I have heard most readers spend eight to ten seconds looking at the outside of a book before they decide to move on or look inside. Have you ever stopped to think what draws you to one book over another? Perhaps it is your personality.
As a strong melancholy purposeful personality, my preference often gravitates to covers that are to the point so I know what I am getting inside the book. I want it to have value for me and satisfy my thirst for knowledge. The colors are probably subdued without a lot of splash. Why does that appeal to me?
The purposeful, melancholy personality is curious about the world around him or her. The desire to go deeper when reading about subjects is often present. This no-nonsense reader doesn’t want to have to wade through the fluff but wants the information to be complete and enlightening. A purposeful, melancholy reader searching for a novel to read may look for one with intrigue or settle on a romance with lots of family history and backstory. He or she may become so engrossed in a book and forsake other duties to read.
While it may appear that those with playful, sanguine personalities are not avid readers, they love a good story. In fact, they can spin a yarn with the best! But in order to captivate this group of readers the storyline must move along quickly and the action must be plentiful. Drawn to bright, cheerful, fun covers, if the words do not match the excitement of the cover, the book will probably join others on his or her book shelf that are half read! Fiction is the genre of choice for this playful, sanguine personality who is so easily distracted.
My friend who is a very powerful choleric personality is even more matter of fact with her choices. The covers that appeal to her are not obscure but give concise information as to what is in the book. For the choleric personality a bulleted list is sure to please her and promise to give her information in a way she can understand and catalogue in her storehouse of knowledge. A powerful choleric novel reader looks for intrigue and mystery, a story he or she can actively participate in and solve.
Observing the reading habits of the peaceful, phlegmatic personalities, they are drawn to books that have calm and inviting covers with promise of a peaceful getaway. This low-key personality loves to settle in the hammock with a good book that will entertain and give him or her an escape from the hustle and bustle of the world. Books are a perfect gift for this personality.
Is it really important to understand personalities? Does it really matter why you pick up one book or another or why you are drawn to one genre?
The answer to the first question is an overwhelming “yes!” Understanding who you are and why you act and feel the way you do gives you the freedom to be yourself.
For example, for years Charlotte attended social functions with her husband’s work group. Her husband loved these occasions and started looking forward to the next one as soon as the current one ended. But Charlotte dreaded the crowd, the noise, the frivolity, and pretense of enjoyment. Usually she found a safe spot and camped there until her husband Doug was ready to go home.
When Charlotte discovered a book that outlined the personalities and learned she was a purposeful, melancholy personality and that was the way God made her, it gave her the freedom to be herself. She relinquished the pressure of having to smile and be a social butterfly. She understood that she, too, could enjoy that type of event. She just needed to find one friend to converse with at a time and enjoy the time with that person. If she didn’t know anyone in the group, she came to the party prepared with one or two good questions to start a conversation. It didn’t take long to find common ground with an acquaintance.
Charlotte says, “Understanding the personalities changed my life. Not only did it free me to be me, it made me realize that my personality type can be somewhat judgmental. So I began to be more lenient with other personalities. Even though I don’t have to be like them, I can understand them better which frees me to love them more.”
What about you? Are you like Charlotte who has struggled to figure out who you are and how you fit in? Have you traveled through life wondering why everyone else seems so different? Can you identify with Charlotte’s purposeful, melancholy side and need to “lighten up” on yourself and others?
Or maybe you are like the playful, sanguine reader who would love any social function? In fact, if there is not a party going on somewhere he or she is likely to create one! Understanding that your fun-loving nature is the way God made you frees you to enjoy it and work on the other things that may not come so easily like organization and completing your tasks.
Powerful, choleric personalities may realize that their list-making and leadership skills are not a bad thing, however they just may need to be tempered with a little understanding for those who are of different personalities. The ability to get a job done is a positive thing when softened with kindness and compassion.
Our peaceful, phlegmatic friends are to be envied. They are content with the world and adaptable to whatever goes on around them. They would really enjoy Charlotte’s party. It is the effort to get there that is overwhelming. Understanding their calm perspective often earns the peaceful phlegmatic the label of lazy but they are not usually lazy at all. They just enjoy calmness!
Having the knowledge of the personalities is a tool that can make a difference in your relationship with others and with God. Certified Personality Trainer Tama Westman says, “Understanding the personalities is like a superpower. Being aware of what a person’s emotional needs are based on his or her personality, transforms your communication skills. You understand how you are perceived and how others receive information. You live more in tune with family and friends because you know why they walk and talk as they do. Personality knowledge made me realize God made me just as I was and He delighted in His creation.”
So the next time you visit the bookstore, what will interest you? Will you look at a cover with a catchy title and realize you like that because you are a playful personality? Will you see the purposeful person next to you drawn to the muted cover of a different book? Or perhaps a powerful person studying the list of features and benefits on the back cover of a book that interests him or her. Will you find a peaceful person intrigued by the storyline?
No matter what your personality, there are plenty of books to choose from that will encourage, entertain, and enrich your life.