Your Personality Is Irrelevant

Myers-Briggs, Love Languages, The Birkman, Rorschach, DISC, Buzzfeed surveys, True Colors, Five Factors — they're all crap.

Now that the shots have been fired and I've clearly stated my wildly unpopular position, let me explain. It's really quite simple:

No one interacts with your personality. 

It's impossible to interact with your personality. In fact, the only person who can interact with your personality is you. Why? Because your personality is literally only in your head — and it's never going anywhere else.

What really matters is your behavior. Everyone only interacts with the behavior of others. We don't experience, talk to, engage, or react to "personalities." We only get to experience others' behaviors. While I will spend my entire life in relationships with thousands of people, I will only ever get to see or know what they do or have done. Actions matter — personality doesn't.

I talk to a lot of couples facing difficulties. Usually, they try to blame it on their personalities. "He doesn't talk with me because he's an Introvert." "She doesn't appreciate what I do for her because that's not her love language." "I'm an ENTP, so I can't make a financial plan." Etc. The problem is that they're not dealing with one another's personalities. The issues are their behaviors. 

The problem with the $4 billion personality industry is that it gives people a false sense of irresponsibility for their actions. Personality is something you have very little — if any — ability to control. You can't choose to be an Introvert, an Empath, an Intimidator, or to have the "physical touch" Love Language. As such, people often mistakenly use their personality profile as an excuse for poor behavior. While the purveyors of the Personality Industrial Complex will generally claim that personality shouldn't be used to justify unjustifiable actions, the very nature of their tests, profiles, and diagnoses tends to produce that result.

Myers-Briggs "Extraverts" often try to excuse overbearing behavior as nothing more than an uncontrollable part of their personality. Some "Introverts" believe that they have a pass for being aloof and uninvolved. Other people attempt to justify a lack of involvement or verbal support with the dumb rationale that "quality time" or "words of affirmation" simply aren't their Love Languages. The truth is really much more simple: 

People are often rude. Many are cowards. Most are selfish. 

The truth is as obvious as the naked Emperor: Sane people have the ability to control their behavior. As such, your behavior is a choice. 

If you choose to withhold affection, that's your choice. If you're combative in business meetings, that's also your choice. Every day, you choose to either be outspoken, well-spoken, or to leave things unspoken. When you ride the elevator with your employees and focus solely on your phone instead of greeting them, you're choosing to devalue them. When you criticize your spouse, you are choosing to say those words. If you don't play with your kids, that's on you. Whether you choose to be emotive or emotionally withdrawn, that's still your choice. 

Own it.

And if you don't like it, choose to change your behavior.

Right now, I'm sure someone is whining, "But, my personality informs my decisions!" I don't care. They're still your decisions, your choices. Just because you are predisposed toward something doesn't mean that it's beyond your control.

I'm predisposed to making critical jokes about others while laying naked on a beach, consuming ice cream and margaritas all day, every day. But I don't. Why? Because I choose not to. My personality also has me predisposed toward being dangerously spontaneous and obnoxiously preachy, but I choose to temper those behaviors (or at least I try to). My Love Languages make me want to give gifts to and touch everyone I love, but I choose not to, because I can't afford it and that's weird.

Every single moment of every day, we're making choices about how to behave. We choose how to interact with other people. Even if our choice is just to keep doing what we're most comfortable with or what we've always done, we're still making a choice. Going with the status quo is still a choice. 

We love personality profiles because they're focused on our favorite subject: ourselves. They're gloriously self-indulgent. I enjoy them at least as much as everyone else. They're quasi-scientific descriptions of how awesome we all are — even if we're behaving terribly. 

Taking a personality test may help you better understand yourself or those around you, but it has absolutely no bearing on how you should choose to behave. When it comes to how people perceive, interact, value, love, and judge you, your personality is irrelevant. Your behavior is all that matters. And your behavior can be controlled regardless of your personality. 

Stop excusing bad behavior. Personality doesn't excuse responsibility. 

— John