Like all personality assessment tools, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has both its admirers and detractors. At Brisbane Workplace Mediations, we have found the MBTI useful for the following reasons:
- It reminds us that we’re not all the same. This may seem blindingly obvious–which it is. At the same time, many people forget this truth when interacting with colleagues at work. It’s easy to assume that others will interact with us in a way which suits us, not them. In such cases, it’s best to replace the golden rule (treat others as you would like them to treat you) with the platinum rule (treat others as they would like you to treat them).
- Being familiar with the MBTI can help us when an conversation or relationship begins to deteriorate. It can help us identify our colleagues’ preferred communication styles, enabling us to recalibrate our own approach and convey our message more clearly.
The MBTI helps us understand our personal preferences in four key areas:
- Whether we gain energy from the outer world of people and activities (extraversion), or the inner world of ideas and feelings (introversion).
- Whether we take in information using the five senses (sensing), or using our sixth sense (intuition).
- Whether we base our decisions on logic (thinking), or values and emotion (feeling).
- Whether we prefer to make decisions (judging), or gather more information (perceiving).
These differences, if misunderstood, can lead to tension in the workplace. Here are a few tips for extraverts and introverts that will help you communicate more effectively. (Hint: read both lists! That way, you will understand both your preferences, and the preferences of those who are different from you.)
- Your off-the-cuff responses may inhibit the introverts, who prefer to think before they speak.
- Because you prefer to develop your ideas as you speak, others may find fault with your ideas before they’re fully developed.
- You prefer to make decisions when you have other people to share and critique your ideas.
- You enjoy discussion and negotiation with groups of people.
- Be careful that you do not achieve agreement purely by your strength of personality.
- You may tend to withdraw from a conversation if you believe that your contribution or your needs are being overridden.
- Because you prefer to develop your ideas before you speak, others may not understand how you have reached your conclusions.
- You prefer to make decisions by yourself.
- You prefer discussion and negotiation to be one-on-one, and you may need time alone to consider your options before reaching an agreement.
- Be careful that you do not acquiesce to other team members because you feel pressured in the moment.
When referring to personality preferences, an extravert is referred to as an E, while an introvert is referred to as an I. Either one becomes the first letter in the shorthand MBTI uses to describe personality type: an ESFP, or an INTJ. The intention here is not to put people into boxes; rather, it is to describe their preferred way of being in the world, measured against the four areas that the MBTI addresses.
In our next post, we’ll look at the difference between sensing and intuition. In the meantime, if you would like to explore the use of the MBTI within your team, feel free to contact us.