God’s Gift of Personality
By Fr Bogdan Djurdjulov
That people are different is no secret. Our Lord clearly uses people with different personalities to do His work. The Bible is full of different types. For example: there’s the direct and creative style of St Paul, the conscientious and detailed style of Moses, the sensitive style of St Peter and the inspirational style of St Stephen. We have much more in common with Biblical personalities than we may think. After all, they were human like us. That’s the beauty of our Lord’s creationwe’re all special and have a purpose for being.
Getting along with people is easier when we keep some basics in mind. First, seek to better understand yourself, how you deal with challenges, relate to others, deal with your surroundings, know what you believe and value. Then, learn how to better understand otherstheir way of doing things and relating. Learning what others value and believe allows you to know what they’re like so you can treat them as they need to be treated.
Even when people are going in the same direction, they may follow a different road. It doesn’t necessarily make it wrong; it’s just different. The Bible gives us vivid pictures of different personality styles at work. Read about Moses, Saul and David, for example.
Take a moment and think of the last time you had a disagreement or misunderstanding. What was it about? Sometimes we may think that others are just trying to be difficult. More often than not, those “clashes” or conflicts are no more than a matter of approaching and seeing things differentlynot “personal” issues at all. We also react differently to one another. Sometimes we instantly feel close to someone. We feel they’re kindred spirits, as though we’ve known them for years. On the other hand, after only 5 or 10 minutes with someone else, we may start to feel uncomfortable, uneasy, as though we’re on different wave-lengths, miles apart.
Personality Watching Is Very Old
Trying to understand behavior is thousands of years old. People have been attempting to figure each other out from the time of Adam and Eve. Personality is complex and dynamic. There’s a fascinating interplay of our habits, preferences and perceptions of life. Today, there are dozens of ways to describe styles of behavior. Books like I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just Not You and Please Understand Me, try to help readers understand and appreciate the value of normal human diversity. The names to describe behavioral and personality styles may change, but the characteristics of each style stay pretty much the same. They group behavior into four major categories. You’ve no doubt heard of or experienced for yourself one of the many models.
Why Learn About Behavioral Styles?
So, why do we need to know all of this, you may ask? The Bible makes it clear that we were created to live in relationship with othersto love one another, to care about each other’s welfare, to serve one another, to follow Christ’s teaching “to do to others as you would have them do to you” (Mt 7:12). We learn this also in Christ’s two great commandments. The first is”...you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk 12:30-31). That’s why it’s important.
Knowing at least the basic characteristics or patterns of relating to others helps us to build better relationships. Most of us would agree that that’s a worthy goal. It helps reduce conflict, tension and stress. It makes relationships more enjoyable and fulfilling. It’s easier to make a point when we speak and behave in a language the other understands. Proverbs 25:11 tells us that “a word fitly spoken is like an apple of gold in a setting of silver.” Rather than ramming our desires down people’s throats, why not practice adapting our style to better reach others and be better understood.
Our Lord Is Our Best Example
Examples abound in Scripture where our Lord adapted His approach to His listeners. He used one approach with the Pharisees (direct and to the point), a differently style when He related a parable (learning through example), a different one when He walked the streets and spoke to the woman at the well or answered the question of the young rich man. He adapted His style and approach with each of His disciplesfrom being patient to being very direct. Each one was treated differently, but loved no less. This is our key to better understandinglearning to adapt (not change our essence or nature) our own individual style so that we’re better understood. While each of us has a dominant style of interaction, we can adapt to each others’ styles. This comes with practice.
A Helpful Behavioral Model
A behavioral model which I like for its simplicity is called DISC. DISC is an acronym for
It’s based on a theory first developed by Dr William Moulton Marston in the 1940’s. His research suggests that each person’s preferred behavioral style falls into one of four categories. Although all four styles are used by each of us in varying degrees, one will describe us better than the others. DISC only measures observable behavior.
From the basic four DISC core styles come fifteen “classical patterns” each with its own variation. DISC doesn’t measure skills, experience, values, intelligence, beliefs, or knowledge. DISC style descriptors aren’t meant to label people’s behavior. They simply help us clarify the normal differences in people, break down barriers and improve communication. All styles are necessary and valuable.
The four styles are arrived at by determining whether behavior is direct or indirect and whether it is oriented towards tasks and results or people and ideas. Just recognizing if you or someone else is direct or indirect, task or people oriented, will give you some valuable clues to how to better communicate with this person.
|SEE WHERE YOU FIT IN|
See Where You Fit In