Tag: understanding

Why Personality Tests Matter

You can take the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, Strength-Finders, and the DISC test. There’s an endless amount of these personality tests. Each one of them provides their own unique insight into how a person sees the world and acts in community.

Skeptics can argue that people assign their type based on what they hope to be, rather than reality. Also, some people manipulate the results to box a person into certain behaviors. At some level, these tools can amplify narcissistic tendencies that make individuals the center of attention.

Why do these personality tests matter? Why should you and I engage these tools with those close to us in our lives?

One reason is that we need more bridges to connect us to our friends, family, and coworkers. Personality tests can provide the opportunity for healthy conversations. They bring us into the world of another person: seeing what they see, feeling what they feel, and thinking what they think.

In mature relationships, personality tests are less about us knowing ourselves, and more about understanding others.

  • Knowing when to give space vs. leaning in.
  • Recognizing how to encourage, rather than exacerbate.
  • Amplifying strengths instead of pointing out deficiencies.

Think about what would change your relationships if you could better understand the people around you. Personality tests create starting points for these important dialogues with others in your life.

How can you get started? Here are a few resources for you to initiate the conversation with people in your small group, coworkers, spouse, friends, and the important people in your life:

What have you learned from participating in personality tests? Share your answers in the comment section below.

Photo credit by Ben Duchac

Bridge Building & Wall Building

Embrace your critics. You may have heard several iterations of this axiom from books, articles, and speakers. We desire to grow in how we interact with difficult people, our opposites, and even enemies. Then the conflict comes, or the blunt feedback hits us from them. Rather than looking to embrace, it seems easier to exclude.

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You and I have a choice when we come to these relationships, will we build bridges or walls?

No matter what the current best practice resources say, our natural tendency can desire to shut these people out of our lives or ready ourselves for an unhelpful argument. In the moment, we want to take revenge or find justice. Rarely does this help in the long run.

Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount says in Matthew 5:44, “…But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” You may have heard this verse a thousand times, but take a moment to consider it with fresh eyes.

The audience listening to Jesus’ teaching faced the injustice of the Roman government, especially taxation. In the previous verses, Jesus calls them not to retaliate and go the extra mile (Matt. 5:38-42). Not an easy task in the midst of mistreatment. Jesus called these people run against their natural tendency of building walls and build bridges towards other people.

Not only did Jesus teach this verse, but He lived it out. His death and resurrection provided us grace as a bridge to Him. That’s the Gospel, the Good News.

So when we face the critics, difficult people, and even enemies, how can we build bridges rather than following our natural tendency to build walls? Here are three ideas.

1. Wall building assumes the worst. Bridge building assumes the best.

Conflicts can result from us placing assumptions on other people. We think that they are out to get us, or they intentionally want to thwart us. At times, it can happen. Many times people have acted with positive intentions that they did not mean to affect us negatively. Looking to assume the best of a person allows us to see their perspective and then have a dialogue to share our perspective.

2. Wall building focuses on disagreements. Bridge building finds common ground.

People have different beliefs, convictions, and personalities. Before we go on in an argument, find the common ground. What areas can we agree? Starting from this place can encourage reconciliation and a mutual resolution.

3. Wall building pleads a case. Bridge building seeks personal blind spots.

When we plead our case, it becomes an us verse them. You and I will vent to others hoping they agree with us while continuing to increase the distance from the other person. Building bridges means asking, what do I not see about myself? We can begin to pray seeking God’s help see our motivations of our hearts.

You might find yourself in the midst of a challenging relationship. Consider the example Jesus and ask Him for wisdom. Find a trusted friend to help you recognize your blind spots.

What other ways can you build bridges instead of walls in your relationships?

Photo credit by Dan Gribbin.

When to Walk Away

I have come to appreciate my wife Robyn’s wisdom. Often, people will ask for her perspective. It comes with a territory as a professional counselor. Last week, a person asked her about handling disagreements.

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As Robyn responded to the question, she shared a thoughtful piece of wisdom, “Sometimes in the heat of the disagreement, we need to kindly walk away and then plan on coming back to the conversation.”

Walking away from a conversation means recognizing gridlock, neither of us can hear the other in the present moment. So we agree to finish the conversation later in affirmation of each other. With a little time and perhaps even perspective from another we can have a more productive conversation.

How many times have we dug our heels into a disagreement? We defend our viewpoint. The other person supports theirs. No person moving towards the other in understanding, but, on the contrary, the debate escalates with no sign of working together.

Rather than digging our heels into the ground, we can learn the moment to walk away. Not out of anger, but out of the realization that sometimes both people need space. Then we can come back to the conversation with grace and understanding for each other.

Photo credit by Dan Gribbin.

The Question Behind the Question

Questions rarely come out of nowhere. Think of when your child asked a deep or meaningful question about life. Perhaps, a friend sitting with you at coffee paused and then reluctantly posed one to you. You might have received a text message that you could not respond to another text.

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You might have heard it said, “Don’t answer my question with a question.” True, this adage makes sense for direct and “yes” or “no” questions. At other times, a question is an invitation to a significant aspect of another’s life. When we answer too quickly, we can run the risk of not understanding.

The most meaningful questions people ask result from a deeper place and even hours of processing it in their mind. They might have a story to tell. Maybe, they care far less about your answer and just want you to listen. To immediately reply, misses the “why” of the ask in the first place.

So the next time someone asks you a deeper question, here’s a few steps to understand what might lie behind it:

1. Pause

Sometimes, we talk too soon. Let the silence settle. Take the time to digest what the person has asked of you. They might even have more to say. You could miss that if you immediately talk.

2. Affirm

Consider when you ask a significant question. It requires courage and authenticity. Identify those characteristics in others. Value their journey and process, then share what you affirm in them.

3. Understand

Don’t miss the opportunity. Just ask them, “Can you help me understand what’s behind that question?” Let them tell you more. Providing the space of listening allows them to process and for you to have context.

4. Respond

Not every question needs an answer. Often, we find people need space to share. Consider what they have said to you and offer perspective. If you don’t have a answer, don’t offer one. On the other hand, if you have insight look to connect with them.

It’s a gift when someone asks you a meaningful question. Let’s not miss the opportunity to build the relationship. Discover the question behind the question.

Photo credit by Vadim Sherbakov.

Nitpicking and Squashing

You arrive at a brilliant insight or an idea hits you. Consider it an aha moment. Then you immediately want to tell someone. Your eyes light up, and your words go a mile a minute full of enthusiasm. The words come to an immediately crashing halt. The person, who have chosen to share this aha, interrupts you. They barrage you with seemingly off topic questions. Finally, they make comments like, “That doesn’t make sense…” or “That won’t work…”

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Have you experienced a conversation like this? Instead of seeing the big picture, a person nitpicks at miniscule details. Rather than inviting conversation, you feel squashed.

How often do people experience nitpicking and squashing when they talk to us?

Context matters in our conversations. That means attempting to recognize how a person would like you to listen. In our greatest moments of enthusiasm, most of us look for support or encouragement. I don’t think we want to nitpick intentionally or squash. It happens without us recognizing it.

Providing feedback is as much about timing as content. Author and professor, Dr. Timothy George, has been quoted saying, “Grace precedes truth on purpose.” When we place being right over the relationship, we run the risk of not understanding the other person.

What are ways that we can avoid in our conversations with others nitpicking the details and squashing the ideas? Here are a few ideas:

1. Listen to all that a person has to say.

Interrupting, no matter the intention, will deflate someone’s insight they want to share. Listen with your body language especially eye contact. Give them the opportunity to be heard.

2. Repeat back what they just said to you.

When you listen, you can restate what they told you. You can start by saying, “If I understand you right, you…” They now have an opportunity to respond to you and many people appreciate the effort of understanding.

3. Ask an appropriate amount of questions.

There’s a gap between interrogation and thoughtful questions. Nitpicking can sound like, “Did you think about this or that?” Thoughtful questions invite conversation. They welcome the back story and look to the big picture.

4. Affirm the positive.

Look to the creativity in their thought process. Share with them what you like about their insight. Encourage them.

5. Seek permission to offer your feedback.

Wisdom recognizes the right time for feedback. You may want to take some time to think over what they have told you. They may ask for feedback right away. Look to offer grace first and then share the truth in a way that they can hear.

How have you avoided nitpicking and squashing in your relationships?

Photo Credit Ryan McGuire on Gratisography.

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