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Apr 21, 2011 in MBTI Talk | 0 comments

I was doing a Myers-Briggs® feedback session last week when my client started to disclose very private and personal information about himself. It reminded me that I am due to write about the importance of confidentially when using the MBTI® tool or other assessments. As MBTI® Certified Practitioners, we all need to assure our clients that any discussion we have with them related to the MBTI tool is confidential. The language I use is as follows: “Anything you and I discuss around the use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® tool will be confidential. I will share it with no one. You can share it with anyone you like.” Pay attention to that language carefully. I did not offer complete confidentiality, though for the most part I can offer that. There could be an incidence where a situation would need to be reported (workplace harassment, danger to self and/or others), so I only offer confidentiality that relates to our discussion around the MBTI tool. That said, it is crucial to our credibility and to the requirements of using the MBTI tool to honor the client’s confidentially. For example, never disclose a client’s type to others without that client’s consent. Following is a set of guidelines from the Association for Psychological Type International on ethical discussion about the instrument. Ethical Guidelines for Discussing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Instrument Identify type theory as the work of C. G. Jung and the instrument as the work of Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine C. Briggs. Present psychological type as describing healthy personality differences, not psychological disorders or fixed traits. Be adamant that all types are valuable: no type is better, healthier, or more desirable in any way. Describe preferences and types in nonjudgmental terms at all times; be aware of how your own type biases may influence your words. Present type preferences as tendencies, preferences, or inclinations, rather than absolutes. Stress that type does not imply excellence, competence, or natural ability, only what is preferred. Never imply that all people of a certain type behave in the same way; type should not encourage stereotyping or be used to put people in rigid categories. Explain how people sometimes act in ways contrary to their preferences because of pressure from family, relationships, job environment, or culture. Consistent forced use of non-preferences can cause stress. When describing preferences, distinguish between what has been shown by research and...

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Seasons of Opposites

Apr 19, 2011 in MBTI Talk | 2 comments

I was on a trip this past week, on which I got to see the end of winter and the beginning of spring. I sat in the warm mineral springs of Sierraville, west of Reno in the Sierra Nevada, while it snowed part of the day and the sun shined brightly the rest of the day. It made me think about the Myers-Briggs® type dichotomies, where we see opposites in action all the time. We even experience these opposites in ourselves daily. For some, it can lead to confusion about what their true type is. People ask me, “Why do I have to choose one preference over another when I do both?” I remind them that we all “do both,” but we tend to prefer one side (preference) of a dichotomy over the other. It’s like when I’m using one of my hands. I prefer to use my right hand when I write and do most things, but I need my left hand to provide support when the situation calls for it. Interestingly, I catch and juggle better with my left (non-preferred) hand, but with most everything else, my right hand is the one I prefer. With personality type, we have to remember that the MBTI® tool gives us important information about our preferences and we still have a choice in how we behave. This past week the sky offered two important opposites while I relaxed in the mineral springs. I had a choice to embrace both opposites, though overall I think I preferred the sunshine! Happy spring...

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Working with Personality Type—Part 4: Judging versus Perceiving

Apr 12, 2011 in MBTI Talk | 2 comments

Suggestions for people with a preference for Judging: Provide schedule and structure for those staff who need it, and work on being reasonably flexible for those who feel boxed in. Remember, not everyone works well when having to give constant updates. For people with a preference for Perceiving, progress reports disrupt the process. Give some space to let colleagues and direct reports complete projects in their own time frame. Challenge yourself with the question, “Do I really need a result on this date, or can I wait just a bit longer?” Never give your colleagues fake dates for projects to be completed. Once you are found out, they won’t trust any date you give them. Suggestions for people with a preference for Perceiving: Don’t impose last-minute decisions on those who prefer Judging. It is just not fair to use your type as an excuse. Don’t cancel planned meetings/activities unless you have a real reason to do so, and make sure you give plenty of heads-up time. Also, think about providing a positive example of using the pressure-prompted approach responsibly to other people with a preference for Perceiving. See my February 15 post “I’m Never Late” for more on this...

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Working with Personality Type—Part 3: Thinking versus Feeling

Apr 7, 2011 in MBTI Talk | 4 comments

Suggestions for people with a preference for Thinking: Think about giving positive feedback to people more regularly. Try to identify those people who gravitate toward this kind of feedback and those who don’t. If you see someone light up after hearing a positive comment, think about giving him those kinds of comments more frequently. Don’t fake it—be sincere. And try to resist focusing on what is wrong first. Instead, try to encourage what is right and then point out what needs to be improved. Suggestions for people with a preference for Feeling: Of course, you want to use more feeling with other people with a preference for Feeling, but also work on giving more direct and to-the-point feedback to those who have shown they are uncomfortable with your “nurturing style.” When you try to sandwich anything negative between two slices of positive, the message sounds muddled for a person with a preference for Thinking. Instead, point out what you think needs to be corrected and leave it at that. I play tennis with someone who has a preference for Thinking. I’ve learned that what might seem like an argument over a line call to me (Feeling) is just a discussion for him. Next: Judging versus...

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Working with Personality Type—Part 2: Sensing versus Intuition

Apr 5, 2011 in MBTI Talk | 0 comments

Suggestions for people with a preference for Sensing: If someone’s eyes are glossing over when you are talking to him, step back and try to give him some summary/big-picture information. Remember, people with a preference for Intuition likely won’t remember the detailed information you are giving them anyway. Also, when assigning a task to a person with a preference for Intuition, give him the framework for what you want but try to resist telling him exactly how to do it. That would be demotivating for him. While he might not say it, he might be thinking, “Well, if you know exactly how you want this done, then why don’t you just do it yourself?” Suggestions for people with a preference for Intuition: If someone starts asking you for more specific information, step back and start speaking as if you were jotting down sequential bullet points. Don’t jump around to different themes. People with a preference for Sensing prefer to get information in order. Try to be as specific and detailed as you can be—don’t assume they know what you are talking about. Also, explain your train of thought as best you can. Finally, be concrete and resist using metaphors, no matter how clever you think that might be. I sometimes get so proud at being able to connect two seemingly opposite ideas—people with a preference for Sensing just get annoyed. Next: Thinking versus...

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Working with Personality Type—Part 1: Extraversion versus Introversion

Mar 31, 2011 in MBTI Talk | 10 comments

I thought I would write about some basic ways to work with personality differences. These are simple things to think about, but they can be quite effective in your interactions with colleagues, friends, and family. Let me know if you have any additional suggestions. Suggestions for people with a preference for Extraversion: If someone is walking away while you are talking to him, stop where you are. Give him some space both physically and verbally. Also, think about pausing after you ask a question. Try counting silently for 10 seconds before asking the question again in a different way. Also, try not to misinterpret it when someone doesn’t seem as engaged as you are. Suggestions for people with a preference for Introversion: When someone asks you a question, sometimes your best response is, “Give me a minute to think about it.” That way, the person knows she has been heard. Work on paraphrasing and leaning forward for people who need more immediate communication. Remember, when a person with a preference for Extraversion interrupts you while you are speaking, it may just mean she is really interested in the discussion she is having with you. As someone with a preference for Introversion, I tend to close down when I’m interrupted. Instead, I need to try to stay in the conversation by interjecting (interrupting back) or at least to let the other person know to expect additional thoughts from me later that day. Be sure to check out the Introduction to Type® and Communication booklet. Next: Sensing versus...

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Mar 29, 2011 in MBTI Talk | 4 comments

I would really love to be more scheduled and organized. I would love to plan out my day and then work my plan, checking off each item as I go. Well, I say I would love this and yet for some reason this is not how I work. Truth be told, being scheduled and organized is not how I work best. So, I am making a vow right here and now to just accept who I am. It has worked for me. I’m no longer going to pretend to be someone I am not. It only leads to increased stress when I try to box myself in to being someone I am not. While my way of getting things done hasn’t always worked for others, I think I do a very good job of finishing work on time or even early. Just because I do this work in a pressure-prompted way, doesn’t mean it won’t be good. No big event has triggered this announcement. I just thought I would put it out there. Maybe it will help others who get down on themselves for not doing things like they have been told they are supposed to do them. All our lives we have been told to complete work within a particular structure. Remember grade school: the early bird gets the worm? If you are a parent, I hope you will take this into consideration with your own children. If you tend to be more scheduled, while your child is more open-ended, I hope you will allow him or her to explore the preferences with which he or she was born. Thanks for...

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Don’t Bring Me Down

Mar 24, 2011 in MBTI Talk | 0 comments

It is fascinating to see how I can let someone bring me down, get under my skin, or infuriate me, depending on how my day is going. When I’m having a good day (in type language, my dominant and auxiliary functions are rolling along with no issues and my tertiary and inferior functions only need to be on standby to help me flex), most things don’t bother me. On a bad day (too much stress), hot buttons appear out of nowhere. I was leading a program recently, and I called to the hotel’s room service for lunch to be delivered to the meeting room where the program was being held. The person delivering the food was clearly not having a good day. Upon setting the food down she started in with a scolding tone to let me know that food is not usually delivered to meeting rooms. When I thanked her for making the exception, she just gave me a blank stare. When I asked if a tip was already included (I asked to make sure she was getting a tip; she assumed I was asking why the 18% was already included), I could tell she was biting her tongue not to say something she would later regret. Again in her scolding tone, she told me I wouldn’t have to pay this extra amount if I just went downstairs and picked up the food myself. Because everything was in check with me (I was having a good day), I smiled wider and let her know that I appreciated the information and told her I hoped she had a good rest of the day. Now, if I were stressed for whatever reason, the situation would not likely have gone the way it did. Instead, I would have barked back and told this person a thing or two about how to treat a customer! Grrr! Of course, this would not have been an appropriate reply, especially with a room of participants eating lunch nearby. Stress can vastly affect how we express our type. It was clear to me that the person who brought my food was dealing with some kind of stress earlier in the day. Knowing what I know about type and stress, I was able to step back, understand what it feels like to be under stress, and provide some support that would not add to the stress this person...

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National Women’s History Month

Mar 22, 2011 in MBTI Talk | 0 comments

Did you know that March is National Women’s History Month? What better time to write a little about Isabel Briggs Myers. While it took some time for academics to catch on, she eventually came to be recognized as “a giant in the field of psychological measurement” (from Katharine and Isabel by Francis Wright Saunders) with the development of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) tool. Isabel was born to two brilliant and fascinating parents, who encouraged her to explore her interests, from writing to research and beyond. She was homeschooled for much of her early education and graduated first in her class from Swarthmore College in 1919, with a degree in political science. She spent many years, along with her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, exploring and developing the ideas behind the MBTI tool, which early on was called the Briggs-Myers Type Indicator. Her first publisher convinced Isabel to change the order to Myers-Briggs. In 1956, Isabel’s first presentation to a test publisher was before a room full of mostly men, whose mentors included Raymond Cattell, J. Paul Guildford, Harold O. Gullikson, and L. L. Thurstone. They were not overly impressed by the sight of “an older woman with graying hair tucked in a bun at the back of her neck, a face free of make-up, and attire that could hardly be described as the latest in fashion” (from Katharine and Isabel). After listening to Isabel’s ideas, one of the researchers in the room, David Saunders, realized that the MBTI tool was “potentially the best personality tool he had ever seen” (from Katharine and Isabel). Isabel’s work continued with an alliance with Dr. Mary McCaulley from the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Florida. They collected research together, and Dr. McCaulley worked to put Isabel’s “hand-worked data on the computer”. Together, Isabel and Mary established CAPT in 1974. In 1975, Dr. McCaulley placed a phone call to CPP (then Consulting Psychologists Press, named after the clinical practice established by our founder, Dr. John Davies Black). Mary spoke to Janice Strom, a CPP colleague I worked with for many years, and Janice spoke to Dr. Black, who called Dr. McCaulley back that same day. CPP became the publisher of the MBTI tool on September 5, 1975. Isabel died on May 5, 1980. She left behind an astounding legacy with her contributions to the psychological community and a family that continues...

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March Madness—It’s Here!

Mar 17, 2011 in MBTI Talk | 0 comments

Many of us are rooting for our favorite college basketball teams this month. The NCAA tournament is getting underway with all those “win it or go home” games on television, night and day. I’m already considering biting my nails. I’m rooting for the Stanford women’s basketball team. It’s senior year for Kayla, Jeanette, Melanie, Ashley, and Hannah, and I would love for them to go out with a national title. I’m also a big Tara VanDerveer fan! Of course all MBTI® types play basketball and every other sport. I read an article claiming that E-S-T-P preferences result in the best athletes. While we all need to use each of the preferences, I think I-N-F-J preferences also bring a lot to the floor, court, field, rink, and so on. Remember, any type can do anything! Also, I’m not even going to start to write about what MBTI type my favorite players might be. Who knows who these athletes really are when not under pressure to perform in front of thousands of people? I just hope each of them gets to bring who they are to the sport they love. Whichever teams win, I hope we can all appreciate the tremendous effort these college athletes give, each and every time they go out there. Go...

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