Personality Clash Part 1

Clash of the Titans – Help! My Child and I just don’t get on!

Whether it’s a lack of understanding each other or a total understanding of each other, there are parents who just can’t seem to get on with their kids and kids who refuse to get on with their parents.

First, it’s a good thing to note that, at some point, your child will hate you and won’t be afraid to tell you. There will also be times when you just don’t like your child very much. As much as I’d like to be able to solve this problem and become a multi-millionaire overnight, I really can’t. I still remember being told by my Son “I hate you!” Depending on my mood, after ignoring the comment; I would smile and take a deep breath or cry in a corner.

Sometimes, however, things go a little deeper and it can really seem that you are so different from your child, you may never be able to co-exist.

One of the most enlightening things that I came across during my extended counselling training, was about personality types. Not only did I find it personally empowering, but it became a tool I still use today with young adults to help them navigate their World.

As with a lot of things, I am not, nor do I claim to be an expert in diagnosing personality types. In a formal setting, I leave this strictly to the professionals. I use free, online diagnostic tools to help young adults get to know themselves better. Often, I get a feel for what the young person’s “type” will turn out to be and this can help them navigate relationships with themselves and others a little more easily.

For you as a parent or carer, the personality test or at least the understanding of different personality types; could be a real help in your home environment.

What is a Personality Test?

Without going into too much detail, I like to use the Myers Briggs (i) based personality typing which is often used as a tool by human resource teams to help with predictions regarding new employees.

In very simple terms, the Myers Briggs theory is that each person possesses four differing elements of their personality. Each element sits on a spectrum. The four elements are…

  1. Extroverted to Introverted – where do we prefer to “be”
  2. Sensing to Intuitive – how do we experience our World
  3. Thinking to Feeling – how do we form our decisions
  4. Judging to Perceiving – how we eventually make our decisions

There are many definitions of the above to be found in the World but below are the ways in which I choose to describe them. It works for me anyway. Please remember that each of the four elements is a spectrum and we can sit anywhere on that spectrum.

Please also remember that the words used here have slightly different meanings than they might in other life situations.

Extroverted to Introverted

When I ask young adults to tell me what they think I mean by these terms, often, they will tell me that an extroverted person is outgoing and confident whilst an introverted person can be quiet and shy. This is a myth I enjoy dismissing by use of myself.

I am outgoing (when I want to be) and confident (mostly). I am also an Introvert! I do not live in a cave on the edge of the World, alone. (Although sometimes I’d like to!)

Another massive myth about these types is that Extroverts are always the life and soul of the party and that Introverts don’t like people much and never socialise. First of all, I know plenty of Extroverts who get very tired after socialising and prefer a night in front of the TV. I also know lots of Introverts, including myself; who love partying and being with people. (for a while, anyway)

So, what does it mean then?

Put simply, I tell my young adults the following…

Extroverts experience the World externally. They like to talk things through, they like being part of a conversation about a topic. Extroverts would enjoy the group sessions during a training course or lesson and enjoy breaks and social time, using them as an opportunity to talk and socialise more. The more interaction they have, the more energised they feel.

Introverts (yes, you guessed it) experience the World internally. They take everything around them inside their head and that is where the work goes on. They absorb just as much information as the extrovert but do it very quietly. The introvert would like the part of the course or lesson where they could sit quietly and listen to information so that they can form it into knowledge. During social time, introverts may still be processing and become tired of external interaction. It feels like too much, continued interaction becomes tiresome.

Remember at this point that you may identify with both above statements which is why I remind you that it is a spectrum and you might sit closer to the middle of it. It’s also worth remembering that Extroverts feel more Introverted at times and visa versa. You will, however, overall identify as one or the other under most circumstances.

Sensing to Intuitive

Sensing types tend to very much live in the moment. They like to use their five senses (sound, touch, smell, taste, sight) to experience the World and learn from it. I always spot a Sensing type as they will talk about how food tastes or will notice a particular smell. They also like getting to grips with the reality of todays facts. They trust experience and are very good at remembering the facts as they happened. Sensing types sometimes pay so much attention to facts that they can miss out on new possibilities.

Intuitive types, on the other hand, prefer to look at the meaning behind events and what they might lead to in the future. Intuitive types can enjoy exploring alternative versions of the future and like to look at different possibilities. They tend to move between ideas and theories which means they might struggle to turn their thoughts into actions sometimes. Intuitive types can be spotted as they may struggle to relay facts in an orderly fashion, and they may have a thought rather than fact-based recollection of events.

Try and imagine a Sensing Type and an Intuitive Type recalling a day spent together. They would have rather differing views and the listener would experience two different outcomes.

Thinking to Feeling

Thinking types like to take a more “logical” approach to things. They like to analyse the facts before deciding and will rarely let themselves be swayed by the feelings of others. Thinking types tend to be very fair-minded and are very good at spotting errors, even though sometimes they may lack the ability to put their opinions across tactfully. Thinking types can sometimes be seen as cold or uncaring particularly in the work realm.

Feeling types base their decisions and actions on the consideration of others. They value personal harmony highly and can feel stressed when it is not present. Feeling types tend to make decisions with their heart rather than their head. Preferring to be tactful rather than truthful, feeling types can sometimes be seen as too idealistic or soft.

Now, try and imagine the two different types above giving a person bad news.

Judging to Perceiving

Judging types can be misunderstood, particularly in today’s World, where being “judged” or judging” others is perceived as a negative thing. In fact, in the realm of MBTI, the Judging part of the personality is to do with how we are called to action, or how we show ourselves to the World. I like to say, it’s our preference about how to make a judgement or decision on an outcome. This helps to explain the Judger more readily. This person will make a decision or a judgement and act on it. They are the completer / finishers of the World. They like order in their World and they like to know what comes next. The downside of this type is that they don’t always explore alternatives.

Perceiving types, on the other hand, like to perceive possibilities before making a decision. They tend to show themselves as more as those who are very flexible plans, and tend to work in bursts of energy, often at the last minute. A problem with the Perceiver is that they can sometimes miss deadlines.

Exercise:

After reading the above descriptions, decide which sounds more like you. Start to list the relevant letter, e.g.

Extravert (E) or Introvert (I)

Intuitive (N) or Sensing (S)

Feeling (F) or Thinking (T)

Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

You should now have a very basic idea of your personality type!

Google your “type” or four letters for more information.

Next, do the same for your child – preferably together.

  • The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The original versions of the MBTI were constructed by two Americans, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. The MBTI is based on the conceptual theory proposed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who had speculated that people experience the world using four principal psychological functions – sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The four categories are Introversion/Extraversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/Perception. Each person is said to have one preferred quality from each category, producing 16 unique types. The Center for Applications of Psychological Type states that the MBTI is scientifically supported, but most of the research on it is done through its own journal, the Journal of Psychological Type, raising questions of bias.

Read Part 2 here

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