I recently did a couple of Instagram stories on personality “types” and boy-oh-boy was there a lot of interest. So, I thought I’d write a blog as well, so there isn’t a 15 second limit to the information you can take in.
But before I dive into the MBTI, I can already hear the haters out there. There are a lot of people out there that say this is pseudoscience, and the founders were just two, stay at home wives that didn’t know anything about research and cooked these ideas up in their kitchen (yes, that is something someone actually said that to me). And arguably, a lot of psychologists tend to lean towards the Five-factor model when looking into personality – Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience. So, this model, developed by Costa and McCrae is probably one of the most popular theories.
I don’t really care tooooo much about the distinct nuances of which personality test is “more scientifically viable.” I think anything that gets you looking a little closer at…YOU, is a good idea. With that being said, whenever you take any sort of personality test or indicator, take everything you read in those measurement tools with a grain of salt. Because, we are human beings with our own free will, and NOTHING should ever just lump you into a bucket and say, “this is the way that you are.”
What the MBTI teaches is that we have innate PREFERENCES, meaning some things just come a little more natural to us, and certain ways of being make us feel a little more at ease within ourselves. It is NOT saying that you can’t be more than one way – that you can’t act extroverted if you are introverted. Some of us wear so many different “hats” or “masks”…..”we all wear masks….metaphorically speaking” (Jim Carrey…The Mask…Anyone…?)
Sometimes we need to act differently at work than we do at home. There are some performers out there, who seem very gregarious on stage, but then when you see them outside of their performance arena and they are actually quite quiet.
The MBTI is about getting to the bare bones of WHO you are when you are at home, with your feet up and don’t have to worry about the judgements of the world around you.
Basically, the MBTI answers four questions about your INNATE (inborn) preferences:
- How do I get energy?
- How do I collect/gather information?
- How do I make decisions?
- How do I deal with the outer-world?
The MBTI questions are to be answered by you as your “natural self”, away from the roles you play (so, as mentioned from above – not who and how you are at work). You are then given a four-letter code that shows your INNATE preferences in how you navigate the world.
This can be tough for people. As I mentioned above, the hats and masks that we wear might be something that we have been doing for SO long, that we don’t even know the person that we are behind those masks. We just take on a role and that is the person that we have decided to become… even though it may exhaust us and doesn’t feel right. A preference is just – how you’d prefer to be. Maybe not how you are all of the time. Because of our different roles, we need to adjust who we are throughout the day.
Okay. To answer the questions above, you can be:
- Introverted (I) – Extraverted (E)
DROP the definitions of shy and outgoing, because that’s not what these words mean.
The question is: “How do I get energy?”
Are you energized from the outer-world? (E)
From people? (E)
Through verbal communication? (E)
Or, do you find it energizing to focus on the “inner world” (reflection and solitude)? (I)
Do you prefer communicating through written language? (I)
One of my biggest pet peeves about the introversion, extroversion scale is that people think that introversion is synonymous with being shy or having anxiety. That is not the case at all, being an introvert doesn’t mean you don’t like talking to people. It means that there is more selection in the people that you talk to, the conversations that are had and the amount that the conversation is craved.
- Sensing (S) – Intuition (N)
How do I collect/gather information?
Do you often ask – “prove it,” and look for data, details and proven facts – concrete and verifiable information? (S)
Do you look at proven ways of doing things when approaching problem solving? (S)
Do you do things in a sequential order? (S) That’s Sensing.
Or, do you prefer to look at the big picture?
Speak with metaphors? (N)
Look for future possibilities? (N) That’s Intuition.
A person who has a preference for Intuition won’t say, “prove it”, they will say “trust me”.
- Feeling (F) – Thinking (T)
How do I make decisions?
Do you take relationships into consideration when making decisions/dealing with conflict? (F)
Would you consider yourself empathetic? (F)
Do you consider how your decisions will affect people? (F)
Those are things that a person with a preference for Feeling would do.
Or, do you tend to look at situations objectively, you “step out” instead of “stepping in” to a situation? (T)
Do you take a “mission first” mentality, based off of logic and reason? (T)
Mission first mentality is considered a ‘Thinking’ preference.
- Judging (J) – Perceiving (P)
How do I deal with the outer-world?
Again, drop the “traditional” definitions that you have for these two words. If you have a preference for Judging, it doesn’t mean that you are a big ‘ole judger, making opinions of everyone and everything you see. The judgers are the “to-do” list people, they start projects early (so they can finish early), they like to plan ahead and don’t necessarily like last minute changes. They like structure and order; they like closure.
People who have a preference for Perceiving are those who get energized from last minute deadlines (remember those classmates in university who would start their paper the night before it was due, work through the entire night… and they’d still get a great grade?) They are adaptable, flexible and like to keep their options open for any opportunity that may arise.
One of the things that I really like about the MBTI, is that you aren’t DUMPED into an Either/Or – you either like being around people, or you don’t. If you ever complete the inventory, you get placed on a sliding scale. It’s a continuum. You can be an Introvert, with what’s called “out of preference tendencies”; an introvert who has extroverted tendencies. It’s important to recognize that we are all unique individuals and one INFJ may look like another INFJ, may look PARTLY like another INFJ, or will look nothing like another INFJ.
If you are into these sorts of online assessments, you can definitely find someone who administers the MBTI (lol and no this isn’t a pitch to do it with me – there are lots of great people out there).
Cheers to learning more about your self.