Emotional Intelligence and Personality tests can be lots of fun to do but are they the Horoscopes or the Facebook quizzes of the Corporate World?
You know the quizzes that you do online where you answer a list of multiple choice questions and they tell you which Disney Princess or cast member from Friends or GOT house you belong to? It’s all fun and games until you get an answer that you don’t like or agree with? Does that change the way you now watch that show or was the quiz simply wrong?
Any personality quiz, regardless of the topic, is a subjective test based on our own answers and that’s what makes them so interesting!
There are approximately 31 different personality tests available based on available research. Myer Briggs and DiSC are two of the most popular with Myer Briggs being around since 1921 and DiSC since 1928. I’m not sure whether this is a good thing that they have such extensive history or whether it’s a concern that things have certainly changed a lot in the last 98 years! Many others have been created throughout the years with quite a few companies creating their own tests.
Some are so accurate and describe us perfectly, others tell us something that we don’t expect and therefore could be assumed wrong or inaccurate. Either way, they use our answers to closed questions and place us into a category.
There is only so much that an online test can do. Have you ever read a multiple choice question and thought ‘none of those answers best suit me’ yet you are forced to pick one to continue. It does create the risk of a ‘cookie cutter’ approach. You are either A, B, C or D, end of story. No, you can’t be A sometimes and a little of C on other occasions. No, it can’t be dependant on the situation and the people involved. No, your emotional purpose or driver is not relevant. The test does the best it can with the questions and answers it has.
Does this make them a waste or time? No, I don’t think so. Does this make them accurate and statistical information to create measures, determine careers and create development plans? No, I don’t think it does. Does this provide a great base to have a conversation and get us in the right frame of mind to dig deeper in EI? Yes, I believe it does.
What we choose to do following these tests actually determine the value.
Here are 4 things to consider when doing these tests:
- Knowing others results is more important that knowing your own. It’s nice to know what we think and how we see ourselves, although remember, it is your self-assessment so the accuracy is in your interpretation of you. Understanding what others think and how they see themselves is very handy to know. This can differ greatly from how we see them. It provides an insight into their beliefs and values. We can learn a lot from what other people think of themselves.
- Our results can vary depending on our stage of life. Similar to our likes, dislikes, goals, directions and beliefs changing through life, so too will our results of the tests. It is a snapshot of you right now. Don’t get hung up on your results from 10 years ago and certainly don’t let them define you! If your life doesn’t have a lot of change and you are a person that doesn’t have a lot of change to your beliefs and values, then your results are likely to be the same at age 20 as they are at age 60.
- Remember the original purpose of doing the test. We can get caught up in reading through the results and analysing what they mean, losing track of the real reason we are doing them: to identify areas to grow! The test is simply the pre-work step to building our EI and reaching our high performing potential. We should put more focus on the practical steps that follow the test rather than the test and reading through the results. Reading the test results alone might be fun however have you actually learnt anything and have you grown?
- We don’t always have the luxury of asking someone that we are communicating with, what was your DiSC result? There are many ways through EI training to identify and understand someone’s personality and modalities. This can be done through the words that they use, the process they go through, their habits, their appearance, pretty much observation at it’s best. Fantastic skills for interviews, Leaders and Sales! This is reflective of the concept: give a person a fish and they eat for the day, teach a person to fish and they eat for a lifetime. Doing the test and being given the answers, gives you fish for a day, learning the skills to do it without a test, is like learning to fish and eating for a lifetime.
So in summary, Personality and EI tests are fun and a great place to start. In fact, there are so many free tests that you can do online simply by searching ‘Free Personality and EI Tests’. We can also teach and learn the skills to be able to identify other people’s personalities without doing an actual test. We can learn how ‘what we do’ and ‘what we say’ impacts on those around us. Open ended questions, together with observation and listening, will result in more honesty and a better understanding then any closed questions or test.
Working backwards by understanding how an emotionally intelligent person looks and responds, allows us to do a gap analysis and create a personalised growth plan. This, I believe, is more powerful than any multiple choice test.