I have a running joke at work that I am not into “self-improvement” because I am just fine being who I am. Believe me, I could fill a book with my never-ending list of personality traits that need an overhaul. I’m lazy, sarcastic, irreverent, selfish, bossy, and those are just some of my more endearing qualities. Oh, and my breath frequently smells like coffee. But as I’m approaching forty-two years of age, do I really need to make a concerted effort to move over to the sunny side of the street? Is it even possible for this – ahem – mature woman to grow into that upbeat “It” girl who can turn the world on with her smile? More importantly, do I even give a crap?
A few years ago I was forced to participate in a seminar that focused on the different personality styles at work and how to communicate effectively with each other. (Strangely, I was the only attendee that found the whole premise of this class to be very similar to a steaming pile of cow poo.) We were there to learn the proper way to act toward people who possessed different “styles” than us (and I’m not referring to preppy versus hippie). We would assume a new persona (at least that was my interpretation) depending on the personality of the co-worker or client we were engaging in order to get them to like us more, thus creating harmony. It was even mentioned that we should each have our personality type put on a sign that would hang in our cubicles so that anyone who walked by would know, for example, that I’m frequently surly and to be prepared for a tongue lashing if disturbed. I can only imagine that my sign would be one word, all caps: BITCH.
I was both amused and appalled by this idea. Luckily, clearer heads prevailed, and this suggestion never came to fruition. And for reasons obvious to anyone who knows me, I decided against employing these politically correct, friend-winning techniques and went back under my rock.
I’ve been subjected to every personality test under the sun to diagnose my complete lack of “giddy”. And in case you’re wondering, I have been officially classified as an ISTJ and my work style is considered to be analytical/analytical, the most boring and unattractive of all as opposed to the amiable/expressive cheerleader types. I am keenly aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and I can surely do without some Suzy Sunshine, who majored in communications at the local liberal arts party college, telling me to “lighten up” and “smile more” in order for people to like me. If you’re going to be harping on me to be perky and eternally optimistic, then maybe, just maybe, I don’t care if you like me.
I get the same results test after test. It’s just not a newsflash to me that I prefer telling you the truth to being tactful. (That shirt makes you look fat, and you’ll thank me later for telling you so. Promise!) I don’t need a questionnaire to confirm that I value punctuality and that being “right” brings me pleasure. And what these brain-picking exams see as “aloof” is actually me running through the six hundred or so mental lists that are stored in my brain to ensure that I remember to get tea and deodorant, that the car payment is sent on time, and that the kids wear their camp tee shirts for the next day’s field trip. Hey, we can’t all be tripping through fields of daisies singing, “Puff the Magic Dragon”. There is always a to-do list somewhere calling my name!
I am officially a glass-half-empty kind of gal. (Just ask Myers-Briggs.) If you are looking for big bear hugs and a sparkling disposition, then you may need to look elsewhere, but if you need data assembled into a pie chart and analyzed or, perhaps, a detailed plan to organize your workspace, then you’ve come to the right place. I know I’m not the life of the party, but hey, we can’t all be Pollyannas. And besides, you wouldn’t appreciate all of those Butterflies and Cupcakes kind of folks if it weren’t for dark, foreboding clouds of doom like me passing through the garden of your life every now and then... you’re welcome.