How to use personality assessments to build self awareness
When we have the tendency to people-please, over-give and over-function in our relationships, it is really common to become disconnected from ourselves because we focus our attention primarily on others. We pour all of ourselves into trying to keep the people around us happy and often end up losing ourselves in the process.
Try taking a moment to check in with yourself:
- Can you accurately identify how you feel right now in this moment?
- Do you know what you need to feel good?
- Are you able to advocate for yourself and articulate what's important to you?
- Can you identify what lights you up and brings you joy?
- Do you know your strengths and your limitations and how to make the best of them?
- Do you know what motivates you and what causes that motivation to wane?
If you are used to 'going with the flow', 'keeping the peace' and 'not rocking the boat' then it's entirely possible that you've become numb to who you are, what's important to you, and your own feelings and needs.
I have a toolbox full of tools to help people to reconnect with themselves and begin to figure out their own likes, desires, interests and preferences, but today we are going to focus on one of my favourites, personality assessments. So, let's get started...
What are the benefits of personality assessments?
Personality refers to individual differences in our patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. A personality assessment is a tool that measures these personality preferences.
There are lots of different assessments out there that look at different aspects of our personality and, personally, these assessments have really helped to wrap words around who I am and cultivate a deeper understanding and acceptance of myself over the last 10 years. Now, of course, you don’t need a test to tell you who you are, however, it can be a validating experience and help you to gain clarity about yourself and your situation.
Personality assessments can also be a really useful tool to help us to identify and understand how we are all different, which helps us to see different perspectives and build better relationships with others.
Personality is a complex subject that has many layers. At the root is our core nature (the aspects of our personality that are genetic and inherited) and then how we are nurtured and our life experiences combine to create the story of who we are and how we behave.
We can be influenced in so many ways:
- how we saw others behave
- how we saw others treated
- our family messaging and belief systems
- the roles family members took
- general family dynamics
- experiences with authority figures
- significant relationships outside of family
- cultural and societal messaging
So, it's no wonder that so many of us find ourselves feeling lost, unfulfilled and frustrated when there are so many different external influences and pressures out there.
What are the limitations of personality assessments?
It's also important to highlight the limitations of personality assessments and ensure that we don't take the results as gospel, allow them to box us in and become our excuses for staying small and stuck.
Our personality and behaviour can change depending on our environment, situation and over time through life experiences, therefore, it's important to bear this in mind when taking a self-answered test. If our environment or situation changes then our personality and preferences can also be subject to change.
Additionally, given that our results are based on the answers we give, it's also important to remember that they can be biased and may not be a wholly accurate depiction of who we are. This is why I use personality assessments alongside other tools with my clients and I always ask them to share their results with two or three people that know them well (and will be honest with them) to get their feedback too.
These assessments are not the be-all and end-all, they simply provide information for us to consider. Just like when we receive feedback from someone, we get to choose what we take from these assessments and any subsequent actions.
Whilst these tests can help us to identify our preferences and limitations, it doesn't mean we need to become fixated on and change every undesirable part of ourselves. In fact, whilst I'm a big advocate for personal growth, I'm also a big advocate of self-compassion and playing to our strengths rather than obsessing over our weaknesses.
My favourite personality assessments
Here are some of my favourite personality assessments for you to play with (Truity has free versions of most of these tests available other than The Four Tendencies, which you can access at quiz.gretchenrubin.com).
DISC measures our predictable personality traits and behaviour and can present us with valuable input regarding how we think, feel, what motivates us, and what deters us. It also tells us about how we relate to systems, how we approach conflict, how we relate to people, and how we respond to different environments.
DISC is most often used in professional settings for personal, leadership, career and team development. I am certified to use DISC in my coaching practice and offer a more comprehensive assessment including a 15-page report as part of my coaching programme.
My DISC profile is now SI - The Advisor; however, this has changed over the years twice, from ICS to IS and now to SI, which reflects changes in my situation and environment.
The Enneagram is a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions.
Each of the nine personality types is defined by a particular core belief about how the world works. This core belief drives your deepest motivations and fears — and fundamentally shapes a person's worldview and the perspective through which they see the world and the people around them.
Understanding our Enneagram type and how it influences us can help to broaden our perspective and approach situations more effectively. It can also help us to see why others behave the way they do. Behaviour that may seem confusing or contradictory can often be explained when we understand a person's Enneagram type.
I'm an Enneagram type two - The Helper.
This assessment outlines 16 personality types based on a combination of four personality preferences. Each personality type is designated with a four-letter code, with each letter signifying one of the personality preferences.
Extraversion vs introversion:
How do you gain energy? Extraverts like to be with others and gain energy from people and the environment. Introverts gain energy from alone-time and need periods of quiet reflection throughout the day.
Sensing vs intuition:
How do you collect information? Sensors gather facts from their immediate environment and rely on the things they can see, feel and hear. Intuitives look more at the overall context and think about patterns, meaning, and connections.
Thinking vs feeling:
How do you make decisions? Thinkers look for the logically correct solution, whereas feelers make decisions based on their emotions, values, and the needs of others.
Judging vs perceiving:
How do you organise your environment? Judgers prefer structure and like things to be clearly regulated, whereas perceivers like things to be open and flexible and are reluctant to commit themselves.
My profile is ISFP - The Composer.
The Four Tendencies
By asking the one simple question, “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain an exciting insight into ourselves. And when we know how other people respond to expectations, we understand them far more effectively as well.
We all face two kinds of expectations - outer expectations (to meet work deadlines, answer a request from a friend, etc) and inner expectations (keep a New Year’s resolution, start meditating, exercising, etc). Our response to these expectations determines our “tendency” - that is, whether we fit into the category of an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.
Knowing our tendency can help us set up situations in ways that make it more likely that we’ll achieve our aims. We can make better decisions, meet deadlines, meet our promises to ourselves, suffer less stress, and engage more deeply with others.
My tendency is an Obliger (with a dash of Rebel!).
Often used in corporate or professional settings, it provides an individual with their 'top five' strengths.
Studies show that focusing on using one’s strengths instead of fixing weaknesses has a significant positive effect on physical, mental and social well-being. In other words, strengths help you live longer, feel happier and build better relationships.
I'm a big advocate of playing to what you are naturally good at, which is not necessarily the same as what you have learned to be good at!
My top five strengths are:
- problem solver
These assessments provide a lot of information to help us get to know ourselves better. Take some time to review and reflect on the results you get from these tests:
- What have you learned about yourself?
- What information stands out to you?
- What don't you like about your results?
- Is there anything you'd like to be different?
- How will you integrate this information into your life or career?
Self-awareness can be super helpful in designing a life and career that feels good for the unique individual that you are. It's also a lifelong journey - there is always another layer to uncover as life twists and turns!
All change starts from a place of awareness. Once you become aware of what's not working, you can choose what you want to do about it.
"We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change."
- Sheryl Sandberg
I'd really love to know how you get on with these assessments. If you feel you'd like to share, I'd love you to hit the 'email me' button below. I read and reply to all emails personally and love hearing from and connecting with new people.