When personality tests go bad....
Updated: Apr 4
On my very first day as trainee solicitor I had a new grey suit. After throwing tea all over my Dad's bald head (due to my new shoes and a slippery carpet) I was ready for a full days training with my new colleagues. It felt like the first day of school.
One of the exercises was a personality test which put everyone in a little box with a specific colour (if you've no idea what I am talking about see here). The facilitator couldn't quite decide which box I should go in, but she opted for blue. Reading through the material I was down as dynamic, inspiring and motivating. Cool.
"Blues" she explained "are the kinds of people who arrange social events for the office, they tend to be fun. A blue is someone you would want to have a drink with, but not necessarily someone you would want to hire!". With that, she turned and (presumably) begin a character assassination on the next group. I wouldn't know, I didn't hear another word.
Day one and I had been outed as the fun person who you WOULDN'T WANT TO HIRE. Even better, the Managing Partner was taking part in the exercise with us. Seeing my obvious distress, he offered ‘I’m sure your a red anyway Anna, Margaret Thatcher was red you know'. Kill me now, I thought.
In 2021 this is funny story, but looking back to the summer of 2007, I can see how that experience started a subtle shift somewhere inside from blue, to grey. I reasoned that my personality was simply unacceptable for my new life as a proper serious lawyer. So, I vowed I would no longer be blue, or red or anything else. I would be grey, like my new suit. And with that, my life as a lawyer had begun.
Fast forward to today and my clients often tell me similar stories. Ones which illustrate that part of their personality just isn’t quite right for their role. One's which gave that little voice in their head the authority to keep them in a little box. Sadly it's a common story. Here’s some I’ve heard recently:
I'm too emotional (read: I give a shit)
I'm too quiet (read: i'm not keen on blurting out crap without reflection)
I'm very introverted (read: maybe not possible for me to be confident)
I'm just not 'one of those people' (read: so I never share my successes with people)
Sometimes we end up in little boxes. That little voice in our head has us smaller, stuck inside our heads, quieter. But that my friend, is not where you are meant to live, at work or anywhere else. You and I weren't designed to fit into little boxes. Those boxes don't reflect who we really are in all our multi-coloured glory.
Do you sometimes feel like a more grey version of yourself at yourself at work? A more contained little-box type version of the real you? Is that voice in your head helping to keep everything in place by reminding you of all the things you are/aren't? I can help you. We are busting out and the programme starts in October.
If you want to feel more confident, more assured, more at ease, more free, more present, more just you, take this as your marching orders. And just in case you don't believe that you can change things, here's a comment from the last round:
"Today I chaired a meeting that wasn't planned to be chaired by me with people I have never met before and I felt like a new person! I was smiley, calm, assertive, clear and FULLY PRESENT. What did you do to me?!!' Daniela, London
PS. In case you are wondering what colour I am now: