Have you ever taken that really common personality test that tells you that you are ABCD?
This is probably the most common type of personality test known as the Myer Briggs test (MBTI), a very simple test that sorts and categorizes how you think and process information. People use this in place of horoscopes in their Instagram, dating profiles, internet arguments, etc. I find that it’s a good tool to find people with common ground, but the point of this article is how it works in the corporate ladder.
It wasn’t until recently that I took the Meyer’s Briggs test more seriously. I took it about 8 years ago, and got like, ISTP. In college, I started leaning towards ENTJ once I started leading people in college, and now I am solidified as an ENTP due to being creative at my job and entrepreneurial with this project (the dumb test says I’m a debater, but other websites say “innovator”. I like that word better).
Originally, I thought the test was just for fun but I’m convinced it’s a good indicator in terms of dealing with certain people. I wanted to talk about it like this because I just finished the book, Principles, by Ray Dalio (MJ from farescience gave me this book). He’s a billionaire who preaches a very interesting set of philosophies when running a business. One of this tactics is to have every employee take a bunch of personality tests and the Myer’s Briggs test was one of them. Its also the cheapest test (Free). There are others like DISC and stuff, but right now, let’s focus on Myer’s Briggs.
So the Meyer’s Briggs test is basically used to sort out how people think and you can use this to your advantage when it comes to dealing with people. For some, dealing with people is really hard so breaking it down and compartmentalizing people might actually be the best way to tackle this one bite at a time.
The MBTI test focuses on 4 attributes that influence processing information.
Introversion vs Extroversion: Whether you get your ideas/energy either internally or with people. This is probably the most obvious type of indicator. Most people know if they are extroverted or introverted.
Intuition vs Sensing: Principles gives the example that Intuitive people view a big picture, the Sensors see the details. Think forest versus the trees.
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Thinking versus Feeling: In a group situation, do you push your logical decision or would you prefer to have everyone be happy? This is a super tough metric and is probably the biggest reason groups fight over things.
Judging versus Perceiving: In general, you are organized and like to plan versus you are messy and like to improvise. You can usually tell what type of person these people are when it comes to looking at their desk or asking how they eat skittles (do they sort by color or eat them all at once?).
So you can jumble these attributes into 16 different personalities that all have their quirks. However, it’s important not to stereotypically typecast people into these personalities.
The point of knowing about these attributes is how to deal with people who have differing ways of processing information. Especially in an environment where you have to work with them. There are so many ways to do a litmus test to know who you’re dealing with. Like a litmus test, this is not the best way to know a person, but if you have to work with someone, especially someone you don’t like, how do you do that? Knowing people’s way of thinking is the fastest way to achieve result sin an organization.
Here are the metrics I use to “classify” people when I process information.
How to tell if someone is extroverted (E) versus introverted (I)
- Do they usually like to go out (E) or stay home (I)?
- When a vendor asks to hang out, what is the general answer? Yes (E) or No (I)
- High level of Charisma (in a flashy, public way) (E). High level of charisma in 1 on 1 conversations (I)
- Anxiety speaking in a group (I) versus anxiety being alone (E)
- Salespeople are stereotypically Extroverted, Scientists are stereotypically Introverted though I’ve met some amazing people when the stereotypes are flipped.
How to tell if someone is intuitive (N) versus sensing (S)
- Most people who look into details are (S), Most people who are creative are (N)
- People who daydream are (N), people who do work no matter what are (S)
- When talking about topics, (S) usually like sports and events, (N) like talking about weird philosophical or futuristic plans
- Anxiety when there are typos in a document (S) or anxiety when people don’t see the big picture (N)
- In general, regulatory, legal and supervisors are Sensing people. Intutives are harder to classify though creatives such as artists or… product developers benefit for being Intuitive
How to tell if someone is thinking (T) versus feeling (F)
- Do they seem annoyingly logical (T) or annoyingly collaborative (F)?
- Are they sympathetic (F) about their actions or unsympathetic (T)?
- When they communicate with people or present an idea, do they use logic (T) or collaboration (F)?
- Anxiety when people don’t follow logical decisions (T) or anxiety when your actions hurt other people (F)
- In general, people in Science (Quality, R+D, Regulatory) are Thinking people. HR and customer service people are generally Feeling people
How to tell if someone is judging (J) versus perceiving (P)
- Look at their desk, room, or personal space and see how they arrange it (J) or how disorganized it is (P)
- Ask if they have a planner or to-do lists. None (P). A really organized one (J).
- When asked what they’re doing this weekend on a Friday, if they have something planned (J) or they say “I have no idea yet!” (P)
- Anxiety when things don’t go as plan (J) or anxiety when you don’t have freedom to do things (P)
- In general, Quality Assurance is (J), Marketing is (P), Creative people have success in both areas.
So these examples are based off of stereotypes and I encourage you when classifying the people you work with, do it for the sole purpose of figuring out how to work with someone. What makes things even more confusing is that these can be treated more as spectrum than anything else and some even go so far as classifying people as mature MBTI stereotypes or immature.
Once you figure out what type of person they are, then things get easier when sending information their way. For example, if a superior is a INTJ, then he would like a formal report at a specific time because it fits into his system. If a superior is a ESTP, then I have to drop everything and do it right away and send it to her because they want things fast. What if the superior is an ISFP? It might actually be better to schedule time for office hours to hash out your report and ask for feedback.
Things get really interesting in a group setting where you deal with 5 to 10 people. To really masterfully dominate a group setting like a meeting or ideation meeting, you have to realize all of the personalities swimming around. To do this, it’s tricky, and might not work for some, but if I had a group of 10 people, then I would cater to convincing the more dominant personality (usually an (E–J) person) about my idea. If someone interjects, I have to switch my communication method to cater to her needs. Overall, group settings like these end up being a compromise between people who Think and people who Feel and the Judgers and Sensors will build a plan. However, I’ve noted that EN—will dominate a huge part of the ideation conversation.
Again, describing this type of communication is a very compartmentalized, robotic way of thinking of things but it might help you remove tension and make progress in your ability to make decisions that matter.
Not everyone thinks like you do, and the better you are at realizing this, the more successful you’ll be in your career.