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Myers Briggs - Working out your type

Myers Briggs and MBTI applications

The Myers Briggs model of personality focuses on how you prefer to behave - not how you actually behave. This is analagous to handedness, where you sometimes use your preferred hand (eg: when using a pen to write) and sometimes use your non-preferred hand (eg: the hand you use to change gear whilst driving a car is determined by the design of the car, not your preferences). Understanding your preferences, and the 'stretch' between preference and actual behaviour, can be useful in many ways - from choosing the optimum way of working to stress management.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator® questionnaire is the most popular way that people find out their personality type. The Management Team Roles - indicator is the most popular way that people find out their actual behaviour in a work context. However, as with all personality questionnaires, the results of both can sometimes be wrong.

So, whilst the Myers Briggs Type Indicator can provide you with helpful information, the real value of the model is in deciding your personality type for yourself. This article will help you do that.

Myers Briggs model of personality

The Myers Briggs® model of personality is based on 4 preferences.

  1. Where, primarily, do you direct your energy?
  2. How do you prefer to process information?
  3. How do you prefer to make decisions?
  4. How do you prefer to organise your life?

Where, primarily, do you direct your energy?

To the outer world of activity, and spoken words
To the inner world of thoughts and emotions

If it is toward the outer world of activity or words, it is called Extroversion, denoted by the letter E. If it is toward the inner world of ideas, information, or thoughts, it is called Introversion, denoted by the letter I. Extro- is a prefix meaning 'without' and Intro- is a prefix meaning 'within'.

The following table lists words and expressions that are often associated with extroversion and introversion:

many few
action before thoughtthought before action

Which is your preference (ie what is your personality type)? How are you actually behaving most of the time (ie what is your MTR-i(TM) team role)? Sometimes it can be difficult to tell. Every individual exhibits all of the above characteristics at some time or other, and one source of difficulty can be in distinguishing which behaviours are 'learned', or a response to current demands, and which reflect true preference. Distinguishing between the two is where comparing your MBTI® questionnaire and MTR-i(TM) questionnaire results can help.

E/I batteries

It can sometimes be helpful to think of Extraversion and Introversion as internal 'batteries'. Having a preference for Extraversion, for example, means that you have more E batteries than I batteries. But you still have both.

During each day you will undoubtedly spend time spontaneously doing or saying things (drawing on your E batteries) as well as retreating into the inner world of contemplation and thought (drawing on your I betteries). If your working day involves much more interaction with the world, then you may find that your E batteries get exhausted - leaving only the I batteries to supply energy. That is, even the clearest Extrovert in an extravert job may want, at the end of the day, to be left alone with his or her thoughts. Conversely, if an Introvert has been working in isolation all day, all the I batteries may have been depeleted, so by the end of the day he/she may feel the to 'party', chat or see friends in order to restore some balance, and thereby give the introvert batteries some relief by spending some time running on extravert batteries.

You need a particular balance of both introversion and extroversion. You can do both of them, and you have batteries of both types. But your "preference" will mean that you can do one more than the other.

Before we consider the next set of Myers Briggs preferences, in the second article in this series, we'll take a brief look at the influences that can cause you to behave in ways that are different to your preferences.

Article 2 - Preference vs Behaviour

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