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Your Personality Test Results May Be Worth a Second Look


Have you ever thought you were really good at something only to have someone tell you, maybe you’re not? I always thought I was good with people. I mean, I knew that I was not a people person per se, but I knew that and I made up for it. Didn’t I?

A few years ago I was a part of a managers training that was based around personality types. There are many different theories and names for the categories that you might fall into for any given personality type quiz but the options for this training were: controller, analyzer, persuader, and stabilizer.

Controllers are those A-types who want to get things done. One of their weaknesses is plowing forward not taking input from the team like one of those basketball players that score all the shots, at the end of the day the game is won but the controller may not have any friends left. Overall it is in the controller’s best interest to have the other types on the team and to take the time to get their input. The analyzer is the proof reader that fills that gap in the controller’s big picture view, the persuader will have some good alternative ideas, and the stabilizer will be your advocate.

To no one’s surprise I was a controller, not borderline with one of the other types oozing into the mix, but 100% con-troll-er. Some people do not give these types of test much merit. I agree depending on the day, weather, temperature, and what someone just said to you at breakfast, you might end up with a different result on any given day. I argue, however, that if you are completely honest with yourself while taking one of these tests there is a good chance that it will at least partially ring true.

A few months after that first test I was involved in another self-assessment training and we used a different online method that emailed back a list of ratings based on many dimensions and when I got my report back initially I balked at it. But do you know what it said? It said I need to work on my people skills, specifically, it said I was weak in interpersonal skills. I was indignant; this is not possible “I know I am not a people person so I work hard at making up for that.”

Dear reader, I am a scientist and as such I cannot argue with the data. I was a controller who lacked people skills.

So, what did I do? I took some classes in active listening and how to deal with conflict, and mainly I just try to be more mindful of how I interact with people. Learning to recognize traits of those other three personality types in others is a technique to control the controller as well.

I’m still a controller and always will be but it’s my actions that I can regulate and that I am responsible for keeping in check even when I have to wait for an analyzer to come up with their response, listen to options put forth by a persuader, or tolerate hugs from a stabilizer.

If you take one of these tests don’t be too quick to brush off the results if they don’t tell you what you expected them to, if you knew the answers why take the test in the first place?

Laura Thorne is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Jamie Catania

Thanks for sharing, Laura! It seems easy to brush off any indicators that might show up on a single test – but you’re totally right – when similar results come back again and again on different tests, it’s time to look in the mirror and make some changes.

Christine Burke

Laura – great post. I think personality tests and StrengthsFinder are great tools for helping define who you are but also bringing awareness of how to best deal with other people. At GovLoop, we all took the StrengthsFinder test and have a chart up of everyone’s top 5 strengths. It’s a helpful tool to understand how to work better with other people. As a company, it’s interesting to see the distribution of strengths and how we are able to work together as a team.

Rachel Niebeling

Great post Laura! Self-awareness can be a really hard and sometimes test results can be hard to swallow. Good for you for owning it and taking time to really step back!

Sterlin Woodard

Laura, I loved your blog, and I agree we can all change.

My personality tests over the years have shown that I operated in 3 almost equal modes – persuader, analyzer, and controller. The instructor also said I had 2 equal primary-secondary modes of operation too – persuader/analyzer and persuader/controller. However, they are not natural to me, but the product of my experiences. Most psychologists say that we’re the product of our genetics and experiences, and I’m no exception to that. My father is a PhD. in Mathematics and definitely a controller/analyzer, but my mother never finished college but is a controller/analyzer too, which is why they didn’t get along and never married. Both of them passed those traits on to me, which is why I’ve been an independent and self-assured person for most of my life. Growing up, I was definitely not a people person because I only had a single friend until I went to high school. I enjoyed being alone, and solving problems and getting the answers on my own with no one else’s help.

However, when I got to college, I began to see and understand that there were a lot of smart and talented people around me who were definitely worth listening to and learning from. I ran into people from all over the world that had so many interesting and exceptional life experiences that I found fascinating. This trend of listening and learning from others continued as I began my professional career, and was accentuated by the advice I got early in my career from a manager that I completely loathed. He said my value to any organization wasn’t based upon what I could do, but upon my ability to get others to do. It was like a switch that went off in my head. So, from that day on, I began to change my behavior by utilizing the other parts of my personality (persuader, controller) to work more effectively with others. At first, it was to simply keep my job, but later on, because I began to enjoy it and appreciate the satisfaction in finishing the job or journey with others.

At my core, I’m probably still an analyzer/analyzer, just like my wife, but I’ve learned how to operate in several different mode, which has enriched my professional life, and allowed me to remain happily married for over 30 years.

So, In the words of Rocky Balboa “We Can Change”.


I was just given this test over the phone by my new manager at work. However she cannot remember the name of the test. Does anyone know what this particular test is called? I’d like to read up on my personality styles. Thank you!

Laura Thorne

Hi Katie,
I am not sure anymore. The first was given by a trainer. The other was likely 16 personalities or a version of Myers Briggs.