Una's Blog


55 You cannot diagnose a person

graphic-2by Una Hearne.

The reason I have avoided using psychometric tools in coaching and personal development is that I actually believe people know more about themselves than any tools or other people can tell them. Radical concept I know!

Good quality personality profiling tools like DISC or Myers Briggs are ok and can provide some insight. However they are most useful in demonstrating that individuals are different (no kidding!) and equal. Not right or wrong, just different. This realisation is essential for us to understand each other and to work and live successfully together.

The problem with profiling tools is two-fold:

  1. You can categorise humans into groups based on behaviour and these groups/populations can exhibit remarkably similar behaviour or characteristics. However you analyse one person, all rules eventually disintegrate. Human beings are quite fantastically unique, and so, endless fascinating. Statistics have meaning for groups of people. But none when you are dealing with one unique human being in front of you. It is always worth holding onto the thought that this is a human being and not a category of human being.
  2. The other problem is that when you, or a computer programme, ‘tells’ someone who they are, or what they ‘should’ do, you break an important connection between you and put up a potential barrier. Your diagnosis may be partially or completely, right or wrong – and only they know for sure. At a very deep subconscious level they will have one of two reactions. They will take what you say as the truth and abdicate responsibility for themselves – giving you responsibility for them which is destructive for both of you. This happens, not because what you say is right or wrong, but because they get the message that ‘you know better than they do’ which you don’t. Not ever.
    Alternatively, at that deep level they will know that they know better than you and they will put up a protective barrier against your opinion to protect themselves against inappropriate interference. This is healthier for both people although any value that may have come from your connection will be lost. Best of all is if everyone understands they know best for themselves, is prepared to share their opinion, suggestions and feedback but never believes they know better than anyone else. This leaves everyone safe to open up and share without fear of being rejected or stomped on.

When it comes to personal development and life decisions you know best for you. You are the only person experiencing your life and the person best placed to anticipate the impact of your choices on you and your life. People can hinder you by telling you what to think, say or do. People can help you by supporting you in gaining insight and making your own choices.

You have the right, by birth, to live your life your way. with that is the responsibility to live your life the best way you can. That’s not the best way by anyone else’s definition. That’s the best way by your definition. Fulfilling for you, happy for you, successful by your measure.


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