Monday, December 9, 2013

How to Apply Myers Briggs at Work or Home

Communication MBTI HR
So maybe you have heard of Myers Briggs or maybe you have not.  Either way, it is basically a tool used to identify your preferences for communication, how you digest information, and how you make decisions.

You could dedicate an entire day or workshop to Myers Briggs, but this is what I think is important.  Figure out first what your type is, then either guess what your coworker or manager's type is, or if they are open to it, have them literally take the assessment.  Click here for a free online one.

Then, use that information to communicate more effectively with others.  For example:

1.  Introvert vs Extrovert (Discard Stereotypes for a second).  Basically, I like to think of this as how you process information.  I personally am an introvert, and like to read up and do my own research before meeting up with others to discuss.  My manager on the other hand is an extrovert.  Extroverts usually like to hash things out verbally first.  It is how they process ideas.  I can email our Chief HR Officer a detailed email with all the information he requested, and he will email me back two words, "Let's discuss."  This used to frustrate me until I realized he could not fully process the information unless it was said out loud.  Now it does not bother me.  I simply walk into his office, and he reads his email while I am in the room.  See how understanding your colleague's type cannot only help you communicate more effectively, but also reduce frustrations around your communication differences.
2.  Sensors vs iNtuitives (Yes I capitalized the N on purpose).  As a sensor or "S" for short, I prefer information in details and facts, and then I will categorize them appropriately.  I also value data and accuracy and can take copious notes.  Ns or iNtuitives perceive the bigger picture and then store facts to use randomly.  Valuing speed, they tend to go with their gut on things.  This is good to know when you are presenting a new idea or any kind of information to someone.  As an S, to get my buy-in, you would want to present all the details and logistics.  However, if you are pitching to an N, you would probably want to focus on the bigger picture and the end game.
3.  Thinkers vs Feelers.  As a thinker, I tend towards analysis first, then apply my personal values, and then go back to rational analysis before reaching a decision.  Feelers will consider their values first, then analysis, then revisit through the lens of their values.  For example, when working on a team project, I would probably start with the objective, cover individual strengths on the team, and then want to discuss responsibilities and deliverables.  A feeler might prefer to start with an ice breaker and getting to know everyone on the team on a personal level first, and then tackle the business objectives.  This is good information to know when you are planning a meeting if you are a project manager or team lead, for example.  Know your audience and tailor the agenda accordingly.
4.  Judgers vs Perceptives.  They always say the Js judge the Ps.  As a J, you could tell me we were going to meet for coffee on November 12th at 10am at the local Starbucks 2 years from now (Yes, 2 years from now.  You did not read that wrong), and chances are, I would be there.  Ask a J at 11am if they want to go to lunch at noon, and they might ask you to check back at noon when you are leaving.  Js prefer to plan milestones to make their deadlines, whereas Ps can enjoy the roller coaster it sometimes takes to come through at the very end.  Neither is right or wrong, it just happens that most work environments prefer the J style.  Be aware though of your colleague's type.  As you can see in the picture above, we have our Myers Briggs types posted outside our work space.  This provides us a common language to use when communicating.

Sometimes, we will tease a P if he or she is approaching a deadline.  It feels less threatening in this context, then if we did not have Myers Briggs as a language tool, and it was perceived as simple nagging.  Your type is in no way to be used as an excuse, but it can provide a great foundation for further understanding.

It can also be used at home with your significant other or your family.  For instance, if you think your mom might be a feeler, you might want to frame your message around how the situation might affect your values and morals.  Or if your father-in-law might be an N, then you might want to try talking about your plans from a big picture view and about the end result of establishing a family tradition and legacy.  Get the picture?

Now, these again are only preferences.  It does not mean that you cannot be extroverted if you are an introvert.  It is only what you prefer to do if given the choice.  Many of us have already adapted or trained ourselves how to do both depending on the situation, but it is good to be aware of your default or go-to tendency.  If you take the Myers Briggs through a certified facilitator, your results might actually have scores attached to them.  Each letter can be felt on a scale of 1-30.  My scores are all less than 8, but I work with quite a few 30 Es.  The bigger the number, the more prominent that behavior shows up and is felt.  Of course, the opposite is true as well.  The smaller the number, the less likely you are going to feel that this is relevant at all, but that is because you do not have a strong preference either way.  I had one coworker who completely thought Myers Briggs was bogus, but he had also scored 1s and 2s in all 4 letters, which to me, just validated the test.

What is your type?  Do you know?  I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this.


  1. Raina, this makes so much sense. Thinking about some of our past conversations, and realizing why they are so helpful to both of us - even when it's been casual. I took this a while back and found that I am an INFJ. But I bet you already knew that. :)

  2. I just realized one thing about myself after reading this, I would definitely want to analyze it in order to decide which one I truly am first. I think people like my husband (who are great salespeople) really can detect what type of people they are dealing with and can change their delivery and approach rather quickly. He has been a manager, owner and salesperson for many years so I guess he has had practice. I'm sure I have some ability to do that, but this is something that I think would definitely help people deal with others in everyday life a whole lot because when we don't understand people, we tend to get frustrated with them.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Countdown in Style! Don't forget to stop by to see if you are featured on Friday! xo

  3. I've taken the Myers Briggs test several times over the years. Once somehow it showed that I was an extrovert but I think that was an off day. I think I bounce around in the other categories.

    I believe I took the one you referenced a few months ago but I went ahead and took it again. It said that I was ISFJ, with everything as a moderate preference over the other option, although I don't know how 25% is moderate.

  4. My result is ISFJ every time and I it explains my persona perfectly!

  5. I took a MB test long time ago. Reading your descriptions, I would say that I'm a ISTJ. I'll probably take it again, because it is helpful when dealing with other people. Thanks for sharing and linking up with Countdown in Style!


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