If You Were a Four Letter Word …

Last month I spent four days becoming certified to administer the MBTI, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. It was a long four days, but very rewarding.

One of the things that jumped out to me during the course was how many times I have taken the Myers Briggs and how the results have never been fully or accurately explained to me. The MBTI assesses the client’s preferences in four areas resulting in their psychological type. All the possible combinations of the four types mean that there are 16 possible types. If you have taken the instrument, you know that your type was a ESTJ, or INFP, or ENTJ, or one of the other 13 possible types.

Among the misunderstandings associated with the assessment is in the area of Extraversion/Introversion. Our society tends to stress the importance of being “outgoing” and an extravert. The widely held misconception is that extraversion is being a social butterfly, someone who is wonderful and giving speeches, and is an absolute necessity for any sales position. The common picture of the introvert is the guy down in the basement who comes up only for food and bathroom breaks. Bottom line: extraversion – good; introversion – bad.

While that’s overly simplistic and dripping with sarcasm, those are the views that many associate with Extraversion/Introversion as documented by the MBTI. And it’s also very wrong.

The MBTI is a wonderful tool to help people learn more about themselves. But it would be great to be able to dispel the myth that some types are good and others bad. Each psychological type has its own inherent strengths and weaknesses and they must all be put into context.  In one sense, without appropriate explanation and coaching, the four letter results of the MBTI can become a curse and a curse word.

As a Certified MBTI Practitioner, I can help you and your team understand more about how your types influence your behavior and decision making. If you’d like to discuss it, I hope you’ll contact me.

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