Remember when you were a teenager … or maybe more recent! … when you loved filling out personality tests to find out what kind of person you are? Ha … yeah, we already know, right? But now with the Internet it’s so much easier.
Seriously, I never took much stock in personality tests. Sure, based on your answers they can tell you if you’re an introvert or extrovert (I don’t think most of us need a test for that); they might give you some insight into why you like a messy desk or a clean desk, or what sort of work environment suits your personality, but to dig down deep into what makes you tick and where you will thrive (or not thrive) — hmmm, not really.
Except for one.
Twenty years ago I was working on a political campaign and the candidate also was part of a family business. Working with family is a completely different animal because, you know, you can’t really fire someone. They hired a business consultant who had them take the Myers-Briggs test on Temperament, Character and Intelligence. The benefit to their business — and their family — was phenomenal. They all read about their family/staff members in order to find out how they best work. When you understand how someone thinks and works, you can better work with them. I could go into great detail, but short version? Their business and family relationships started to thrive and so Greg, who I worked for, bought all his campaign staff the book PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME by David Keirsey because he wanted to know where we landed and how we work best.
I was skeptical, but I took the test. (This was before the test was online, we had to do the “hard work” of scoring ourself!)
I was an ENTP: “The Inventor.” And wow. It was me. Especially how I get bored with repetitive work and am always seeking ways to outwit the system. I ended up reading the entire book and learning how to better work with my colleagues because I finally understood how they work best and how to better communicate.
My daughter Kelly read my book and took the test when she was a senior in high school. She’s an INFJ: “The Counselor” and it really fits her, too.
Now, Keirsey’s book is interesting, but it’s a bit repetitive and written a little too scholarly. Because the Myers-Briggs test has been replicated a gazillion times it was inevitable that someone would come up with a fun, quick on-line survey and make the information more accessible to readers.
My daughter Katie sent me the 16 Personalities test (which is what Myers-Briggs is) and told me to take it. I did, thinking maybe I had changed in 20 years and maybe being a self-employed writer–a solitary profession–has changed me after working 13 years in the Legislature where I worked with dozens of people both superiors and subordinates.
Nope, I’m still an ENTP.
The fun thing is that this new test, while still nearly identical to the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, completely rewrites the descriptions, making them far more fun and interesting than the academic Keirsey. The ENTP here is called a “debater” but it’s still the same as the “inventor.” They also added another letter “A” or “T” for how people handle stress and the level of confidence, but I didn’t include it here.
So while I was watching the SF Giants game last night (we won! Yeah!) I decided to take the personality test for my three main characters — and answered the questions as if they were answering them. I really didn’t think much of it … but wow. It nailed Lucy, Sean and Max’s personalities.
The 16 personalities are split into four groups of four personalities. Lucy and Max are in the same “group” (the “Sentinels”) while Sean is in the “Rationals” (where I land as well.)
I was at first surprised that Lucy and Max were close — but they were opposites in two of the traits, and that made sense in how they operated together in SHATTERED — why they had conflict, and then how they overcame their conflict. “I” is “Introverted” and “E” is Extroverted … yes, Lucy is definitely more introverted than either Sean or Max!
Again, color me surprised! Maybe these characters are real people after all … :/
Lucy is an ISFJ “The Defender”.
Reliable and Patient
Imaginative and Observant
Loyal and Hard-Working
Good Practical Skills
Humble and Shy
Take Things Too Personally
Repress Their Feelings
Reluctant to Change
I took Lucy’s test first, then cleared the form and took the test as Sean Rogan … and the test nailed him, too.
Sean is an ENTJ — Commander
ENTJs are natural-born leaders. People with this personality type embody the gifts of charisma and confidence, and project authority in a way that draws crowds together behind a common goal. ENTJs are characterized by an often ruthless level of rationality, using their drive, determination and sharp minds to achieve whatever end they’ve set for themselves.
Charismatic and Inspiring
Stubborn and Dominant
Poor Handling of Emotions
Cold and Ruthless
Yep, this is Sean. Pretty darn accurate. And when I read all the sections, I was nodding along. I think Sean is more sensitive to emotions than portrayed here, but it was something he did have to learn, and it didn’t happen until he met Lucy.
Then I answered the test for Max. One of the interesting things is that there is a scale as well — so you might be more or less in a certain area. For Max, she was an extreme on everything she answered!
Max is an ESTJ — “The Executive”
STRENGTHS of an executive:
Direct and Honest
Loyal, Patient and Reliable
Enjoy Creating Order
Inflexible and Stubborn
Uncomfortable with Unconventional Situations
Too Focused on Social Status
Difficult to Relax
Difficulty Expressing Emotion
When I read these, I thought OMG, this is Maxine Revere. I was truly stunned, though maybe I shouldn’t have been. I have written five Maxine Revere mysteries and two short stories, I think I know her pretty well. I just put myself in her shoes and answered the questions as she would have … and the results were pretty amazing.
For WRITERS: Take the test for your series character(s) and see how accurate it is. Do you know your characters as well as you think?
For READERS: Take the test and tell me if it’s accurate for you! My kids all took it and my daughter Mary (an ENFJ — Protagonist) said “I think that was based off my life.” It is totally her.
For more information about the Myers-Briggs test and results and how they can be used, check out their official website!