Thursday, November 20, 2008

MBTI? Is that the subway system?

I've been trying to think of how to do an article on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, specifically my MBTI and the specific challenges and advantages it affords me. I'm still not fully sure I've got the right thoughts here, but I'll give it a shot.


First, a quick review of the MBTI. MBTI consists of 4 dichotomies: Attitudes which are Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I) (how the individual focuses attention or gets energy); Functions which are Sensing (S) or iNtuition (N) (how the individual perceives or takes in information) and Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) (how the individual prefers to make decisions); and lifestyle which is Judgment (J) or Perception (P) (how the individual orients themselves to the external world). Most people cannot simply look at these definitions and come up with their type indicator. Also, the type indicator identifies a preference toward that indicator, not an inability to perform in the opposite of that dichotomy. My MBTI is INTP.


Let's take a quick look at my MBTI.

I – Introversion.

I prefer to be by myself. Let me clear this up right now; I CAN act extroverted. In fact, I enjoy teaching, which involves standing in front of groups of various sizes and interacting with people. Being an I is not a liability, it's a preference. At least for me. There are times when being an I can lead to it being a liability. Those times would be when the person cannot control their "I-ness" and withdraw from the public.

I find being an "I" advantageous. I can interact with people for a short time (sometimes up to eight to ten hours a day when teaching) and then go back to my "cave" to recharge myself. I've been asked a few times "How can you teach or talk to large groups if you're an introvert?" My answer is simple. When you teach a large group or speak to a large group, you are not interacting with individuals, for the most part. I find that Introversion leads to introspection, where the (NT) can feed on itself for decision making.

N – iNtuition

To me, intuition is having a realization or getting information without the benefit of the senses. Don't ask me how I know, I just do. And I'm usually right. Ask my kids about the argyle socks they got me for Christmas one year.

T – Thinking

This is how decisions are made. When I come to a decision, it is an internal thing, not an external thing. I gather all the information on the situation, then intuitively come to the decision after thinking about it. Does that make sense?

P – Perception

To me, this is my interaction with the world. For instance, I love to go to the mall; not because I like shopping. I HATE shopping. But I do enjoy watching the world go by me; watching people. Not "girl watching", but looking at how people interact with each other, what other people like, and look like. I like looking at the world, but sometimes I wonder if the world likes me watching all the time!


Let me quote Wikipedia because they do a better job of explaining than I do:

INTP types are quiet, thoughtful, analytical individuals who don't mind spending long periods of time on their own, working through problems and forming solutions. They are very curious about systems and how things work, and are frequently found in careers such as science, architecture and law. INTPs tend to be less at ease in social situations and the "caring professions," although they enjoy the company of those who share their interests. They also tend to be impatient with the bureaucracy, rigid hierarchies, and politics prevalent in many professions, preferring to work informally with others as equals.[8]

INTPs organize their understanding of any topic by articulating principles, and they are especially drawn to theoretical constructs. Having articulated these principles for themselves, they can demonstrate remarkable skill in explaining complex ideas to others in simple terms, especially in writing. On the other hand, their ability to grasp complexity may also lead them to provide overly detailed explanations of "simple" ideas, and listeners may judge that the INTP makes things more difficult than they are. This to the INTP, however, is incomprehensible: They are merely presenting all of the information.[8]

INTPs' extraverted intuition often gives them a quick wit, especially with language, and they can defuse the tension in gatherings by comical observations and references. They can be charming, even in their quiet reserve, and are sometimes surprised by the high esteem in which their friends and colleagues hold them.[8]

When INTPs feel insulted, however, they may respond with sudden and crushing criticism. After such an incident, INTPs are likely to be as bewildered as the recipient. They have broken the rules of debate and exposed their raw emotions. This to an INTP is the crux of the problem: their emotions are to be dealt with in a logical manner. If improperly handled, they can only harm.[9]


The first time I took the Myers-Briggs test, I was amazed at how well it described me. That was in 1992. I've taken it 3 other times since that time, and still came up with the same type indicator, so I'm quite sure it's correct. I'm told you can change your MBTI, but it can take a "significant emotional event" to make that change. So far, I'm still an INTP.


Pathik said...

ISTP myself...nice post

jef said...

I definitely had you pegged! We are very similar, though I vacillate a little between S/N. Of course understanding all the underpinnings of the instrument itself has a few disadvantages.