DIVYA RAO shares her experience taking personality tests and how the present generation’s approach to establishing relationships might help us solve problems in the future.
“Hi, my name is Rachel, I’m an Entrepreneur (ESTP), and my Zodiac sign is Virgo.”
My summer program at medical school is focused on advocating for children’s health in the face of global warming. It started this week with a round of introductions, with each of us stating our names and two of our favorite personality indicators.
The elderly pulmonologist who was leading our session looked slightly bemused, especially when the other physicians happily contributed their Zodiac signs and Myers–Briggs types. He laughed, stating that when he was a medical student the introductions were definitely very different. Indeed, a lot of the people in the session were skeptical about how personality tests could be important to our advocacy. The facilitator said that understanding ourselves, and each other, would lead to more impactful teamwork and, as a result, advocacy.
One of my favorite (and most useful) classes at Business School was “Communication and Group Dynamics.” Professor Gartenburg would start every week by inviting us to take a personality test, often causing the group to sigh loudly and roll their eyes. At first, I too was skeptical: “How was learning my Enneagram or my NEO score going to help me tackle the colossal final project I had creeping up on me. Wasn’t my time better spent by studying for my upcoming organic chemistry test instead?”
It certainly didn’t help that for my group project there was a hodgepodge of ten random students, most of whom I had never seen before. I resigned myself to just keeping my head down, doing my project as quickly as I could, and getting out of there.
As our team progressed throughout the semester, we noticed that our tests were eerily coming true. Those who were idealists became frustrated when we would sit for hours in a basement looking at the practical details of implementing our study. The introverts were horrified when they were made to present in front of the Eternity Management Department.
As we began to recognize the dismay of team members, instead of pointing fingers at each other or throwing accusations of not being a team player, we turned them into our assets. We were able to allocate responsibilities based on who would actually enjoy the task, for example, putting people on the presentation platform who loved talking to a crowd, having those who loved planning in charge of creating our outreach schedule, and ensuring that everyone felt supported in their roles.
The most incredible part of the class was not the fact that we were invited to present our findings to the board of the museum we were working with, but the fact that we became best friends. Despite our group being very diverse, we came out knowing each other better than we knew some of our friends.
Now, one of the most powerful aspects of the personality tests is that sometimes we disagreed wholeheartedly with our results. We were, however, able to reflect on ourselves while we took the tests (even after), to see what we loved, what we hated, and what made us tick. It gave us the tools to truly understand ourselves and each other. Even though some people may laugh at the obsession we have with personality tests, journaling, or self-reflection, it is these very attributes that set us apart from previous generations.
We may not have all the answers,
but I truly believe our generation’s empathy,
ability to self-reflect, and softness for one another and ourselves,
is what will allow us to tackle all the hurdles in front of us.
We may not have all the answers, but I truly believe our generation’s empathy, ability to self-reflect, and softness for one another and ourselves, is what will allow us to tackle all the hurdles in front of us. So here’s to working together for our future. From your favorite ESFP, Enneagram 3, Pisces.
Divya is a 25-year-old medical student based in New York City. After studying business and doing her time in consulting, she is excited to combine her interests in innovation and investing with healthcare. In her free time, Divya loves to travel, play tennis, and hangout with her dog, Mika.