Friday, November 20, 2009

Personality: Oprah the Heart

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Today, daytime television talk show host--and cultural phenomenon--Oprah Winfrey announced that the Oprah Winfrey Show will end at the conclusion of its current contract, taking her off terrestrial television in 2011 after a full quarter-century. Usually known by just her first name, Oprah has arguably become the most influential person in United States, creating interest in a product by merely mentioning it on her show. Her influence came from an exceptionally entertaining and engaging show, enabled by her ability to get people to speak openly. Those that understand the Meridian Stretching-based Genetic Personality Types do not find this surprising--Oprah is clearly a "heart" type, perfectly suited for this kind of show.

Wait a minute, you say. Didn't you write in a previous essay that the last Republican Presidential nominee, John McCain, was a heart? How can it be that Oprah and McCain are actually the same type when they seem very different? I argue that there is diversity within types--environment and experience do matter and people of the same type are not interchangeable--but if one looks at motivations for decisions and behavior, Oprah and McCain actually share more than one would casually infer.

The "heart" is considered the "most surface" of the "physical" world, meaning that the traits of the "physical" world are most openly and obviously displayed in behavior. A big sign of the "physical" world is a ruling duality between love and anger. Where McCain's anger seemed to appear more often than not, for Oprah, the love end of the duality came out most freely. It was her passion for the topic of the day that made the show so engaging to the point of infectiousness--if Oprah liked something, you wanted to like it too.

Yet, this wasn't just caring, which is centered in the "emotional" world. People from that world often make others quite comfortable by expressing their caring, but it is the "physical" types that readily use the rapport established to persuade others to do things. In Oprah's case, the tears she would shed could convince the interviewee to answer the more probing question, getting them to say things they would not normally confess in public. That's what made her early career.

Physical types are also known for living in the present, often ignoring lessons learned in the past or future consequences of actions. Those that followed Oprah's attempts at stabilizing her weight see how this played out. The present-focus also showed in her opinions--Ben Shapiro once accused Oprah of having "unpredictable and mercurial attitudes toward the major issues of the day"--right on the expectations for a "heart" type, known for the flip-flop when in politics.

While Oprah has announced that she will be focused on her own cable network after her show winds down in 2011, that very living in the present perspective makes me believe that exactly what she will be doing on that network two years from now might be very different that what she might think today. Whatever it turns out to be, if it puts her empathy and persuasion to use, it is bound to be successful.

No comments: