That makes me a happy girl. The class was about increasing levels of customer satisfaction, but the difference in this class (from the usual boring drivel) was twofold. One, we had a nice, personable, enthusiastic, and interested teacher. Two, she brought up the idea of relating to people the way THEY want, not the way YOU want to relate to them. This has great ramifications for writing and creating character.
If we look at all the external and internal forces that affect someone's personal style, we cannot overlook things like inherent personality, age, culture and the like. But we often do, because WE are a certain personality, age, culture. Can you see where this is enlightening? I thought I knew this already, because the pieces-parts are fairly instinctive for me. I don't have trouble communicating with others.
In my writing, my characters tend to be variations of me. While that may be interesting for a short time, unless I can develop characters that are multidimensional, yet act in a congruent manner (i.e. they are believable), my stories will go nowhere. If I define them at some level by all these factors that real people have, a full, dynamic character will rise off the page.
In class we took tests that told us what "type" of communication style we had. It occurred to me that my CHARACTERS could also take those tests, or I could make them fit a certain style because, hey, they do what I say (most of the time). I can use this information to create depth and subtle traits which will round out their action for an engaging, character based story. THAT is what I want to write.
These personality tests have been around for ages, but I never thought of using them in terms of defining a character. I will certainly take back everything I learned and use it to my company's advantage. Seriously. I like being a team player and having a job right now is a good thing. I'm just thrilled that I can use it in my writing also. I might as well, I use just about all the rest of my life.
So, personality tests - check. I'll give it a try. It seems so logical, I don't know why I've never thought of it before.