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Reading People

How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything

By Anne Bogel
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Reading People by Anne Bogel
Synopsis

Reading People (2017) is a study of the different lenses you can use to understand personality – both your own and those of others. It sheds light on concepts like introversion and extroversion, as well as introducing readers to famous personality type indexes like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. 

Key idea 1 of 9

Your personal struggles can shed light on your personality type. 

There’s nothing easier than repressing an unpleasant thought or ignoring an awkward situation. Humans are so good at this that there are even cases where women only realized they were pregnant as they were giving birth! Ignoring truths, it seems, is a natural part of the human condition. 

No wonder, then, that we struggle to determine our personality types. Take personality tests. Oftentimes, we respond to questions about our character by talking about who we would like to be rather than honestly assessing who we actually are. 

This is something the author noticed herself when she sat a Myers-Briggs test – a self-assessment report that analyzes different personality types. The test results said that she was a so-called architect. In the Myers-Briggs schema, architects are highly analytical and critical perfectionists. 

Now, the author had always been something of a bookworm, so these traits seemed plausible enough, and she accepted the categorization. There was just one problem: this information wasn’t helping her get a better handle on herself. Why was that? Simple – the test results were wrong. 

In the end, it was the author’s conflicts with her husband that helped her shed light on who she really was. These conflicts always seemed to come down to the emotionally raw way in which she expressed herself during clashes. Because her husband, Will, didn’t respond in this manner, she assumed he didn’t care, and this upset her even more. 

This was a clue. Maybe she wasn’t an architect but an idealist, that is, someone who expresses themselves through emotions. Will, by contrast, was a rationalist, someone who is less emotional and more “cerebral.” Once the author realized this, she could see the issue more clearly. It wasn’t that Will didn’t care or wasn’t listening – it was just that he had a different way of thinking about and dealing with conflict. 

And that just goes to show that struggles are often more illuminating than personality tests when it comes to understanding yourself.

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