I love taking personality tests.
The day Smitty and I found an old book about personality types based on astrological sign in her parents’ attic was one of our most fun sleepovers. I still remember laughing so hard as we read about our supposed destined traits (and then, of course, as we looked up our romantic compatibilities with our crushes of the day). And I love Myers-Briggs so much that I’ve taken the whole, long, pay-for-it test twice, and honestly? I’d take it again today in heartbeat.
I love answering questions about myself and then reading about myself. Yeah, I hear it. It’s possible I’m a little self-centered. (Is there a personality test for that??) But more than being obsessed with myself, I think my love of personality tests comes from the desire to be known.
Isn’t that why most of us love those quizzes? To feel like someone finally gets us?
Whether it’s selfishness or a more universal desire for connection and understanding, the fact remains that I love personality tests. (Did I mention that?) So when my pastor sent our staff a link and access code to the Strengths Finder test this week, I was excited to take it right away.
Of course, since procrastination is an unfortunate yet large part of my personality, I didn’t exactly take it right away. But I took it today, okay?!
I couldn’t wait to get my results and compare them to everyone else’s. See, I’m quite sure loving personality tests isn’t solely selfish because the majority of my co-workers love them, too. And they’re truly selfless people who I adore. [So there.]
Since I joined my church staff last spring, I’d been hearing about who had the gift of that and who had this strength. I already knew that I’m an I, and much as I want to be a Lion, I’m really more of a mythical LioBeavter. (That’s an I for Influence in the DISC personality test, and I’m a bizarro mash-up of the Lion, Beaver, Otter and Golden Retriever in Smalley’s personality test with no one type showing up stronger than the other.) But today I would finally learn more about my strengths.
Crossing my fingers that the results would be accurate, I started clicking away. I made it through the questions, though they were – typical for a good personality test (and yes, there is a difference) – difficult and convoluted on occasion. Finally, I clicked “Next” for the last time and then I waited for the site to tally my results.
Strengths Finder didn’t let me down. It called me an Activator and Communicator, with minors in Responsibility, Input and Belief. That seemed about right.
Later in the afternoon my friends and I were comparing our results, and Stephanie mentioned that one of her top strengths is Empathy. We talked about what that means, because I think of myself as highly empathetic. After all, I will cry over any injury, illness, pregnancy, promotion, lost pet, sick child, disappointment or excitement you share.
But, I had to concede, though I marked “strongly describes me” on every question regarding things like, “I cry a lot,” my answer to other questions quickly revealed my bias toward myself over others.
Still, I’ve always been empathetic. Just ask my mom, who will immediately whip out the story about Preschool Me. Reportedly, I came home from preschool crying one day. She asked me what was wrong and it turned out I was upset because my friend had gotten in trouble. Enter my life-long belief that I am empathetic.
[I could give you other examples of my soft, empathetic heart here. But that seems like bragging and since we’ve already covered my self-centeredness ad nauseum today, I think I will pass.]
After I sent my Strengths Finder report to my pastor (because we’re going to talk about all of our results at length soon . . . I can’t wait!), he came in to chat with me. We talked for a bit about how my results were similar to someone else’s and how that looks in each of us (and how it explains why we get along so well). Then I mentioned my surprise at not getting Empathy like Stephanie did.
You know what he said? Nothing. He said nothing, because he was laughing too hard! Laughing! At me!
I suppose that’s fair, since we’ve discussed before that neither of us has the spiritual gift of mercy. Which I suppose translates into me not being empathetic. But, but, but . . .
I really thought I was empathetic!
After he [finally] stopped laughing (not to worry, I was laughing, too), we discussed how my not-quite-empathy stems from my tendency to make things about myself. So when you tell me your cat died, I AM sad for you – because I know how sad I would be if my cat died.
I’m not going to lie. I still think that’s called empathy. But it’s possible that, despite my many years of experience taking personality tests, I don’t know myself quite as well as I thought. And it’s so very interesting to me to think about different personality types focusing on self versus others or viewing people as a means to an end versus people as an end.
Or something. My mind is still spinning a bit from this revelation. The Input part of me wants to learn more, more, more about these personality types, while the Belief part of me is shaken by the idea I might not be as well-versed on who I am as I’d thought.
Meanwhile, the Communicator figured I might as well write a blog post about the whole thing!
Have you ever been surprised by the results of a personality test? What’s your favorite part of your own personality? And what’s your favorite personality test?
Mary, I am cracking up! I just took the Strengths Finder test last week (my oldest daughter had just taken it and prompted me to take it too). I was surprised that I actually GOT Empathy in my list. Ha! I don’t consider myself a necessarily empathetic person, so I thought it funny that it was on my list. My majors were Belief and Responsibility, and my minors were Strategic, Empathy, and Adaptability.
I understand your fascination with personality tests. For some reason whenever I take one, I come away thinking, “I like me!” :)
Hehe – I’m glad I’m not alone in getting a big self-esteem boost from personality tests. Somehow, those descriptions make me sound like the best version of myself. So funny how we can be surprised by our results, though. I think a lot of it comes from different definitions. What you (or I) think of as empathy must not be exactly what Strengths Finder thinks of as empathy!
I am right there with you! I actually have taken the Strengths Finder twice, with 10 years separating the two tests. The first time I took it was my senior year of college and my results were: Empathy, Developer, Adaptability, Connectedness, & Intellection. I even wrote a blog post about it a few years back as I was on my way home from my 5-year reunion: http://heatherirenep.blogspot.com/2007/10/finding-strength.html. I planned on re-taking the test then, but life apparently got it the way and finally took the test again in August. I was shocked to find out that only 3 of my strengths had stayed the same in 10 years and that the one I most identified myself with was no longer on my list at all. My new strengths were: Developer, Input, Individualization, Intellection, Adaptability. I had to remember that just because it isn’t jumping to the forefront of my strength list doesn’t mean that I don’t identify with it at all. Take heart! And thanks for your thought-provoking posts!
So interesting that your strengths (at least as far as the test is concerned) had changed! Because working in ministry is so transforming, one of my co-workers was wondering if her strengths would be different if she took the test again (compared to when she took it before joining the staff two years ago). You’re right, though; many of us have SOME of a lot of strengths, not just our top five!
So sorry about that revelation! Haha I have taken many personality tests (all required at my previous work), and I have always been dissapointed. I always hoped that a test would show that I am a true people person, an extrovert…I wanted to be in sales, and those personality traits would be perfect for it! Of course, I know that’s not true. I am an introvert, and I am a little too empathetic for sales…You tell me a story of your life, and I know exactly why you should not move forward with the process. Kinda frustrating, especially when you try and “trick” the test to come out with the right outcome :o) It’s all about balance though. We need empathetic people, and we need non empathetic people. It just balances out the world :o) ps…I feel like taking a personality test now, maybe I’ve changed!
I was talking about this with a friend just today. In the DISC personality test (or the one with the animals), I really, really want to be a D/Lion…but the test keeps saying I’m not quite that one. *sigh* I suppose being MYSELF is good enough – right?! :) Oh, and YES, you’re so right about the balance. We need both types (no matter what trait we’re talking about), for sure!
I hear you. I love hearing/reading about myself too. Until it’s not what I want to hear, like you said. I hate it when someone has me figured out and it’s just not pretty. Sigh.
Well, that’s true. Thankfully my test yesterday focused on the awesome parts of me. ;)
I just about laughed out loud. Only because I KNOW I’m not empathetic and I consider us similar in personality. Still giggling.
Mine are Responsibility, Developer, Belief, Relator, Communication. So, we’re similar in SOME ways.
Love you – just the way God made you.
Yes, ma’am, we ARE alike – and awesome, just the way we are (empathetic or not)! :)
I like personality tests too. They usually reinforce the ideas I have about myself and make me feel like it’s OK to be me.
It’s my understanding that having Sympathy for someone is when you feel bad because you are imagining how it would feel if that bad thing happened to YOU. Having Empathy for someone is when you feel bad because you acknowledge how that bad thing is affecting THEM. With Sympathy, the focus is on the Self. With Empathy, the focus is on Everyone else.
Huh. Those definitions are different from what I’ve understood in the past, but what you’re saying makes sense with the conversations I had yesterday. Thanks, Sage!
Funny! I’ve never heard of Strength Finder, but in the Myers-Briggs I am an INFJ. I’ve take. It twice about 8 years apart and was the same both times, which I thought was interesting. I love quizzes too!
My brother is an INFJ, and I’m an ENFJ who is just barely an extravert. The funny thing is that even so, when I read the description for ENFJ I think it sounds exactly like me but the INFJ sounds like someone else. So interesting!
Ok, so now you’ve got me wanting to take a personality test!
Haha! Go take one and tell us what your results say!
“So when you tell me your cat died, I AM sad for you – because I know how sad I would be if my cat died.” LOL… welp, if *that’s* not empathy, then I guess I’m not very empathetic, either!! :-P