August 16, 2011

So Who Are We Really?

Photo by Annesen Kjartan, Denmark
I have the kind of mind that enjoys taking personality tests. I'm not sure why. Most of the tests seem like useless information that I tend to forget soon after I take them but it was not the case when I took David Keirsey’s temperament test from his book Please Understand Me II. Similar to the Myer’s Brigg’s test, Kerisey divides human temperaments into sixteen categories. My sister-in-law gave our extended family Keirsey’s test one summer weekend when we were all together several years ago in Maine. It was an eye opener for all of us. I have since given it to my side of the family and several friends.  It has given me a much better understanding of myself and why I like to hang with certain people more than others and what makes every one, including myself, tick.

As a parent, and someone who has been with the same partner for almost 30 years, the test connected a lot of dots. My kids took the test just as they were entering their teenage years-  well beyond the time when I started to wonder how one of them could be so comfortable always wearing mismatched socks, or being in the limelight- when neither of her parents are platform people themselves.

And what about our other child who has been giving me sound advice since she was four years old?  She is almost always right but why is she compelled to zero in on what needs adjustment? Just what is going on inside her little noggin?

And how about Mr. Fix It  Tom, my husband? The guy whose personality over the years has shall I say… grown larger, as I’m sure mine has as well. Seeing his test result really helps me to not take things that he sometimes comments on personally. Like for instance- how I load the dishwasher or how I organize the pantry.  Now that I know his temperament type I can usually just say to myself  "There goes Inspector Watson again." It’s not about me, it’s about him. And likewise, when I ask him as we’re leaving for a weekend away if he has his bathing suit and his glasses- he is more apt to remember now that I ask this not because I don’t trust him to do a good job, but simply because I am just trying to take care of him. It's not about him, it's about me.

It turns out that our little nest over here contains not one but two Inspectors, a Performer, and a Provider and I think if you asked any one of us, we would all say that Keirsey’s test has helped us to better understand ourselves, and each other, and why we say or do the things we do. It has also helped us to appreciate each other more, love each other more fully, and to not take things so personally- and life so damn seriously.  Taking Keirsey’s test was a bit like family therapy but lightening fast with just 70 quick questions and a bit of follow-up reading. Ta Da!

70 test questions here:

Please Understand Me II book review here.

Also in this week’s Boston Globe is an interesting article called Why Do We Get So Annoyed?


  1. Fun :) I'm a Mastermind. And you're right, knowing these things can be very illuminating in many situations! I don't know what my husband's type is, but whatever it is, we seem to be complementary because we trust each others' judgement even though we may take different methods to get there. With our kids...I think my personality type is a good thing because I tend to want to move forward and not dwell on things. This is super helpful with small children in the house...when is it not helpful? When I am trying to "work" or "think" and my house with all the kids and animals is like a noise factory. Or at work when people get stuck in ego issues and forget about the mission...or compromise on a less efficient process that doesn't serve the outcome...that stuff makes my brain nearly burst! Haha...thanks for the fun post!

    -Katy BS :)

  2. Dear Mastermind,

    The world needs more of you.

    Glad you liked the post,

    Provider girl.

  3. It says I am an "idealist.' I don't know what that means in the context of this testing system, but it makes sense! I should check out that book, 'cuz I love stuff like this. Gracias!

  4. Sounds like you! Idealists as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self -- always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.

    All Idealists share the following core characteristics:

    * Idealists are enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, yearn for romance, seek their true self, prize meaningful relationships, and dream of attaining wisdom.
    * Idealists pride themselves on being loving, kindhearted, and authentic.
    * Idealists tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are focused on personal journeys and human potentials.
    * Idealists make intense mates, nurturing parents, and inspirational leaders.

    More on Idealists here:

  5. I can't decide if that's all really lovely or just the manifestation of extreme self-absorption. :P

  6. Dear Idealist,



    both :-)

    Provider girl