While learning about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a coworker and I had a conversation regarding our work interactions.This conversation presented such a surprising ‘ah ha’ moment for me. Prior to learning about the differences in our preferences, I had no idea the impact my type preference was having on my coworker given her type preference. Regularly, her feelings were being hurt by the way I interacted with her.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, identifies people's preferences in four areas: Introversion and Extroversion, Sensing and Intuition, Thinking and Feeling, and Judging and Perceiving. As an ISTP, my type preference involves a preference for Thinking; I am logical and analytical and have a strong drive to get to excellence in an objective and clear manner. As an individual with a preference for Thinking, I value systems over people. The coworker with whom I had this interaction is an ISFP. When interacting with my coworker who has a clear preference for Feeling, I was unintentionally offending her and hurting her feelings on a regular basis. When she would bring projects she’d been working on or present an idea that she had thought of, I immediately would zero in and begin asking questions regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the project or the idea. In learning about our differences due to our MBTI preferences, I discovered that this was offensive to her. The ‘ah ha’ moment came when I figured out how important it was to first acknowledge how hard she had worked on the project or the idea and to thank her for the work she had done. It was important to focus in on the strengths and the time invested before critiquing the weaknesses.
Through studying MBTI, I have learned 3 really important truths:
1. Not everyone thinks like I do
We have all heard this at some point in our lives! However, the MBTI can help you understand how you think and how it is different than others. The preference pair of Sensing vs Intuition creates a fascinating distinction in how people think. When I tell you a story, I want to give you all the background information (usually provide a chronological sequence), leading you from the beginning, through all the important details, to the end point in which I reveal the main idea. My preference is Sensing. If your preference is Intuition, I will probably drive you crazy when I tell you a story or present an idea! Individuals with a preference for Intuition like to get to the main point immediately. The sequential, chronological aspect of a story is not a priority. Their thinking is more thematically based. For those with a preference for Sensing, such as I have, you can alter your story telling or idea presentation if you know you are speaking to someone with a preference for Intuition. They will listen more attentively and in the end hear you better.
2. Not everyone acts like I do
If you were to call me up and ask me if I wanted to go for a hike and could I be ready to leave in 10 minutes, I would easily drop my plans to stay in and watch a movie and head out the door. I have a preference for Perceiving. If you have a preference for Judging, this might not be something you would do. You prefer a plan, a structure, a system. In addition, people with a preference for Perceiving are very comfortable procrastinating. They feel like they often do their best work at the last minute. This type of behavior is incomprehensible for people with a strong preference for Judging. Why wait to the last minute to get something done when you could get it taken care of now and not have to worry about it later?
3. Not everyone interacts like I do
I do like people, but if I spend an extended period of time with other people, I end up wiped out! It is really important to me to have time to ‘recharge’ after being ‘over-peopled’. I have a clear preference for Introversion. People with a preference for Introversion gain energy from being alone. In contrast, individuals with a clear preference for Extraversion gain energy from being with people. They get charged from people. Oftentimes, those with a preference for Extraversion feel compelled in social situations to help draw out their friends with a preference for Introversion. They want to help them out...Please don’t! Instead, if you could recognize that they may be ‘over-peopled’ and just give them some time to regroup, that would be more helpful. However, in professional situations, such as meetings, it can be very valuable to allow space for those with a preference for Introversion to have an opportunity to voice their opinions.
We all have all heard multiple times in our lives that people think, act, and interact in ways that are different than us. The learning I gained through the MBTI training has grown my understanding of the diversity found in people and the value in understanding that diversity.
Written by Christa Sandidge, M.Ed
The Center for Professional Development
The Center for Professional Development at NNU is Idaho's premiere provider of professional development for teams, leaders, and organizations. We offer workshops throughout the year in multiple subjects. If you are interested in the workshops we offer please go to cpd.nnu.edu/workshops for Spring 2017’s complete lineup.