Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Art Of SpeedReading People Review

The Art Of SpeedReading People by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger was the first book I read about Myers-Briggs personality theory.

The book definitely has a catchy and attractive title – it has the ability to draw your attention even if you don’t have previous knowledge of Myers Briggs, Carl Jung or personality type theory unlike many other books on the topic.

The book starts of in chapter with explaining the four dichotomies (I/E, S/N, T/F, J/P) and common qualities, behaviours and ways of thought that manifest with each of the preferences. For people familiar with personality type most of this will be repetition of what they’ve probably read on the net or elsewhere.

In Chapter Two it then covers the 16 different personality types in profiles. I thought the profiles were OK at best – not unlike a lot of the profiles that are available on the net they tend to have a one size fits all description of types that only have developed good use of their top 2 functions – it would be interesting to see profiles that describe into account a number of different ways each type can develop (although it could take up a whole book itself!).

The third chapter of the book goes into the first typing or people speedreading method – based on clues such as a person’s job, energy level, communication style, hobbies, appearance, movement, demeanour, language, work style etc. the focus being on distinguishing between the four dichotomies, which may prove accurate for typing types with limited/poor use of their lower functions, but could well be inaccurate for those with well developed lower functions.

The fourth section covers the 4 different Keirsey temperaments (SJ, SP, NF and NT) as an additional method to help type/read people using similar clue categories as were mentioned in the previous chapter. It finishes with some case studies for you to practice your typing/reading skills using this method at the end of the chapter.

Chapter Five covers cognitive functions for the first time in the book – but only really looks at Extroverted Feeling (Fe) and Introverted Feeling (Fi) – the qualities of each in different types (FJs, TPs, FPs, TJs), clues of each and how they can be used to help identify someone’s type whether it is their dominant or inferior function (everyone either has an Extroverted Feeling or Introverted Feeling function – even dominant thinkers). However some statements made are inaccurate i.e. Tieger mentions FJ’s have a strong need for harmony and will seldom risk confrontation, when actually FJ’s have a strong need for social influence or being in control of the social dynamic (it can be used positively or negatively). Again it finishes with a few skill building exercises to practice using the method.

Chapter Six talks about using the methods and then goes into a number of case studies where you combine the 3 typing methods you learnt from the previous chapters.

Chapter Seven goes into how miscommunication between types can occur and how to best communicate with the types based primarily on using the four dichotomies.

Chapter’s Eight to Eleven covers identification and communication with the different types (each chapter categorises them based on the 4 temperaments) – giving a more individuated approach to communicating with each type. Although the descriptions of types are one dimensional - overall I think it is a solid guide that you can use in practice to communicate effectively in a style most people of that type will appreciate – that is if you type the person right in the first place!

Chapter Twelve closes with a brief pep talk about using the methods taught in the book responsibly and with best effect.

Overall, The Art Of SpeedReading People didn’t significantly advance my understanding of personality type theory and for those who understand the dichotomies well enough and want to get into the nitty gritty of cognitive functions, I wouldn’t strongly recommend the book, as it does not delve into that area. However, that said the book is a sound, simple to understand starting point for introducing and generating interest in people who are new to the topic, to further pursue study and understanding of Myers Briggs' and Jung's personality type theory.

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