Knowing me, knowing you

First published 14th January 2016
Not unsurprisingly personality and character form part of the selection criteria for ministry in the Church of England. However I also think they are also key to life and relationships.

Many people have been subjected to psychometric tests and personality profiling in work, or even the church, from Myers Briggs to Insights, Enneagram to Strengths Finder, sociologists and psychologists use tools to define us. Many people find them helpful whilst others struggle with being boxed into a definition that reduces them to a colour, number or apparently random mix of letters.

Increasingly these models are questioned because the individual has become king and who I am cannot be distilled down in such an arbitrary way. However whatever you think of the various models, all they are are tools, to help us better understand ourselves, our relationship to the world and to others.

So for example I know I am an introvert; I am never going to be the life and soul of the party or find self-disclosure easy. The key is I dont let it define me, or how I deal with other people and my relationship to them. I can behave and act in an extrovert manner if I need to, I can make friends and build new relationships. In fact some of my colleagues have described me as a Tigger and are quite surprised that I am at heart an introvert.

I need personal space, I need time on my own, I have a very small number of those who I choose to call friends. I dont need other people to give me value but I dont use the fact I am an introvert to say I can only behave in a particular way! If we let the tools define us we are simply allowing them to shape who we are, to excuse our bad behaviour as well as our giftedness.

I know I make decisions based on intuition and those with a more scientific mindset will ask me for evidence. When I make a connection with someone new I instinctively know whether I will make a friend or simply an acquaintance. I can read other peoples emotions but I also know others are different from me and I cannot assume they will draw the same conclusions or judgements as I do. I know that I need colleagues and friends who use different tools and make judgements based on different traits for us to be an effective team.

Personality and character inevitably shape and define who we are and how we interact with the world. They are shaped from the moment we are born, it is in our DNA but also in our experiences of life thus far. What it can never be is an excuse for limiting our behaviour to the safe and known. We need to learn to take risks, to step out of our comfort zones and grow in who we are. Self-awareness is a key skill in building relationships because it helps us interact with the world around us. Lets use these tools to inform and encourage us and not define us.

The Church needs self-aware individuals who know who they are but are willing to change and grow.
Twitter: @revderekc


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