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What is Myers-Briggs® Personality Type?

Personality type is a tried and true logical model of consistent human behavior.

The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator®, or MBTI®, is a questionnaire that is used to help people determine their personality preferences. The questionnaire was developed by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers, based on Carl Jung's theory of personality. Personality type is only one aspect of a person, and is not used to classify the wholeness of an individual into a limiting category. However, the MBTI® does help people to better understand themselves and others, which in turn can enhance their lives and the lives of those around them. There are no right or wrong answers on the MBTI®; it is merely a sorting instrument.

The MBTI® is usually taken on paper or, more frequently, online, and debriefed in a workshop or one-on-one with a qualified MBTI® practitioner. During the workshop, participants are introduced to the theory behind the model. They then self-select the personality type that best fits them, using the MBTI® results as a starting point. Learning the theory behind the MBTI® enables them to utilize the information to be better partners, salespeople, managers, teammates, students, spouses, and parents. The questionnaire is statistically reliable, has high validity, and is continually being updated. The MBTI® has a strong set of ethics. It requires administrators to be qualified by passing a rigorous test following a four-day qualifying program. It requires that the administrators provide an interpretation with every administration.

According to personality type theory, every person is born with a natural preference (just like a preference for right- or left-handedness) for one side of each of four categories, as follows. Neither side is better than the other. We need both. Combining both ways usually works best.

1. Two Ways of Energizing

  • A person who prefers extroversion is energized by and drawn to the outer world of thoughts, reflections, ideas, and imagination.
  • A person who prefers introversion is energized by and drawn to the inner world of thoughts, reflections, ideas, and imagination.

2. Two Ways of Taking In Data

  • The sensing side of our brain is reality based. It categorizes, organizes, and records the sights, sounds, smells, and all the sensory details of the present. It keeps us grounded.
  • The intuitive side of our brain is "big picture" and conceptual. It seeks to understand, interpret, and determine overall patterns of the information that are collected. It speculates on possibilities, including looking into, forecasting, and envisioning the future.

3. Two Ways of Making Decisions

  • The thinking side of our brain is our logical nature. It analyzes information in a detached, objective fashion. It operates from factual principles and forms conclusions systematically through cause and effect, pro and con.
  • The feeling side of our brain forms conclusions in an attached manner, based on likes/dislikes, impact on oneself and others, and human aesthetic values.

4. Two Ways of Managing Stress

  • A judging lifestyle is planned and orderly. It is oriented towards organizing one's surroundings, making decisions, and reaching closure and completion.
  • A perceiving lifestyle "goes with the flow," is flexible, adapting and receptive to new opportunities, and likes reacting to changing game plans.

Because one side of each preference dichotomy is more natural, we can and should develop that side of ourselves first, and it becomes our go-to, preferred side (again, like right- or left-handedness). This results in certain strengths, weaknesses, and preferred behaviors.

The combination of preferences allows for 16 possible personality types. The whole type is greater than the sum of the parts. There are no bad types; all personality types are equally valued. Each type has its own strengths and shortcomings. Every person is unique. Personality type is only one aspect of a person.

The theory is dynamic; there is a probable path of development for each personality type. This means that people of the same type can be different at different stages of the lifespan.

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How is Learning Myers-Briggs® Personality Type Helpful?

Since the 1950's organizations of all sizes have been using personality type to:

  • Help people understand and appreciate themselves and others
  • Develop leaders and managers
  • Enhance teamwork
  • Manage careers and job selection
  • Mediate conflicts
  • Train salespeople
  • Improve group and individual decision-making
  • Select teams and task forces
  • Analyze training needs

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Who Uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®)?

Every year, two million people worldwide take the MBTI®, including:

  • Businesses all over the world – from large multinationals to companies with fewer than ten employees
  • Boards of Directors
  • The United States military uses the MBTI® to train leaders in its Command and Staff Colleges
  • The Catholic Church in the U.S. recommends that all couples take the MBTI® prior to getting married
  • Hundreds of colleges and universities worldwide use the MBTI® to help students select careers

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What Happens When A Company Introduces Personality Type to Employees?

  • An organization has a better idea of its strengths and weaknesses as a whole
  • Bosses understand employees better, and employees understand bosses better
  • Client relations tend to improve because, with knowledge of personality type, employees can determine how clients need and want to be approached
  • Communications with all constituents (employees, coworkers, clients, managers, etc.) improve
  • Companies have a tool they can use to foster creativity
  • Everyone learns a new, non-judging language for discussing their similarities and differences, as well as their strengths and weaknesses
  • It is easier to determine the training employees need
  • Managers can do a better job of assigning tasks and helping employees to develop
  • Managers make better recruiting and selection decisions
  • People appreciate themselves more
  • People discover the jobs they can do best
  • People experience less stress, and are better able to manage the stress they feel
  • People feel empowered and energized
  • People know their strengths and shortcomings, and can better plan their development
  • People understand why they are the way they are– and that they are okay
  • People understand why they have problems getting along with some people and not others
  • People value, rather than reject, those who are different from them
  • People who are "different" are understood and valued
  • Sales people are better able to determine how to approach potential customers in the way they want and need to be approached. They can more easily get on the same wavelength
  • Teamwork improves

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What's Good About Learning Personality Type?

  • It emphasizes the value of diversity
  • It equally values every type
  • It helps people make better decisions– more quickly, easily, and reliably
  • It helps people manage their energy so they do not get overly stressed
  • It helps people to be better planners of their time and to meet deadlines with less stress
  • It helps people to live the life that is most natural to them
  • It is an excellent tool for helping people to make informed choices in university course selections, careers, and personal lives
  • It is an excellent tool for understanding all the people we want to get along with in our lives; our spouse, children, coworkers, clients, bosses, subordinates, parents, grandparents....
  • It provides a language for talking in a very positive way about similarities and differences
  • It provides a straightforward and affirmative path to understanding oneself and others
  • It restores vitality and reduces stress

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Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto, California, USA.