Personality Typing and Socializing

Are you like me? Do you dream of a time where we could ask each other this question, and openly and honestly expect a legitimate answer? We are supposed to be social creatures, and we would like to be with each other more often...

“Conflicts do not happen when you are like me. Conflicts arise when you are not like me, and we cannot understand how and why such a situation could exist.”

Personality typing and categorization on a larger level is our mental technique for organizing information, rationalizing perception, and understanding the relationships within and between the differences of people. It seeks to simplify the difficulties that people have in truthfully asking each other and responding to the question, “Are you like me?”

Looking into a mirror, we are able to recognize our own bodies and actions. When I see another person, I realize that this person is not me, but someone who appears similar to me. I want to know if this person thinks what I think, sees what I sees, hears what I hear, etc. If I know this about the other person, then I don’t need to revert to the fight-or-flight mechanisms that are still ingrained in my animal instincts. Fight-or-flight is a holdover from our past, when we approached every new situation with a tense inquisitiveness – interested but tentative nonetheless. Some of this tension may be more apparent when you are introduced to a roommate for the first time, or a new boss calls you into his or her office.

Structured categorization like personality typing can help bring people to an even playing field. Fabricated conceptions and generalizations help all parties relate to each other, and the nature of personality type descriptions tends to make people feel better about themselves and how they fit into the collective body of work that social groups are. Astrological signs may suggest poor compatibilities with certain people, but many often propose the concept that applying “hard work” to an unsettling situation will result in the overcoming of the inherent variation between people.

“Personality typing helps me feel good about myself, and my role in society. It can help me understand others and vice versa, fostering a sense of comfort with new members of my social group. But it also feels wrong to admit that pre-conceptualized ideas can accurately represent the complexities my emotions and thoughts are able to construct. This is a troubling thought to some. How can science describe me completely?”

There is an underlying tension in personality typing that honors group dynamics but suggests that people no longer have time to develop the deeper connections which personal bonds are created from. We use cookie-cutter systems to accept how people function, instead of asking, “Are you like me?”

The next time you can’t or don’t want to speak to someone, consider the reasons. Perhaps you have already assumed that person is not like you, and perhaps you have already categorized and typed him or her without starting down the long path of socializing that helps us go beyond fight-or-flight reactions and blind faith classifications.

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