Tools for Effective Communication

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is based on one of the most comprehensive theories of human personality developed by C.G. Jung, a Swiss Physician and psychologist. The MBTI is an extremely useful and practical assessment tool for understanding the differences in human being’s desires, motivations and instincts. The MBTI is only administered by certified professionals who have completed a five day program and passed a certification exam.

The MBTI is an easy to use questionnaire which reveals your natural preferences, strengths and temperaments. It is a self-affirming assessment tool that can help you identify your strengths and assist you in defining where they can best be applied. In addition, the Myers-Briggs can also enable you to communicate and work more effectively with people whose style of operating is different from your own.

The Myers-Briggs measures four different dimensions of personality and has two possible preferences for each dimension. The first dimension indicates your orientation toward the world and your source of energy. Your preference is either to be Extroverted or to be Introverted. Extroverts get their energy from being with others; they are outwardly focused. Introverts, however,  get their energy from going inside of themselves; their orientation toward the world is internally focused. Knowing your type will help you to understand things such as why you need to be alone to recharge after a long day, while your best friend chooses to go to a party after a stressful day at work and finds this experience energizing.

The second dimension of the MBTI has to do with how we take in information. In this dimension there are Sensors and Intuitives. Sensors take in data through the five senses. They focus on facts and tend to be practical and realistic. Intuitives jump to the meaning behind facts. They look for patterns and themes when they take in information. While Sensors see each tree in the forest, Intuitives tend to see the forest not the trees. If you think you do both, see the trees and the forest, you are correct. The key is to recognize which is your dominant preference. When you understand your preferred way of operating, then you will be better able to take advantage of your strengths.

The third dimension of the indicator reveals how you make decisions. Thinkers tend to make decisions based on logic and objective analysis of data. The goal of Thinkers is to be fair and just. Feelers make decisions based on their internal value system. Feelers have a great need for harmony and will do whatever is needed to preserve relationships.

The last dimension of the MBTI identifies the style in which we live our lives. Judgers enjoy making decisions and have great need for closure. Judgers crave structure and like to plan their lives so they can feel in control. Perceivers, on the other hand, prefer flexibility and spontaneity. For them, making decisions often leaves them feeling like they are closing off options. Perceivers are usually more interested in the process than they arein the result. I have found that in many couples one partner is a Judger while the other is a Perceiver, which can result in conflict. For example, I am a Judger and I like to plan everything! My husband, however, is a Perceiver and prefers to “play it by ear.” Since becoming familiar with the Myers-Briggs, we are both better able to understand and resolve the conflict that arises every Friday afternoon when I say “What do you what to do this weekend?” (and mean what would you like to do Saturday morning, afternoon, evening, etc.) and he replies “Can’t we just see how we feel when we wake up?” (for him the difference between workdays and weekends is that you don’t have to plan your weekend). Now we both understand that we have different needs. Our solution is to compromise and let each person plan part of the weekend and be spontaneous the other part.

I love the Myers-Briggs! I have seen it help many people by providing them with the self-knowledge that enables them to make better career and life decisions. As soon as we understand how those in our lives prefer to function, we can better understand the reasons behind their decisions and we can move towards better communication and relationships. I would like to stress, however, that the MBTI is not a panacea and it does not give you answers to all of life’s questions. What it will do, is confirm information about yourself that you probably know on some “gut” level and it will describe this information in a clear and useful manner.