Personality and Meyers-Briggs: Go on Tell me about me

As I mentioned in my first post I recently left a job that I loved due to a personality conflict. This might seem like something I should have been able to get over or work through and that is possibly right. However my workplace had encouraged me to complete my Meyers-Briggs personality testing so I could see how I fit within our leadership team. Turned out that my personality and that of my direct supervisor were polar opposites, the combination of which made a toxic, divided, non functioning team.

Now I am willing to bend or change to an extent however there are somethings that are innate, that feel too hard to change, or that I value. It might seem crazy to rely so heavy on a test that takes less than 30 min to complete and an hour to really suss out and don’t get me wrong not everyone fits their profile 100%, but I thought it might be interesting to some to see a dissection of mine and encourage you to look into yours.

When I was first asked by my supervisor to complete the testing, I said that I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. In university I had to do it as part of my HR certificate, and the results didn’t feel right, they didn’t fit – I had completed it again more recently to different results that seemed more on par with me but because of the differences I didn’t really buy the assessment.

I did though want to show my willingness to be open to growth and to be part of the team so I decided to go with it; I was pleasantly surprised. My results came back similar to my more recent assessment. I believe what happened when I was younger is that I answered the questions with the lens of the person I thought I wanted to be. I wanted to really like being in big groups or thought that was important, I wanted to believe that feelings mattered more than logic, I wanted to be a ‘nice’ person – so I answered based on who I wanted to be and not who I actually am.

This go round I simply chose the answers that fit me, and came back with an INTJ/INTP – now I know it doesn’t seem right to have two and it’s not, but this time I also had the opportunity to sit down with someone trained in the assessment who got to walk me through each difference and dive a bit deeper. My assessment came out as INTJ and at work and during stress this fits me to a T, however at my natural way I am an INTP.

Now the first reaction from everyone person around me is there is no way I am an introvert. I am a social person, I genuinely like people and believe in the best in others. I also love my friends, and care for them deeply – I like to show my care and appreciation with gifts if possible or parties to bring those I care about together. I am also opinionated and not afraid to voice concerns. These things I believe is what leads people astray.

Introversion vs. Extroversion is about where you get energy, it’s not about how you interact with others. I can only recharge solo, usually either with a long hot bath, a book, or binge watching nonsense shows. If someone were to watch me carefully at a party I do socialize and talk to people, but often I’ll be hiding in the kitchen, prepping food or cleaning up. I just like having those I care about around me but by the end I am always exhausted, a good exhausted because my heart is full but exhausted. My understanding is that Extroverts would be jazzed and ready to go, that they feed off others energy.

I have a realization and a theory, the realization was my introversion when I became a mother. When you are a mother, you are non-stop, there is a little human or two that always needs tending, feeding, touching. I really struggled (still struggle) with small children and the constant interaction. Part of it is that kids are tiring, they just are but the other part is my craving for time alone, just being alone. When my daughter started preschool, I met a group of awesome mothers, one that I really like, admire and want to hang out with but I just couldn’t find the energy for play dates. I would feel bad that my kids would be missing out on hanging out with these great kids and felt like I should want to hang out too. I did/do want to but the larger part of me couldn’t/can’t find the energy and finds it just too much. I have been able to pull myself together and made friends (whom I hold dear) but as I said this took effort, I had to get out of my comfort zone, that was a revelation for me. Extroverts I feel like it wouldn’t be effort but maybe that’s a misconception too.

My theory is why I come across as extroverted; the natural thing is that no one is 100% intro or extroverted; we all hold characteristics from each group. My theory is that those that lack strong family unity have to adapt and become more social to fill their emotional support cups. Meaning if my family had tight bonds, if I was close with my parents and siblings than I wouldn’t need to create bonds with others and would be more ‘introverted’. The other part is I am and always have been high energy, I remember my mom comparing my sister and I and saying that she was the shy one, the quiet one. It was almost like I wasn’t allowed to be like that, now I know that probably wasn’t her intention but like a self fulfilling prophecy, I had to go out and not need her the way my sister did. In turn I became more extroverted where as my sister is a more classically introverted person.

I look at my father who spent his career in service to others, he is loud, opinionated, everyone knows he is in the room when he walks in kind of person. This same man happily hangs out in his room solo watching shows for the better part of 12-14 hours a day. When he was in his own home, he would go to the gym in the morning, get his socialization in and then go home to be alone. The nursing home always states that they try and get him to join activities with others and he just doesn’t seem interested. It’s not that he is depressed, it’s that he likes to be alone and only wants to visit with those he cares about, his family and friends from before – he is introverted.

The second composition of the Meyers-Briggs is the S or the N – standing for Observant or Intuitive. This is about energy, how we see the world and process information. Observants are the S, they a practical, have strong habits and tend to stick to how things are, i.e. more predictable. N is for Intuitive, they tend to be more curious, try for the why vs the acceptance, and try to think big picture. I’m pretty sure that the example given to me about this trait was having a group look at a picture and asking people to describe it – the S peeps go through and state exactly what in the pictures where as the N group would be able to think of a story behind the picture.

I think of this attribute like this, I was once told I am a change a day person. I like to find the best, most efficient, effective way to do things, always! I have always said I embrace change. Of course change can make me nervous because of the unknown however when change is about process maybe not so much people (those are not so much givens/change back-able), I am usually all for. At work we often get told that, that’s just the way it is, there is nothing more I hate than that answer. It is the most efficient way, is it the most fair way, is it the best way? No, no, no – then why is that ‘just the way it is’. The other way of looking at it, is those people that don’t stop asking questions. You know the ones that need the why.

I like to think this characteristic is beneficial because I am happy to learn anything like new computer programs on completely my own, give me something to learn, some time and I’ll get there. I’ll also happily create manuals, flow charts and directions for others. However this can also be exhausting, especially to those that don’t natural think this way, or those that want or need the known. They might not have the energy or wherewithal to withstand being questioned.

The next section is on your nature, how you deal with emotions and make decisions; Feeling vs. Thinking. You can probably guess the difference of the two but I would implore you to look deeper. I really struggled with the perception of ‘Feelers’ to the ‘Thinker’. I have often been accused of being insensitive, but I’m not, I am in reality extremely sensitive, sensitive but blunt.

The way is it described is that Thinkers hide their feelings, they value objectivity and logic over emotions whereas Feelers express their emotions, they value harmony and cooperation. The one that gets my goat is that it says Feelers are more empathetic, I would say this is not true. It is not using empathy correctly (see last post), Thinkers are empathetic through being objective. Harmony might be comfortable but it does not equal empathy. Facts matter and thinkers take facts into consideration when thinking of feelings. I searched out someone that was near my type with an F instead of the T to have a talk about what they thought the difference was or how they would react differently.

We talked about an incident with an employee that needed to be given some constructive feedback. They expressed concern over the employee’s feelings about receiving the feedback and about their own feelings about hurting the employee’s feelings. The feelings they didn’t think about was that of everyone else affected by the actions of the employee and how if it continued how it would hurt others. That took objectivity and thinking, so you see it’s not that Thinkers don’t feel (I mean some might not) but it’s that they feel for everyone involved not just themselves and one other. For myself I usually feel for everyone else first and then myself, yes having a difficult conversation with someone is hard and uncomfortable but what’s worse is having that person continue an action that’s not ok, that hurts others and results in them not learning or perhaps having others continually think poorly of them.

The other thing people will say is express how you feel versa how you think and maybe then they will respond positively. As a Thinker, this doesn’t make sense because feelings shouldn’t matter more than facts. Feelings are important and need to be validated but they shouldn’t take priority over facts. As a Thinker, I work through my feelings by looking at the facts of a situation, then I look at everyone involved, their capacity, their perspective and their feelings objectively. The truth is that somethings no matter how you frame them, or say them will upset people because they do not like the facts.

The last letter in type is Judging or Perceiving, this is all about how we work, make decisions and plan. This is where there is a very tenuous line for me – at work I have to be organized, thorough and decisive where as naturally I like to be open minded, see new things and be a bit up in the air. I always joke that I live in organized, disorganization. No one else can find what they are looking for in my chaos but I can, no probs.

When I got to sit down with the facilitator she describe it like such – if I was getting married would I start with a list or just go with a feeling. Apparently J types would make a list and just work down it, sort of like, venue – check, flowers – check, dress -check, etc. where a P type would have to think about the feeling they want to create, the atmosphere and then haphazardly put things together. I am a mix, 100%, I go for the big picture every time however to get there I have to make a list.

I love the comfort of knowing what to expect and routine, it makes life easier but I am comfortable with being flexible and changing needs, thinking on my feet. This is why it’s so tumultuous.

After getting all your letters together there is one more thing to consider and that is your Identity – you might be thinking well hey, didn’t we just go through all these different types but what it means is are you Assertive or Turbulent? This is a spectrum of how confident you are in your decisions and abilities. I am turbulent by only by a slight margin. Turbulent is self conscious and vulnerable to stress, they strive for perfection where Assertive are comfortable with themselves, resistant to stress and don’t push too hard to achieve goals.

The thing about the Meyers-Briggs and all other personality type testing i.e. DISC (the colours), the Process Communication, the Enneagram, etc. is that they don’t always if ever account for someone’s intelligence or almost never their experiences. So although they are a good place to start, they aren’t exact, they aren’t a blueprint more of a outline. An outline though can is a place to start, for you start understanding your nature and those that you interact with, another step in accepting each person as an individual.

I am including a link to my favorite site regarding the Meyers-Briggs – it offers descriptions of all 16 types with strengths and weaknesses, relationships, parenthood, work, all laid out so you can explore you. As you can see I didn’t accept exactly what everything says but was able to interpret it and apply it to my work and my life. By all means this isn’t a perfect science but I did find it helpful and kind of reassuring that some of me is nature; Nature is ok.

I also find it interesting and helpful in relationships which was the whole point of taking it in the first place. Follow the link below and share with me what you get, is it spot on? Could you have answered for what you want to be vs. how you really are? Let me know. The second link is just more light reading on the topic but very interesting.

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