I have given the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to over 7,000 law firm professionals since 1991 and have found it to be an extremely valuable assessment tool. If you have ever responded to a colleague’s actions by asking yourself “what were they thinking when…”, or “why did they respond to the situation that way, when I would have…?” then the MBTI could be helpful to you! Having conducted training workshops for marketing teams, new attorney orientations and Partner retreats, I’ve found that professionals derive the greatest value from the MBTI in the following three ways.
Taking the MBTI makes us even more aware of our preferences. It provides us with insight into how we communicate and work with others. Personally, I am a big-picture person; I love the strategy piece of my business and tend to get weighed down when there are too many details. Knowing that about myself, I like to be surrounded by detail oriented people to complement my big-picture thinking. I believe that one of our biggest challenges as human beings is that we often assume that everyone processes the way we do. Being keenly aware of your natural preferences and how they are different from others’ can make for much better relations!
Different often feels difficult
Have you ever felt that people you work with are driving you crazy? The reason is that different often feels like difficult. The MBTI gives us a vocabulary to understand how others process, make decisions and operate; often times in a way that is very different than what we prefer. Unfortunately, there will always be people who you find difficult to work with, but if you understand why they operate the way they do (because they see the world differently than you do), your tolerance for their behavior will increase. For example, do you focus on the big-picture, while your coordinator overwhelms you with details and asks lots of questions (that never crossed your mind) after you give her a project? By stopping to realize that she needs all the details in order to execute on the project, there is a good chance that you will feel less frustrated.
Bridging the communication gap
The MBTI gives us the tools to control how our communication is received by speaking in the language the person we are dealing with understands. Have you ever said A, B, C to someone and they heard X, Y, Z? For example, have you ever worked on a project for a Partner, found the correct answer and when you shared the perfect solution with them, their response was “can you show my some other possibilities?” This could be a case where you like closure and are comfortable making a decision, while the Partner needs to see more options before committing. In order to bridge that communication gap, it would be useful for you to present this person with several options before asking them to commit. You have the power to control the process by acknowledging and working with their style!