So how close did they get?
I'm very curious about the claims that sites like eHarmony make, about being able to analyse your character and personality based on answers you submit across the web and then match you up with somebody you'd be able to spend a half-century putting up with. So I've gone to their site and filled out all their questionnaire, and I'm going to put the results up in this post. I'm curious: for those of you Gentle Readers who know me well, how close does this come? For heaven's sake be brutally honest; after all, no erstwhile classics major can have any higher aspiration than to obey the Delphic injunction to "know thyself."
I would especially appreciate brutal honesty because I am DEEPLY skeptical of this personality analysis, which is positive to the point of being boot-lickingly fawning. It would hardly, of course, be a good marketing ploy for a site that is trying to reel you in, to say, "If you find any woman who's willing to put up with your narcissism, your fatuously unreasonable opinions on subjects about which you know nothing, and your foul and violent temper, then for God's sake marry her before she comes to her senses." But still, there is tactfully putting the best possible face on something, and then there is shameless brown-nosing in the hopes of getting a firm grip on the sucker's wallet -- and the good ol' Butt-Kissing Detector is sounding all kinds of alarms with this one.
So here we go...
The eHarmony report comes in five sections: Agreeableness, Openness, Emotional Stability, Conscientiousness and Extraversion:
AGREEABLENESS -- Taking Care of Others or Taking Care of Yourself
Introduction to Agreeableness
This section of your profile describes your interactions with other people. The ways we communicate our feelings, beliefs and ideas to others are influenced by our cultural backgrounds, the way we were raised, and sometimes which side of the bed we got up on this morning. Some of us are very mindful of others making decisions we hope will be in their best interests, even if it means sometimes neglecting our own interests. Others of us believe each person should be responsible for themselves, taking deep pride in our own character and independence with a firm belief that others are best served by doing the same. The following describes how you engage with others; illustrating the dimension of your personality that determines your independence or your desire to reach out and touch others in meaningful ways.
You are best described as:
CONSISTENTLY TAKING CARE OF OTHERS
Words that describe you:
A General Description of How You Interact with Others
"What can I do for you?" These words probably feel very natural to you. More than most people, you are genuinely interested in the well-being of others. If they are in trouble, you offer compassion and go out of your way to be helpful. If they need someone who will listen, you are attentive, trustworthy and sympathetic. And you are direct with them; when they need advice or counsel, you offer it in as straightforward and direct a manner as you can.
There may even be times when you put others' needs in front of your own. And you do so without the expectation of some reward or recognition. Yours is a different kind of compassion; you are genuinely tenderhearted and take pleasure in helping others while expecting little or nothing in return. For you, it's not tit-for-tat, you truly want to do things for others that will better their lives. You mean it when you ask, "What can I do for you?"
Negative Reactions Others May Have Toward You
Though your motives arise from genuine compassion, some people might think of you as "a little too good to be true." They could suspect that your kindness is something you use to ingratiate yourself with others or to get them to like you. Others may suspect that your altruism is a mask for your own problems; you take care of others but never let others get to know you well enough to offer you their care. Some of this suspicion may be genuine; they just can't believe you're this kind. But it may also be triggered by envy; people see in you a tenderheartedness they don't find in themselves, and it makes them uncomfortable so they take it out on you with their suspicions.
Another critical response others may have may be something you want to take a serious look at. If you spend your time taking care of others, you may not have enough left to take very good care of yourself. If you're always asking, "What can I do for you?", you may not focus enough on your own needs. You're so busy taking care of others that you neglect yourself and empty your reserves of energy and good health. Like we said, give it consideration and if it doesn't fit move on.
Positive Responses Others May Have Toward You
For the most part, people will feel gifted to come across someone like you. For those you help, you will be light in the darkness, a hand up when they've fallen into a ditch. Your true graciousness and selflessness is rather rare these days and is often a breath of fresh air in this all too often dog-eat-dog world. Others will see in you the kindness that each of us seeks in life, both in our own characters and in our relationships with others. And you will become a model of that honest compassion; someone others may even look up to. Hopefully that feels okay to you.
Agreeableness - Introduction:
In earlier paragraphs you were described on a scale that included Taking Care of Others and Taking Care of Yourself. The following paragraphs refine what was described in those preceding paragraphs. You will find below descriptions of three specific character traits that are sub-sets of Taking Care of Others and Taking Care of Yourself. The three describe your qualities of Modesty, Social Integrity, and Generosity.
Modesty - Introduction:
While taking care of others and taking care of yourself, to what degree do you try to put yourself in the spotlight or keep your caring acts hidden? Are you out to make a name for yourself as "someone who really cares", or are you content with the actions themselves and comfortable if no one recognizes you for your efforts? Is some desire for personal gain hidden in your acts of kindness? Are you or are you not a modest person?
Modesty: Your Personalised Description
When you set your mind to it, and especially when your heart's in it, you listen carefully to the person in front of you and pay attention to their needs. With your closest friends or with a partner, what they say, what they want, whatever is on their minds matters to you. Which is where the part about "your mind" and "your heart" comes clear - you tell and show them you care.
If the person you're listening to isn't real close to you, you may not stay as focused on them. You may, sooner rather than later, turn the conversation to what's on your mind, not theirs. Ah, but if your heart's involved, it's a different matter. When you deeply care for someone, your thoughts will follow your affection toward whatever your friend or partner is saying, and you listen very carefully, very patiently. In these moments, it's not about who is getting to talk the most or whose needs are the focus of the conversation. You wrap your heart around whatever they have to share, and stay there, full of affection and attention.
The result is that because you listen and care, they will want to listen to and care for you as well. They trust your attention to be genuine; they can tell you're not trying to find fault with them or take advantage of what they tell you for your personal gain: the relational see-saw game of putting them down to elevate your own ego is not one you play. No, it's about them, not you. So they are willing to give back what they receive, and turn their attention to whatever it is you want or need to share.
But if your heart's not in it, it can be a different deal. Your mind wanders off of their concerns: "Is this a good use of my time? Don't they realize I've got my own life to take care of, not just theirs?" And you lose your focus on them. When your heart's not in it conversations drift off as your mind turns its attention from them to you, from them to something you need to be doing, from them to someone or something that you care about.
Maybe the smartest thing you can do, or at least the first thing, is to be aware of this in yourself. You know how to take care of other people. But it works best for you when the person in front of you is someone you've got your heart as well as your mind invested in. With others who you don't have deep feelings for it is difficult for you to keep your mind's huge capacity on them. Once you're aware of this, you may or may not choose to try to change it. But at least it will keep you from being confused about why you are or are not able to stay focused on the needs of this particular person.
Generosity - Introduction:
Generosity is both attitude and action. It is an attitude of genuine interest in the well-being of others, and a genuine desire to help them. And generosity is action: taking the time, gathering the resources, delivering the goods. When it comes to taking care of others and taking care of yourself, are you a generous person? The following paragraphs describe what it is like to be more or less generous in your relationships with people you are close to.
Generosity: Your Personalised Description
"What's mine is yours." Okay, not everything that is "mine" is "yours" in your attitude and actions, but it moves in that direction. You are very generous. You make time when someone needs your help. You offer yourself even before you're asked, or anticipate a situation and bring a gift or make a call before your friend even knows they need you. And if someone needs comforting because they've lost a friend or a game or their pride in themselves, there's something about the way you wrap them up in your arms and your affections that relieves the pain and helps them move forward again.
You must have a plentiful soul, a sense of abundance within yourself from which you draw to give to others. Some people get this abundance from a rich growing up, where friends and family filled them with the "mother's milk" of love and positive attention. Others dig deep on their own until they hit a vein of gold, something inside themselves that feels like who they really are, and this becomes the source of all that good stuff they give so generously. Wherever you got it, it's clear that you got it in abundance. You have a plentiful soul.
Ah, but how do you keep it? How do you continue to fill up the center of yourself so you can continue to give so much of yourself away? You probably need quite a bit of time by yourself, for yourself. Whether you read or meditate or walk in the woods, talk to a close friend or talk to yourself about who you are and what you want, you probably need this kind of time to restore your sense of abundance. Maybe there are some people - probably just a few - who can give and give and never run dry. But you're not one of them. So you take the time to refresh yourself; then you're ready again to dole out your generosity.
Your partner and your friends are much the better for having you so close. When they need you, and sometimes before they know they need you, there you are: time, energy, resources, all you've got available for all they need. Both they and you want to be careful that they don't take unnecessary advantage. Because you're so generous, they might call on you when what they need to do is call on resources within themselves that they don't use, or don't even know they have. It's not good for either of you if they use your generosity as a substitute for their own abilities. They never grow, and you get tired of being used, and the whole things gets messed up. But most of the time their need is genuine, and your generosity is precisely the right response. "What's mine is yours" is what turns this difficult circumstance into yet another experience of deepening intimacy.
Social Awareness - Introduction:
While taking care of others and taking care of yourself, to what extent do you let people know what you really think and feel? Do you hide your foibles and failures, or can you laugh at yourself in front of someone else? If you believe in someone, will you speak up on their behalf even when it might cost you? Do you see yourself as part of a social system of equals or do you see yourself as part of a social system where you need to game the system a bit - never quite sure what others want or what you are willing to give. For some people, it's true that what you see is what you get; there's nothing hidden about them. For others, what you see is what they want you to see, and they keep a good bit of who they are out of sight. The following paragraphs describe your level of social awareness.
Social Awareness: Your Personalised Description
"Who are you?" Whether or not we ask the question directly, one of the things we want to know about the person in front of us is who they really are. If we can figure that out, we know whether we can trust them and whether we want to spend much time getting closer. It's difficult to know someone if they keep a bunch of stuff hidden, like what they really think or believe, or how they really feel. With these people, answering the "Who are you?" question is a trek through a dark forest of innuendo and misdirection.
But not with you. You are who you say you are. You believe what you say you believe. When someone wants to know what you think or feel, you tell them, and what you tell them is the direct truth. Even if you have something that most people would hide, you put it out there; you're not afraid to share what some people refer to as "the dark side" that is in each of us.
Okay, maybe that's a bit of an overstatement. You are very open, but there are some things about yourself you hold onto. You're selective about which truths you share, at least initially. You have to make your way to a pretty deep trust before you tell some truths, like those "dark side" truths. But usually, you get there; in time, you muscle up the courage to get in touch and own up to what's really going on.
If you're selective at first about which truths to share, you're also selective about whom you share with. Maybe it's experience that taught you, or maybe just your intuition, but you sense when someone is or is not trustworthy. If they're not, you know how to keep the cards well hidden: let out enough truth about yourself to keep it interesting, but nothing that could get you in trouble. It's not a sport for you, but you can play the game if you have to. But when someone close to you proves to be reliable, it's "game over" for hiding, and you let whatever is inside you out into the conversation. No wonder these relationships with your closest friends and your partner can get so intimate; when you're willing to be so candid, it elicits candor from them, and the intimacy gets deeper and deeper.
OPENNESS -- Curious or Contented
Introduction to Openness
How firmly committed are you to the ideas and beliefs that govern your thinking and guide your behavior? Some people trust their current ideas and beliefs the way a climber trusts the mountain; whichever way they move, whether the climb is on a familiar trail or over new ground, there is something solid beneath them, something they count on.
For others, new ideas, new solutions to old problems, new beliefs that replace tired convictions are like welcome wind in their sails. They can hardly wait to tack in a new direction and ride a new idea through uncharted waters. If it's new, it's interesting, and they're ready to explore.
The following paragraphs describe your responses to new ways of thinking and believing. How do you handle new information? Are you more like the climber on a familiar mountain or a sailor with a tiller in hand and a fresh breeze to propel you? How you integrate and process new information about the world and about others is a core aspect of your personality.
On the Openness Dimension you are:
Words that describe you:
A General Description of How You Approach New Information and Experiences
You are a very creative and imaginative person who is especially open to new ideas or new ways of thinking about old problems. You love to approach a conventional idea or a traditional way of doing things by walking around to the other side and explore it from a novel perspective. What's new is what interests you. Like an artist looking for a new way to see, you focus your imagination on envisioning ideas, events or problems in completely original ways. You are intellectually progressive, which means you like to think and feel your way into unexplored landscapes where you let your sense of intellectual adventure romp freely.
Because you are so curious you can also be very teachable. You learn from personal and interpersonal experiences as well as from classrooms and textbooks. You crave new information, and toss and turn it in your vivid imagination. When you come across an idea from someone else or a thought in your own head that is particularly provocative or original, you light up. With wit and wisdom, Dr. Seuss describes you like this: "Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!"
Negative Reactions Others May Have Toward Your Style of Thinking
Not everyone will be thrilled by your adventurous mind. Many people are content with the ideas that have served them and their culture well, and with visions they've grown accustomed to of what is and is not true. They're not lit up at the prospect of moving out of their comfort zone. Others are afraid of new ways of thinking and creative ways of solving problems because they are somewhat fragile in the sense that they have trouble maintaining serenity in their current worlds and don't want someone, like you, for instance, pushing out the edges of their intellectual and cultural cosmos. So don't be surprised if your unconventional ideas sometimes get you criticized, or if some people walk away from the explorations of new territories of the mind that you find so exhilarating.
Positive Responses Others May Have Toward You
Despite some negative responses to your style of thinking, many people will find your progressive thoughts and vivid imagination quite attractive. Some will find your openness to new ways of thinking and your willingness to explore what others shy away from a very compelling quality. Other creative souls will find in you a companion on the journey into the unknown, and will welcome the camaraderie. Conversations with them will be lively and innovative and will ignite your imagination, and theirs. Even some who are less curious than you will be impressed by your courage to think and believe what is for them unimaginable, and by your willingness to go on adventures of the mind that they would find dangerous or daunting. For these people you might become a mentor into the wilder side of thinking and believing, and nudge them toward the creative and progressive ideas that you find so interesting.
Openness - Introduction:
In the eHarmony.com Personality Profile you were described as either Curious or Contented, or somewhere in between. These descriptions were developed from how you responded to new ways of thinking and believing. The following paragraphs add to that description of you as Curious or Contented by exploring aspects of Openness. Specifically we reflect on the extent to which you are an Information Processor, someone who is Inquisitive, and your degree of Perceptiveness.
Information Processor - Introduction:
We're reminded regularly that we live in "the information age". With streams of email and phone messages and the vast sea of data on the internet it seems sometimes that we might drown in "TMI", or "too much information." How well do you do at taking all of this information in, making sense of it and using it wisely? This increased flow of information is also happening in our personal lives. If we talk honestly and listen carefully with our friends and our partners, there's a lot of stuff to process: everyone we know wants us to listen to and understand their different opinions and beliefs and each of us brings our unique family history and our own records of personal successes and failures that make up the stories we want to tell to those we care about. The surge of feelings that result come at times like water from a fire hydrant.
Again, how well do you do at taking all this in, making sense of it and using it wisely? Put briefly, how effective are you as an Information Processor?
Information Processor: Your Personalised Description
You are very effective at processing information. This must mean that at least these two things are true of you: you love the rush of all this data, the flow of information coming at you day by day, and you have confidence in your ability to take it all in, sort it out and use it wisely. Because you love the rush and have the confidence, you are unafraid of the vast flow of information. It may surprise you to know that not everyone faces this onslaught with the pleasure you find in it. Some people are taken aback at the thought of another morning with dozens of emails, a Blackberry humming, instructions to submit a new proposal by noon, and a phone that seems to have no silent moment. But what they avoid you embrace, curious to find the pieces that fill out the current puzzle you are solving with the data rushing through your high-speed processor of a brain.
In the right job or the right relationship this ability will be a great asset. Your colleagues, your closest friends and your partner will appreciate that you take in what they tell you; you are someone who not only pays attention you remember what you have been told. And because you catch on quickly and analyze clearly, your responses to them will usually be on target in terms of what the information means and how it can be best used.
Two things to watch out for. First, don't expect your colleagues and friends to process as much information as quickly as you do. You are so exceptional in this area that you won't meet many people who are your match. So cut them some slack. Should you fail to do this you'll have expectations of them they cannot meet and this will lead to frustration for them as well as for you. They'll think you're either arrogant or impatient or both, and you'll consider them either slow-thinking or lazy when in fact they are closer to the norm than you just not in your exceptional category in this skill.
Second, if you live and work in a structure where you have to pass things to someone else - a work colleague or your children or a friend you're collaborating with - be careful not to flood them with more than they can handle. Remember, you are able to take the rush of information and process it quickly while they are can handle less and will take more time. Don't drown them with what you pass on.
On the whole, however, this quality is a real strength for you, so continue to develop ways to use it wisely on your own behalf and on behalf of those you work and live with. If you do this it will be an asset for everyone.
Inquisitive - Introduction:
People who raise children talk about a period in early childhood when every bit of new information is met with the question, "Why?" "You need to eat your carrots." "Why, mommy?" Or, "Why is the sky blue?" Or, "Why did Grandpa die?" Many of the questions never do get answered, but most children grow out of their incessant curiosity and find their own answers, however reliable, to the simplest and the most profound questions. Most children. But some never lose this curiosity. Into adulthood they are addictively inquisitive. "When a fly lands on the ceiling does it come in flying upside down, or does it do a quick flip-turn just before landing?" Most of us would say, "Who cares?", but for the truly curious such questions taunt them and haunt them. How about you? The following paragraphs describe the extent to which you are or are not inquisitive.
Inquisitive: Your Personalised Description
You are the inquisitive child who never stopped asking "Why?" Well into adulthood you still have an insatiable curiosity about the way the world works and why people behave in certain ways and not in others. Where most people would ask a question, get an answer and be satisfied, you press on. "Why do men and women deal differently with problems between them?" "Men are problem solvers and want to find a solution, while women are more interested in relating so they want to talk things through." Enough for some people. Ah, but you want to know, "Is this a difference in their brain structure, or is this something learned through cultural influences?" Probably some of each. Enough then, right? Not so fast. "But why don't cultures just alter the way we nurture women and men and try to resolve this difference?" And on and on and on. Why? Why? Why?
Your curiosity keeps you stimulated, keeps you thinking and exploring and growing. You're always seeking out new facts, or new interpretations of known facts, or new comparisons of various interpretations. . . . .well, you get the point. You just keep pushing out the edges of the envelope, hungering for more information, more understanding. All of this makes you a very interesting person. You are lit up with your own curiosity; your mind is lively, your imagination always switched on, and you consistently have new insights that captivate you.
Most of the time, your friends and colleagues are fascinated with what you bring to the conversation. Like few in the group, you have a way of taking conversations to a higher level by asking - and sometimes answering - questions no one else is dealing with and pushing everyone forward toward new knowledge. In your work environment your inquisitiveness requires the entire team to think outside the box, to be restless with what is now routine and willing to explore another way to make the product or offer the service. Among your friends and with your partner you are the one who gets everyone to consider a different approach to recurring problems or a different way to understand why you love one another and what it means to make commitments for the long run.
But sometimes enough is enough. You exhaust the curiosity of others even as you're moving on to the thirteenth level of Why. They're ready to settle in to some boring conversation about ordinary stuff because their brains are worn out by your questions. "Give it a rest" is what they think, whether they say it or not.
So you've got to be discreet with your inquisitiveness. On your own, have at it as long as you wish. But in the company of others learn when you've gone far enough and need to back off. Your curiosity is one of your great gifts to your work colleagues, your friends and even your partner and you don't want to spoil the gift by wearing out its welcome.
Perceptiveness - Introduction:
How well do you see? Not with your eyes but with your instincts. Do you read people like an open book or is it easy to slide something past you as if your inner vision blinked? Some of us misread other people's intentions while others of us get it right away; some of us consistently misjudge situations while others of us seem to know what's happening even if it isn't obvious. How well do you see? The following paragraphs describe your Perceptiveness.
Perceptiveness: Your Personalised Description
When P. T. Barnum said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time" he didn't take you into account. You are nearly impossible to fool. You quickly pick up the difference between someone selling an honest product and a peddler hawking the current rendition of snake oil. You aren't fooled by some photo opportunity posing as an important moment or your partner's subtly twisted logic to explain why they arrived late to the restaurant or the credit-card bill didn't get paid. Barnum didn't get it; you are nobody's fool.
Your quick mind and keen eye serve not only to protect you from cheats and swindlers but also help you to make the best of constructive moments. In a conversation with someone you care about you pick up the details as well as the main themes; you catch the whole range of what they're trying to tell you and they come away with the gratification of having been truly heard. In the complex environment of your work circumstances you can juggle lots of information about a variety of projects and keep all the balls in play. Because you pay such close attention seldom do you drop an important bit of what's going on. Even out among 'em in the public sphere you seem to catch not only the obvious meaning of events but also the nuances, those subtle shades of true and false that help you make good judgments and keep the public snake-oil peddlers from slipping one by you.
Not very often, but once in a while you'll get fooled. Maybe you weren't paying attention or you didn't think it was a moment of enough importance to keep your mind's eye open; nevertheless you wound up with your pants around your ankles or some elixir in your glass that wasn't as advertised. Learn from it. Even the most benign circumstances deserve your best attention so you can be of use to whomever you are attending to and so you can deny the next Barnum the satisfaction of fooling even almost-never-fooled you.
EMOTIONAL STABILITY -- Steady or Responsive
Introduction to Emotional Stability
We're born with the capacity to feel deeply, so it's as natural as breathing to experience a range of emotions. Fear and joy and sadness, anger and shame and disgust lie somewhere within each of us. Ah, but to what extent do we control these emotions, and to what extent do they control us? How you answer this question of how your emotions play out in your life has a great deal to do with your levels of personal satisfaction and with the character of your relationships with others. Do you manage your emotions well, keeping them in check with your thinking and your willpower, or are you someone who lets emotions have their way, giving in to the wild dance of feelings? The following paragraphs describe your emotional range in terms of being a person who is emotionally steady or someone who is responsive to whatever feelings swell up in you.
On Emotional Stability you are:
SOMETIMES STEADY, SOMETIMES RESPONSIVE
Words that describe you:
* Able to Cope
A General Description of Your Reactivity
In some ways, you've got the best of emotional worlds. When emotions rise up from inside you or are brought forth from a conversation by a friend, you know how to engage them. You deal with sadness, fear, joy, anger - whatever comes up - in ways that are perceptive and flexible. You can adapt to whatever level of emotion is appropriate to the moment. At other times, you are able to cope with your emotions in a more reserved manner. Because you are aware of what does and does not make emotional sense in a particular situation, you will decide when it is an appropriate time to express your emotions and when it would be best to keep them to yourself.
All of this gives you a rich emotional life. You are free to express your passions about certain subjects with appropriate people. But you are also emotionally adaptable; if the conversation needs to be more cerebral, you'll keep it "in your head" and talk calmly through whatever issue is on the table. This emotional awareness serves you well. You seldom get in over your head, either by opening up to the wrong person or by triggering in someone else's emotions they may not be able to deal with.
Negative Reactions Others May Have Toward You
When it comes to dealing with emotions we all meet some people with whom we don't match well. You bring a balanced approach to your emotional life. As such, those who are at the extremes are most likely to have a negative reaction to you. Those who live in their emotions may feel you tend to "live in your head" while those who go through life as an emotional rock may feel that you are a bit too "touchy feely" for their approach.
And of course it is always possible that because you do balance your emotional approach to life you may misread others - we all do at times. So there have undoubtedly been those times when you have misread cues and stayed in your head with someone who hoped for a more open emotional approach or you may have opened up emotionally with someone who keeps their emotions bottled up. But these things happen and since you do have a good balance of being in touch with your emotions and not being overly impacted by emotional swings, you undoubtedly are able to adapt.
Another potential problem is that as people get to know you well, they will discover that you have a great balance between emotional expression and emotional control. If they don't have this balance they may wind up envying you. They can't express feelings as well as you, or they are too often out of emotional control and resent you for your ability to cope so well with the very emotions that may trip them up.
Positive Responses Others May Have Toward You
Many people will be grateful to find a friend like you who can stay in control when emotions verge on chaos, but who can also go into the tangle of emotions when it is safe and appropriate to do so. Because of your ability to engage them at whatever level they are comfortable, to adapt to whatever changes in emotion emerge in the conversation, and to cope so well with all of it - well, they'll be very glad they found a person like you. You may, in fact, wind up as something of an emotional mentor. Your awareness of the emotional temperature of a situation, your ability to adapt to either heat or cold, and your ability to cope with whatever winds up happening in the conversation could be models for them to follow as they come to terms with their own emotional worlds.
Emotional Stability - Introduction:
In eHarmony.com Personality Profile you were described as someone who is very responsive to your emotions and tends to run with them, or someone who exercises control over your emotions using your thinking and your will-power, or as someone who falls between these two extremes. The following paragraphs take this discussion of responsiveness or steadiness to a deeper level, using three categories that further explore your emotional life: Anger Management, Emotional Strength, and Ease with Others.
Anger Management - Introduction:
Anger is as natural as love is, as much a part of what it means to be human as sadness or fear or joy. But for most people anger is a more troubling - perhaps the most troubling - of our emotions. Some people refuse to express anger directly; they hold it in, like holding their breath, until the moment passes and the anger slips out like a subtle sigh. Other people explode with the frequency of popcorn, littering their lives with necessary and unnecessary conflict. What about you? You get angry of course; everyone does. But how do you manage those angry moments? The following paragraphs describe your ability to manage your anger.
Anger Management: Your Personalised Description
It isn't always easy to manage your anger. Arguments can come quickly for you and when they do come it can be hard for you to bring the tone of the interaction down a notch. There have likely even been occasions when your arguments escalated into something more serious, something that may have caused some damage to the relationship with the person with whom you argued. Not that this is always, or even often the outcome, which is the good news for you. While you do have a difficult time managing your anger at times, you also have the ability to use your anger in positive ways.
Maybe it will help to understand where your anger comes from. When we feel our lives are in danger - or less seriously, our reputations or our perfect record of never having lost an argument, or whatever - we mobilize: anger rises up in us with the "flight or fight" syndrome. Then a decision will be made on how to deal with the anger. Anger can also be a learned response; we may have grown up in a family or among a group of friends for whom arguing was a usual form of communication. So we may have learned from others that anger is a viable response. Anger thus has roots in both our biology and in our socialization.
The important point here is that whether your anger arises from a clear threat or if it reflects your reaction to that which you have seen many times before, you always have some level of ability to decide how to express your anger; to evaluate what your reaction will accomplish. If you are in real danger, anger equips you for "flight or fight"; that is, it gets you past the danger. But arguments are seldom over real life and death issues. Most anger occurs in situations that may seem but are not really situations that pose a real threat. And in circumstances where we chose to express our anger in a hostile manner it is often isn't being expressed at a real threat. And in such situations what does the expression accomplish? The truth seems to be that often it accomplishes the expression of more hostility. Anger breeds anger. How many times is a relationship improved after a hostile argument? One person may win the argument, but the relationship loses. In actuality the arithmetic of relationships boils down to this: it's either win/win, or lose/lose. Either both of you respect and understand one another, or neither of you winds up with respect or understanding. Either you both win or you both lose.
You will do well for yourself if you remember this. In close relationships, the expression of anger rarely is a win. If you agree with this the question is then if there are ways you can better control your anger. Perhaps you can do this yourself. If not, find someone to help you. Understanding your anger and controlling it more effectively will give you a better sense of mastery over yourself. And your friendships and your relationship with your partner will be more likely to thrive when they don't have to contend with your anger.
Emotional Strength - Introduction:
Over twenty years ago Scott Peck began his best-selling book The Road Less Traveled with this profound statement of the obvious: "Life is difficult". Two decades of learning later, we want to say, "Duh!! Of course it is". Life comes at us at too fast a pace, just to get by we need to take on more than we can handle, stress outweighs pleasure by a ton - we know all these things because this is the river we swim in, the life we both choose and cannot avoid. And more often than we'd like, it's difficult to make such a life work. So how do we handle the pressure? Do we manage the stress or does it control us? Are we able to cope beyond simple survival and actually experience our lives as happy and hopeful? Or do we collapse under the weight of it all, panic at the thought of what tomorrow morning brings, and look for some way out of what has become more than we can handle? The following paragraphs describe your emotional strength, which is your ability or lack of ability to deal with the fact that life is difficult.
Emotional Strength: Your Personalised Description
Most of the time you manage to make it through even the most difficult situations. You've survived the break-up of relationships or the loss of a friend or battles in your family or conflicts at work. You somehow manage to gather your inner resources, keep yourself from panicking, and find your way through. Maybe on occasion you collapse; you crawl under the covers for three days, turn the electric blanket up to ten, suck your thumb and sleep until the panic subsides. But not very often. Usually you're up and at it and head straight for the problem, using your brains and your character and your imagination and getting control of your life again.
A word about those times when you lose control. Have you ever tried to figure out what it is about those rare times when you don't do so well? Maybe there's a pattern; maybe they involve a certain kind of person, or a situation that calls for a response you're not very good at - you need to fight for your rights and you don't like to fight, or it's something in your family and your family never allows you to assert yourself. Something like that. It's worth figuring out, if you can, which situations give you the most trouble and how you might cope with them more effectively.
It's also worth knowing where your strength comes from. Maybe you got it from a family that cherished you and challenged you and taught you what you were capable of, or maybe you struggled early on and learned to make your way with ingenuity and imagination until you came to believe in yourself. Now you've had enough experience with surviving, even thriving, to trust that you will make it through most situations.
Here's another thing you've probably already learned. You need friends, or at least one friend, who is very much like you, not necessarily in their opinions or beliefs or the clothes they wear but in their ability to make it through difficult times. Someone you can count on to understand what's happening when the bottom drops out for you, and whom you can lean on as you make your way up out of the ditch. It is a sign of your strength, not your weakness, that you cultivate a friendship with just such a person so that, when you have to, each of you has the other to rely upon.
A word of warning. Some people - maybe some of your friends, or even your partner - are always looking for someone to pick up part of their load in life, either because they cannot carry it or they're just not willing to exert the effort it would take. Be careful. You're strong but you're not invincible, something you know from those rare occasions when you wind up curled up under the blanket looking out at the world. You do neither yourself nor your friends a favor by taking on more than you can or should handle. So use your great strength wisely, and both you and those around you will continue to benefit from it.
Ease with Others - Introduction:
Most of us have at least one or two friends or family members we know we can trust; many of us have a whole crowd of people we think of as reliable. But some people just aren't sure; they don't know if it's foolish to trust even the person they feel closest too. After all, they've been let down before and what's to keep it from happening again, even from someone close at hand? Many of us walk out the door into the world believing that there is fun and goodness and even love to find out there; we embrace the opportunity to explore new places with new or familiar friends. But some people just aren't sure; the world is a dangerous place, and whatever fun or goodness or love there is out there is compromised by the danger of some people and the random acts of violence that no one is safe from. What about you? Do you leave your home every day with a buoyant expectation that you'll find pleasure and kindness out there, or do you anticipate the worst and guard against it with prudence and caution and a very observant eye? The following paragraphs describe ways in which you view the world and the people in it as you venture forth.
Ease with Others: Your Personalised Description
You're a worrier. Not a serious worrier, so much so that your life is confined by fear. You go places and mix with different kinds of people and try out new venues and follow your friends even when there destination would not have been your first choice, or even your second. You go. But you worry a bit. Then when you arrive and settle in the worry subsides, you breathe more easily and relax into the experience and enjoy it as much as anyone. It just takes you a little time to unwind.
It is most likely the case that you've always been like this. Each fall you wondered who would be in your class and whether they would like you and if you would get picked.... for whatever you wanted to get picked for. There may be a worrier in the generation above you: your mother or father or an aunt or grandfather. Regardless, there are plenty of life experiences that can reinforce this as well; friends betray us, or our family situation is an emotional mine-field, or some illness haunts a season of our lives. So we worry.
It's not that big of a problem for you. The most important thing is probably to know that it's true and to accept about yourself that you are something of a worrier. Once you can own this you can use it wisely and it won't inhibit you very much. You will anticipate an upcoming new experiences - a date with someone you haven't gone out with before, a gathering that includes strangers, a trip to somewhere you haven't been before - and the anticipation will nudge you toward nervousness. Accept it, work your way through it, let it make you careful if you need to be careful, and then on the other end let it go and enjoy the new circumstance.
It will also help if you own up to your friends what they probably already know is true. Some of them may worry, too, maybe more than you do. Others of them may be fearless. Whatever, as they get to know you and you get to trust them you might want to talk about your fear and let it be part of the relationship. This will be especially important with your partner. The person they learn to love will be the you you really are, worry included. So let them in on it; it's not that big a deal, especially if the two of you treat it as not that big a deal.
CONSCIENTIOUSNESS -- Focused or Flexible
Introduction to Conscientiousness
It's a work day, breakfast is over, and you're dressed and ready. So how will you approach the tasks at hand? Some people work best with a clear schedule, a set of priorities and a due date for every step in the process. Others are, shall we say, less regimented. They approach a task with as much imagination as organization, and with a willingness to bend and modify in order to exercise some urge of creativity.
How about you? Do you walk in a straight line toward a clear goal, or are you more likely to dance your way down whatever path will get you wherever it is you're headed? The following paragraphs describe ways in which you approach the tasks life brings to you, and to what extent you are focused or flexible in how you choose to proceed.
Your approach toward your obligations is:
Words that describe you:
* Sometimes Inefficient
A General Description of How You Interact with Others
Rules are made to be broken, plans are made to be changed, and schedules are made to be altered. Anyone who's been around you for very long knows that is just part of the way you live. You don't like to be hemmed in by someone's idea of how a job should be done or a goal should be accomplished. Where others assume that the way to get something done is to follow whatever guidelines have been laid out, your idea of how to best get things done often involves making it up as you go along. You are as variable as a hawk in full flight - but like the hawk, you keep your eyes on the prize; even in the midst of turmoil you have a sense of where you need to go. You just have your own way of getting there.
To the surprise of some of your friends and associates, you do get things done, though. But maybe not on the timeline someone else had hoped for. In fact, you likely have a reputation as a legendary procrastinator, not because you're lazy or disinterested, but because following your instincts and creative sense takes longer. But the upside is that often your instincts turn the ordinary into something quite amazing; and some of the times, when you get everything just right, the ordinary original plans become an extraordinary achievement.
Negative Reactions Others May Have Toward You
Let's be frank - it's not always easy to work with someone like you. Almost any group effort requires a certain amount of common understanding about where everyone is headed and what the plan is to get there. But with you on board, there is always the chance that you'll change the schedule, find an alternative route, or come up with a perfect argument for doing things in a completely different sequence than was planned. And that can drive some people to distraction. If that is often the case, if you find that your friends and colleagues live with a chronic sense of frustration with you; you may want to recalibrate your way of doing things when you work with them. Understand that we aren't suggesting that you change your ability to tap into your creativity or even your impulsivity. Rather we are suggesting you consider if you can stay in tune with your ingenuity in ways that will not frustrate others desire to stay on schedule and to follow predefined courses of action.
Positive Responses Others May Have Toward You
When you get it right -and often you do - it usually impresses even those who can get frustrated with your style. The new product line is so much more imaginative than what was drawn up on the original blueprints, and the new color scheme with which you painted the downstairs rooms is simply stunning. When your instincts are on target and your impulses energize an otherwise lifeless plan or when you infuse a social experience with the kind of fantasy and fun that no one else could bring to the task - when it works - you're the hero of the moment, and everyone's favorite eccentric.
This ability of yours to color outside the lines, to think outside the box - is a gift of potentially profound proportions. The trick is to blend your gift for finding new ways of doing things with completing work in slightly more organized ways. Your colleagues and friends probably want in on your creative secret, too. There is just something about flexible, impulsive, creative you that reminds them that there may be something missing in their more orderly, disciplined and, frankly, somewhat boring lives.
Conscientiousness - Introduction:
In earlier paragraphs you we described on a scale that included being Focused and being Flexible as you approach the tasks in your day. You will find below descriptions of three specific character traits that are sub-sets of Focused and Flexible. The three describe you as Efficient, as a Leader, and as a Planner.
Efficient - Introduction:
As you set out into your day, are you efficient in your use of time, or at the end of your day do look back and feel you wasted time? Do you get done those things you set out to do, or at the end of the day is there still a stack of unfinished business? Have you cleaned up yesterday's mess or left as much of a mess at the end of the day as you found at the beginning? In a word, are you or are you not efficient?
Efficient: Your Personalised Description
You're not a clock-watcher. When you work you often get absorbed and, once absorbed, you can easily lose track of time while you pour yourself into whatever it is you are working on. So what's right in front of you usually gets done very well, whether it's a project at work or cupboards in the garage that need straightening or the art-piece you've been working on for months. Oh, and about that clock: does it really matter how long it takes, just so the work reflects your ability and you're satisfied when it's finished?
One word for your work is Effective. If someone wants something done with excellence, you're often their person. Very effective. But when it comes to being efficient? Well, that's a different story. Efficiency is about the wise use of time. And that's just not very important to you. It's not how long it takes but how well it's done that matters to you. So time slips away, schedules may get lost in the fog of concentration you bring to the work at hand. "It's due tomorrow afternoon, you know." "Really? Tomorrow? Well, I'll see what I can do." And often, despite your intentions to really stick to the timeline, "Tomorrow afternoon" for you is a guideline, not a deadline. And as far as the persons who are hoping you will get things finished tomorrow, you hope they will recognize that if you miss the "deadline," they will understand that when you do get it done it will be well worth the wait.
But here's the risk you run by emphasizing the integrity of your process at the expense of timelines. Some people probably do get angry with you, right? The people you work with and - this could be more of a problem - the people you live with sometimes do find you exasperating. If they get their plans get waylaid by your tardiness; their schedules get disrupted because your schedule was on a different timeline than theirs; things can build up for some people. You know this, and you try: "I'll keep on a schedule on this one, get a running start, and not do anything else until I get it done by the due date". Sometimes this works. But at other times, there's this tangent that, like the moon's eclipse on a summer night, you just have to attend to.
The least you can do is own up. It may not be much, but it might help to acknowledge that you gave it a try but it just didn't get done as they had hoped for. Much of our culture values timeliness. It may be a cultural difference, or you may truly work most effectively by getting into a zone. But that seems to be you and no one benefits if you pretend that the next time you'll be very different. You are effective but maybe not always terribly efficient. So don't set yourself and everyone else up for more disappointment by promising something different the next time. Be gracious about it, but also truthful. And maybe you and they will come to some agreement that accommodates both your need to work on your own and their need for timeliness.
Leader - Introduction:
If you were to be in the perfect job where would you fit in the power hierarchy? Are you best suited to be at the front of the company-making tough decisions, pushing things forward and living with the consequences, or would you be better suited to be a worker, someone who has a clear job description, puts in their time and moves on to the next task? We all don't have the Donald Trump instinct, far from it. And thank God for that, no?
Leader: Your Personalised Description
In the game of hide-and-seek, when you're "it" you close your eyes and cover your ears while everyone else in the game scrambles off to find a place you'd never think to look for them. But in the grown-up game of making life work, you're "it" when you're the one whose eyes are most open, whose ears hear most clearly, and whom others trust to help them find their way out of whatever hiding place they've gotten lost in. In the world of your work and home life, the others around you often make you "it" because they know you'll find a way. What they see in you and what you may see in yourself are qualities that make a good leader. When others cannot see or hear to find their way, they point to you as the leader they trust.
Who knows how you got this way? Maybe you were put in charge of siblings and cousins when you were young. Maybe you were the one chosen captain, even if you weren't the best athlete on the team. Maybe you were the smartest one in the room when someone had to figure a way through a maze of conflicting opinions. Or maybe it's your temperament: you get impatient with waiting around for someone to point the way and finally just blurt out, "I say we go north" and everyone gets in line behind you. Who knows what made you a leader? But you are one.
At least much of the time. But there may be someone else more suited than you to lead in a particular circumstance. They know more about the terrain or have been in similar situations more often or are just better at this particular issue than you are. This has happened before, right? And how do you handle it? If it grates on you to have someone else in charge you could become a problem to others, dead-weight once a decision has been made, because your feelings or your pride are injured. Maybe the next time, even if you're the right person to lead, you'll decline either to punish the group for not choosing you last time or to keep yourself from seeming foolish if that other leader is in the room. For you, one of the tasks of leadership may be to know when you are and when you are not the person to take charge, and not to let pettiness or pride keep you and those around you from your leadership when you're just the right person to take charge.
When you are the right person, you know how to take control of the situation, how to define what is and what is not the problem, how to choose a likely solution, and - this may be your best gift of leadership - how to decide the course of action, rally others behind you, and move. You've done it before, and won the trust and admiration of those who follow you. So it's likely they'll choose you again.
Planner - Introduction:
The need for order is one of those peculiar aspects of personality that makes or breaks a seemingly inordinate number of relationships. If you are orderly and have a place for everything few things likely get under your skin more than someone who puts your tools or your office supplies in the wrong place. And if you are the one who truly finds a clean desk to be a sign of a troubled mind you often really do get a bit irked with the person who feels a need to try and reform your disorderly ways. The Planner section will tell you what you probably already know - do you need order to feel comfortable. And while you may know where you already stand on this scale hopefully this will help you plan how to deal with those who differ from you, or perhaps more importantly how to deal with others who are the same as you.
Planner: Your Personalised Description
The great majority of people organize their lives around such notions as having a plan and keeping a schedule and arrange things in a particular order. They use these tools to get their work done, manage their households, maintain their friendships, keep their bodies in shape and define their roles in the community. That's how the majority do it. Ah, but you: none of these notions are characteristic of you and you use none of these tools to organize - if it's fair to use the word "organize" about you - your life. You do better if you live in the moment and are guided by whatever instinct or impulse pushes itself to the forefront. Most people "plan their work and work their plan"; you do whatever compels you in the moment and stick with it until the next strong desire moves you in another direction.
Notice in the preceding paragraph the way in which your internal life and your external life match up so well. You act out whatever comes up within you, and it seems perfectly reasonable to you to do it this way. What other people would see as unmanageable chaos is actually, for you, a way of living that is consistent with the feelings and thoughts inside you. This is important for you to know about yourself: your inability to stick to a plan isn't just defiance or irresponsibility, it is listening to the authentic messages you get from your brain and your heart about who you are and what you should do and what it means for you to live well. Whatever other people might think about your unplanned life, it is who you are and living like this works for you.
But there is a price to pay. You pay some of this price. It is hard to find work environments that don't run on careful planning and a common commitment to order the work around these plans. So unless you work on your own, you probably find yourself bumping into the kinds of routines and schedules at work that seem too confining to you. You may find yourself in mild or more severe conflict with your colleagues or your supervisors over issues relating to due dates and work hours and "team" cooperation. They will likely be as frustrated with you as you are with them because they only know how to work with the very kinds of schedules and plans that drive you bonkers.
The same difficulties may recur in your personal life. Being on time or showing up at events you commit to or deciding what to due a week from Saturday are not natural acts for you, though people assume they should be. So once again you might chafe at the expectations others have for you, just as these personal situations might produce the same kinds of frustrations with you that happen in your work world. As much as you insist that you're "a free spirit" or that you "march to a different drummer" or that you believe in "making it up as you go along", others will react to you with anything from mild frustration to raging exasperation because they find it difficult to impossible to adjust to your unplanned life.
So, what to do about this? First, you are who you are. You might make small concessions to the planners and organizers but you'll never become one of them any more than one of them is going to suddenly become a free spirit like you. So don't try to be someone you're not and don't expect others to change dramatically. Second, you probably need to find a work environment where you're left on your own to work at your own pace and with your own gifts to get done what you are responsible for without too much concern for specific due dates or work-progress checks. Third, your best friends and especially your partner need to understand and respect you without trying to change you, and you need to understand and respect them even if their more organized characters and lives baffle you. It will probably take a lot of candid conversation to make this work, but the effort is worth it because it will insure you a base of love and concern that everyone needs. Fourth, figure out ways to manage conflict, because you're likely to find yourself regularly in it. A simple rule is to walk away as soon as the tension rises and come back to the conversation once the heat is gone. It will prove useless to both of you to try to persuade the other to "be more like me" or "work the way I do"; neither of you can make that change. Better to learn to say "I'm sorry" and "me too" and "let's try to avoid these battles"; at least you'll stay connected and maybe learn to slip past the potential conflicts that are sure to rise in the future.
You are who you are, and it works for you to be like this. But it doesn't work well for everyone else. So find the best situations to work and love in, be respectful of each other, and make your way together to the good and happy life you deserve.
EXTRAVERSION -- Outgoing or Reserved
Introduction to Extraversion
Some days you want to hang out by yourself, not answer the phone, and make the world go away. The next day you e-mail everyone, schedule lunch with a friend, and try to find an evening gathering to take part in. It may be the phases of the moon, or something you ate; some days are just like that. In actuality, your desire to be with others or to be alone reflects something deep in your personality. Some of us are more comfortable by ourselves or with one or two friends, while others of us crave the crowd and can't stand it when the house is empty or the phone doesn't ring. The following paragraphs describe your fundamental desires about being with other people; whether you are generally an outgoing person or more reserved, if you seek adventures with others, if you tend toward assertiveness or kindness.
When it comes to Extraversion you are:
SOMETIMES OUTGOING, SOMETIMES RESERVED
Words that describe you:
A General Description of How You Interact with Others
Lucky you! You enjoy your own company as much as you enjoy the company of others. You are a great conversationalist and thrive in the wonderful kinds of connections you know how to have with your family and friends. You also equally enjoy your own company, whether sitting in a favorite chair with your book and soft music playing or meandering in the woods by yourself. You like coming home to your family or your roommate; but if no one is home, you find quiet, solitary time to be just as pleasurable. What a great combination to enjoy being outgoing and to be just as comfortable being reserved. Lucky you!!
Because you are so amiable and relaxed, you are comfortable with almost any group of family or friends. Whether they are pumped up and lively or calm and subdued, you remain at ease. If someone needs to take over the conversation, you are comfortable taking the lead; you can also lay back and let someone else be in charge. If the conversation gets rowdy, your moderate demeanor will often draw it down to a more temperate level. If someone in the group loses their cool, you will most likely maintain your poise, and if they get nasty you know how to keep a civil tongue.
You may find yourself out of balance on occasion. If you're alone too much, you may need to get in touch with someone. If you spend too much time with your family and friends, you may need to sneak off for a day by yourself, to putter and read and clear your head of the noise of too much conversation. When you're at your best, you live with a rhythm of time with others, time alone, time with others, time alone It's a satisfying, comfortable balance. Lucky you!
Negative Reactions Others May Have Toward You
You may occasionally run into problems with other people. Since not everyone is as balanced as you are, close friends and family may get frustrated with you, or you with them. They may be more sociable and outgoing, and find you too laid-back and relaxed. They want conversations to be lively and passionate while you keep things amiable and civil. Or others may be more quiet and reserved than you, and when you're in one of your more animated moments they may wish you would back off. You may be ready to put more energy into a conversation than they are comfortable with.
And your balance may be a problem. Other people may be consistently more sociable or more reserved than you, and find you to hard to read, some may even say you ride the fence. Others may find themselves envious of your ability to be outgoing at times, and at other times comfortably reserved. If you pay attention to pick up these cues you will be in a better position to know how you want to interact with such folks.
Positive Responses Others May Have Toward You
Most people will truly appreciate your flexibility in social situations. They will like you for your amiable warmth and your willingness to engage, and for your ability to sit back and let others take the lead or the spotlight. They will appreciate ways in which you temper what could become intemperate moments; by remaining poised and relaxed when others; temperatures are rising, you keep things civil and sane.
You are as good at listening and following as you are at talking and leading, and people will often appreciate your ability to adapt to the situation. Because you are sometimes outgoing and sometimes reserved, you will make most people comfortable in your presence, and they will truly enjoy your company.
Extraversion - Introduction:
In previous paragraphs you were described on a scale that included being Outgoing, being Reserved or falling somewhere between these two in ways in which you relate to other people. The following paragraphs refine what was described in those paragraphs and describe your qualities of Adventure, offering a Good Word, and Taking Charge.
Adventure - Introduction:
At some parties there is the person who dances on the table with the lampshade on their head or leads the group sing-along to the sound-track from Saturday Night Fever or High Fidelity. At the same party is the person in the corner with a drink and a smile, in a quiet conversation that seems uninterrupted by the whirl in the dining room. Some people want to be the first one or the fastest one around whatever the next bend in the road is, while others are content to let the explorers come back and report before deciding whether to venture forth. Some people are "in the moment", ready to respond spontaneously to the most surprising suggestion, while others let the moment pass and stay put and act with deliberation and a certain sense of caution. The following paragraphs describe you in terms of your eagerness for adventure.
Adventure: Your Personalised Description
You won't try just anything. Sky-diving or bunji-jumping off a bridge--maybe. But short of the truly insane, you're usually up for it. There's a new piece of equipment at the gym that is suppose to stretch muscles you didn't know you had, or a stranger from some central African nation who shows up at parties who no one else knows how to talk with; you dive in, ache for a week after the stretching and still aren't sure why the stranger is here or where she's from but at least you told her to call if she needs help finding her way around town.
What you've discovered is that this kind of stepping out is fun. You discover things about yourself and the world you wouldn't know if you laid back in the crowd and waited for someone else to risk it. Why not be the first one to move? So you move, and most of the time the result is, if nothing else, fun. Sometimes it's more than fun. You meet someone who opens up a new world to you or face a challenge that convinces you you're more courageous than you thought. On those occasions when you can persuade a couple of friends to join you in the venture the daring of it, experienced together, welds you to one another. To be sure, once in a while you step out into some new adventure and land on your back pockets. No harm, no foul. Just a lesson about life: not every adventure turns out to be a good one. Sometimes the trip into the jungle takes you to "the heart of darkness". But only occasionally. Most of the time you and those who risk it with you find something not as magical as Oz but better than whatever would have happened if you'd stayed at home in your wing chair watching re-runs of Seinfeld.
The only problem may be your partner. If you match up well on the adventure scale, what a trip! There you are on the jungle trail, wondering together what that sound was that could have been a roar, could have been a pleasurable moan, but certainly wasn't anything you've heard at home. But if you don't match up, if you wind up on the jungle trail and they're at home with Jerry and George and Kramer and Elaine, it could be trouble. If you run across this problem as you set out on your adventures, stop. Sit down together. Talk through what does and doesn't work in the relationship when one of you but not both of you takes off. Honor your commitment to listen carefully, talk openly and find a common ground. Then when you've agreed together, have whatever adventures work for both of you, even if you aren't together on the jungle trail.
Good Word - Introduction:
Some people have a way with words that makes other people feel affirmed, complimented, congratulated. Then there are those who seem to find a way to bite or bruise whomever they're in a conversation with, as if they've got an arsenal of words tucked somewhere out of sight, just waiting to be launched. The words we choose and the impact they have determine to a large extent the quality of our relationships. If words cheer the other person the relationships gains; if words hurt, the relationship suffers. So it is very important to pay attention to what we say and how we say it. And it is important to remember that there is a difference between intent and impact; you may intend to compliment or wound but the impact may be something else entirely. The following paragraphs describe the impact your words have on other people.
Good Word: Your Personalised Description
"How do I look in this outfit? Do you think it fits me well?" The test! Whether with friends or your partner, this is the moment we dread. If we respond positively the come-back is often, "Are you just saying that?" If we respond critically the reaction is something between irritation and the end of the affair. You have the ability, even in this dreaded circumstance, of finding the good word. You know you won't be critical; it's just not in your character to talk like that. You will find some way to make the other person feel good about who they are because that too is characteristic of you. And you're smart enough to know that this situation is not at the top of the ethical scale of honesty and lying. If you're in front of a judge and a jury you tell the whole truth and nothing but, and even there you'd find a way to say the truth kindly. But this is no courtroom, it's an intimate moment, and the truth in the intimate moment is that the relationship trumps any objective criteria. So: "Fabulous. You look fabulous, and it fits perfectly." That's what you'd say.
You've learned over time to speak kindly. You find the right word to let your friends or your partner of even strangers know the best things you feel or believe about them. You have opinions, of course, and you hold strong beliefs, but the first thing out of your mouth in response to what someone says is not a contradiction to or a complaint about what they've said. You find a compliment either for what they've said or how they've said it, and you mean what you say. It may not be the whole truth but it's the truth that matters to you between you and the person in front of you.
Hopefully you are as kind toward yourself as you are toward others; hopefully your inner dialogue with yourself is as laced with positives as are your conversations with those you love. This may be an issue. Some people speak kindly and believe what they say about others, but their kindness toward others comes in part as a comparison with their more hostile feelings about themselves. You may want to check this out. There's an easy test: do you use the same vocabulary toward yourself that you use toward others? If not, why not?
It's a choice for you. You're no stranger to the dark side in people or a fool about the mix of glory and vanity in most folks. You've just made the choice to go with the up-side and developed a vocabulary of kindness which you use with great mastery. You know how to curse and contradict; you simply choose not to and instead do your best in most situations to find precisely the good word to share. It's a very positive way to engage others and a kind way to treat yourself as well.
Take Charge - Introduction:
In a group situation, if a decision needs to be made or a direction chosen, will you be the one to take charge or will you wait for someone else, and then follow? In a one-on-one situation, if each of you has a strong but contradictory belief, will you stand up for yourself or capitulate even if you still hold your belief? Or do you rock between these two responses, sometimes leading and sometimes following, sometimes defending yourself and sometimes giving in? Whether or not you take charge in groups or in one-on-one situations is something to know about yourself as you come to understand how you do in relationships. The following paragraphs describe your response when someone needs to take charge.
Take Charge: Your Personalised Description
As a leader you're something of an enigma. In some situations you will state your case, lay out your plan and lead the way. In other circumstances you shove your hands in your pockets, press your lips together and wait for someone else to say, "Let's go this way". In some situations you stand up for yourself even against the strong or manipulative voices of people in charge. In other circumstances you appear to let people shove you around as if you have too little self-respect or just don't care enough to fight for what you believe in and who you are. Sometimes a strong leader, sometimes a passive follower. You are an enigma as a leader.
Why the inconsistency? Perhaps it depends upon the people you're with. If there's a particularly strong leader in the crowd you slide toward the margin and let them take over. You're not someone to challenge someone bent on leading. But if the person or group you're with has no other clear leader you'll step up, make the call and lead the way. Or maybe it depends upon the circumstance. If the decision to take charge is about something you're very good at, no problem: you voice your opinion with confidence, win the debate with less convincing points of view and lead the way.
Maybe the different styles arise not because of the people you're with or the problem you're dealing with but from some uncertainty inside you. On your best days your anxiety is at rest; you can assert yourself with confidence and trust your opinions and your decisions. On other days, when the worry monster rattles its chains in the basement, you're reluctant to take charge for fear that you'll walk in the wrong direction or lead the group into a ditch on the side of the road.
This inconsistency may be confusing to your friends and your partner. Since you take leadership on occasion they may identify you as someone whom they can trust to take charge. On those good days you come through for them. But on days when you're passive and waiting for someone else to lead they wonder where you've gone. With your closest friends and especially with your partner it will be important to talk through what you know about yourself as a leader. If you can figure out your own inconsistency and share with them what you discover, both you and they will avoid the worst of the frustrations that come when you rotate between being out front and waiting for someone else to lead.