Last week I attended the 4 day Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) Certification Program at AMA. The seminar is meant for HR professionals to administer to their clients and staffs. Although that isn’t my field, I felt this is a great tool to have as a team leader, manager or entrepreneur. I was fortunate to have Linda K Kirby, the authority in the field, as my instructor and am inspired to share some highlights.
The theory behind MBTI was developed Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, in the 1920’s. He believed that everyone is born with innate behavioral preferences and those preferences make up our psychological types. Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers took Jung’s work and applied it, developing a test to determine a person’s type. The seminar at AMA taught how to administer the test and interpret the results.
MBTI types are based on a set of 4 dichotomies. Today, I will only focus on the first: Extroversion Vs. Introversion. Many people think this has to do with how much you like people and like interacting with people and that just isn’t true. This dichotomy deals with where you get your energy from. In other words, when is your brain revved the most? Are you firing all cylinders when there is a lot going on around you and you are interacting with people? Or do you need quiet and calm to work and function at your best? When thinking about this distinction, keep in mind that everyone operates in both extroverted and introverted situations. The question you should ask is which you prefer more.
Here are 5 differences between extroverts and introverts that really hit home for me. I hope you find them helpful.
- People who prefer extroversion(E‘s) need noise or activity around them to work at their best, while people who prefer introversion(I‘s) need quiet and calm to operate at their best. This means an E will likely want the music playing in their office to get work done, but the I will find that distracting.
- After a handful of active meetings an E will likely feel energized and want to continue while an I will feel drained. An I will probably want to go into a quiet office to re energize, not meaning to be rude.
- I‘s prefer to communicate in writing so they can process and respond in their optimal environment, while E‘s prefer to talk over the phone or communicate in person. The E‘s need to communicate in person may seem intrusive to an I, but is not meant to be.
- In a meeting I‘s will take their time to process their thoughts before deciding what to say. They will often require a few seconds of silence to respond. An E might interpret that silence as being calculating or not willing to share, when in reality they prefer to operate in silence.
- In social situations, I‘s are less likely to initiate conversations. This is not because they are shy or not interested, it is just because their tendencies are to stay silent. The E‘s in the same setting will want to initiate conversation and interact with many people. This overly friendliness may seem disingenuous, but it is not meant that way. It is a function of their natural behavioral tendencies.
I prefer extroversion and I realized that I often get an email from a colleague and pick up the phone or walk down the hall instead of responding to the email. This may be okay for many people, but after learning about what introverts prefer, I am sure it isn’t appreciated by all. The next time you pick up the phone to call someone, ask yourself, “are they an Extrovert? Would they prefer an email?”
What do you think your type is? Any other situations that we should all be sensitive to?