I was at a writer’s conference in London, listening to a speaker talking about the merits of categorizing people. It’s like that old adage: When you point a finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you! Often when you label a person, it reflects on you also. Categorizing is about self-awareness!
After the speech, we were all tested to see what type we were. The six people at my table, including me, had a discussion about the pros and cons of typing people.
“Well, here we are ladies and gents, we have all been typed, and I am an introvert. I’m very independent, I’m a “do it my way” person, like Frank Sinatra. What were you people typed as?”
Tom spoke up: “I’m an extrovert, a realist who is action-oriented.”
Jim smiled and said: “I’m also an extrovert, but I’m a communicator and persuader. I motivate people.”
Patsie mumbled: “I’m an introvert. I’ll try anything once, usually high-risk things.”
“I’m an extrovert. I take on challenges readily. I’m inventive and I tend to convert everything to ideas and schemes,” said Lily.
Jane looked confused and said: “I’m an introvert. I tend to do the necessary things that have to be done. I’m driven by a sense of responsibility and I’m a practical person.”
“Well, that’s all very interesting. Now, do you agree with your test type?”
I became the moderator of the group!
“Yes and no,” said all!
“Well, I think I have some of each type and I try to see people as individuals not types,” said Jane.
“I think Jane is right,” said Tom, “Sometimes I’m an extrovert and sometimes I’m an introvert.”
“That’s true, but what I think is being tested here is what ways we prefer to express ourselves most of the time.”
They all nodded in agreement.
“We were all tested on extroversion and introversion. Do you remember what the speaker said about them?”
Lily explained: “You are an extrovert if you verbalize much of what you observe and think. You talk rather than listen. You are a lively person.”
“Wow! There’s nothing wrong with your memory, Lily,” said Patsie.
Patsie continued: “You’re an introvert if you keep your observations and thinking inside. You listen rather than talk.”
Jim responded: “Yes, I’m an extrovert because I am energized by the outside world.”
And Jane said: “I’m an introvert. I get energy from reflection, introspection and solitude. Introverts want a quiet life in a noisy world!”
“Well, all your comments have been spot on. Shall we finish by having you all comment on: Should you put people in categories?”
They all looked very pensive.
“I’ll kick it off, I think we are all individuals and I resent it when people think they know me just because they have put me in a pigeon-hole!”
Everyone nodded and clapped.
“I think it’s human nature to type people whether we realize it or not,” said Tom.
“You should not try to judge people until you get to know them. But we tend to group people as soon as we meet them,” said Jim.
“But can’t we fight against the bad things in our nature,” argued Patsie.
“I like to fool people. I am basically shy, but sometimes I become a mouthy dame,” laughed Lily.
“When you pigeon-hole someone, you really might lose the chance to get to know them better,” said Jane.
I chimed in: “Sometimes, we ASSUME we know a person by grouping them and when they prove us wrong, we feel like an ASS!”
The table exploded with laughter!
“At the end of the day, we are all writers. Will all this info about typing people help us become better writers?”
“I think it will. It will help us put together our characters more realistically. We also, will realize why we approach a story the way we do,” said Tom.
“So, I’ll sum up this discussion with the statement: EVERYONE IS NOT LIKE YOU. YOU ARE UNIQUE. DIFFERENT IS NOT BAD, IT’S JUST DIFFERENT!”