I am all for training courses and, indeed, personality tests. As a young teenager, I was fascinated by all of the ‘personality tests’ (on a website whose name I cannot even remember now), but I find myself a lot more conflicted now.
Personality tests and corporate training
I’ve just come away from a two-day course focused on emotional intelligence (EQ), and of course we were expected to conduct a lot of self-assessment, including via those ‘agree/disagree’ type tests. EQ tests put a lot of emphasis on the identification of and reflection on negative emotions, and that makes me uncomfortable. I didn’t want to share this line of thinking on the course (although someone else did point out how it was a blunt tool for people on the autistic end of the spectrum), but I also didn’t want to forget how uncomfortable this element of the course made me.
As someone with a tendency towards depressive thinking, I’ve learnt to manage this frequently distracting thought pattern by very deliberately reflecting on what those thoughts and flashes of emotion are trying to make me feel all day long. That sort of reflection could very easily fill my whole day. Yet, when it comes to filling out an EQ test, I have a nagging sense that I’m not confronting and identifying emotions in the way that I’m ‘supposed’ to. I should be analysing, these tests suggest, but instead I’m thinking, ‘Nope, not going there.’ I don’t want to expend emotional energy trying to decide whether that dragging sensation is because I’ve taken criticism too much to heart, or I’m feeling undervalued (or undervaluable) today. That would not be productive for me. I use the rational part of my conscious mind to police the emotional (conscious and to some degree subconscious), and I need to keep more focused on tasks and progress than others might. I think knowing that about myself is a type of emotional intelligence, but not one that those standard tests measure. The whole experience made me feel isolated from the course leaders, the other participants, and to some degree the course objectives. I literally sat at the table and tried to second-guess myself: ‘Am I saying agree slightly vs agree moderately because I’m judging myself too harshly because I feel uncomfortable or less capable now?’ It’s a real shame these sorts of training events adapt to actual humans so badly…