I borrowed Please Understand Me II from a friend with every intention of mailing it back to her after I finished it, but because I found it so helpful and filled it with about 2712 tabs to remember where good stuff was, I think I might buy her a new copy and keep hers for myself. It’s that good.
Like many other books, Please Understand Me II is concerned with Myers-Briggs personality types. Unlike other books, it breaks the 16 types down into four main segments: the SPs, the SJs, the NFs, and the NTs. I found this quite helpful, because each of those four segments share distinct qualities so you can figure out how to better communicate with and understand your friends, family, and associates, even if you don’t have time, inclination, or ability to really figure out their entire Myers-Briggs type.
Furthermore, by breaking out the main characteristics of the segment, the author was able to get down into a lot more detail about the specific types associate with that segment. So, for example, I have taken Myers-Briggs type tests numerous times and come up as an ENTJ, with a borderline J/P distinction. But in reading this book I was able to see that while I’m strongly NT, I really fit more with the ENTP profile than the ENTJ.
But who cares? Why does it matter what type you are? Here are some of the benefits you gain from reading a book like this:
- Insight into relationships. I wound up reading about half of this book out loud to Josh as I went through it, and it sparked so many helpful conversations about how we communicate, how we parent, how we perceive the other person’s actions, and so forth. It’s not really a marriage book, but it is really illuminating about how marriages work between types. I also thought a lot about my best friends as I read and had aha moments about how we communicate.
- Insight into parent-child dynamics. One of the most helpful sections for me was on how to tell which of the four main types your child falls into, and how that should impact the way you encourage, relate to, and communicate with your kids. It surprised me how easily we pinpointed each of our children, even Sarah who just turned three.
- Insight into yourself. I found it helpful to read things and think “why yes, I do that! I think that! That’s how I respond in those situations!” because it helped me to think of constructive ways to be myself, rather than looking for solutions that don’t work for me or make me feel like I’m trying to be someone I’m not.
As we read the book, Josh and I also talked about how people change over time, and whether/how people can be the best of their type or the worst of their type. It was really interesting to consider personality type in light of faith and sanctification. A Christian SP would look a lot different from other SPs, but he or she would still be an SP – different types bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table but we all benefit from the different perspectives and understanding we have in the body of Christ.
The personality types are not completely diagnostic – at several points I felt like Josh and I and the kids might be borderlines of several different types, and in some cases I thought “gee, this is nothing like so-and-so,” but overall I think the book is helpful, especially if you’re able to take what’s useful and ignore what’s not spot on. In any case it would be interesting to talk over with someone!
Please Understand Me II is a fascinating book, and I’d be interested in your opinions if you read it!
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