The theory of personality typing advanced by Karl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, in the early 1900s is known today as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Worldwide, this is the most widely used instrument for understanding normal personality differences. It is an instrument that has been extensively validated and it is accepted by most as an indicator of natural preferences.
MBTI is a useful tool for people who want to learn more about themselves and how they can interact more effectively with others. Communication, conflict resolution, problem solving, decision making, learning style, and so much more are influenced by our natural preferences. Being able to adapt your own style to meet someone else’s preferences makes you much more effective in understanding and connecting with them.
Gaining self-awareness and an appreciation of type differences enables us to enhance our relationships. Knowing about all 16 types helps you to see the value of each type. Relationships thrive when both parties can recognize that it’s okay to be different from each other. Focusing on the virtues of one another’s types strengthens connections.
Unlike Chinese Astrology (which, I admit, I only know about from restaurant placements), MBTI theory does not suggest that any two of the 16 types are more compatible than others. So it’s not like saying someone born in the year of the Ox would be most compatible with someone born in the year of the Rat. Instead, MBTI theory says that completely alike styles, completely different styles, and a mix of similarities and differences all have unique challenges and unique advantages in a relationship.
When two people have very similar styles, they will usually find that it is easy to communicate and understand one another’s perspective. They will likely share common values. However, they will have “gaps” in the non-preferred areas. One party may feel pushed outside their comfort zone to try and fill those gaps, and this can lead to resentment.
When two people have very different preferences, they may have trouble understanding each other. They will likely disagree about priorities and may have very dissimilar interests. However, they may find that “opposites attract” because they find ways to complement one another.
In business or personal relationships, it can be helpful to know your own type and the way type preferences influence you. Even without knowing the preferences of the other party, your self-awareness can serve you well by helping you be more open and accepting. When I do know someone else’s style, I find that it helps me understand how to present information to them and what to expect when a decision needs to be made.
Across the Internet, there is a lot of misinformation about MBTI and now it works. There is a dating site that claims to find the perfect match based on MBTI style, and this is simply not supported by the 60+ years of research that has been done about this. Knowing someone’s style should never bias you for or against them. Every one of the 16 styles has equal merits and equal opportunities for development. No type is “better” than another…
Interested in learning more about personality types and development? Be sure you work with a Certified MBTI Practitioner rather than relying on someone who doesn’t fully understand this powerful instrument. As a leader, it’s imperative to understand why and how to show ever person that you care about them. Learn more about how you can CONNECT2Lead. And be sure to subscribe to the CONNECT2Lead Blog for weekly tips and techniques on leading with a people first approach.