Unless you’re a hermit living on a deserted island or in some isolated place, you interact with people. Some of those interactions are good, others are not so good. When we interact with people, it can easily seem personal when there is conflict and misunderstanding, but chances are, things aren’t really as personal as we think they are. In fact, people are looking at the situation from their own perspective, point of view, and most likely seeing things differently than the way that we do.
Anne Bogel shares her experience and how she has improved her interactions with people in her book “Reading People.” She says, “The more I’ve learned about personality, the more I’ve discovered how powerful this knowledge can be.” She spends the entire book looking at various personality frameworks that help to see into the depth of a person and gain understanding and insights. Just because they aren’t us doesn’t make them crazy, Bogel says, it just makes them different.
Bogel takes a chapter for each of these frameworks that she explains. Some of them are interconnected but look at varying perspectives using a similar tool. She gives overviews of the five love languages, Keirsey’s temperaments, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Clifton StrengthsFinder, the enneagram, as well as looking at introverts and extraverts, highly sensitive people, and the MBTI cognitive functions. With each chapter, Bogel shares about her experience with it as well as her own insights. She points the reader to various resources for additional reading and study on the various frameworks.
Bogel sums it all well in the last chapter of the book when she writes, “Some people resist personality frameworks because they say such frameworks put them in a box. I’ve found that understanding my personality helps me step out of the box I’m trapped in. When I understand myself, I can get out of my own way.” When people begin to see how helpful these frameworks are for understanding themselves and other people, the resistance seems to dissipate.
I am a trained Strengths Communicator and have worked extensively with people and their Clifton StrengthsFinder. I have also worked with a number of the other frameworks and I think this book is a good resource for someone to give a high level overview. There are enough resources listed within the book that point people to additional information should they want to go deeper into any or all of these frameworks.
I was disappointed that Bogel did not connect this more with the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives and how we are shaped and formed by God. When I work with people and their strengths, if it is through the church or a faith-based organization, I will include language about that. There are easy connections, in my opinion, between seeing how God has put us together and how that comes out in our personalities. We can see how purposeful and intentional God was in creating us the way that we are and we can seek ways to allow ourselves to be changed as our personalities are shaped and formed over the course of our lives.
If you have only recently heard about some of these frameworks and are looking to get more information before digging deep into one or all of them, “Reading People” is a great resource to give you some more focus. Bogel does a great job of sharing her own stories and connecting them to her learning in all of these different frameworks. Pick up a copy and get on your way to a better understanding of yourself and other people.
(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Baker Books. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)