The Myers Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI for short) are used by many businesses and organisations to help individuals better understand themselves and the team members around them. With a pedigree stretching back to 1962 when the test was first launched, this is one of the most trusted personality tests used anywhere in the world.
If you have completed the test for work and are wondering how to interpret or use the results, this article should help you out.
1. Understand The Principles of The Test
The point of using the MBTI details you now have, is to understand the principles of the test. Based on research that was started by Carl Jung in the 1920s, the type indicators test aims to help people understand human behaviour. The test looks at preferences and styles, in terms of how we perceive and interact with the world, which then build to create our dominant behavioural style.
Of course, there is much of our behaviour that is learned rather than innate, and frequently the personality and preferences we choose to show at work might be modified versions of our ’weekend’ self. As such the test preferences can change over time as we develop - but there is no ’best’ personality type, and the test is simply a tool to help us understand ourselves and those around us.
2. Are You E or I?
If you have completed the test, you will have been given a personality type built of four letters. If you have yet to take the test and are interested, it can be completed online. For each of the four indicators, there are two potential outcomes, making a total of sixteen possible combinations of final personality type. Here I will review each pairing of letters to help you understand their meaning.
This first letter relates to your ’favourite world’. That is to say, do you rate as an introvert, implying that you prefer your inner world (and therefore you are an I), or do you prefer to focus on the outer world, and therefore are an extrovert (’E’). While the words introvert and extrovert in this sense are similar to the common usage, it is worth noting that the MBTI use of the words relates more to where you draw your energy from. Being an introvert in this sense does not mean that you are shy or reclusive, but rather that you draw energy from thinking and working through problems in your own mind. Similarly, being an extrovert in MBTI does not necessarily mean you are the life and soul of the party, but does suggest that you draw energy from being around others, working in teams and brainstorming to resolve tricky problems
3. Do Your Prefer N or S?
The second dichotomy used in MBTI is based on how you understand and perceive information. If you prefer to focus on facts and the basic information you find in the world around you, then you will have an ’S’ in your four letter profile - this stands for ’Sensing’. People with this preference tend to remember facts and physical realities, and like to understand practical applications for things they see or learn. If your profile contains an ’N’, then you prefer to use intuition in understanding your world. This means that you form impressions of things and seek patterns, rather than necessarily retaining specific facts and information.
The description often used to help people understand these two quite different styles is that if an S person was looking to buy a house, and went to view a potential new home, they would see the place in a practical sense, looking at where furniture might fit, where the electric sockets were, and so on, in order to assess the property. An individual with an N preference, in contrast, might well visit the same house, but remember the feel of the place, the sense that they had when they walked in, and whether or not they felt they could be happy in the property, rather than the practical information.
4. Did you score as T or F?
This set of psychological preferences deals with your decision making style. Do you prefer to look at logic, consistency and overall fairness? In that case, you are likely to have a T in your profile (for ’Thinking’). If, in contrast, you are more likely to see the decision from the point of view of the people involved, the special circumstances and personal impacts that would result from the choices you make, then you will have an F (for ’Feeling’) in your profile.
These are emotive words, as ’feeling; tends to be linked with emotion, while ’thinking; can be seen as intelligence. Neither is correct, and whatever your personal preference there are some decisions that will be made with a stronger ’thinking’ or a stronger ’feeling’ bias. There is more detail on this point here.
5. Is Your Natural Preference J or P?
The final pairing in MBTI is about how you prefer to use structure. If you are a highly structured persona when dealing with the outside world, your profile is probably stronger to the ’Judgement’ (’J’) end of this spectrum. If, however, you are happy to keep things open, receive new information, and take a more organic approach to managing things, then you might well be a ’P’ Style, which indicates a preference for ’Perceiving’.
This part of the profile considers the ’you’ that is presented to the outside world. Therefore, you might feel that you cover both preferences at different times. For example, if you feel internally very structured, but present a more flexible personality to the outside world because it is a necessity for your job.
6. Understand The Combinations And Applications
With four different indicators, and two possible outcomes for each, there are sixteen potential combination outcomes. The MBTI Type Table can help you understand your own combination. Having understood your own MBTI profile, it is interesting to look at those of the others around you, both in professional and personal life.
The profiling tool is often used in team building exercises to help individuals understand the motivation and preferences of the other team members they have to work with on a daily basis and make a team really gel.
There is an absolute wealth of information available about this respected, well tried and tested tool. Check out the MBTI official website for even more details, and enjoy the insights the profiling can give you about both yourself and others. Never again will you look at a team member, friend or prospective partner without trying to figure out their MBTI profile.