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Kindness and Personality may not be what you think it is

personality & relationships podcast Feb 23, 2024

 Our personalities and love languages shape how people show kindness differently. Because of that, it can be misinterpreted and cause big time hurt feelings and even cost relationships when we don’t understand each other, so it's helpful to understand how and why people show kindness the way they do.

Kindness is defined by Merriam Webster as a sympathetic or helpful nature, of a forbearing nature, gentle, arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearance, of a kind to give pleasure or relief. There is a certain personality type that most people traditionally think of as that type of person, but it helps to explore how each personality type embodies kindness, especially when they’re in balance, and how kindness shows up for each of them. It's the best way to unravel the mysteries behind how each personality type shows kindness in their own unique and wonderful way and how others might misinterpret their kindness.

The following information uses the DISC personality model of behavior and refers to people as D or Driven, I or Inspired, S or Supportive, and C or Cautious. It's also important to remember that being in balance and out of balance in terms of personality affects how people act and react, so kindness can look different based on whether someone is in balance versus out of balance.

For the D personality, These people are movers and shakers and will never be the ones to climb down in the pit of despair with you. Why? Because they are action takers, not the type to sit in the muck for any longer than they need to, and trust me, the amount of tolerance they have for sitting in the muck is miniscule. They’re not ones to mull things over for a long time. They are solution oriented, and for them, giving you a solution to get through whatever you’re going through is truly their way of showing love because they are all about solving the problem and moving on. The faster they can give you a solution, the kinder that is to them.

 Is that a problem when the I personality wants to talk it out and maybe be a little dramatic or when the S person wants someone to validate their hurt feelings or when the C person wants to look at all the ways to address the problem and not accept a single answer? It certainly can be.

When the D person perceives a problem, they lean in and want to solve things as quickly as possible because they’re outgoing, fast paced. They love a good brainstorming or solution finding session. That doesn’t mean they’re unkind. To them being direct and straightforward in finding a solution to your problem is the kindest thing they can do for someone.

 I have a brother in law who is a high D personality, he does what he wants and how he wants, and when I first met him, I couldn’t imagine him being kind, but my husband told me he would give you the shirt off his back and complain about it the entire time. 

I thought that was weird when I heard it, but as I’ve gotten to know him, I’ve learned a few things about this man.

 First off, he loves to tease people, and when my oldest child was 3 years old, he was terrified of this man because he has some hearing loss and talks loudly. When my son was a toddler, every time my brother in law talked, my son would cry because he got scared, but as he got older, he would run and hide or jump in my arms instead.

 So, when he was three years old, we told my son there was something my brother in law was terribly afraid of, and that was kisses. My son said “Really?”, and we assured him it was true, so the next time he was loud and teasing my son, my son told him if he didn’t stop he was going to kiss him.

My brother in law immediately stopped and said, “What did you say?” and my son told him he was going to kiss him. My brother in law said, “You better not!” and started to back away, which obviously emboldened my son, and long story short, my 3 year old “chased” his uncle out of the house with kissing noises, and it became a running theme with my brother in law and all of my children as each one told the secret to the next one, and everyone loved it.

For some people I know that seems like a weird way to show kindness, but I will be forever grateful for how my brother in law kept teasing my kids but also empowered them to tease him back and empower them to have fun at his expense.

Now, as far as problem solving, he is even more interesting. You see, my brother in law has operated large equipment his entire adult life, and one day we found out that we had a water leak. Where we live we have to do the excavation work before the water works will come to fix the problem, so obviously we called my brother in law.

He showed up a couple of days later to dig up a flower bed in front of the house where the pipe was. He barely spoke to me and was there less than an hour, but he dug that hole exactly where it needed to be and left.

After the repair, he came back and filled the hole in, and guess what? I had creeping phlox planted in that flowerbed, and he replanted them exactly where he dug them up. Was it perfect? Nope, because some of the phlox died, but because it was creeping phlox, it filled in the next season, and I was both impressed and delighted. 

Understand that he did this with a backhoe and one of those big scoops, without me ever asking him to do it. To this day I am impressed with the precision of him replanting my flowers, and I knew better to gush over him doing it because these are not people that want you to gush over them, but it is helpful to acknowledge them. If you thank them directly, make it short and sweet. When I thanked my brother in law directly, I said, “Thanks. I appreciate it.” and that was it. Any more and he would have given me the stink eye. The other thing I did, though, was to brag about him to other people, sometimes when he was around and sometimes when he wasn’t. I probably told 12 people about his skills, and I meant every word I said, and I’m sure it got back to him, so mission accomplished.

Counter to the D personality wanting you to keep the kindness transactional

 With the I personality, they show kindness through fun and connection, so if you bring a problem to them, they’re likely to share a story of how they’ve been through something similar so you know that they are listening and understand what you’re going through, and like the D personality they want to move through the problem as quickly as possible, but for different reasons than the D personality.

The D personality wants to move on quickly because they have stuff to do, so they want to check off helping you and move onto the next thing. The I personality wants to move on because, for them, life is too short to be unhappy for too long. 

When they are sad, they look to break out of that as quickly as possible, like the D personality, but while a D personality has a quick cry or has an angry outburst, they’re fine once they release the emotion. The I personality is more likely to have a big cry, and a longer emotional outburst and a longer recovery time until they feel better.

Some people may see that as being overly dramatic, but for the emotional I personality, it’s the necessary amount of emotion to process things fully and be able to move on. For them, allowing someone to express their feelings, as long as they aren’t being mean, is the greatest gift they can allow someone. Then, when it’s over, they will take you for ice cream, a trip to the park, a movie or whatever fun thing you might want to do, and if none of that works for you, they may offer to leave you alone to recover if you need the space to do that.

 That doesn't’ mean they don’t care. It means that the I person knows from experience that some people are not ready to cheer up as quickly as they are, and if they are in balance, they don’t take that personally, but they also won’t curtail their life to wait for others to process their pain either.

Can others view that as not caring? Yes, because they wouldn’t behave the same way, but if something like this happens with an I personality, it truly isn’t because they don’t care, it’s because they’re doing their best to honor themselves and you at the same time, which is not always easy for them to do.

Moving onto the S personality, this is the personality type most people think of when they think of kindness because these are gentle souls who are generally reliable, supportive and excellent listeners.  

They are the people others talk about who sit in the muck with you and don’t say a word, and that quiet gesture and presence is a balm for some souls, but it can be seen by others as being disinterested because they’re not actively helping to solve the problem. But that’s not what the Supportive person’s  superpower is. Their superpower is listening, so if you need to vent, this is your person. They will listen and empathize with how you’re feeling, and their hope is that by listening, they’ll help you find your own solution.

Oh, and they will not be challenging you either, because they dislike confrontation, so if you’re looking for someone to verbally hash things out, try elsewhere because they won’t engage.

One other thing that Supportive personality types do is listen to both sides of an issue, not to pick sides, but to understand both sides. And even if they agree with one side more than the other, they very seldom take sides, because they just want everyone to be nice and quiet and calm and while they are fully aware that’s not how life is, that’s the dream.

So if you want to show an S personality kindness, let them have their neutrality as much as possible, and if you are an S personality, cherish those who do not make you take sides.

When it comes to the C personality, the lovers of accuracy and precision, you show kindness through deep thoughtfulness, facts and attention to detail. Like the D personality, Cautious personalities go straight to solving the problem, but they won’t share the solutions unless they feel it’s the right thing to do.

They will also deconstruct every part of every situation and will call you out on things they see, not to criticize you, but to truly show you where you could be or do better. It is important to note, though, that when the C personality experiences the same level of scrutiny, they may react poorly if they’re out of balance because criticism is more cutting to the C personality than anyone.

Why? Because if a C personality has taken the time to help you find a solution to a problem and given you advice, I assure you they have thought about every scenario and come up with the best plan based on what their extensive fact finding and multiple scenarios run through. If any of those variables change, it’s back to the drawing board for the C personality to create a new and better plan because there’s always a new and better plan, so questioning their data is a personal affront. Just don’t do it.

To be kind to the C personality, be clear about what you want to know.

If you are a C personality, please understand that while you are amazing at running scenarios and gathering data, not everyone is interested in the amount of data you have to offer, and the kindest thing you can do, sometimes, is to give your summarized knowledge with the offer to provide more information if someone wants it.

If you really want to understand this concept, over the next several days and weeks, watch how your friends, family members, and/or colleagues show kindness based on their DISC personality types, if you know them.  Notice any misinterpretations that may arise and use your newfound knowledge to bridge those gaps with understanding and love. 

If you need help with that, go to the Moving Toward Better homepage and join our email community and hit that button at the top to take your own assessment. It might change your life as much as it changed mine.

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