roller coaster, you can experience life in a way that few ever get to.
Seekers of truth, the intellects try to find the meaning behind even the most trivial occurrences. They rarely take things at face value, and are often trying to "read between the lines" of everything you say. I admit, it can be easy to tune out of their philosophical rants, or be baffled by their social oddities, but they often hold the greatest insights and clearly interpret even the most subtle idiosyncrasies.
This type is based in reality. They spend their time in experiencing the world through things, whether they be the newest gadgets, classic cars, or sports. They can be adventurous or practical, but are most often logical. Their tendency to not take into account others' emotions can make them seem callous or rude, but they are the type to get to know when you want to experience what the world has to offer.
These people want to experience human emotion. Some do it by taking care of you, some do it by creating art. They are primarily concerned with the human condition and spend their time seeking positivity. It is easy to become frustrated with their at times irrational and emotional behavior, but no one else can make you feel more cared for and loved.
Granted, everyone is a mixture of all of the types, but people tend to exhibit two of them predominately. As I said earlier, the better you understand where someone is coming from, the more you can understand their behavior and strengthen your relationship with them. Now, the next time you recount your awful day through tears, and your significant other says "you want to go out to eat?" you might just smile and realize that that is the way that THEY would want to take care of that problem. And you can explain to them that you don't do things exactly the same way they do. . .