Saturday, January 31, 2009

I hate being "classified"

I work with a sales coach who is big on understanding personality types. While I agree with the principle of tailoring your communications to the characteristics of an audience, I think it's difficult to concretely classify people as a . . . "fill in the blank". I think that different facets of personalities shine in different lights.

I don't know if this is true for everyone. Really, I don't even care much if it is or isn't. Maybe everyone else really IS easily classifiable into one or another personality type, and that's fine. But as for me-- I don't believe I am. Instead, I believe I utilize different characteristics of a diverse personality in different situations. For example, I'll spend 35 minutes evaluating a new shirt (or selection of shirts) before coming to a decision to buy. I'll carefully consider myriad factors that will affect my decision. Similarly, I can ponder the depth of a philosophical premise--or a strategy for solving a problem--for hours, and still wish I had more time to think through the problems of the universe. I think these behaviors would reveal me to be a very analytical person.

On the other hand, there are times when I'll exhibit a distinct lack of patience or make very hasty decisions. Also, I have a tendency to be very direct with many of my communications--occasionally coming across as lacking tact. All of these are characteristics of a Driver personality type.

I could go on explaining situation after situation where I care a great deal about the approval of others-- amiable/accommodating personality type. Also, I am easily distracted, appreciate the opportunity to express myself, and have an easy time experiencing and dealing with emotional matters--all characteristics of the expressive/emotive personality type.

My point is this: I behave according to the demands of any given situation. I hate being classified as a person who is "always" (or even "mostly") going to act a certain way. Why am I offended by this type of classification system? Because it undervalues the aspects of ME that it doesn't take into account.

On the other hand, cultural classifications don't seem to offend me: i.e. white people are "up tight"; Americans "always think they're right"; Mormons can be "annoyingly happy". . . for some reason, I can accept these types of statements--even as a White American Mormon. I accept that I fit in with the group on these.

Perhaps it’s the personal nature of some classifications that bugs me. It's the idea that these classifications just ARE who I am. The idea that people can't/don't change offends me. I think one of the morals to glean from the TV show, House, is "If life were really as purposeless as Dr. House sees it, most of us would be as depressed as him". My point is this-- no matter what my personal behavioral traits are now, I am constantly growing and becoming something more than I am now. Telling me "I AM" some personality or another seems to tell me I am NOT a bunch of other things I think I really am. . . or at least am becoming.

Why does this all come up? I started reading Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. I'm just into the 2nd or 3rd chapter, but already I disagree with most of what I'm hearing (not to mention being completely annoyed with the relentless application of the childish analogy of "Martians" and "Venusians"). By and large the author says that since I'm a man, I prefer to resolve issues alone "in my cave" without the help of my wife, and that ultimately, I prefer LESS communication to MORE. Both statements are absolutely false about me. I'm perfectly comfortable, and LONG for the opportunity to talk with my wife about my problems. While I agree with the idea that, as a man, I DO enjoy knowing that I am accomplishing something, I wouldn't say that feeling drives me more than my concern for relationships.

In a nutshell--my "cave" (as per the book) is a dark and lonely place, and I DON'T want to be there. What's more--I REALLY don't want to be there alone. Wife--if you ever see me in my "cave", and you can't help me come out of it, at LEAST come join me in there and empathize with me for a minute.


Lhone said...

Oh...I'll join you in your cave--hee hee...:)

Seriously, though...hun...I think you shouldn't be offended by someone saying you are a certain personality trait. I say it all the time, and I'm "probably right" all the time. You are who you are, but someone pinpointing how they should communicate with you, or how they view you is not a bad thing. Someone says you are a driver...and you say no? Someone says that you are analytical, and you say no? I know you think you are not any one of these things all the time, but usually someone classifies you as a compliment towards something you are doing. Except right now. I'm not complimenting, I'm saying STOP BEING ANALYTICAL!!!!

Lhone said...

PS. I like the new logo!

But...aren't you in class and supposed to be listening? Your emailing (yeah, I got the email), and blogging....

The Island Duo said...

Wow, I don't have enough time to comment on this one, or rather don't want to take the energy it would take nor the time but the point is...i'd love to say a LOT and I related with and was interested in a lOT of what was said! I guess the best part is it gives me hope for the male species that they can have communication and relationships and openness as a priority! Say...what's the personality type for not liking being classified as a personality type??? Food for thought. ;)

Wade Hone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wade Hone said...

(I deleted one post and re posted this after spell checking.)

at one time in my life I tried to 'organize' people into nice little 'slots' of personality and behavior, I mentioned to one particular girl that she didn't seem to be staying in the original slot which I had assigned to her.

It was interesting to me how offended she seemed to become to know that I had even dared to assign her a 'slot' in the first place.

So, I think that you are not alone in your desire not to be organized and type cast into a role and behavior.

As for myself, since back in college, I may look at how best to communicate with people based on what personality traits they are exhibiting at the time, but - I have given up on assuming that they are 'always' like that. I just don't think that's true in many many cases.

As for folks attempting to put me in a slot (something some employers like to try to do, so they think they know how to manage you more effectively,) Basically give me the test, and I can make it say whatever I think will be best for it to say to you. fun fun.