This post follows on from our earlier post about extraverts and introverts. It’s the second of a series of posts about the use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in the workplace.
The second dimension in the MBTI identifies our preferred style for taking in information. On one hand, there are people who enjoy working with the specifics, who become engrossed with facts and figures. The MBTI describes them as sensing. Then there are those who tend to use their sixth sense, who prefer to look at the big picture. The MBTI describes these folk as intuitive. (Because we’ve already identified some people as introverts, or Is, the MBTI uses the letter N to indicate an intuitive personality type. It helps avoid confusion. Someone whose prefers to focus on the specifics is referred to as an S. )
Obviously, having a strong preference for either sensing or intuition can create problems in the workplace. Working with data without understanding their context can lead to disaster, as can unfettered blue-sky thinking. Fortunately, most people develop some complementary skills in this area–but we still have a preferred way of taking in information about the world. If we’re stressed, we tend to default to type. Here are some ways that this can lead to tension in the workplace.
- You may address a problem or a conflict by focusing on the facts and details surrounding the issue, at the expense of the big picture.
- You may prefer to address the issue in a structured manner, to ensure that you identify all the relevant details. For this reason, you may find it useful to follow a checklist or an agenda.
- You prefer straightforward solutions.
- Your approach to problem solving and organisational changes is more likely to be evolutionary.
- You may not trust your intuition, or the intuition of others.
- You may address a problem or a conflict by looking at it from a global perspective, at the expense of evidence, or concrete examples.
- You prefer to approach the issue laterally, and may find an agenda or checklist constrictive. You are more likely to use that list as a launch pad for your ideas.
- You prefer novel or unusual solutions.
- Your approach to problem solving and organisational changes is more likely to be revolutionary.
- You may make mistakes when working with facts or detail.
We can achieve more by collaborating with people who see the world from different perspectives. A sensing person and an intuitive person working in harmony may achieve more than two sensing types, or two intuitive types. They’re able to cover each other’s blind spot, and develop a richer shared appreciation of the issues they’re facing. Of course, this means setting aside the belief that our way of seeing the world is far superior!
The next step is decision-making. We’ll check it out next week.