I recently facilitated a Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) workshop after being asked to create an opening activity for a planning workshop.
The MBTI® used to be a standard part of my facilitation arsenal but I haven’t really done much with it over the past couple of years, so I was initially a little apprehensive as I felt rusty, even though it was my suggestion to run it!
Imagine my delight when I started designing the session and the knowledge and methodology all came flooding back along with the sheer joy at remembering how much of a useful tool it is for understanding Self.
It came about through the work of Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myer. They wanted a tool that would make the work of Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung useful in everyday life … and they nailed it.
Jung speculated that there are four psychological functions by which humans experience the world – sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The underlying assumption of the MBTI is to identify this dominant function to better understand that we all have specific preferences in the way we construe experiences, and these preferences underpin our interests, needs, values and motivation.
The MBTI is based around four dichotomous scales that look at:
|Extraversion||–||Introversion||how we energise|
|Sensing||–||Intuition||how we gather information|
|Thinking||–||Feeling||how we make decisions|
|Judging||–||Perceiving||how we like to live in the world|
Through a series of activities and explanations, participants are encouraged to self-assess (there is also a more formal questionnaire process) and determine their preferences (this or that) within each scale resulting in a 4-letter type.
For example, I am an ENTP.
There are 16 potential types. The descriptors of each type assist participants to determine the best fit in terms of their perceptions of Self.
This may take a while as often we have a view of ourselves which is not necessarily how others see us. This can cause a bit of internal conflict initially, however the point of this tool is self-determination.
Try it on and observe your-Self in all situations. After a while, self-awareness does kick in and provides opportunity for us all to learn and grow.
An example of this is the J – P dichotomy.
Let’s assume there is a planning meeting where an action has been assigned to you with a complete date next Friday, one-week from now.If you are a J, you are likely to leave that meeting and immediately prepare a to-do list of all the things that need to happen in order for you to meet the deadline. J’s always do their best work when they have enough time to do it!
If you are a P, you will leave the meeting saying to yourself ‘I don’t need to even think about that until Thursday midnight.’ P’s always do their best work last minute!
Now imagine you are the P with a J manager. Your manager may walk past your desk on Wednesday and ask how you are getting on with the task. You respond with, oh I haven’t even thought about it yet. How might a situation like this potentially play out in an actual workplace?
The tool is also not an excuse for bad behaviour. It is not for a P to state “I am late for meetings, because I am a P” it is for a P to realise the potential to be late for meetings and create discipline around getting there on time.
I have a new found respect for the MBTI and am very much enjoying dragging it out, dusting it off and using it once again to start the journey of self-awareness.
P.S. I am an MBTI Certified Practitioner