Archive for August, 2014

“I Can’t Decide What Type I am!” – Part 1

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

According to the manual on the MBTI, around 25% of the people who take the MBTI score close to the middle on one or more of the dimensions.  Although some of those people are able to identify their preferences in spite of their slight scores, other people aren’t able to identify their preferences in spite of their clear scores. So let’s say it evens out, and for around 25% of the people who take the MBTI, their type is still an open question even after they’ve received their report forms. 

The PEOPLE Process Type Wheel

The PEOPLE Process Type Wheel

If you believe that making a person familiar with their natural gifts and course of development is a worthwhile pursuit, then it probably bothers you when that’s not easy, and sometimes nearly impossible, to do. You’d probably like to know more about why people sometimes can’t decide what type they are, and what can be done about it. 

To get closer to some answers on these questions, we’re going to use as an example a man named Bob. He’s a real person who has not been able to decide on his type in 13 years! Bob first took the MBTI in 1977 and came out ISFP, but he didn’t feel that the profile fit him entirely. Since then he’s taken it 12 times, each time coming out a different type, each time feeling the profile didn’t entirely fit him.

You may be wondering why he doesn’t just drop the search for his type if the theory doesn’t seem to be working for him. “I’ve tried,” he says, “but it’s like one of those birthday candles that won’t go out when you blow it. I put it aside but I keep coming back to it.”

Bob is looking to the MBTI to give him guidance in making a mid-life career change. He’s been a successful lawyer, but he hasn’t been happy as a lawyer. “I had to work so hard just to keep up that it wasn’t fun. I saw other lawyers around me going great guns and still enjoying themselves. I want to find a career where I can do the same. I feel that if I knew my true type, I could start laying out a plan consistent with that type.”

We talked to some of the MBTI experts who have had experience with people who have a hard time deciding on their type. We’re going to tell you what they recommend, and how it worked for Bob. In this issue we’ll look at what the experts recommend you do in a workshop setting to help people decide on their type, and how Bob reacted to these experiences. He is a good example of how frustrating, fascinating, and eventually satisfying it can be to help people find their true type.

Tell them it’s normal and give them some time.
For most of the people who are uncertain on one or more of the dimensions of the MBTI, time usually takes care of the problem. After they’ve had some time to absorb the definitions of the functions and observe their own behavior, their type usually becomes clear to them.

If you’re giving a workshop on type, it’s probably a good idea to tell people up front that they may not be able to decide their type in the course of your workshop. Tell them that initial uncertainty about your type is normal. You don’t want to cause them any stress because they don’t fit into the theory right away. Be as general, positive, neutral, and non-suggestive as you can be about this issue.

And you might mention that some people may never be certain about what type they are. Some people are just more distinctly a type than others. You can see this even in small children. Some have a clear sense of who they are when they’re very young, some don’t have a clear sense of who they are until 30 or 40, and some are never sure. The important thing is, for most of these untypical people, it’s not a problem. It’s no big deal.

Time and observing his own behavior did not help Bob decide on a type. In fact, the more time went by, the more uncertain he became. But Bob continued to pursue his type because of his own feeling that he had to know, not because poor training had made him feel that something was wrong with him.

Give them a variety of experiences in a workshop.
We talked to Janet Thuesen and Otto Kroeger, a team that has trained at least 10,000 people in type theory in the last 10 years and recently co-authored the book Type Talk (Delacorte, 1988). They said that a good way to help people decide what type they are is to offer them a variety of experiences in a workshop, especially the experience of being put into groups with others who are supposed to be the same type as they are, and seeing if they experience agreement and similarity.

In one of the first workshops on the MBTI that I attended, the trainers asked all the Introverts to get into a group and all the Extraverts to get into a group. In the group of Introverts we were asked to answer the questions:

What do you like about being an Introvert? What don’t you like about being an Introvert? What do you like about Extraverts? What don’t you like about Extraverts?

Then we reported back to the group on what we had talked about and heard the Extraverts answer the same questions. We did the same thing on all four of the dimensions. I remember how powerful an experience that was for me. I still remember a woman saying “When I hear Extraverts talking about what they’re going to do today, it makes me tired. I couldn’t possibly do all that in one day!” We all laughed and nodded our heads in agreement. That kind of clicking with other people strengthened my certainty that type worked, and that I was an Introvert.

I’ve also been present in several type-alike groups since then where it became clear that one of us did not belong in that group. It’s an excellent method for helping people get clarity on their type. But it didn’t work for Bob. He attended one workshop where people were asked to go into groups with their like types and answer questions such as “How are you in a team?” and “How are you as a leader?” It didn’t settle anything for him. “I went around and listened to different groups, and read the things they put up on the wall, but none of the groups rang out loud and clear to me,” he said.

Ask them to read several profiles and mark the parts they agree with.
Another thing Otto Kroeger recommends for people who can’t decide what type they are is that they do some homework. Their assignment is to read profiles on all the types that they might be, and mark the lines they agree strongly with, then add them up at the end. I did this with my husband when he was uncertain if he was an INTP or an ENTP. He had a terrible time deciding if he was an Extravert or an Introvert in the abstract, but he agreed with every line of the ENTP profile and not a single line of the INTP profile.

But Bob has been doing this kind of thing for 17 years. He has every book of profiles that has been published, and they’re all underlined and checked and X’d. However, none of the profiles really fits him completely, and over time.

Most of the profiles have some things that sound true for Bob, and some things that don’t. And on some days he feels like one type but the next day it might change. And sometimes it doesn’t even take a day. Before breakfast, he may be reading the profiles of the INFP and identifying with them, but later in the day, the ESFP and ISFP may sound better to him. For several days he may write in his journal about how he’s an SJ, but today write that he must be an SP because he feels so impulsive, playful, and physical.

Ask them to discuss it with people who know them.
The third thing Otto Kroeger suggests is that you ask people who know you well what they think. When I asked Bob to tell me the name of someone who knows him fairly well, and also knows type, he mentioned Katherine Myers, an INFP who has been familiar with type for most of her life.

Kathy Myers told me: “His endless searching for self, and his insistence that he know what is at the core of him before he can make any decisions, reminds me of an INFP. It’s a weakness of the INFP, in fact. Like other NFs, INFPs need to operate out of their core, to be true to themselves. But without the E or the J to pull them out into the world, INFPs can really get stuck trying to figure themselves out.”

“In more specific ways he also reminds me of an INFP. He’s very much in tune with other people, and responds to them so that they feel good about themselves. He speaks quietly, about things he’s enthusiastic about. He entertains beautifully, but he’s not a hail-fellow-well-met. He does it quietly and graciously. I’ve been trying to get him off this obsession with knowing what type he is. He feels he can’t move or decide on a career until he does. I tell him that he’s fortunate to be able to use each of the functions when it’s appropriate.”

I told Kathy Myers that I had two doubts about Bob being an INFP. One was that when he was young, he became a leader at just about every opportunity. He rattled off a dizzying list of leadership positions. He was president of his junior class in high school, and then of the whole student body in his senior year. A high school teacher told his parents he had never seen a better leader come through the system. In college, he was captain of his football team, president of his college fraternity, president of the leadership fraternity, and voted the best leader in his senior class. And all through his legal career, people were trying to persuade him to go into politics.

Why, I asked Kathy, would an Introvert place himself so often in front of, and in the middle of, groups? I could see an Introvert being the leader of a group if they all shared a passionate interest, but Bob seemed to be the leader of a variety of groups, with no particular shared interests.  “Introverts can often be leaders,” Kathy said. “I’m an Introvert and among other things I was the editor of the school paper, and voted most likely to succeed.”

And then I told her that in many hours of listening to Bob talk, I had never heard him make a large generalization, which Intuitives seem to need to do as much as they need to breathe. And when asked a question about his preferences, he referred to something he had done recently, instead of looking at his behavior over a lifetime and observing patterns. I’m usually hungry for specifics when I’m listening to Intuitives. When I’m listening to Bob, I’m hungry for a generalization.

Kathy said he seemed to be comfortable talking about the type theory, which was fairly abstract. She also said that she doubted an S would spend this much time trying to find out who they were. And I had to agree. If Bob was unlike any Intuitive I’d ever listened to, he was also unlike any Sensing type I’d ever listened to.

It’s hard for some people to put a type on themselves because on one or more of the dimensions, they really do have attributes from both sides. When you ask them to choose a type, you’re asking them to deny something about themselves that is important, but not typical.

To be continued…..

The TYPE Reporter, Excerpt from Vol. 5, No. 2, written by Susan Scanlon www.thetypereporter.com

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a trademark or registered trademark of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries.

 

Our Favorite Type Breakthroughs

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

The TYPE Reporter, Excerpt from No. 102, Part 4, by Susan Scanlon.        

Naomi Quenk, INFP          

The PEOPLE Process Type Wheel

The PEOPLE Process Type Wheel

Naomi Quenk was introduced to the MBTI 47 years ago and has been working with it ever since. She has been active in setting policy for its ethical use, researching, teaching and writing on many aspects of type, and used the MBTI in her clinical practice for over 25 years. She served as President of the Association for Psychological Type from 1985-1987. She is the author or co-author of numerous publications on type, including the 1998 revision of The MBTI Manual, and several books, including, Was That Really Me?: How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality; In the Grip: Understanding Type, Stress, and the Inferior Function (2nd ed.); and Essentials of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment.(www.capt.org.) 

Once, an ESTJ woman and I got into a conversation about our favorite ages for our children. She said, “My favorite age for my children was when they were infants.” I said, “Mine too.” She said, “I like infants because you can totally control them.” I said, “I like infants because you don’t have to control them.”

As a result of that experience, I never assume I know someone’s type because of some behavior.  I realized that people can have identical behaviors for completely different reasons.

When I was a clinician in private practice,  I got a message on my answering machine from a man saying he would like to see me for the first time, and he would like an appointment at 11 o’clock next Thursday.  At first I took offense at his assumption that he could tell me when his appointment would be.  Then I thought, well, wait a minute, the chances are this guy is some kind of TJ who has spent quite a long time deciding if he would go into psychotherapy, and once he made his decision, he was anxious to get on with it.  That turned out to be the case, and I’m glad I had a chance to reflect because it prevented me from approaching this guy with a bias.  

I sometimes hear people automatically assume that Js are doing things just to control people.  It irritates me, because that is rarely their purpose.  Js are just trying to do what they’re best at, which is to get the world organized and to get on with it.  Actually, when it comes to controlling people, I’ve seen some Ps do that really well.

****************

Because our children grew up with type, they totally rejected it.  They used to get irritated with us and say, “Can’t you watch a TV program without typing everyone?!”  My daughter would have nothing to do with type and wouldn’t take the Indicator, but when she was about 14, I caught her in a weak moment and said, “Would you at least read the type description that I think you might be?”

She read the profile of the INFP and got this sheepish expression on her face. “Well, yes,“ she said, “but wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone were an INFP?”

“Oh my Goodness,” I thought. “I’ve spent my life teaching people to respect differences and this is what my own daughter thinks.”

****************

In my experience, INFPs can sometimes be quite resistant to type.  They seem to be defending their individuality, and saying, “Nobody’s going to tell me that I can only be one of 16 types.”

****************

I counseled one couple where the husband was an ESTJ and the wife was an ENTP. One of his big complaints was that he’d come home from work and see a pile of clean laundry on the couch. The next day, however, it would still be there. It stuck in his craw, and he wondered how it was possible for his wife not to notice it.

I said to him, “You notice the laundry and it’s hard to go about what you’re doing with it there.” “That’s right, he said, and he seemed relieved that I could see it from his point of view. Then I said, “But she really doesn’t notice it. She’s busy with the kids, and she’s not looking at the details. It’s just not important to her to have things in their place like it is for you.”

At the next session he told me, “If it’s a fact that having the laundry put away is important to me and not to her, I will do it from now on.” Once it became a fact, he could fit it into his system, and deal with other things that were important to her and not to him.

****************

When my daughter was getting her library degree, she did a research project on the MBTI and children’s reading preferences. Teachers and librarians assume that children read fiction for fun, and non-fiction because they have to for a school project. But she discovered that little Ss read non-fiction because they love it.

One mother came in dragging her son and asked, “What have you got for an 8-year old who hates to read?” My daughter asked the boy what he was interested in. He said, “Airplanes.”  My daughter gave him a half dozen books on how airplanes work, the people who fly them, and their history. A week later, the mother came back and said,  “I don’t know what you did to him, but he read all those books and he wants more!”

Sensing children often get labeled “reluctant readers” because they are not reading what teachers give them to read.  It’s just that they often don’t want to read about imaginary people.  They want to read facts about the things that they are interested in and the adventures of real people.

****************

My daughter also learned from some of the mothers she interviewed that Introverted children often come to story time and just sit there and don’t participate in anything.  Their mothers reported however, that as soon as they got home, the kids would take their teddy bears or their younger brothers and sisters, and tell them the story.  They just needed to get out of the group setting to “participate.”

(Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a trademark or registered trademark of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries.)

A Great Destroyer Of Teamwork – The Fundamental Attribution Error

Friday, August 15th, 2014

We human beings have a tendency to falsely attribute the negative behaviors of others to their character, while attributing our own negative behaviors to environmental factors. 

The PEOPLE Process Training Manual & Participant Package

The PEOPLE Process Training Manual & Participant Package

In other words, if I see a woman being impatient with her children at the grocery store and giving them a swat, I think, “that is a mean woman.” While, when my own kids are driving me crazy and arguing with me and I give them a swat, I think, “I’ve got some really unruly children.”

We tend to like to believe that we do bad things because of the situations we are in, but somehow we assume that others do bad things because they are predisposed to being bad.   

In the same way, we often attribute other people’s success to their environment and our own success to our character.  That’s because we like to believe that we are inherently good and talented, while others are merely lucky, beneficiaries of good fortune.

This fundamental attribution error often creates misunderstanding and distrust among team members.  By getting to know one another better and understanding our personality tendencies, team members can often avoid this problem.

Personality-type training can eliminate the “Fundamental Attribution Error.”

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) & Personality Type

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

The Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence*

  • Self-awareness
  • Emotional management –  being aware of your emotions and how you play those out
  • Motivation –  being able to defer gratification
  • Interpersonal sensitivity – empathy with other people
  • Ability to influence others
  • Intuitiveness –  the ability to make a decision when you don’t have all the data by drawing on deep experience
  • Consciousness –  that is linked to integrity   

“Emotional intelligence (EQ) is really a combination of a few things,” says

The PEOPLE Process Training Manual & Participant Package

The PEOPLE Process Training Manual & Participant Package

Professor Malcolm J. Higgs.  “What makes you do, what are the consequences? What happens to your behaviors? If you are angry you can’t change being angry but you can understand that you become irrational or deal badly with others when you are angry. It’s understanding all that and based on that understanding having the ability to be able to do something about it,” he explains.

“Part of it is, for want of a better word, self-awareness: Let me be self-aware, let me know how my emotions impact on my behaviors. Secondly, let me try and manage that and use that knowledge to become more effective and the third piece is to understand how other people react to situations and why they may be behaving the way they do and then try to adapt my behavior to try and take that into account,” he says.

Successful leaders tend to be equipped with strong social skills and, in fact, a wide body of research shows that leaders have high levels of EQ, but not all entrepreneurs do. People won’t develop EQ unless they want to or are motivated to do so. It’s not a matter of having or not having EQ – you just need to want to improve. EQ training is about understanding people, and getting them on your side through influence and persuasion.

Emotional intelligence is a term used to describe a complex ability to regulate your impulses, empathize with others, and persist and be resilient in the face of obstacles. Developing your emotional intelligence will help you enhance your leadership abilities, enrich your relationships, extend your influence, and expand the personal resources you can call on to manage life’s mental demands.

An in-depth study and thorough understanding of psychological type can aid in the development of your emotional intelligence. Psychological type, as developed by Dr. Carl Jung, explores people’s preferences for four mental processes – Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling – and their tendency to focus more on the outer (Extraverted) or inner (Introverted) world. These mental processes and orientations work in a dynamic way to influence what people see and evaluate in life, and this dynamic affects all their choices and actions.

When you learn to appropriately access the eight mental processes that make up the model of psychological type, you achieve a level of understanding that offers a practical way to expand your emotional intelligence by enabling you to become more conscious of choices you can make to be effective. The mental processes of Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling differ markedly when Extraverted and Introverted. These differences result in the eight mental functions we use to take in information and decide how to respond to that information. Our preferences among these eight mental functions are what produce our type. The four letter code gives us direction about our preferences.

These eight areas of awareness represent the eight mental functions of psychological type. Getting in touch with your use of these eight aspects of your mental operations is a major step toward greater self-awareness and interpersonal awareness, which enriches your emotional intelligence. We each use all these processes in Extraverted and Introverted forms, but we tend to rely most heavily on our dominant and auxiliary, or our most preferred, functions.

Using some of the functions comes more naturally to you, but part of developing your type involves being able to access each of these functions in the appropriate situation. Doing so enables you to increase the range of behaviors available, representing a significant step toward greater personal efficacy and emotional intelligence.

These eight functions make up the engine of your personality. They provide the source of analysis, reaction, adjustment, and stability in your character on which you can depend. The most complete depiction of these eight functions is in the dynamic relationship that exists each moment in the exchange of energy between you and those around you.

Personality, emotional intelligence, and performance are interdependent factors in your daily experience. When you have an expanded emotional intelligence and a balanced personality, you have a healthier lifestyle, stronger relationships, and overall greater satisfaction and performance in your chosen work. Studies conclude that strong emotional intelligence among leaders aids employee retention, productivity, and performance. Those leaders who consistently exhibit sensitivity to the range of needs and individual differences in their organizations get the best performance results.