I will have a few posts on The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler. The book was a delight and invoked so many different thoughts and emotions, I decided more than one post is needed. Plus Heather said I was going to discuss deep things like religion in my post – the bar was set!
In my years (not too many) in the work force, I attended many, many management classes. (Whether they are useful is for another post). As I read this tome I was amazed at the number of relationships and the types of personalities in the book. I think any one that is in a management position since the 1990’s heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test. Yes, I took it as part of a management course. Like any other good doobie manager in the 90’s. The thinking is that we all have different personalities. If you understand the personality type of each person in your group, you can lead and motivate based on the individual. I have delved into this type of post before when we were discussing right brain versus left brain. https://emmebooks.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/a-left-or-right-brain/ I am a lefty! Basically there are 16 personality types and based on a test you are placed into one of the categories. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator
Well as you can imagine, I was a bit different. Two of my indicators were right smack in the middle of the scale. For example, I was 50% Introvert and 50% Extrovert. HA!! Everyone that meets me thinks I am a hard E. Nope! I love quiet time. I do my best studying by myself with classical music in the background. I believe all my letters are ENTJ… with E/I and P/J prone to flipping on occasion. What are yours?
What does this have to do with reading a book? Nothing, except I thought of it when I was reading. Our main character Ernest and his Aunt had a completely different personality type then the rest of their families. I believe that they were ESTP’s and the rest of the family were ISTP’s. The E and I difference are significant in this case. The ESTP’s ‘make the most of the moment’ while an ISTP ‘just does it’. As we read the story, it predominantly follows the male line of the Pontifex Family with the story ending with our main character. He broke the cycle of ineffectual fathers because his personality type was completely different from those of his father and grandfather. His great-grandfather I think was more like our hero. His personality was incompatible with his parents, sister and brother. No one understood him nor cared to. In fact the generations taught Ernest that he had to change, conform to the family personality.
As I read The Way of all Flesh by Samuel Butler, another management topic came to mind. (Yes, I think I have a graduate school affliction). The way each of us deals with conflict. In our story, each generation of males deals with conflict in a different way. Ernest’s father avoided conflict. With his father, his wife, and his children. He was an avoider. I believe Ernest and I are the same.
During my time as a graduate student, I had the opportunity to take a conflict assessment instrument based on the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict model. Each of us deals with conflict in a different way. Some people love the thrill of the fight and charge right in, others avoid conflict at all costs. The T-K instrument is used to determine what type of conflict person you are. In my case I am an accommodator.
Accommodating is unassertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of competing. When accommodating, the individual neglects his own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person; there is an element of self-sacrifice in this mode. Accommodating might take the form of selfless generosity or charity, obeying another person’s order when you would prefer not to, or yielding to another’s point of view.
As I read this, I realize as I have aged, just as Ernest did, I am more assertive than I was in my youth. I still bite my tongue more times than I ought!
Take a look what is your Myers-Briggs personality type? What type of conflict resolution do you prefer? I would love to know!
Next post… my real review of The Way of All Flesh!
Grab a book, any book and READ!!