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Don’t let a personality test define you at work

Over the past few decades, the popularity of personality tests that classify individuals into different categories has skyrocketed. And hey, it’s fun to take a quiz and feel like you’re learning about who you are as a person. Whether it’s the Myers-Briggs, the Enneagram, or even just a quiz on Buzzfeed about which Friends character you resemble most, personality tests can be an easy and interesting way to try to understand yourself, or just relate to something.

As fun and carefree as these tests seem, their outcomes can result in a restrictive mindset, to your detriment. The definitions of human behavior that come with personality tests are based on dichotomies that rarely leave much room for ambivalence or fluidity. For example, the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator codes individuals as either introverts or extroverts. Although many people do identify as one or the other, but it is becoming more widely recognized that ambiverts (people who are both extroverted and introverted, depending on the scenario) are just as prominent.

Rigidly categorizing people as one thing or another is ill-advised in this day and age, when adaptability and flexibility are such highly-valued workplace traits. As we move toward an employment market that values workers who have a wide variety of skills and knowledge, this typological approach is becoming less necessary. Employers are seeking individuals who exemplify a variety of “types” and reflect a more versatile, open mindset.

The outcome of any personality test should not confine you to a specific persona or behavior. Rather, your results should help you to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to recognize how you operate within your team or workplace. If you choose to take a personality test, use your results to your advantage: figure out how to optimize your strengths within your role while making note of things you can improve. You can also take this time to familiarize how others work, too, so that you’re more aware of how you interact with people who may have different perspectives or working styles.

Remember, though, to take everything with a grain of salt. No personality tests have been proven to be statistically significant or accurate. So just because your Meyers-Briggs tells you something doesn’t mean that it’s correct or applicable to the way you learn, work, or grow. Interpret your results loosely and always leave room for other traits to shine through, even if other characteristics don’t fit perfectly into the defined personality reflected by your results.

Be careful not to let your “personality,” whether assigned by the Meyers-Briggs, the Enneagram, or even astrology, get in the way of how you do your job or collaborate with your colleagues. Sure, these kinds of tests can help you think more about your strengths and weaknesses, which is important to understand and anticipate how you work and how you will need support. But, if you focus too much on your personality type, you will limit your perspective of what you can accomplish. Always leave room for growth, interpretation and change, but let your personality reflect who you truly are, no matter what a test says.

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