Thursday, January 31, 2008

Personality Test

I have no idea how many versions of personality and temperament tests there are in circulation these days, but apparently the one most recently declared to be current and reliable is the “NEO 5-factor inventory profile”. After having completed it as a class assignment we interpreted the results and I found my scores to be as follows:

Neuroticism (or rather, “emotionality”): Average
Extroversion: Average
Openness to Experience: Very High
Agreeableness: Very High
Conscientiousness (organization/drivenness): Very Low

At first I was surprised at some of these, but the longer I looked at them and began to understand the meanings of the actual character traits in question, the more I felt like this was perhaps the most precise analysis I’ve ever found. One of the most important things we discussed about the results was that you have got to keep in mind that you are not defined by one specific characteristic, but each of them interacts with the others to create your individual personality. For instance, I could look at these and see myself as someone extremely open to new experiences. If that was all I looked at though, I would expect myself to be extremely rash and spontaneous and constantly trying anything just for the sake of saying I did. However, I only scored average on extroversion which is the highest I’ve ever scored in that area. I already know I am introverted and need to consistently have time by myself in order to mentally recharge. I also scored high in agreeableness and am, therefore, very careful of other people’s feelings and opinions. Having combined these, it makes a lot more sense to me that my introversion and need for harmony doesn’t cancel out my love for new experiences or vice versa.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A small problem

I have this problem that whenever I am telling a story or explaining something I want everyone to know exactly what I mean. To a large degree, I think this is because I tend view everything that happens through the scope of what it feels like. The English language is not the most accommodating to explain less-than-concrete things, so I find it takes a great deal more words for me to tell a story than it does for a lot of other people. The problem here is that most people don’t feel it necessary to know every miniscule detail of the situation before they can catch the weight of what it meant to me. Very small pieces of background information, to me, are necessary particulars which set the stage for my frame of mind at the time of the actual occurrence I am explaining. However, the majority of people in the world see this as an unnecessary information overload. For this reason, it seems that by trying to communicate perfectly I over-communicate and cause people to feel talked down to by re-explaining things five different ways. Over time, I have become conscious of this problem and now make great efforts to correct it. Whenever I write a story or a letter I now find myself in this endless mind-battle trying to decide which elements are needed to get my thoughts across and which are useful only to me. It is an exhausting struggle, but the truth is it is equally as exhausting when I do write or say anything in the all-elements-included sort of way I feel so drawn to. In that light, it is to my own benefit as well for me to learn how to abbreviate, but it is a difficult process when I genuinely feel that every word is important. It’s a funny thing to think about because by attempting to achieve perfect communication I often cause miscommunication. I am trying to say “this is exactly what happened” but am being perceived as saying “you’re too thick to understand this unless I’m extremely clear and specific” or “I am incapable of brevity”.
...This is only one of many reminders to me that flawless communication is impossible.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Works of Intricacy

I once read a description by an ancient philosopher of the delicate balance of needs that is created in human interaction. He said that it is like a colony of porcupines living in the arctic. They need to stay huddled close together to keep warm enough to survive, but if they move too close, they wound each other with their spines. I found this idea in a book by a linguist named Deborah Tannen about conversational styles. It was being used as a depiction of the dichotomy of two conflicting but irrevocable human needs which are the need for involvement, and the need for independence. We were created to function as members of families and societies and cultures, and yet we are equally as intended by God to be individuals (this book was not written from a Christian perspective, but the work of God is apparent in any such principle). Ever since my discovery of it, I have been enthralled by observing the tension created by this conflict at work within us -because every accommodation that is made for either of these needs necessarily breaches the comfort of the other need. Dr. Tannen describes this tension to be the cause of the majority of miscommunications in the perception of what is “polite” because you may be polite to someone by showing involvement with them, or by respecting their independence. Based off of which type of politeness is expected, you may be perceived as rude. I hear this principle proving itself in ordinary stories from myself or others multiple times every single day. It is such a delicate balance and, therefore, is nearly impossible to find. The more I notice it the more I begin to remember how incredibly intricate is the work of our impossibly wondrous God. Why in heavens name would he put so much detail into the minute interchanges of words and glances which do not effect his over-all plan? I believe that creation could have got along just fine without all the details of unimportant things like this. But we were made in the image of God. The God. The I am. Could we possibly have expected our design to be simple with such a model? It would be absurd.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An introduction...

I am a small person. Not shockingly so, like Thumbelina, or to such an extreme that demands attention wherever I go. It does not have a crippling effect on my life as it might on others who are by far smaller than is accommodated for by modern society (though I rarely if ever remove objects from my top shelves or cabinets as that necessitates the use of 12 inch salad tongs to reach them). But a curious fact about being five feet tall is how unusually familiar one becomes with the shape of the underside of the chins of people over 5’9”. I have spent a great deal of conversations with such people merely puzzling over whether there is a name for this particular region of the human head. I would invent a title for it myself, however my thought process never quite makes it to that point before I am reminded by the silence of the nearly-six-feet-tall speaker before me that I am in a conversation and am now expected to respond. These moments nearly always result in a cacophony of guilty and frenzied thoughts trying to settle upon a reply which would not entirely give away the fact that I have not been listening. I honestly do feel guilty for ignoring people solely out of the distraction created by differences in size. You know, it never quite feels right to blame my inattentiveness on my height, but I can think of no better explanation.