11/20/2018 0 Comments
I have been meaning to write this article for some time. In personal development and coaching/consulting/healing spaces it is fairly common to use personality assessments like Myers-Briggs or Strengths Finders or similar to understand aspects of who you are and how best you work.
It also is commonly used in corporate or institutional settings to understand team dynamics and ways to come together in cooperation and more effective communication.
People live by these assessments. As much as I would love to say these assessments are wonderful and solve everything, I would be off the mark.
And some people do not want to have anything to do with them, and understandably so.
In reality, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
These tools, each have strengths of their own. They can illuminate the shadows and show the way for new perspectives and ways of being. They can give us insights into how we operate, communicate, and our needs and capacities. And they give us ways to come together as a team or in interpersonal relationships, so we can relate to each other in ways that support each other and the relationship. We could use the results of these assessments to help us achieve our goals and hone our vision and determine how best to take action.
In my work and experience, if not used with care, these tools can be wielded like weapons and cause further harm. Like in many other things, context matters here too. If we’re using these tools in the hopes of liberation without a great understanding of context, we’re bound to hurt ourselves and others with these tools.
As with all tools and systems and dynamics, the wider context and biases seep in here too. For instance, the origins of the Myers-Briggs assessment is steeped in misogyny and capitalism (You can read more about this here).
If we’re not actively dismantling the various ‘isms’ in our life, work, and relationships, we will inadvertently bring that baggage with us into this space as well. The creators of these systems, mostly, white men from the Global North, who brought their own biases and ways of being and ‘bootstrap’ mentalities with them into the personal growth space.
And it barely matters what assessment we are talking about, it is the basis and the underlying bias of the test. And access to taking, interpreting, and implementing the results.
Here are a few for your purview:
Many of these tests are embedded with and uphold misogyny, gender binary, cultural appropriation, racism, ableism/saneism, capitalism/neoliberalism, alternate ways of being, and so on.
How this might work in practice
Here is an example of how this may work in practice:
Recently I had a conversation with a fellow human design enthusiast. I was not sure what to expect, but I am always pleased to talk to those who take the time to integrate human design or other assessments into their daily working lives, work, and relationships.
After introductions and pleasantries, the conversation quickly went the wrong direction. Human Design has a little known very nuanced application for small groups and teams called the ‘Penta’.
This person seemed to think that if all aspects of the Penta were met by a group of three individuals, they could work harmoniously even if they did not like each other or get along. This was a direct interpretation by Ra Uru Hu and how he described it. When I brought up structural and systemic oppression, this person shrugged and was silent. They were unable to see that misogyny or racism (or other forms of oppression) could play into that dynamic, that the value of the ‘Penta’ was more important than our individual needs and how such a framework could bypass these topics or actually actively encourage victim-blaming or silencing.
It was a difficult conversation and though there were some pearls that I gleaned from the discussion, mostly I had to wade through a common brand of white feminism and patriarchy, getting harmed along the way. I could have chosen to walk away but felt stuck. What if I had paid for a session only to be harmed? I had the spoons to deal with it that day, but what if I had not? What if that space turned out to be one of greater inequity and layers of privilege that also included her being the human design practitioner and I was the client? What if I walked into a space to network, or seek help as a client only to be harmed and gaslit? How else would these biases be used against me or others in other situations?
Many of my clients have hidden disabilities and multiple margins, and here are some ways I use these tools to uplift and empower, find clarity and insight, and move us into integration, embodiment, and aligned action.
Way to Use Assessments in More Useful Ways
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