Today, we are going to explore the Myers Briggs Personality Traits to better understand those around us. Each of us has a combination of different traits that make up our
personality. We are very unique from one another, and this can sometimes make it difficult to understand where another person is coming from. My hope is that by exploring the different traits, we can understand more about the people in our lives and learn how to respect and support our differences.
The Myers Briggs Personality Traits are based off of C. G. Jung’s theory that our personalities and behaviors are not random, but founded from different traits that we each possess. A mother and daughter, Myers-Briggs and Briggs, came up with an inventory for people to test which of Jung’s traits they possess and understand what these traits mean for their life. There are four dichotomies, or different
areas of personality, that Jung outlined in his works. In each of dichotomies, people usually fall on a spectrum between the two traits rather than definitively possessing one trait or the other. However, I’m sure you’ll be able to think of examples of people who are extremely on one end of the spectrum or the other for each trait. You should also be able to pretty easily see which end of the spectrum best describes you.
With four different dichotomies in which we each tend to one side or the other, there are a total of 16 different combinations of traits, or personality types. Even if someone has the same personality type as another, they will still be quite different from one another. That is because each of us will fall at very different places on the spectrum (even if we possess the same tendency of the two traits) and each of us has a very different background and different life experiences from one another. These four dichotomies are what we are going to explore in order to understand personalities.
Where do we get our energy? The two traits that are compared in this dichotomy are extroversion and introversion. Extroversion means that a person draws energy from their surroundings, from other people, and from action. In contrast, introverts draw energy from within with reflection, thinking, and solitude. What does this mean for how we can best support introverts and extroverts in our lives?
Extroverts need activities to do, people to talk to, and external influences. Understandin
g and supporting extroverts means spending time with them and going out and doing things with them. If there is a person in your life that never stops talking or jumps into things readily (and sometimes without much thought), this person is most likely an extrovert. Do your best to understand that they need to process things externally and draw energy from their surroundings as well. Provide them with conversation, activities, and hands-on things that they can accomplish. For a child, this may mean talking things through with them or giving them activities they can do that keep them moving. A trip to the children’s museum, the amusement park, or a gymnastics class might be fun activities for them. For adults, it could be providing them with conversation or going out into the world with them and experiencing new things. Go to a concert, a buzzing street festival, or a sports event.
Introverts need time for reflection, solitude, and internal renewal. Understanding and supporting introverts means allowing them to have time to themselves, doing things in smaller groups, and respecting their more reserved demeanor. An introvert displays a more quiet, processing, and calm demeanor. They sometimes struggle with action because they tend to focus more on ideas. However, in order to support them, it is best not to push them to do something too far out of their comfort zone. Social situations with large groups of people are usually exhausting for them. For kids, you can provide them with quiet activities and games or solitary play. They might enjoy puzzles, trips to the library, or playing one on one with an adult or friend. For adults, you can provide them with quiet time to themselves and quieter, more secluded activities. They might enjoy grabbing coffee with one or two people, a spa day to themselves or with a good friend, or time to get in a solitary run or workout.
How do you take in information? The two traits in this dichotomy are sensing and
intuition. Sensing means that a person depends more on facts and experiences to process information. Intuition means that a person depends more on their feelings, sees possibilities for the future, and focuses on abstract ideas. What does this mean for how we can support and understand each of these traits?
Sensing people tend to work their way from the facts up when they are processing information. They like to make sure they have the information and structure and can sometimes struggle seeing things in a different or new way. When working with these people, understand that they need a basis behind an idea before they will jump on board. They may need a nudge to jump on board as well. Provide them with details, facts, and sense. For kids, this may mean exposing them to new situations or people so they can broaden their perceptions. This might be taking them to the mall, signing them up for a new sport or activity, or simply going somewhere and meeting people they haven’t met before. Adults may also need this exposure, but also need reminders to look at the big picture. It may help them to sign up for a class that exposes them to something new, going to a play or concert, or listening to a speaker on a subject that they are struggling to grasp or make a decision on.
Intuition people tend to jump on board with new possibilities quickly. They are very creative and see things in a new light. They see the big picture, but can struggle with the smaller details or facts. In order to work with them, allow them to think their big thoughts and ideas, but balance them with details, facts, and a basis to getting to the big picture that they imagine. Kids may need help organizing their big ideas, so they can see the steps it takes to accomplish things. Encourage their thinking and energy while teaching them how to create structure in their mind as well. Do hands on projects with them where they have to complete each step of a task in order to produce a result. This may be a Lego structure, making Playdough from scratch, or writing a short book with illustrations. For adults, make sure to balance their thoughts and ideas similarly with organization and facts. This could be cooking a meal with them from scratch, working through a project at home that is organized by tasks, or allowing them to pick an activity but also put in charge of planning. Be sure to compliment and support their abstract and new perceptions, as these are the people that often solve problems in a way that it has never been done before.
How do you make decisions? Thinking and feeling are the two traits in this dichotomy.
Thinking is when a person bases their actions and decisions on logic and analyzing, whereas feeling is when a person bases their actions and decisions on their feelings, effect, and values. Here is how we can best support and understand each of these traits:
Thinking people need logic, facts, and proven explanations when making decisions. They are very analytical and practical. They usually do not mean to come off as cold or unfeeling, but they can at times. Understand that in their mind, facts often outweigh feelings, and this will help you to be less offended. To support them, provide them with facts, explanations that have a basis, or a pros and cons list. Talk and think things through with them based on information. For kids, this may be talking through what you know about a subject or researching similar situations for them to see other people’s outcomes in similar situations. You might talk them through what to expect on a field trip, tell them about the facts of what is happening during a scary thunderstorm, or explain the different consequences of choices they make be making (both good and bad). For adults, it may mean doing a pros and cons list when they are faced with a decision, asking them for advice on subjects they know a lot about, or discussing subjects that they are more comfortable with that are more black and white than gray.
Feeling people need to consider the impact their decision will make on other people. Their own emotions usually play a large role as well. They can be considered soft or overly emotional and can sometimes miss the facts and overall gist of something because their emotions can easily cloud situations. To support them, include feelings, emotions, values, and effects on other people in discussions. Make sure to talk things through tactfully, taking into consideration that their feelings are often fully invested into their decisions as well. Kids that are more feeling may also be more sensitive in general. Make sure to explain things kindly and from a place of love. Explain to them why a field trip will be fun, why a thunderstorm actually isn’t that scary but pretty cool, and sharing with them how they can positively affect others with their decisions. For adults, also use sensitivity and try to understand their view point so you can better level with them. Talk through the impact of a decision on their family (going back to work, etc), discuss feelings in general (the emotional toll the first year of parenting takes on moms, etc), and ask for their advice on decisions that you make in which you are concerned about the feelings of the parties involved (who to invite to a party, etc).
How do you deal with the outside world? In this dichotomy, judging and perceiving are the traits examined. Judging people tend to like things controlled, structured, and status quo. Perceiving people tend to stay more open to change, are more spontaneous, and more flexible in general. This reminds me of a Type A or Type B personality: Structure vs. Go with the Flow.
Judging people like to categorize things. They bring their past experiences and knowledge to new situations to help them deal with it best. They prefer not to have things hanging over their heads and accomplishing to-do lists brings a feeling of satisfaction and pride. Judging people can sometimes be so set on a goal that they fail to adapt if new information or circumstances are presented. To support them, focus on structure, task orientation, and organization. For a child, this may mean organizing toys,
having a time limit for certain activities (that is followed through with a timer), or telling them the plan for the day. For adults, this might mean focusing on the details of a plan, helping them get something checked off of their to-do list, or talking through things with them to make a decision. They may appreciate you going through their to-do list with them before the weekend and assisting them with getting things checked off, but also pushing them to take breaks and have some fun! Understand that accomplishment is a huge motivating factor for them.
Perceiving people like to see what the day brings. They are okay having projects left undone, they don’t need or necessarily like plans, and they work energetically when the spirit moves them. Sometimes they can miss deadlines, plans, or leave important things undone because they forget, don’t feel like it, or put it off for too long. To support them, allow them to have flexibility and don’t push plans and structure on them too much, as it can overwhelm them and make experiences less fun for them. Instead, allow them flexibility to do what they feel like doing and do it on their own time. For kids, this might mean allowing giving them options for different activities for the day (zoo, museum, or mall?), giving them a broader range of when you want something accomplished (clean your room this weekend), or really getting on board when they get into something and are dedicating energy towards it (sure! Let’s build a pillow fort in the living room!). For adults, deadlines and time can be a must. Tell them to get somewhere earlier than they need to (they might get there on time!), be flexible to last minute plans, and encourage their spontaneity when they find fun activities and start working on new projects.
While reading this, there may have been a few people who popped into your head as possessing some of these different characteristics. It is my hope that you can take some of this information and some of these ideas and use them in approaching different people in your life. This world needs a blend of people to help one another grow, solve problems, and work together, bringing all of our unique skills to the table. Respect and praise the differences you see in others. They bring us balance and offer skills and ideas we cannot offer ourselves. Each of us is meant to lead our lives in a unique way that no one ever has before. No two people are alike, and that is the way it was meant to be… revel in the great diversity this world has to offer! Welcome the differences with an open mind and an attitude of learning. Every person you encounter has a new story to tell.
If you’d like to take the Myers Briggs test https://www.16personalities.com/ is a great site. It outlines a lot of specifics about your own personality and can give you insight to your own strengths and weakness as well as give you ideas for how to encounter others best.
Ideas and information from in this article from: https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/home.htm?bhcp=1
For those of you currently doing the Kindness Challenge with me for the month of September, we have about 1 week left! Keep spreading kindness and making it a habit! The challenge for the month of October is going to be an Intellectual Health challenge: Challenge Your Mind… More to come soon!
A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss: Can Weight Loss Impact Our Ultimate Goals? and October’s Challenge: Challenge Your Mind!
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“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi