Understanding Yourself: Myers–Briggs Type Indicator – and how it can be used in the workplace

The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire with the purpose of indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions.

The MBTI test is available online, if you wish to do take your own assessment (and many larger employers will offer it to their employees as part of their internal professional development programme).  The test is scored by evaluating each answer in terms of what it reveals about the taker.

Each question is relevant to one of the following cognitive learning styles:

  • Extraversion/Introversion
  • Sensing/Intuition
  • Thinking/Feeling
  • Judging/Perceiving

Each is not a polar opposite, but a gradual scale. Getting feedback from others can help you assess where you are on the scale. Often individuals will choose one style over another as a preference, but can display all styles to the outside world and can be greatly influenced by those around them, so it can take a lot of looking inwards to properly understand yourself. It is also important to remember that you may act differently in your professional life and in your personal life – so it is important to try to identify your ‘natural’ state.

Extraversion/Introversion

Ask yourself where do you get your energy from?

People closer to a strong E will get their energy from other people, enjoy talking with others and get energy from it. They will thrive where there is noise and interaction. Individual who are a strong I use peace and quiet to recharge and often need reflective / processing time.

How do you like to spend yout weekend?

We are often on display in our professional lives and we put on a good show. However, you should ask yourself how long can you do without people do you need to be social or do you want to be by yourself? How do you want to spend your weekend?

In the workplace…

Additionally, in the professional world of work we need to stop seeing introversion as a negative quality. Strong I’s make great listeners, and people who are very good at building one-on-one relationships. Any great team needs to have a good balance of all types.

By understanding what type of person our colleagues are and what they need to work well, can help us understand and respect them better, particularly with open plan offices and as we move towards agile working.

Sensing/Intuition

This is about how you take information in.

Sensing types enjoy a learning environment in which the material is presented in a detailed and sequential manner. Sensing types often attend to what is occurring in the present. Sensing types are often short, sharp and to the point. Whereas intuitive types prefer a learning atmosphere they like as much information/background as possible or to go through everything including further research before reaching a conclusion.

In the workplace…

By understanding what type of person our colleagues and clients are we can learn to communicate better with them and avoid miscommunications. If they prefer the “executive summary” we can give it to them, if we know that they would prefer all the background information we can give it to them – even if it isn’t our own personal preference. However, it is important to remember that this will be influenced by confidence, a need to be through and a need to convince others.

Thinking/Feeling

This reflects a person’s decision preferences. Thinking types desire objective truth and logical principles and are natural at deductive reasoning. Feeling types place an emphasis on issues and causes that can be personalized while they consider other people’s motives.

In the workplace…

Different styles of decision-making can lead to conflict in the workplace. Often because one person does not understand how the other reached their decision.

Additionally, it can cause confusion and frustration when it comes to feedback in the workplace. There are two types of people those who need feedback and those who don’t. Those who are strong feelers need feedback and often think unless told otherwise that they are doing badly and need positive /reinforced feedback, whereas thinkers assume that until someone tells them otherwise they are doing fine. This can lead to difficulties. For example someone who doesn’t need feedback personally, may need to work at giving feedback to others (who do need it). Whereas thinkers if they do need feedback, might need to just get better at asking for the feedback to get what they need.

Whether you are a thinker or feeler, can also influence how you deal with conflict as feelers are more likely to do anything they can to avoid conflict in the workplace.

Judging/Perceiving

Here we are talking about how you live your life. (Life, not work). Judging types will thrive when information is organized and structured, and they will be motivated to complete assignments in order to gain closure. Perceiving types will flourish in a flexible learning environment in which they are stimulated by new and exciting ideas. Judging types like to be on time (in advance), while perceiving types may procrastinate and just meet the deadline.

In the workplace…

People who are strong J’s run things like a military operation with lists, plans and goals. If they work with people who are strong P’s they need to learn to work with and trust them to do the job. For example a strong J might get incredibly frustrated that they can’t close off a job without a contribution/input from a strong P who may not do their element of work until just before the deadline.

 

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