Understanding Different Personality Types
by Steph Beth Nickel
Melancholy or sanguine? Introvert or extrovert? Director or connector? Analytic or expressive? Enneagram 2 or enneagram 7?
If you’ve ever taken a personality test, some or all of these terms may be familiar to you. (I love taking quizzes. I’m pretty sure I can chalk it up to my personality type.)
Introverts and Extroverts
Maybe the most familiar terms are introvert and extrovert—and the more recently coined ambivert.
While there is much literature and more than a few GIFs that explain what it means to be an introvert, it really clicked for me when I discovered how introverts and extroverts recharge.
Typically, spending time with people drains an introvert and energizes an extrovert.
An introvert isn’t necessarily shy and reserved. They may enjoy spending time with family and friends. They may love to be out and about. But there comes a time, they have to spend some time alone. Otherwise, they will feel completely depleted.
On the other hand, an extrovert may be exhausted, wanting nothing more than to curl up on the couch and spend the evening reading a good book or binge-watching Netflix. However, if they have to go to a function, they may very well be the last one to leave. Time with people whose company they enjoy can be even more energizing than an evening on the couch.
As an extrovert “on steroids”, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the introverts who call me friend. Trust me, I know how annoying I can be. <grin>
We must learn to appreciate those with different personality types. God has made us unique and we need one another.
I think it’s humorous that I am the only extrovert in my family. My husband, daughter, and two sons are all introverts. My firstborn may technically be an ambivert, but he definitely falls on the introvert side of centre. For the most part, he would be happy spending the majority of his time at home with his wife and their six guinea pigs.
Connectors, Inspectors, Directors, and Reflectors
Not only is it a good thing to know your own personality type. It is also helpful to know your spouse’s. In my case, I have been married to an amazing man for over 35 years, an amazing man who couldn’t be more different from me.
As I mentioned, he is an introvert.
Dave is also a reflector, while I’m a connector.
Reflectors “take time to listen to others, making them feel seen and heard; drop what [they’re] doing to help someone in need; and exude a sense of calm confidence that helps others relax when their around.” (Exhale … p. 119)
Connectors “make everyone feel welcome, wanted, included; exude an upbeat, optimistic mood; and enjoy taking center stage.” (Exhale … p. 116)
Of course, people rarely fit neatly into a particular box, but we have definite leanings.
I first learned about this test from Cheri Gregory and Amy Carroll, the hosts of the Grit ‘n’ Grace Podcast and the authors of Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not, Love Who You Are, Live Your One Life Well.
(Don’t let the title mislead you. This is not merely a self-help book written to make readers feel good about themselves. These ladies truly love the Lord and want each of their readers to discover who God made them to be.)
You can take the test on the Exhale website.
Expressives, Analytics, Drivers, and Amiables
I learned about these personality types from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory, in their book You Don’t Have to Try So Hard: Ditch Expectations and Live Your Own Best Life.
Sometimes, you only have to read the list to find out where you fit.
While I try to be amiable, I definitely qualify as an expressive. Our top emotional needs are “attention, affection, and approval.” Our God-given assets include being having a good sense of humor, being good on stage, and having a sensitive heart. Our potential liabilities include being a compulsive talker, scaring people off, and being too happy for some people. (You Don’t Have to Try So Hard … pp. 43-44)
And thankfully, my hubby is an amiable. I’m not quite sure who else could put up with my compulsive talking and over-the-top happiness.
Amiables need “respect, self-worth, and harmony.” They have “low-key personalities; are calm, cool, and collected; and are happily reconciled to life.” They may be indecisive, shy, and compromising.
Take a personality test and encourage someone close to you to do the same.
As you learn more about yourself and those closest too you, you will be better able to appreciate the strengths and extend grace when it comes to the areas of potential weakness in yourself and others.
Typically, spending time with people drains an introvert and energizes an extrovert. (click to tweet)
Appreciate others’ strengths and extend grace when it comes to areas of potential weakness. (click to tweet)
Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org;
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or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.