Originally published September 2, 2015

Over the years I have been asked to take a variety of personality tests, including StrengthsFinder, DISC, and other forms of classification such as:

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator — MBTI®
  • What color is your personality?
  • Are you Type A or B?
  • Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  • Take the Big Five test to determine your OCEAN traits
  • Take this quiz to find out which type you are

I even wrote software to administer the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). But I always had my doubts about these types of tests.

Here are 12 articles, one podcast, and one video about this topic which express my views:

  1. Little Boxes: The dangers of categorisation and Myers-Briggs by Dave Snowden
  2. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and Forer effect by Robert Todd Carroll
  3. Goodbye to MBTI, the Fad That Won’t Die by Adam Grant
  4. The Many Ways Science Has (Wrongly) Assessed Your Personality by Esther Inglis-Arkell
  5. Why The Myers-Briggs Personality Test Is Misleading, Inaccurate, And Unscientific by Drake Baer
  6. Top Five Weaknesses of StrengthsFinder by Dan Spira
  7. Debunking the Myers-Briggs personality test by Anthony Zurcher
  8. Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless by Joseph Stromberg
  9. The Forer (Barnum) Effect by Jesus Perez
  10. Something for Everybody: The Forer Effect by Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick
  11. Myers-Briggs, Leadership Training and EdTech by Joshua Kim
  12. The Pottermore Sorting Hat and the Myth of Personality Tests by Landon Whitsitt

I am skeptical about the value of models which attempt to categorize people. It’s not likely that answering a series of questions will provide meaningful insights into the complex nature of individuals. Their behaviors vary based on different circumstances, environments, and people with whom they interact.

Instead, I prefer to have people share information about themselves which can help others to better understand their backgrounds, experiences, and passions. This approach recognizes that each person is unique, not an oversimplified archetype.

If you want a team to get to know each other better, ask them to each prepare and present a slide similar to the one displayed below. The slide can include:

  • Places lived
  • Education
  • Career
  • Professional passions
  • Personal passions

Here’s mine:

In a meeting or an online forum, you can also ask questions to get people talking about important elements in their lives. Here are ten examples of such questions:

  1. What were three turning points in your life, and what was their impact?
  2. Who are three people whom you admire, and why?
  3. What are your core values, principles, and insights?
  4. What are your three most memorable moments of the past?
  5. If you could live in any three different places, where would they be?
  6. What are your favorite songs, musicians, and concert venues? If you don’t like music, is there another form of art you like?
  7. What are your favorite sports, teams, and athletes? If you don’t like sports, what is another interest?
  8. What are your favorite vacation locations, activities, and memories?
  9. What are your favorite movies, actors, and movie scenes? If you don’t like movies, what is a favorite hobby?
  10. What comedians, writers, movies, and TV shows make you laugh? If you don’t like comedy, what books, magazines, or publications do you like?

For additional questions, see 20 Tips for Good Conversations.

What have you found works well for helping teams to get to know one another?

Stan Garfield

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Leader of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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