How to use the MBTI to enhance the workplace
As the most popular personality test in the world, the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is taken by about 1.5 million people each year. While many people use the MBTI to learn more about themselves and their friends, companies also use it for everything from analyzing job applicants and assembling teams to motivating employees and leadership development. In this Pacific Prime article, we’ll look at how to use the MBTI to enhance the workplace.
What is the Myers-Briggs test?
Created by mother-daughter duo Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers and based on psychologist Carl Jung’s theories, the MBTI is an introspective questionnaire that sorts personalities into four different psychological types, resulting in 16 different personality types. The goal of the test is to help you understand and explore your own personality, including your likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses.
Based on the results, the questionnaire assigns one letter from each of the following categories:
- Introversion or Extraversion
- Sensing or Intuition
- Thinking or Feeling
- Judging or Perceiving
This four-letter code, such as ISTJ or ENFP, is used to give general assumptions about your personality type, suitable career choices, compatibility, and so on. While it is not backed by science, the Myers-Briggs personality test can provide value to individuals and businesses alike.
Making the most of the MBTI in the workplace
Many people learn more about themselves through their MBTI results, but fail to make a connection between their types and those of others. By highlighting our preferences and ways of thinking, the MBTI gives insight into how we communicate. Consequently, once you’re aware of a person’s personality type, it’s easier to find ways to communicate with them more effectively. The following tips can help you understand how to interact with others in the workplace based on their preferences.
Introversion and Extraversion
If spending time reflecting and exploring your inner world of ideas is what rejuvenates and re-energizes you, then you’re probably more introverted than extraverted. Introverts tend to spend more time on their thoughts and issues before sharing them with other people. Extraverts, on the other hand, often talk to think and prefer action over reflection. Extraverts may feel that Introverts take too long to make decisions while Introverts think Extraverts act too quickly.
When communicating with Extraverts, Introverts should:
- Focus on action steps and results
- Communicate by speaking with enthusiasm
- Stress action over contemplation
When communicating with Introverts, Extraverts should:
- Communicate a thorough plan or idea
- Give Introverts time to reflect before making a decision
- Communicate via writing when possible
- Offer airtime for those who do not speak unless there’s silence
Sensing and Intuition
Sensors value facts over ideas, look at obstacles as issues to be solved, and would rather take action instead of come up with ideas. Conversely, Intuitives favor new ideas and alternatives instead of standard solutions. They also prefer developing and theorizing over implementing. Unsurprisingly, Sensing – Intuition preference pairs experience more issues than other pairs.
When communicating with Intuitives, Sensors should:
- Lead with a broad description of the task, challenge, or problem instead of specific details
- Give space for creative exploration before covering the facts
- Outline the goal and strategies before discussing tactics
- Express the desired outcome and potential challenges
When communicating with Sensors, Intuitives should:
- Clearly point out the issue they’re trying to fix
- Share appropriate details and facts
- Minimize risk factors or necessary changes
- Describe how desired strategies can be applied successfully
Thinking and Feeling
When it comes to making decisions, Thinkers have an objective viewpoint and are able to thoroughly analyze the related issues. They usually examine ideas and solutions before approving them. If they are presented with an idea, their initial reaction tends to be to question and debate it. Since Thinkers usually focus on the task instead of the people and prefer directness, they often come across as cold to others.
Conversely, Feelers tend to pay more attention to the principles and people involved more than the actual task. When it comes to negotiations, Feelers usually emphasize the similarities before discussing the differences since they value interpersonal harmony. Thinkers may be seen as abrupt to Feelers, and their behavior can be unsettling.
When communicating with Feelers, Thinkers should:
- Aim to be descriptive
- Avoid being judgemental
- Try to see things from their point of view
- Lead with a concern for what’s important to those involved
- Think about how a decision will affect those who execute it
- Start with the positives instead of the negatives
When communicating with Thinkers, Feelers should:
- Talk about the costs and benefits of the points
- Be clear when identifying the issue, the values involved, and the potential outcomes, along with their pros and cons
- Express their opinion in a succinct manner
- Be open to debate without making it personal
Judging and Perceiving
To Judgers, organization and closure are preferable over irregularity and improvisation. In fact, they usually don’t rest until their work is complete and like to stay on top of their tasks and stick to their schedule by using lists and calendars. In contrast, Perceivers are less concerned about time management and like to create space for spontaneity. They prefer the brainstorming and exploration aspect of the decision-making process more than actually making decisions.
When communicating with Perceivers, Judgers should:
- Give Perceivers more freedom when it comes to how they’ll meet their targets
- Allow enough brainstorming time
- Recognize that there may be many correct answers and ways to go about things
- Consider different options before making a final decision
- Understand that they will be met with resistance if they over-direct Perceivers
When communicating with Judgers, Perceivers should:
- Be aware that Judgers are affected by last-minute or frequent changes
- Take their deadlines seriously
- Strike a balance between brainstorming and decision-making
- Only reopen decisions if new data has a major impact on the decision
- Be clear about where they stand
As with any other assessment tool, the MBTI is just one of many ways to observe and understand personalities. MBTI, in particular, can enhance communication and collaboration in the workplace. Knowing the best ways to approach and communicate with a person can go a long way towards improving communication styles.
Even if you don’t know your team member’s MBTI type, you can still make an educated guess. If the strategies you use don’t work, then you can move onto another type. You can also encourage everyone in your team to take the MBTI test so your team can become more productive, and perhaps even happier.
How Pacific Prime can help
Whether you’re looking for employee benefits plans or company health insurance, Pacific Prime is here to help. As a leading employee benefits broker and consultant with over two decades of experience, we know how to help you find the right plan for your needs and budget. Contact us to talk to one of our expert advisors or to receive an obligation-free quote today.
When she’s not writing, she’s likely searching for a new restaurant or cafe to try, reading or doing yoga.
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