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The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: What To Do With Personality Tools


Mandy [00:00:01] Welcome to another Art of Relationships podcast. We are grateful for listeners like you. Let's get right into it.

Chris [00:00:11] Well, it's good to be back for another Art of Relationships podcast. Thank you guys for joining us. And, it's fun to be able to do these. And, we continue to really have some amazing topics. I don't think we'll ever run out of topics lease on the.

Alisa [00:00:27] As long as there are people, more than one person on this earth and they're in a relationship with one other person, we're going to have a job.

Chris [00:00:34] Yeah. That's right. And it's just such a fun thing to be able to talk about relationships all the time on this podcast. And with you, Lisa, it's so fun. I love your insights and your thoughts. And yeah, we get great questions from people all the time. And I love the way you answer them. And I learn a lot still. I think we had one recently from somebody who asked about, personality differences.
Alisa [00:00:58] Yeah. This is a question we got, Chris, and this is so right up your alley. Because of your background as a social psychologist. I mean, that's your training. That's your PhD. So are you ready for this one?

Chris [00:01:10] Okay. I'm ready. Okay.

Alisa [00:01:11] I'm going to throw it at you. Here you go. So how do people who have quite different personalities learn to understand and accommodate each other? Chris [00:01:19] Oh, yeah. Wow. Good one. Yeah.

Alisa [00:01:22] How long do we have? Yeah.

Chris [00:01:23] Really? That's right. There's a whole class. My PhD in social psychology, my master's and Ph.D. And there's a different master's and PhD that are right down the hall in the area of personality. And so our journal, like, for example, the best academic journal out there is called the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. So these two fields have been linked forever and ever. And our colleagues and friends on the personality side, you know, we're always dealing with the same topics. So this is a great one. Leese, how do we go about, you know, not just understanding another, you know, our friend's personality or someone we're in a relationship with, but, it seems like so understanding, becoming aware, you know, and then enjoying those differences or those similarities to, you know, and then better understand not just the factors that shaped us and continue to shape us, but how do I make the most of this and enjoy it? Right. It reminds me of the Psalmist in Psalm 139 that God created us in our innermost being. You know, he knit us together, you know, knit, meet together in my mother's womb. I'm fearfully and wonderfully made. So in that fearfully and wonderfully made idea, we're all so uniquely different. And there is no, you know, two people who would have the exact same personality. We don't have the same histories, right? We don't have the same perspectives, the same cultural upbringing. And so here's here' a great answer, I think, that I heard before, and it starts with the notion that we need to become aware of each other, our personality and the other person's. We're probably attracted to some people because they either have similar personality traits or, you know, they have these contrasting ones that we find appealing. Right? Some introverts are like, oh, I wish I could be as extroverted as that. But they also appreciate the, the opportunity to talk with somebody who is maybe a little bit different than them.

Alisa [00:03:43] And you are so right. And I think that that just explains the popularity, the booming popularity of these, personality assessments like the Enneagram or, what are some of the other ones that.

Chris [00:04:00] You know, go ahead. Yeah. There's Myers-Briggs. Yes. For example, go ahead.

Alisa [00:04:04] Yeah. Oh, well, gosh, even you think in the secular world the zodiac signs. Oh, if you're a Pisces. So we were at dinner the other night and we were laughing about our, our, our different orders, and the first thing that the waitress looked at, she goes, oh, it's your birthday. Are you a Pisces? You know, like, I don't know, I don't care, but obviously, that is that that is a way that people try to categorize our personalities. What drives us, what's important to us, and what our future is? And I'm I'm excited to hear about your perspective from a, from a social psychological perspective, like, do these things hold weight? Are they are should we be putting as much, investment into these things as we are or? Yes, we definitely need to watch your body.

Chris [00:05:00] Good. And then and then maybe you could fill follow up with what do I do now with this information? How do I, you know, love another person this way. So yeah I. I was always drawn. And most of us are like your waitress. You know, that night, I remember what it was. This idea of we're drawn to try and figure out, you know, our tendencies and our traits. I think because we want to predict what other people are going to do and what they're going to be like, right? People? We like that for them to be, I guess, predictable, like, oh, I want to know what person X feels. And it's like, so I can anticipate what they're going to do. And so I'm not surprised by that.

Alisa [00:05:38] And safety.

Chris [00:05:39] Yeah. And so like ooh I could figure out oh if you're a Pisces then you I can expect this from you. And you know, I'll see what I expect to see. But that least that.

Alisa [00:05:49] Or if you're a two with a wing four and seven, then I can predict. And that makes a lot of sense because you're going to be this way and I'm going to be that way. And here's how we're supposed to interact.

Chris [00:06:01] Yeah. So here's the good news. And then here's the bad news. First of all, even before that, historically, the as far back as the ancient Greeks, they're all they were always trying to figure this out. What makes a person the way they did it? If you remember even the words from the ancient Greeks, you probably do. You remember words like phlegmatic or choleric or someone's melancholic, you know, or sanguine. All of those words come from ancient Greeks who believed that your personality was set because of certain body fluids, or these different, what they called humors that were in the body phlegmatic, melancholy, sanguine, and choleric. Right. But that's the earliest example of what we even call these trait theories of personalities. These basically think of this goes back thousands of years. We want to know another person's enduring personal or response patterns. I want to know what how you think, act and feel in given situations and why you do and what causes that. Is it the stars? Is it is it the the sequence of the moon? Is it, you know, like the zodiac signs or horoscope signs? Or is it something on the inside of my body? These humors are fluids. Well, that's how it all started. The Latin word, you know, came is the word persona. And that just simply means that Latin means these. A persona is a mask, a mask that if you were a stage actor back in the day, even in Jesus's day, there was a stage not far from where he grew up, and actors on the stage would put on a mask what's called a persona to show the audience members, you know, those people that sat, you know, 50, 60 rows back, couldn't see clearly the faces or the emotions on the actor. So they put on these masks. You all see these masks when we go to the theater. You see the comedy or the tragedy masks at theaters, in theaters. That's because stage actors back in ancient times would wear a comedy to show the audience from far away. Hey, expect something funny from me? This is me. Or expect tragedy from me. And so, okay, that's where we get the word that's so those masks are called personas. The word. Of course. Now we use the word your personality, but the belief is that, oh, even if you're acting, you kind of have that personality. Whatever mask I see you with, people tend to, even today, see an actor and actress and misinterpret that. They're kind of like that actor, the actress that they were. So we might see somebody in public that's an actor and actors playing a role. Let's say, I don't know Kramer in Seinfeld, and we might go, oh, that actor, whatever his name is, is always like that. He's a little bit crazy. He's not just acting. It becomes part of his personality. So the mask we wear becomes part of our personality. Okay, so, what we tend to see another person does? Well, let's just say we're a there's a lot of appeal towards trying to figure out, oh, this is you. This is your personality. You know, when the kid is, you know, you have a younger brother or sister or you have your child and you're like, oh my gosh, what kind of personality are they going to have? And where does it come from? You know, is this kid going to be shy or outgoing or, you know, they're going to be this person that, you know, fights and is strong for everything? Are they going to be a little bit timid and a little bit more cautious?

Alisa [00:09:47] And you can kind of tell early.

Chris [00:09:49] I think right away. So that's why Myers-Briggs was important and is today. That's why the Enneagram has such appeal. And I think it's because we believe that people's behavior can be predicted if we know their personality, whatever it is, which it couldn't.

Alisa [00:10:07] Wouldn't that be super awesome? If just based on knowing your personality, you walk in the door and I can make some certain assumptions pretty safely that you're an introvert. When you come home, you are not going to want to have 50 people over for dinner that night. Yeah, and that's a pretty safe assumption.

Chris [00:10:29] Yeah. And so you know who I am and my personality and therefore how I'm likely to respond to react. Right. See, that's the thing. The creators of things like the Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, you know, strengths quest, all of them realize that I know all if I know something about a person's personality that even transcends what I know about their religion sometimes, or their language or their gender or their nationality or their culture, like, give me anybody from any place, anywhere, so long as I know their personality. I got something about them that's even bigger. Well, okay, that's the good news. And why are these things so interesting, right? The Enneagram, with its, you know, nine distinct patterns, I don't know, reformer or achiever, helper or whatever those are. That's the good news. We are very interested in this. There's a lot of money to be made, and people do all kinds of things to figure out who they are online.

Alisa [00:11:35] So what are the downsides?

Chris [00:11:37] Yeah. Well, real quickly, here's the news on personality. There is no one single test that anybody who's ever studied this field, you know, getting whether they do it and graduate work and get their Ph.D. in this or they study clinical psych. There simply is no good way to assess not just another person's personality, but even your own. There's just no simple way to do it. The Enneagram is great, but it's probably more just for informational purposes and educational kind of enjoyment, rather than a clear demonstration of who we are. There really is no single trait that we can use for another person 1 or 2 complex two. We change a lot depending upon mood, depending upon time of, you know, the year, depending upon what's going on in my life. Am I in a happy relationship or not? So man here and it gets worse. The second thing besides, there is really no good simple way to do this. Not even people with PhDs can actually say, well, here's the best way to, you know, assess your personality. It takes a lot like the MMPI Minnesota multi-phase, you know, personality inventory, MMPI. Good Lord. The thing is probably 500 questions. And even then to interpret it just simply gives you some guidelines. Really it's more like a guideline. But it gets worse. The negative is when I begin to treat somebody who has for, let's say they're an Entj or an IRS type in Myers-Briggs or the reformer or achiever. If I begin to treat them accordingly like, oh, you're, an analyzing innovative explorer. What happens is then you get kind of pigeonholed into something that's just a rough guess of some things you like. You know, it's got a good guesstimate side to it. But I begin to see people through that filter or know I should only relate to people. Like you said, that's A29 and never was somebody, you know, that's a Ford seven or I don't what the numbers are, but whatever it is, look, the bad news is we tend to want to stereotype or typecast or put people in these boxes, and that's not good. Okay, so that's the good, that's the bad, that's the ugly. Here's the bottom line, Randy. The bottom line is we're always curious because our tendencies and our characteristics, they define us. Right. Some seem to be hard-wired in. Some seem to be, you know, based upon the result of learning and can be changed. But another person has such a big influence on us that it'd be really cool to kind of get a sense. And here is what I would say. There is one type of personality inventory that you can go take right now. Go look up the call. It's called the Big Five personality inventory. And the big five is really this idea that there are five major traits that we all vary on. And of these traits, I'll give you the traits where the traits are things in fact you can look at is called ocean. Oh C8 and the first one. Oh, openness to new experiences. Okay, see how conscientious we are. e how extroverted we are, or introverted the A in ocean is agreeable, how agreeable we are, or and how neurotic we are. Which is kind of interesting, but moody. Yeah. Like, yeah. High, strong versus calm and relaxed, let's say. Yeah. Neuroticism. So O.C.E.A.N. okay. The big five. Most people that have studied personality go, okay. If you want a quick way to do this, avoid the others. Go with the big five, see where you're at and then keep track of that. So that's a good way to do it. So I like that one I like the big five I call it the ocean or other people do too, I'm sure. But that idea of this is it reliable man. Yeah, it gives you a good sense, but can you use it for good? And I think the answer is yes, we can. We can use it to say, you know what? I really am attracted to people who score high on openness to new experiences. They want to go and try new things. You were like that. We I. Maybe you're like, oh, let's go try that. Or you know what? You're looking for work. Remember after I got my degree and universities were calling and you're like, oh, you know what, that would be fun to move to there. Or oh, what if they call in Iowa? Oh, what if they call in Florida? Both of us are, like, open to this. Let's go wherever it was.

Alisa [00:16:43] Or take a group of students to Russia.

Chris [00:16:46] Like the Soviet Union for a while because you were open to new experiences. I was, and that quality attracted me to you. You are so extroverted. I really found that I would rather be with somebody who is slightly more extroverted than introverted because it would bring me out a little bit more. I really didn't care, you know, about neuroticism, but I did a little bit.

Alisa [00:17:09] You actually did because you had a previous girlfriend that was a little
moody, but I wasn't.

Chris [00:17:15] Yeah, I think you're exactly right. Agreeableness. The A and then the end neuroticism. Yeah. She was she was a little bit more moody. I don't we won't talk about her. But she had these up-down moods and I found myself following her and I realized wait a minute. My moods are going up and down when hers go up and down. I don't like that. So, therefore, I better. If I'm going to follow someone like that, I'd rather have somebody that's pretty more agreeable and not neurotic. And that was you. And so, that way, you know that those were important to me. So you can look at that conscientiousness for me and, oh, you're self-disciplined, well-organized, which you are, versus disorganized. I didn't really care on that one. So there we go. The good on personality tests, right? We all want to know the bad. You know, we pigeonhole people, but the worst is when we start to treating other people or believe, oh, this is me. I'm always an NFJ.

Alisa [00:18:12] I can't break out of that.

Chris [00:18:13] I can't break out and therefore this other person, I shouldn't date them because of this. That's the bad. You know, at least when it comes to money, I think all of us want unity with our spouse here in the topic of money. We ought, you know, to have confidence approaching a topic and clarity because money's a big issue with couples.

Alisa [00:18:34] Yeah, it's it's one of the top six that couples have conflict over. Right. So we're really thankful for the support of Colby Gilmore of Blue Trust. And Colby, along with other Blue Trust Certified Wealth Strategist. He offers a personalized, biblically centered wealth planning experience as well as investment management services. And what I really love about him is it is for people of all income levels.

Chris [00:19:01] Yeah, we appreciate that. They offer this advice. They put their client's interests first and they don't sell financial products. And, you know, we have experienced least firsthand the benefit of Colby Blue's Colby and Blue Trust's comprehensive this whole wealth planning experience.

Alisa [00:19:18] Yeah, we we really have

Chris [00:19:20] We want to encourage you guys to take advantage of this. They're great sponsors of the art of relationship, and a Bible university. And so take advantage of this transformational opportunity to find out, and to find unity with your spouse. Yeah.

Alisa [00:19:34] So you can learn more about rental blue trust at Ron, or just contact Colby Gilmore at Colby Gilmore at Run

Chris [00:19:45] Yeah, you'll be glad you did.

Alisa [00:19:50] So you kind of highlighted how this worked for us, in the positive with those oceans. So what does a couple do or what do you two people do who really have quite different personalities? And, on those ocean, scales, those five big personalities, they're just on opposite ends of the spectrum. So how do you learn to understand or accommodate each other when they're different? And so we have a couple of suggestions that we want to make.

Chris [00:20:21] Okay. Let's do it.

Alisa [00:20:22] So the first one that I would say is I think it's really important to get the other person's backstory. And what that means is that we all come into this relationship with different histories, life experiences, people that we've interacted with, books we've read, things that have that have. Spoken into our lives that helped shaped who we are. And I think that whatever experience shapes you or shapes the other person. That kind of information is important to have because it really enhances your understanding of why they are coming from where they come from.

Chris [00:21:03] Yeah, yeah. I love the fact, Lisa, that your back story involves, you know, growing up to where you didn't have, you know, a ton of money. You were probably middle class, but you also, love and felt loved and enjoyed, you know, gift giving and part of that. Well, that can be expensive. And so you learned how to budget your money and go to work and save so you can go spend. And knowing that backstory of you has helped me to understand why gift-giving is so important, or why you love to save, just to be able to go spend I.

Alisa [00:21:41] And conversely, what I know about you is growing up, y'all didn't have a lot of money. Your mom was a single mom for much of your time. Growing up with five boys and so many was always tight. And so that really shapes a lot of your attitudes towards money and then the desire to save the money, the desire to be financially secure. But, you know, I think about my, my dad the way my dad grew up. I mean, he had a horrible relationship with his own dad, who was really kind of verbally abusive and divisive between him and my aunts. And so when I think back to what it was like growing up with my dad. You know that that understanding of what he grew up with, the role models he had. Gave me a lot more understanding for why he was the way he was, which that understanding led me to feel more compassion and empathy for him, and to be much more patient with his faults or shortcomings.

Chris [00:22:48] Well, that sounds yeah, that sounds like your first point, which is if you know a person's backstory, it leads you to start to feel more empathy or compassion for what they think.

Alisa [00:23:00] Yes, yes, it makes you much more willing to accommodate their personality, their perspectives, their needs, their desires, which may be very different from your own.

Chris [00:23:10] No, I love that. Yeah. That's great.

Alisa [00:23:12] Okay, so, the second one I would say would be to, when you have if you're in that close relationship, a friend, a spouse, and your personalities are so different, you can start kind of, you know, just rub in the wrong way after a while. I think it's important to go back and remind yourself why you fell in love with this person in the first place. Why did we become friends in the first place? What are things that are really like about him? And in other words, cultivate, a perspective or an attitude of gratitude. And I think when we do that, I would what I would say is every day write down one, two, maybe three things that you really value or appreciate about your spouse. Like when they I for you today, Chris, before we even recorded the podcast, you walked into the office. I was already here and you didn't ask me about lunch, but you just were thoughtful and you brought me lunch. Now, whether or not it was something that I would have picked up or or is my favorite thing was beside the point. It was the fact that you just are the kind of person that you thought, oh wow, maybe she needs lunch. I'll just bring her some. Really appreciate that about you. Yeah.

Chris [00:24:25] Well, thanks for. Yeah, thanks. You know, to to come into the office role in around noon at lunchtime really is something like. Well, I enjoy this job so much. You know, you guys are here working, starting at, you know, whatever. Eight, nine. And I roll in at noon with lunch.

Alisa [00:24:40] It pays to be the boss.

Chris [00:24:42] You know? But but okay, so you're right. At least I think there's probably a then an a way of saying, look, it helps me to know your back history and your back story. And second point is that when we're beginning to, you know, be in a little bit of conflict, it's always good to remind ourselves about the qualities of why we are attracted to another person, positive and the positive. And conversely, if you're in a friendship and let's say the opposite is happening, you know you were a friend for a while, but all of a sudden now you're learning more about the other person and you simply don't agree or like some of the personality traits. Man, I think that's very important that it to go well. Maybe you need to reevaluate the depth and strength of your friendship, right? This it's okay to back out if you're learning these toxic things about another person. It takes time to learn characteristics. And now you're with somebody. So let's go back. I was dating a girl, and I, you know, a lot of great qualities and and, perspectives, you know, and then I learned that she was probably not as friendly and kind to other people. And so what I did was go, you know, what can I learn out over time that she's kind of, I don't know, let's use the word snippy. And that really was hard for me. And so that's okay. Then I just go, well, I'm glad I learned that now. And before we go too far.

Alisa [00:26:11] So that's a great that's a great differentiation between a friendship and a marriage. Because when you're in the marriage, well, then you're in that relationship. You've made vows. So we've got to learn to appreciate or accommodate them. Right. And so we were talking about, just cultivating that attitude of gratitude. And I think the reason that that's so powerful and can be so positive is that you, as you express your appreciation, your admiration for that other person, as you're looking for it intentionally, you just begin to build a more positive perspective of the other person, because the last thing the enemy wants you to do is to focus on their positives. The enemy's going to want you to focus on their negatives, and just keep reminding yourself about what you don't like, about what you don't like. But when we focus on the positive, then what we're doing is research shows that that actually, creates a kind of Teflon on your relationship. The more you practice gratitude and express appreciation so that when you encounter these kind of hard personality conflicts, those things just kind of slide. Right off because you've built up so much goodwill.

Chris [00:27:26] Yeah. That's great.

Alisa [00:27:27] And so then the third point, I think, would be that, just understanding that acceptance, your your mate's personality quirks, somebody else's personality quirks. It doesn't necessarily mean understanding. Just because you accept it doesn't mean you have to fully understand it. Like we have a family member in our family, that has, that really deals with a lot of anxiety. And, and we've talked about it on this podcast before, and it's one aspect, one of our kids, their personality that I just do not relate to. I'm not like that. I don't feel those feelings. I'm like one of the least anxious people usually, and I just don't understand it. And it was really hard for me to connect with, with this kid of ours. And so finally, I just had to get to a place that I just accepted where she was and who she was, and that this is an aspect, of her wiring, of her personality. And stop trying to change it, stop trying to argue against it, but to accept where she is and go with the flow.

Chris [00:28:45] Even if you didn't understand.

Alisa [00:28:46] Even if I didn't understand it. Yeah. Because in other words, you really want to. You want to convey that you love them, you accept them, and you always want to be that safe place where they can always feel that quote naked and unashamed, right where they feel fully known and fully loved, just like God. Fully knows and fully loves us. You know, even if you don't understand why they are the way they are, I just accept you and I love you. Not in spite of it. Well, sometimes in spite of it, and sometimes because of it, you just accept it without necessarily understanding. So I think if you do those three things, it will really help you learn to appreciate or at least understand and accommodate each other's personality differences and all.

Chris [00:29:38] That's great because we're always going to be different, from each other. There's just again, no two people are going to be exactly alike. I love that. You know, just in summary to Lisa, I'll just reiterate the points. And one of them goes like this. Should I, trust, you know, that this personality traits or should I allow it to guide me in relationships and other personality, I'm going to say, or or should I allow my personality traits to influence what kind of job I take or who I should be friends with? Or. And I'm going to say, not if you're taking any of this stuff online, it you should not use that as a guide to take a job, or not take a job or be in a relationship or not take it simply, we're not there. We don't have the capacity to peer in right now to your brain and figure out some things. So I think the short answer is no. They should be seen as fun and entertaining. Right? They but take them with a grain of salt. What? Lisa, your three suggestions, I think, are the way to do this, right? We we begin to sense another person in their differences, appreciate that, learn what they're like. And then even if we don't fully, you know, comprehend or that we we begin to show empathy, we begin to show a love for them like we experience and acceptance. I love that that's good stuff.

Alisa [00:31:01] Yeah. Okay. Well, thanks for, sitting in with us for another half-hour of the Art of Relationships podcast. We would love for you to just click that, like, button and, give us five stars. We would love that. Also check out our website at Seema Dot by your local edu and we will see you next time.

Chris [00:31:22] Yeah take care.

Mandy [00:31:25] Thanks for listening to the Art of Relationships. This podcast is only made possible through generous donations from listeners just like you. If you like it and want to help keep the podcast going. Visit our website at and make a donation today.