Recently I’ve been very interested in the area of determining personality test types and classifying both myself and other people into groups. I have studied personality before, starting back in Middle School when they gave me this test that apparently said I was to be put on an accelerated track. Among other things, they would recite a long string of numbers to me and I would have to read them back to them in reverse order (no paper or anything) — I’ve since found out this is pretty much entirely a visual function.
Anyway, at that time I was also introduced to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which most of you have probably heard of since it is pretty familiar. However what most people don’t know is that there are many more different sorters of personality and that while the MBTI usually a realistic and accurate description of a given personality type, there are definitely other sorters as well!
For example, a shoot-off from the Myers-Briggs is a branch of Psychology called Socionics. Socionics is based on Carl Jung’s work on Personality Test Types, Sigmund Freud’s work, and Antoni Kepinski’s Theory of Information Metabolism. It is based on the idea that we all have “psychological functions” and that if we chain or interlink these functions in certain ways, it forms a distinct personality profile.
Another great field about personality is the Enneagram. This one I am newer to, but I’ve gained a lot of knowledge on it already. Essentially there are 9 “types” of people, and then you have usually two sub-types that they can have. The Enneagram has been criticized for being too generalized, but I’ve found it already to be a great tool and I’d have to say that those criticisms are probably unwarranted, if you consider that there needs to be some deletion of information to form a cohesive and to-the-point personality model.
Another cool thing that the Enneagram does is that if you know what your primary type is, it will tell you which of the other types you tend to become more like, if you are in a state of growth or a state of stress in your life. When I used it on myself, it was surprisingly accurate!
Now when I got into NLP and especially when I started doing master practitioner level training, I started to learn about something called Metaprograms. In NLP we say that people have certain “programs” or “strategies” that they use in different contexts. Metaprograms are the programs that tend to influence what those programs do. In other words, they are “Meta to” (Meta is a prefix meaning ‘above or about’) the other programs.
What is important about Metaprograms is that they are usually very good ways of predicting behavior, and of determining a person’s personality. Some of the meta programs are Match vs. Mismatch, Options vs. Proceedures, Big chunk vs. Small chunk, and Visual/Auditory/Kinesthetic. Yes, which representational system a person uses is a metaprogram.
And what got me into this recently is that I read a book, which was recommended to me by my friend James Scott, and which I also highly recommend, called “Personality Selling” by Albert J Valentino. This is a -great- book and what it does is combines the information of the meta-programs from NLP and the types from the Enneagram, and mixes them together to tell you -exactly- how to influence a particular person.
Just think, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to communicate with anyone in the way that -they- wish to be communicated with? Sometimes we don’t always get along with other people, but why is that? Usually it is because they are not matching our filters and we are not matching their filters.
What we FEEL is real or what we THINK is real is usually not what is actually there. We have filters in place. We now know that if a person has an experience, that when they go to describe that experience to another person, they will only communicate between 1 and 2 percent of the total information. That’s it!
What is more, they will filter the information in certain predictable ways. That means in order to tell you about these personality types, I am filtering all of the information I know about it into what I think would be most useful to you. Am I right? Leave a comment!
Anyway, in 1957, Noam Chomsky found that there are 3 main ways that we determine reality and that we filter reality through our own perceptions. These three ways are Deletion, Distortion, and Generalization.
Deletion is best illustrated by the famous study in 1972 by George Miller which I call the “Seven Plus or Minus Two” study… and he found that human begins can hold seven plus or minus two bits of information in their conscious awareness at any one time, and if you go beyond that then it gets hard or sometimes even impossible to follow. Have you ever thought about how phone numbers are 7 digits long? What happens is that we delete everything except for that seven plus or minus two.
The other process that we go through is known as Distortion. If you’ve ever walked into a new place that you were going to live and you imagined what the furniture would look like, you were distorting reality! And we have a word for that in hypnosis, it’s called hallucination! Another example is, have you ever heard “creaking noises” late at night and you thought it was a burgular but afterwards you discovered it was just your imagination? It’s distortion again! So we do these things all the time.
The last process that we go through is known as Generalization, and human beings generalize information constantly. When you go to open a door at a place you have never been before, you just assume that the doorknob will be on the right and that you will turn it and the door will open. You also assume there’s something on the other side! Of course without this generalization we would be unable to move through life, so although it does eliminate “data,” it is a wonderful device that we can use.
So lately I’ve been thinking about all of this information, and trying to figure out, how can we use all of this to really determine personality, and how can we use THAT information to help us in working with our clients?
The main use of this that makes sense to me is that you will communicate with the other person in ways that they can understand and in the ways they prefer to be communicated with. In addition to that, if you are working with clients who perhaps have over-generalized beliefs or behaviors, you can use a tool like the NLP Meta Model to deconstruct what is going on, and to de-nominalize their language.
Most of all, it really helps if you know who -you- are and how you tend to react in certain situations. It might help you find which people you are most compatible with in certain situations (both socionics and myers-briggs give charts to show which types you are most compatible with in certain contexts), and it could also help you to find which profession would be most fulfilling for you.
The thing is, you probably already have an idea of what these things would be, but by sharing the experience of others and even joining message boards related to personality, you would have a HUGE advantage. In my coaching programs one of the first things I do is a thorough inventory to determine what motivates a person and what makes them tick as far as personality goes, and these are the tools I use!
I hope this article on personality test types has been of benefit to you, and let me know when you leave a comment, whether it was of great help to you or if you only learned some new tips and techniques.