Myers Briggs descriptions and personality types provide insight into the behavior of individuals and groups. Here we share some strategies to assist different personality types in working together better.
Our thanks to Dr Liz Berney for the article below. Dr Berney runs Berney Associates, an organization development and training firm based in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area. One of their areas of expertise is in applying the Myers Briggs test to teams and leadership groups.
So just what is the Myers Briggs personality test? Its correct name is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It was originally developed by a mother and daughter, and was first published in 1962. Apparently Katharine Briggs recommended her daughter, an American psychological theorist, read Carl Jung’s book ‘Psychological Types’. They went on to jointly develop a questionnaire based on Jung’s work to measure preferences in how individuals perceive the world and make decisions.
It would have been good if Isabel Myers had married someone whose surname could only be spelled one way! I’ve seen this assessment tool called the Myer Briggs personality test, as well as the Miers Briggs, Mayers Briggs and Meyers Briggs Test or Type Indicator.
But regardless of the name, it has become one of the most widely used personality assessment tools in the world. It is estimated the MTBI is completed by up to 2 million people each year and are categorized by Myers Briggs descriptions.
Enhancing Teamwork Using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator
Dr. Liz Berney, Berney Associates
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), based on the work of Carl Jung, assesses how individuals prefer to get rejuvenated (through extraverted or introverted activities), to perceive and process information (through details or the overview), to make decisions and communicate (through attention to principles or to people needs), and to manage time and possibilities (by flowing with time or desiring closure). While an individual can be skilled in all four preference pairs, one preference in each pair comes far more naturally and easily to the individual. After taking the inventory, an individual is given a four-letter type that reflects his or her preferences from one of the Myers Briggs descriptions.
Many people gain self-insight from their MBTI results; however, they often fail to see how to bridge the differences between their types and those of other people. For example, an actuary may be confused, if not offended, when his/her marketing teammate looks glassy-eyed when the actuary describes actuarial facts. Of course, these details are not in his/her teammate’s area of expertise; but, additionally, he or she is likely to be an “Intuitive,” a big-picture, visionary type, while the actuary is likely to be an “Sensor,” a master of details. If the actuary knew how to bridge these differences, s/he might get his/her teammate’s attention by introducing a compelling vision, rather than leading with a grocery list of facts and figures.
What follows is further information about Myers Briggs descriptions, the preference pairs and strategies useful to communicate effectively with each preference, thus enhancing communication and ultimately, teamwork.
If you get re-energized and rejuvenated by your inner world of ideas and reflections more than by the outer world of people and activities, you are more likely to be introverted than extraverted. Introverts think through ideas and problems before sharing them, whereas extraverts are often likely to talk in order to think. Extraverts prefer to act rather than reflect, which is the opposite of what introverts prefer. Extraverts find Introverts too slow in thinking through decisions, whereas Introverts believe Extraverts prematurely act.
Strategies to Bridge These Differences:
Introverts communicating with Extraverts should:
Extraverts communicating with Introverts should:
Sensors prefer facts to ideas, view obstacles as problems to solve rather as conundrums to explore, prefer “tried-and-true” solutions rather than new ones, and prefer action to conception of ideas. Many actuaries tend toward being Sensors, given their strengths in precisely working with facts and details.
In contrast, Intuitives prefer new ideas and options to predictable solutions, favor innovation over practicality, and enjoy visioning and theorizing more than implementing. It should be no surprise that this preference pair, Sensors - Intuitives, experience more conflict with each other than any other preference pair. For example, imagine an Intuitive marketer enthusiastically pushing her not-fully-researched ideas on the Sensing actuary who wants to run the numbers before having a discussion. She experiences the actuarial as a “naysayer,” while the actuarial finds her analysis thin at best.
Sensors communicating with Intuitives should:
Intuitives communicating with Sensors should:
Thinkers make decisions from an objective viewpoint, thoroughly analyzing the relevant issues. They tend to question ideas and solutions before accepting them. Questioning and debating tends to be their initial reaction to most ideas. Given their focus on the task rather than the people involved, they are often perceived as impersonal. Directness and succinctness is critical to them – “beating around the bush” or indulging in painstaking details are turnoffs for them indeed.
In contrast, Feelers focus more on values and people than on the task itself. Since interpersonal harmony is a central value for Feelers, they will focus on commonalities before discussing differences that require negotiation. Feelers sometimes perceive Thinkers’ direct stance as abrupt and their debate-like nature as disconcerting.
Thinkers communicating with Feelers should:
Feelers communicating with Thinkers should:
Judgers prefer closure and organization to looseness and spontaneity, relax after completing their work (which means not a lot of relaxing!), and use lists and calendars to manage their time. Perceivers value the management of time far less and prefer room to be spontaneous and change direction. They enjoy brainstorming and exploring new possibilities far more than decision-making itself.
Judgers communicating with Perceivers should:
Perceivers communicating with Judgers should:
Like any other assessment instrument, the MBTI provides one lens among many for understanding personality and behavior. This particular lens, however, offers powerful applications for enhancing workplace communication and teamwork. When delivering information in a style sensitive to the receiver (rather than to the deliverer), individuals can be far more effective communicators. Many worry that they cannot leverage these strategies since they don’t know their colleagues or customers’ MBTI type. If that is the case, they can make their best guess; and, if those strategies are ineffective, they will know why and be able to make use of another set of strategies.
Thanks again to Liz Berney for this article about Using Myers Briggs descriptions. Liz runs Berney Associates, an organization development and training firm specializing in working with teams and training in leadership, change management and conflict resolution. Her “Team Application to MBTI” toolkit helps teams agree upon specific actions to enhance team communication and effectiveness. For more information, go to the Berney Associates directory listing.
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