I recently spent some time with a very good friend of mine who is a therapist. As we were catching up, of course we came to the topic of work. She explained that much of her work is understanding her patients’ “personality type” based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, and tailoring her approach with them accordingly.
If you are not familiar, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a self-assessment questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences according to how people perceive the world and make decisions.
I walked away thinking about how the Myers Briggs and similar assessments are put to use at work and how they can be extremely helpful. Not only can understanding your own personality type help you improve your own performance, but managers can also use personality assessments to better understand their employees and tailor their management style to each employee.
Breaking Down the Myers Briggs Type Indicator
We all think in different ways and tackle projects or issues in particular ways. It can be extremely beneficial to embrace your personality type in order to get tasks accomplished at work in way that is best for you.
In this post I’d like to look into the MBTI and the 16 different “types” of personalities it references.
The MBTI operates on the idea that individuals are either born with or develop certain preferred way of perceiving and deciding. The MBTI sorts these psychological differences into four opposite pairs, resulting in a combination of 16 possible psychological preferences.
The four pairs, or dichotomies, include:
1) Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
The extravert’s flow is directed outward toward people and objects, and the introvert’s is directed inward toward concepts and ideas.
2) Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
These are the information-gathering functions. Individuals who prefer sensing tend to put their trust in the information that is in front of them (i.e. tangible and concrete). They use the five senses to understand information. On the other hand, those who prefer intuition more often go with their “gut” and will follow hunches. They trust information that is more abstract or theoretical.
3) Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
These are decision-making (judging) functions. People who prefer “thinking” will decide things from a more detached standpoint and tend to be more logical, causal, and consistent. If you prefer “feeling” you tend to come to decisions by empathizing with the situation, and will take into consideration others’ feelings and how your actions are being perceived.
4) Judging (J) vs. Perception (P)
The last dimension of the MBTI is determining if people have a preference for using the judging function, or their perceiving function.
Each preference is represented by a letter, and you can view all of the 16 possibilities in this diagram:
There is a ton of additional information about the MBTI and how you can best utilize your personality preferences to accomplish work more effectively for you. A good place to start is MyersBriggs.org.
Personally, I am characterized by ISFJ — meaning I tend to be more focused internally, I base decisions from what I see in the facts rather than my intuition, and I deliver information that takes other people’s feelings into account. This type is also known as “The Nurturer”.
You can find out your personality type by taking this quick test: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp