“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves”. (Carl Jung)
Have you ever wondered why you get on really well with some people, and why you struggle with others? There can be a multitude of reasons for this related to shared experiences (or lack of them), values and background, but it’s always worth considering respective personality traits as part of the mix.
Personality traits provide a useful “window” or framework into our own self awareness, and the possibility of at least reflecting on our interactions with others, and the potential for adapting strategies when we find ourselves working with people who we instinctively know are “polar opposites” of us.
There are various frameworks and instruments that can provide these windows of both self reflection and thinking about others: one of the best known is from the work of Carl Jung, who worried at the time of writing Psychological types that “I have such a hell of a trouble to make people see what I mean”. His work is now used as the basis of several Psychometric instruments. In defining psychological types, he created a framework in which different people use their “psychological equipment” to perceive what is happening outside and inside themselves.
This is the one most people know about, and relates to how we react to inner and outer experiences. The extravert is orientated primarily to events in the outer world, whereas the introvert is primarily concerned with the inner world. Jun talked about the extravert being “outgoing, candid and accommodating nature that adapts eaily to given situations and quickly forms attachments” where the introvert has a “hesitant, reflective nature that keeps itself to itself”
The thinking-feeling polarioty is about how we make decisions. The “thinking” preference is formal, impersonal, analytical, detached, objective and strong-minded, whereas the “feeling” preference is informal, personal, considerate, involved, subjective, and accommodating.
The sensing-intuition axis is about how we take in and process information. A strong sensing type would be specific, present-oriented, realistic, persistent, down-to-earth and practical. Someone strongly intuitive would be global, future-oriented, imaginative, conceptual, interested in possibilities and abstract
The “Insights Model”
The model I personally use is the Insights Model, based on the above 3 Jungian preferences, that uses these preferences as a “chassis” on which a colour wheel is overlaid, and used as a way of describing behaviour, taking into account the 3 behavioural preferences. The advantage of the colour wheel is that it has a strong memorability. There are many other equally strong models such as Myers Briggs (that uses a similar “chassis” without the colours) and OPQ.
The overall principle of the model is that each individual is a unique combination containing different elements or strengths of the colour preferences, but that some individuals have stronger preferences towards some of the colour traits.
People with a high “COOL BLUE” perspective are introverted and have a desire to know and understand the world around them. They like to think before they act, and maintain a detached, objective standpoint. They value independence and intellect. They prefer written communication in order to maintain clarity and precision, and a desire for analysis.
People with a high “EARTH GREEN” preference are introverts, but who focus on values and depth in relationships. They want others to be able to rely on them. They will defend what they value with quiet determination and persistence. They prefer democratic relationships that value the individual and are personal in style, radiating a desire for understanding
People with a high “SUNSHINE YELLOW” preference are extraverted, radiant and friendly. They are usually positive and concerned with creating good relationships. They enjoy the company of others and believe that life should be fun. They approach others in a persuasive, open style, radiating a desire for sociability
People with high “FIERY RED” preference are extraverted and have high energy. They are action orientated and always in motion. They are positive, reality orientated and assertive. They focus on results and objectives, and approach others in a direct authoritative manner, radiating a desire for power and control.
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed” (Carl Jung)
Overall, they help with a level of self awareness of traits, and the challenges of particular traits. I for example, have high red traits, which is great for running a business and getting things done, but struggle with stopping and relaxing! As Jung observes in the behavioural preferences, “our weaknesses are often our overused strengths”