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Well That Explains It by Crystal Tingle

01/03/2017 11:47AM ● Published by Crystal Tingle

Gallery: Personalities [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

Let’s go back to 2016 for a bit, December to be precise. Imagine yourself trying to pick up those last-minute Christmas presents and you are only a few days out before the big day! You have a huge to-do list to accomplish, you still have a few gifts to buy and, of course, the traffic is terrible and the lines are long. But you have to sweat it out. This one gift…you can’t get online. It wouldn’t arrive in time. You have it in your hot little hands and you just have to stand there and wait to check out in a line that appears to be moving at a snail’s pace. Were you on your phone passing the time on social media?  Did you notice anything around you? What were the other people in that long line doing? Maybe you saw something like this: about 10 minutes into your wait, a man from the back of the line brushes past you, continues to push his way forward, steps right in front of the next customer and begins demanding that the lady at the register call her manager to get more help to speed this process up. After all, he has things to do and if this were his business, it would be running a whole lot better! In fact, when the manager gets there he is going to direct her or him on how to make this ship run tighter! The lady standing just in front of you is getting very uncomfortable. She doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t want to get involved but you can tell that she is very worried about how that employee is being treated by the overbearing man. Her thoughts are of concern for the poor lady who is just trying to do her job. And she’s thinking what if this happened to her daughter or someone she loved. That would be just terrible! She has now become very anxious and the wringing of her hands demonstrates just that. Then there are the two ladies behind you that are oblivious to the man’s rant and couldn’t care less how long the line is.  They struck up a conversation and realized they used to live on the same street back home and know some of the same people. They decided to meet for lunch after getting through the line and may even finish up their shopping for the day together. I mean, why not? Then there is the gentleman in line that you may have also noticed. He is standing just behind the two new best friends. He is on his smartphone, an Android with the stylus, because he has charted out a visual shopping route with a backup Excel spreadsheet breaking down the day’s errands by time and vicinity and items needed with SKU numbers and listed prices. He is obviously now behind schedule and needs to make adjustments, and the tapping of his foot reveals his annoyed state. He just cannot fathom how anyone in management could not have foreseen that more employees would be needed for such a busy day. He has logged onto the store’s customer service department to give a review of his terrible shopping experience as well as a few strong suggestions on how they could have made his shopping experience better and more efficient. 

People and personalities! We are all so different and necessary to make the world around us work.  It takes the demanding customer to make things happen and the sweet little lady to show the world some love and compassion. It takes the two best friends to lighten and brighten and the gentleman with the stylus to plan it out for demanding customer service to see it through. But what ARE their personalities? What sets them apart and how can we tell? I never get tired of learning what makes people do what they do or act the way they act. This is why I thought while most of you are bombarded at this time of year with articles on goal-setting for such things as finances, weight loss and all the “do-over” opportunities we missed in 2016, why not do something a little more fun and different as we enter 2017?   And of course, I have another story for you, a true one this time, to make it more relatable and help you understand how truly useful this tool can be in your relationships, whether it’s family, friends or work or even standing in a long shopping line!

Once upon a time (always wanted to say that) almost 22 years ago, I married Prince Charming. We had dated only one year and had a pretty short engagement but he was the one!  I loved his take-charge attitude. He was extremely smart and of course very witty and handsome. He knew how to do just about anything and could get just about anything done! But the job he had at the time required a lot of travel, so our “getting to know you” phase was limited mostly to weekends and late-night phone calls, but I felt like we were ready and couldn’t wait to marry him and live happily ever after. But as you know, at some point, the honeymoon DOES end! We settled in and he started working for a different company with no travel, and I began to become a little, uhhmm, confused at some things in our marriage. I was beginning to think Prince Charming was not so charming! We seemed to have a lot of trouble communicating. As a new bride, this was very upsetting. My feelings stayed hurt and he stayed confused and pretty direct about it. And when I would sit him down and tell him the entire very detailed rendition of how he was making me feel, his eyes seem to glaze over and he appeared as though he had stopped listening. The audacity! I was upset! Couldn’t he see how he was making me feel?  And when he did listen, he usually disagreed with me because he didn’t see it the same way at all!   And the cycle began. Until one day…

Fast forward a couple of years into our marriage and we had an opportunity through work to participate in a behavioral seminar. The objective was to match personalities within the company to the right position as well as improve interpersonal relationships among employers and employees. What we found out was life- and marriage-altering! The personality test we took was the DISC system, but this is by far not the only one; it is just the one with which I am most familiar. We discovered that neither one of us were to blame, but the reason we had these gaps in our communication was because we were simply being who we were created to be. You see, every person has overlapping traits, but each has a particularly dominant one of the four in this system. My husband tested as a high “D” and I, a high “I.”   In a nutshell, it means communication conflict! The “D” personality demonstrates, among other things, directness and can be demanding.  “Ds” are dominant and leaders. They make things happen and may hurt your feelings along this wheel of progress. “Ds” are extroverted and not shy at all. They are the entrepreneurs…the movers and shakers. But they also tend to NOT be warm and fuzzy. They are results-oriented and tend to talk in terms of “I think.” President Elect Donald Trump is a classic example of a “D.” I, on the other hand, being a high “I” am people-oriented. I talk in terms of “I feel.” I am part of the population that will talk to the wall if no one else will talk to me. I don’t mind hard work but I want to have fun while I am doing it and need people around to share in the party. I love when you tell me how wonderful I am! I love to be needed and liked! Life IS a party to me…my fellow “Is” more than likely coined the phrase, “You Only Live Once.”  We are great at selling and influencing and are very outgoing, but we also have a strong desire for people to like us and can be rather sensitive. But likewise, if I feel like I have hurt your feelings, I won’t be able to let it go until we talk it out with lots of details! This will drive the “D” batty! See where this is headed?

Once we realized what made us tick, it altered how we engaged with one another. I had to learn to TRY to speak with less emotion and more logic with facts and headlines only! He had to TRY to listen to more details than he would prefer and recognize my need for more information and kinder tones. And no, mastered this we have not, but…we now know who each other was created to be and it’s refreshing to have this understanding.  The beauty is the adaptability of this once you have the knowledge. You aren’t changing who you are but you learn to modify your innate behaviors in order to improve communication with another who’s different. Think about the benefits of this in the workplace, with extended family or even at home with your children. This understanding of one another is priceless. So have fun with it! Have you identified the people in line yet? Below are a few key traits for each of the four personality types within the DISC system that may help.

The “D” is decisive, dominant, a driver, a developer, direct, determined, dynamic, demanding, results-oriented and talks in terms of “think.”  (Leaders, entrepreneurs, CEOs) 

The “I” is an influencer, interactive, inducing, interested in people, a good communicator and salesperson, people-oriented and talks in terms of “feel.” (Actors, salespeople, public relations) 

The “S” is stable, steady, likes simple pleasures, practical, family oriented, sympathetic, shy, likes status quo, is people-oriented and talks in terms of “feel.”  (Dependable parent, loyal employee and caretaker)

The “C” is compliant, competent, correct, calculated, controlled, conscientious, cautious, results-oriented and talks in terms of “think.” (Accountant, engineer, programmer)

As I mentioned, there are numerous types of personality assessments in the world of behavioral study. But I am most familiar with this one created by William Marston. Here are a few links to short free versions of the DISC test, but use your search engine to find other systems as well and try them out. After you know who you are, get a friend or spouse to participate as well. But try to “guess” them beforehand, just for fun!

When we take the time to recognize and understand each other better and what makes us the same or even very different, a measure of grace presents itself, allowing one another to be the person and personality they are designed to be. There is no wrong or bad type, just different and necessary. And don’t be surprised when you catch yourself, as I did, analyzing others to figure them out. And, when they are quite different from you, saying with a sheepish grin and all in fun, “Well, that explains it!” 

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