What “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” Teaches Us About Ourselves

The scene below from Woody Allen’s 2008 movie “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is a fantastic display of different personality types interacting.

  • The open, impulsive Cristina, who is only interested in having fun now and might throw all caution out the window.
  • The suspicious, critical Vicky, who over-analyzes things, doesn’t take any risk and might therefore drain the fun out of anything
  • And Juan Antonio, who knows exactly what he wants, states it clearly in a take-it-or-leave-it kind of way and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him (let alone about details… “I know your names; you’re beautiful – what else is important?”)

According to the DiSC model we could say that

  • Cristina shows the behavior of an impulsive, inspired “I
  • Vicky acts like a cautious, critical “C
  • And Juan Antonio is a dominant, driving “D” in this scene

No submissive, serving and caring “S” can be spotted until the very end of the scene when we see that Vicky joins them against her better judgment, just to make sure her friend Cristina doesn’t get into any trouble.

What can we learn from this scene?

You can see how the characters in the above scene don’t understand each other’s initial reactions. Each of them wonders why the other one is either “naive”, “stuck-up”, “aggressive” or “out of their mind”. We all behave, act and react according to our own, unique and specific values, needs, motivational drivers, beliefs and upbringing. Yes, we are all different!

We can observe those differences on a daily basis in our work teams, with our customers, with our partners, neighbors, friends or kids. Not a day goes by without us rolling our eyes at someone, judging someone’s intelligence or simply questioning their actions.

Learning about personality types – whether it’s DiSC, The Enneagram, MBTI or any other model – helps us to understand where people are coming from and why they behave the way they do. Having this understanding enables us to be more tolerant and less judgmental of others.

Every behavior follows a positive intention.

People behave in ways that make sense to them at the time. If their behavior doesn’t make sense to us, we need to get interested in their intention in order to either solve a conflict, or simply respect their behavior, or create a common ground to move on from here.

Also, understanding our own personality type helps us to become aware of how other people see us and how we may trigger undesired responses from them with our own behavior. This awareness enables us to change our approach in different situations, with different people, in order to create more favorable responses and avoid conflicts. Understanding ourselves puts us in the driver’s seat!

Granted, our personality type is only one piece in the big puzzle of truly understanding ourselves. An introduction to DiSC Personality Types however is part of all my coaching sessions – whether it is individuals or groups of managers. It amazes me time and time again what a big difference such a small eye opener can make.

Did you recognize yourself in any of the characters above?

______________________

Disclaimer

None of us is 100% one type. The above description of the characters goes only for that particular scene. We may be able to spot different behaviors of each character in other scenes of the movie. Just like in our lives: while we do have naturally dominant character traits, we might show up differently in different situations. And we can always CHOOSE to act and react differently once we are aware of our initial, natural behavior. Nothing is set in stone. That’s the beauty of it all. People can change.

9 Responses to What “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” Teaches Us About Ourselves

  1. nasrine says:

    WOW, this is amazing. I am not sure what I am more blown away with your writing and the magical way you have woven together the misunderstandings we have with one another, our selves and the world or Mr. Javier? But really, I am just learning more and more about the “DiSC” model of personality types. What an amazing way of thinking about interactions. I do see myself as a lil bit of all of the above. Thank you for such a thought provoking post.

  2. Very interesting insights! Understanding people’s personalities makes professional and personal relationships much more rewarding. I don’t have a lot of experience with the DiSC model, so your descriptions were very helpful.

  3. Sheila says:

    There are so many wonderful character trait tests and explanations and this is yet another. I am only vaguely familiar with the DISC model being more familiar with Myers Briggs, Enneagram, Discover Your Strengths and what can be gleaned from numerology, so I appreciate your example and explanation, in fact, told in this story fashion, I think it will stick with me forevermore. ;-) xoxo

  4. Great post Anja! With having experience with various personality types I love how you discuss how knowing our `type` also allows us to have insight into how others may react and interact. Personality is such a multifaceted dimension! When we take time to explore it further from all sides I think we can truly appreciate the puzzle!

  5. Anja, I have never heard of the Disc model, must look into it. I agree that behind every behavior follows a positive intention. We do the best we can within the scope of map of the world that is unique only to ourselves.
    Thank you!
    Julie

  6. Anja – I’m not familiar with DiSC, but I see this everyday with my children. They are so different and my approach to each of them has really had to evolve to meet their personality types. It’s an ongoing process and I’ve learned so much about myself, as well.

  7. Holy cow – what a great demonstration of the different personality types! I have taken so many different types of assessments over my career…DiSC, Myers-Briggs, you name it. Often this was done for all the people on my team as well so I knew better how to manage + motivate them. While it could be overwhelming, it was usually very helpful. At a minimum, it has also given me a great perspective on interacting with clients, peers…and my kids!

    Jennifer Peek
    Find Your New Groove
    Left-Brained Strategy for Right-Brained Businesses

  8. Katrice says:

    An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me dinner because I found it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this subject here on your site.

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