Books about personality differences and communication styles

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Books about personality differences and communication styles

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Modificato: Dic 14, 2010, 10:42 pm

I find differences in communication style very interesting, as I vacillate between quiet and boisterous, and it had been pointed out to me when I was younger that even how I use language changes as the volume of my voice does. I enjoyed a couple of books about personality type which touch on communication: Please Understand Me and Thriving in Mind. For the linguistics of communication style, particularly in aggressiveness, there's The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense (which I haven't yet read, but there's a good companion website) and I'm OK, You're OK. If anyone else has read any of these, I'd be interested in discussing them.

Dic 18, 2010, 7:58 am

Well, typical lurker, I've been waiting around in the shadows to see if anyone else would post here (I picture a bunch of us all lurking and waiting - ha!). So, here it goes:

I haven't read any of the books you mention, although they sound really interesting. I'm very interested in various linguistic issues (although I'm far far far from being an expert). The only thing I've read lately that might even be slightly related is The Einstein Syndrome. I read it because my 2yo is slow to start talking, but I was fascinated by this study on its own rights. The idea that there is a larger-than-previously-thought group of kids out there who talk late but are in fact brighter than the average kid, and who all share some very unique characteristics, is really interesting. More than that, Charlie seems to fit right down into every one of those characteristics. A big problem for these kids is that they tend to get quickly mis-labeled as autistic, and they very much are not! Anyway, I'm rambling a bit, but I do highly recommend the book, even if you have no children, late talkers or no.

Dic 18, 2010, 10:15 am

Thanks for that recommendation, scaifea. It looks really interesting! (Barnes & Noble thanks you.) :)

Dic 18, 2010, 9:29 pm

I have a copy of Please Understand Me II but I've only taken the personality test (result: INTP) and haven't read any of the explanations about careers, relationships, and communications styles. Maybe I'll tackle it in 2011, now that I have a group in which to discuss it.

Modificato: Dic 19, 2010, 7:18 am

I've learned a lot about communications styles at work because my company has tried to merge our IT departments and our Corproate Communications departments into a single division with mixed success. Since the issues in large part come down to communication styles, we've spent a lot of time learning about them. Last year, I spoke at a conference about "How to Speak IT" and it was very well received, by both business audiences and IT audiences. Hard to do because when communication is the issue everyone wants to blame the other guy.

I'm no expert, just have been exposed to this a bit more than average maybe. Anyway I've been tested as INTJ (Meyers Briggs) but have never read either of the Please Understand Me books - I'll add them to my list.

Another model we've used is the Hermann Brain Dominance Indicator. I like this model because it really stresses brain behavior as the source of communications differences, and offers the possibility of training your brain to use other patterns of thinking when appropriate to solve problems. Haven't found a book about this one but the website is at

Caffron, what did you think of Thriving in Mind? There are no reviews of it here on LT.

Dic 19, 2010, 7:25 am

#2 Scaifea, please don't feel obligated to lurk if you have something to say! *smiles with warm welcome*

I'm interested in the Einstein book. I have a relative (grown, in his 40s) who is was never diagnosed with anything but who I believe may have a form of Asbergers or something similar. He and every other family member are resistant to getting any sort of testing for him (if anything even exists for adults!) but his ability to support himself is extremely limited and I worry what will happen when he no longer has a living parent to help out. Maybe this book would help shed some light.

Dic 19, 2010, 10:26 am

mlnelson: Well, if he's still having issues as an adult, it's likely not Einstein syndrome, because there's nothing actually 'wrong' with these kids - they in fact tend to be brighter than average and grow up to be 'normal' adults (usually scientists or engineers), they're just slow to talk.

Dic 19, 2010, 8:12 pm

For what it's worth I test as XNXP (very slightly leaning INFP) via the Kiersey (the Please Understand Me sorter) as well as twice on the full-fledged more expensive Myers-Briggs. For any who do not know, these systems are inspired by Jung's typology. I have to restrain myself a bit here as I am *very* interested in this topic (even met my husband in a Jungian forum.) I have some issues with a bit of oversimplifying in Kiersey, but I like that it gets people talking about their differences in a more nonjudgmental way. For instance, most models in professional psychology treat introversion as inherently a "problem" trait, when my feeling (and that of Jung and Benziger) is that it only leads to "adjustment difficulties" because introverts are outnumbered 3 to 1 and exhibit signs of stress when they are bullied into being what they are not! What I like the most about Jung, though, is not just his typology as such but his discussion of how expression of type changes as we age, in predictable ways. He also stressed that types were only archetypes. No-one was a pure type...something his followers tend to interpret rather differently.

I wanted to reread Thriving in Mind before I posted a full review to LT, but I remember liking it for several reasons. First, although sharing a lot of similarities with some observations of Jung, it adjusted certain aspects of type as compared with the MBTI. For instance, the MBTI N/S and P/J are theoretically independent of one another, but research shows that N's are a little more likely to be P and S's J. The Thriving in Mind model tries to draw a multidimensional picture of each person's personality preferences based on findings in neuroscience. Benziger links preferences with allocations of dominance in four quadrants of the brain. Of course, the brain in reality is flexible, no functions are fully localized (which is a good thing in case of brain injury), and individual differences even in anatomy can be significant. Benziger also talks about the role of introversion and extraversion and their connection with individual differences in the general sensitivity/arousability of the senses. I appreciated her discussion about "falsification of type," how we can be strained when we (sometimes without even realizing it) act according to how society or significant loved ones expect us to act, rather than in harmony with our own natural energies and brain function. We can falsify due to gender roles, cultural expectations, or friends and family, but as we age, we feel the need to be more true to ourselves.

Jung (and Jungian systems) and Benziger describe similar truths about personality, including important shifts in expressed preference with time and the impact of individual differences in social interaction. I suspect they are both a little right. I'm not familiar with the HBDI, but it sounds as if it has much in common with Benziger's system, since they both try to draw from neuroscience. I'm usually interested enough to spend money on new systems, but at $500 per person, I'll just have to live in mystery on that one.

Dic 19, 2010, 10:50 pm

>8 WalkerMedia: I thought that was very interesting.

I've never been fully sure how I've felt about the whole personality type thing, because it is so fuzzy to pin down, but I have consistently scored the same on these tests through the years, so that says SOMETHING :)

I was always INFJ as a teen/young adult, but as I've gotten older, more often I get INTJ. I guess I just don't have the energy for the "F" anymore (or maybe I've just settled in my skin.)

I find the occasional talk of psychology to be very fascinating, but I notice it also tends to drain me in the same way that I feel drained in social situations, so I look at it in small doses and then go curl up with some math or physics.

Modificato: Dic 24, 2010, 10:50 am

>2 scaifea:

Thanks scaifea for recommending The Einstein Syndrome. I ordered it from the public library and sent my husband to pick it up. He immediately confiscated it and read Sowell's book first. We both were fascinated at the way it exactly described our son (and his family!). Now, at 30, he talks constantly and is a software engineer and a VP at the Silicon Valley start-up of which he is one of the 3 founders. The interesting thing is that he is one with the people skills which I would never have guessed even 10 years ago. (He is also bwa32 on LT.)

Edited because I never see the mistakes before hitting Submit.

Dic 26, 2010, 5:03 pm

hailelib: You're welcome! I simply loved the book, and it's given me peace of mind to no end about my own little late talker (who has a physicist dad, several engineer relatives, and many musicians in the family too!).

Dic 27, 2010, 9:48 pm

>11 scaifea: I picked up the Einstein Syndrome from the public library too but haven't had a chance to read it yet.

>8 WalkerMedia: caffron, thanks for that description. I think I'll pick up Thriving in Mind if I can find it.

Dic 28, 2010, 7:41 pm

I'm glad you found the Thriving in Mind stuff interesting. Unfortunately I just checked and it doesn't look like the author's written anything more recent, although I'm certain that research has led to some tweaking of the model.

I ordered and read The Einstein Syndrome. It made me hungry for more research on the topic, even though I know it was really more an advocacy book than a research book. Fascinating stuff!

Dic 31, 2010, 5:48 pm

#5: mlnelson01 - You might be interested in Work It Out by Sandra Krebs Hirsh. She talks about communicating between different personality types--what works, and what to watch out for. It helps if you already know the Myers-Briggs because the book doesn't really get into details about the system.

Dic 31, 2010, 11:29 pm

>13 WalkerMedia: I just read The Einstein Syndrome today - got it from the local library. Interesting that these kids' families have so many common characteristics. I hope they keep doing this research.

>14 LDG: thanks, I'll look for Hirsch's book as well!

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