Why Personality Types Don’t Equal Labels


Pulling into the grocery store parking lot I have a “driveway moment” (aka when you want to stay in your car and listen to the content because it’s so attention-grabbing). A caller phoned into this advice podcast and asked about tips for the next time she goes to a big networking event for work. She classified herself as an introvert and told the podcasters her plight of wanting to promote the business, but hating the small talk of it all. Let me tell you something, even as an extrovert – I agree with this young woman… I HATE small talk. Extroverts and introverts can be personality classifications, but it shouldn’t limit/label individuals.

Personality types are so vast and varying (ENFP RIGHT HERE!) we shouldn’t use that as an excuse to label people. Robyn Cohen of The Huffington Post writes:

… I think what we need to do as a society is stop segmenting, pigeonholing, creating labels for people, or say that introverts are cooler and even more intelligent than extroverts. What we ought to do is educate, embrace, and enlighten ourselves more about what makes people different and how this forms a dynamic and interesting society we all can benefit from.

When we label personality types, we create room for exclusion and stereotypes. Pretty soon people say things like, “Oh, are you sure you want to invite Karen? She’s pretty shy, it could be totally awkward being in a big group for her.” What if Karen liked the activity this group had planned? What if Karen wants to push herself out of her comfort zone and meet more people? We can’t rush into snap judgments and not let people discover more about themselves if we shut them out. Same goes for extroverts. Just because we’re social doesn’t mean we want to make every business call, give every speech, and greet every man, woman, and child of the world. There are some extroverts like that. Me, I can handle myself in a lot of rooms, talk to new people, make new friends, but if there’s just no one who I really connect with, then it’s extremely hard for me to be social.

Take my former gig of being a dance DJ. Being the DJ for a social dance party – I had a lot of people visit me in the booth – song requests, catching up on life, asking me to dance… But just because I have this “life of the party persona” doesn’t mean my Energizer bunny ways are on 100% of the time. I would want to focus on the floor and make sure people like the song, or I would try to make sure the next couple of songs queued up are ok, it’s about balance. Entertaining people and also knowing when to give yourself breathing room.

That’s why I agree with Cohen that we shouldn’t put people into boxes. It’s like me and astrology. I reference the fact that I’m a Taurus a lot, but I don’t let that be the reasoning for all of my behavior. I think if an introvert happens to chat up with someone with similar interests than who are we to judge that they can have alone time AND socialize on their own terms. Just like an extrovert. Who are we to fault them for going out to drink with friends one night, then snuggling up to a good ole Disney flick the next? No matter what your personality is, challenge yourself to continuously learn, and let’s really study what makes each other different.

Your fellow learner of the world,
Steph

 

 

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