A surefire way to wreak havoc

What is it?

Expect everyone to be just like you.

If we’re honest, we’ve often wished someone else (everyone else?) would behave, respond, feel, or think like we do. Whether it’s the guy at the office who hogs all the air time at meetings, or the kid who drags her feet and is late for everything, or the person on that church committee who puts down every idea you have, we just wish they would be more like us. If only they would think _________ (logically, passionately, decisively, considerately—you fill in the blank) like I do, life would be so much better.

I beg to differ.

God created us with varying personalities, and he wanted each of us to be ourselves. Trying to force someone to become your personality creates an awkward creature that doesn’t quite work. If we were all the same, life would be skewed in a very weird (and rigid) direction. We need each other. Personality quirks (if they’re ours) or flaws (you know, those that belong to someone else) provide life with balance and joy and wisdom and kindness. We need each other to make life work, and we need us to be different.

In my personality workshop, You’ve Got Personality, I identify the four basic personality types using Winnie-the-Pooh characters. There’s:

  • Tigger—high-energy and people-focused, and, yes, a bit scatter-brained
  • Rabbit—high-energy and project-focused, and, um, well, okay, bossy
  • Eeyore—low-energy and project-focused, and such a stickler for detail
  • Winnie-the-Pooh—low-energy and people-focused, and maybe a little too relaxed

We need them all. We need the people-focused ones to help us remember that people are important, that WE are important, and that we are more than the sum of our accomplishments. We need the project-focused folks to help us get things done and make the world a better place. We need the high-energy people to spur us on and to plan the events that bring joy to life. We need the low-energy friends to remind us that rest is important and that some of the best things in life benefit from taking our time.

Investing energy to understand our own personality and those of the people we live and work and play with can improve our lives. There are great books that can help you do so, like the classic Personality Plus by Florence Littauer. And then it’s important to know how to apply that knowledge so our relationships encounter less chaos and frustration.

In my workshop, I share “cheat sheets” that outline what each personality needs from others and how you—with your personality—can make your relationships better by paying attention. One business has found this so valuable for workplace harmony, they bring me in every few years to work through the material with their office staff. I’ve presented the program to county managers and workers, businesses, networking organizations, and church groups. If your organization would benefit from this presentation, let’s talk!

It’s true that every personality—so every one of us—has weaknesses, and we can certainly work to improve in those areas. But the next time someone doesn’t think like you do, or act like you would, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that they are not you, but they are exactly who God made them to be. Ask yourself how your life would be poorer if they weren’t themselves. And then breathe out grace and acceptance into your relationships, even if it means you’re late again!

Together, we all go up!

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