If you talk with me for more than ten minutes, you'll find out about my obsession with all things personality. At work, I'm known for remembering everyone else's Myers-Briggs types when they forget. (You're an ISFJ, Rosie.)
Knowing other people's types and comparing them to my own improves my communication and overall relationship with them. And it can do that for you, too. The more you understand these different types of personality tests and what they say about you, the better you'll be at understanding others' motives and actions, and thus, the better you can relate to them.
1. 5 Love Languages.
Everyone expresses and receives love in unique ways. There are five, as discovered by Dr. Gary Chapman: quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts. The test requires you to provide an email, but then you have access to the results forever. There are also quite a number of books available for a more in-depth description of how to love on people with each love language.
By knowing your own love languages and the dominant love languages of your loved ones, you can avoid certain relationship troubles and adequately express your feelings to the other person.
Most perceived distance and hurt feelings in relationships arise from people not recognizing the other's love language. For example, mine is quality time while my dad's is acts of service. If I feel he's not putting effort into our relationship because we're not spending enough time together, I'm failing to recognize him filling up my gas tank when he notices it's empty as a gesture of his love.
And by knowing that my friend's love languages are quality time and words of affirmation, I know a Christmas gift she'd enjoy is a heartfelt letter and a lunch date. Boom. Instant relationship improvement.
Probably the most popular personality test, Myers-Briggs is that four-letter mumbo jumbo you hear people talk about. There are eight different letters yielding 16 possible type combinations. The letters are for Introvert, Extrovert, Sensing, iNtuition, Thinking, Feeling, Judging, and Perceiving.
You could take a test to figure out which one you are, but I've got to warn you that they're unfortunately rarely accurate. Though they provide you with a good starting point and enough of a description so that you can tell the difference between sensing and intuition, they don't take into account the actual psychology behind MBTI: cognitive functions.
I first heard about cognitive functions from an article by Heidi Priebe, which is really not as intimidating as it sounds. Her article gives a simple explanation, and you can use it to see if the test's results are close to being correct. So if the test says you're an INFJ, then you should relate the most to the descriptions for Introverted iNtuition (Ni) and Extroverted Feeling (Fe).
There are a lot of other sources for learning more about Myers-Briggs and cognitive functions, including books and this Tumblr that posts a lot about how the cognitive functions manifest in different stackings and at different levels of health. I recommend utilizing both.
Understanding how each type is different has helped me in my relationships with friends and family. My brother's an ISTJ and I'm an ENFP, and this difference means we don't focus on the same thing in discussing an issue. While he'll zero in on a detail, I'm looking at the big picture. Neither is right or wrong, it's just how we are. And when I recognize that we're arguing because we're each naturally inclined to focus on different aspects of the issue, it's easier to get on the same page again.
My sister has recently gotten really into this personality assessment, sparking hours-long conversations between us as we discover more about ourselves and others. The different types are numbered one through nine, each with their own description. Type Ones are the Reformers, Twos are the Helpers, Threes are the Achievers, Fours are the Individualists, Fives are the Investigators, Sixes are the Loyalists, Sevens are the Enthusiasts, Eights are the Challengers, and Nines are the Peacemakers.
After taking the test, you can learn more information about each type and their relationships with the other types on the official Enneagram Institute website and from the many books available. Similar to how the Myers-Briggs are based on cognitive functions, the Enneagram is based on each type's basic fear. If you're not sure which one you are, analyze what you fear most.
Introspection and realizing my true Enneagram type helped me feel like less of a freak. If I were a type 7, then I would want to avoid pain and unpleasantness, but that's not me. I realized that my inclination to dwell on darker feelings wasn't an indication that there was something wrong with me, it was just because I preferred to create art and meaning from that place, something more in line with a type 4.
I'm still doing some reflection, but I’m fairly certain I’m a 4w5 sx/so and my tritype is 4w5-7w6-9w8. If seeing that freaks you out, don't worry—you don’t have to know all of that! Start off with the first number, and know that you don’t even have to figure out the rest if you don’t want to. But if you’re like me, learning the minutiae of your personality will be fascinating and 1000% worth researching.
These personality assessments are not designed to put people in boxes and say that everyone can only act or feel according to each type's stereotype. Instead, they're to be used as a starting block for a deeper understanding of self and others. So if you hate personal growth and better relationships then these tests aren't for you. But if not, I say give it a whirl.