There is a reason that greeting card companies offer a “belated” category of birthday cards. And judging by the results of one of our surveys, that category probably sells pretty well! When we asked our readers to agree or disagree with the statement, “You remember birthdays easily,” only a modest 52% agreed. Although some people truly don’t care about their birthdays or prefer not to celebrate, many others would admit that it’s nice to be acknowledged on their special day.
Personality types with the Judging trait agreed with our statement the most, at 60% (surpassing their Prospecting counterparts by 14%), which makes sense, since the Judging trait lends itself to excellent organizational skills. But is there more to remembering birthdays than being organized? Let’s take a closer look at the data below.
Sentinels (60% agreeing)
One might have expected to see Diplomats at the top of the results – after all, aren’t Diplomats supposed to be the sensitive, caring, people-oriented personality types? The fact that Sentinels were the most likely to agree that they remember birthdays easily shows just how much the Judging trait matters, especially in combination with the Observant trait.
These two personality traits make Sentinels not only organized types, but also reliable, fact-minded individuals who stick to their habits and like to plan things out. When it comes to a matter as practical as remembering someone’s birthday and following up with a birthday wish, the Judging and Observant traits can’t be beat.
Of course, having the Feeling trait helps too. Overall, Feeling personality types were 10% more likely than Thinking types to say they’re good at remembering birthdays. Emotionally sensitive, Feeling types tend to be good at reading other people. They’ll know who would feel hurt or disappointed if their birthday were forgotten and will make a point of not forgetting it. They enjoy recognizing birthdays in sentimental ways, like cards, flowers, balloons, and thoughtful, personal gifts.
Consuls (66%), who possess all three of these traits, agreed more than any other personality type that they remember birthdays easily. It is the Consul’s trademark to devote significant energy to their personal relationships, finding ways to show they care, making sure that their friends and loved ones are happy, and bringing people together socially. Like all Sentinels, they respect traditions and social niceties – birthday celebrations included.
A slight majority of Diplomats agreed that they remember birthdays easily, and those who did have their empathetic Feeling trait to thank for it. But Diplomat personalities are generally less successful than Sentinels at acknowledging birthdays because of their Intuitive trait, which tends to make them dreamy and easily distracted from practical, day-to-day details. Mediators (45%), who had the lowest agreement among Diplomats, are perhaps most prone to this weakness and can be perceived by others as absent-minded.
A minority of Explorers, who all share the Prospecting trait, said that they remember birthdays well. The Prospecting trait helps Explorer personalities to be flexible and relaxed, but it can also sometimes be the enemy of organization and responsibility. Eager to take up whatever exciting new opportunity is before them, Explorers sometimes neglect more mundane obligations, like putting a birthday card in the mail.
In fact, it was an Explorer personality type – Virtuosos (35%) – that agreed with our statement the least. Understanding and predicting other people’s emotions is not this type’s strong suit. A Virtuoso who feels indifferent toward his or own birthday may be genuinely surprised to find that they’ve upset someone else by not acknowledging theirs. Virtuosos like to have the freedom to move from one project or challenge to the next and to move between social groups, and as such, deep, steady personal relationships are not always a high priority for them, and things like birthdays can get lost in the shuffle.
Analysts’ combination of Intuitive and Thinking personality traits makes them, as a group, the least successful at remembering birthdays. The response of Logicians (36%) was nearly as low as that of Virtuosos. Logical and creative, but averse to routine tasks and details, an Analyst (especially one who has just gotten himself or herself in trouble by forgetting a birthday) might argue that things like frequent, deep conversations or regular date nights are much more important ways of expressing respect and appreciation for a friend or partner than symbolic, clichéd gestures like birthday cards and gifts. An emotional Diplomat or an etiquette-minded Sentinel would not be impressed with this argument, and Analyst personality types who struggle with birthdays should learn to take that into account.
People Mastery and Social Engagement (56% each agreeing)
Extraverts were 6% more likely than Introverted personalities to agree that they’re good at remembering birthdays. This seems natural, since Extraverts thrive on social connections. And it doesn’t hurt that more frequent social contact probably presents them with more reminders of upcoming birthdays. Personality types belonging to the People Mastery Strategy are always seeking to strengthen their personal relationships and are genuinely interested in knowing what matters to other people – like birthdays.
Members of the Social Engagement Strategy are also relationship-oriented, perhaps with the added motivation of not wanting to lose favor within their social circle by doing something as thoughtless as forgetting a birthday.
Constant Improvement and Confident Individualism (51% and 47%)
As Introverts, the members of the Constant Improvement and Confident Individualism Strategies tend to be less socially connected to groups, whether they be friends, coworkers, or relatives. These personality types may not be as comfortable reaching out to extend a birthday wish to someone they don’t know very well, and the prospect of a birthday party may feel intimidating and exhausting. It can be easy to forget about something we don’t particularly enjoy doing.
On the other hand, these personalities can be surprisingly warm, generous, and enthusiastic when it comes to celebrating the birthdays of their closest friends and loved ones, special people who they want to feel valued.
Remembering someone’s birthday is ultimately about choosing to prioritize your relationship with that person and show them that you care about and appreciate them. Organizational, emotional, and social skills make this easier, which gives Judging, Feeling, and Extraverted personality types an advantage, but we’re all capable of finding some way to make the people in our lives feel special on their birthday.
If you tend to miss birthdays, it helps to be aware of how your personality traits may be a factor in your forgetfulness and to plan around them. Mark a friend’s birthday in your calendar. Set aside time to think about the things that make a loved one happy. It could save you some embarrassment and guilt the next time their birthday rolls around.
What about you? Are you always on top of birthdays, or do you frequently find yourself in the “belated” section of the card aisle? Tell us about it in the comments below.