Overcoming one’s deficiencies is a powerful motivation for reading. Learning about a new topic, supplementing an existing skill, or sharing in the experiences of great men and women are similar enticements for investing the time and money it takes to read a book. This common appeal often leads publishers and authors to promise too much. Notwithstanding the subtitle, Reading People is an unassuming and fair-minded treatment of personality.
One of my greatest weaknesses is being mindful of the personalities around me. I tend to value logic over feelings (as a Rational) and I, therefore, function out of the assumption that your personality is irrelevant to a given decision or situation. As someone aspiring to Christian ministry, I welcomed this book as a helpful corrective to my own stoicism. I was not disappointed. The book is filled with biographical illustrations demonstrating the relational payoff of considering personality types in relationships. Anne Bogel writes in an engaging and witty style that appeals to both a male and a female audience.
The applications of personality are manifold: self-understanding, marriage, work, and ministry, parenting. The book provides a tool belt of understanding that I could put into practice immediately. The most helpful chapter covered “highly-sensitive people.” Highly sensitive persons (HSP) are not those who take offense easily as one might expect, but it refers to those who are physiologically moresensitive to various stimuli: noise, emotional stimuli,stress, sights, sounds. This chapter was helpful because I am married to an HSP and am probably the antithesis of an HSP. My pastor put it as “emotionally stunted.” I very clearly do not have a golden personality. But understanding my spouse’s sensitivity allows me to more fully empathize with her responses to various situations.
Unlike many other books on personality, Bogel avoids the claim that every person can be immediately understood, assigned to a category, and treated with perfect results. Personalities are messy and complex. We are not guaranteed perfect results. However, accounting for personality is a major step toward fulfilling the Golden Rule of Christ.