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Meeting Recap: Myers-Briggs in the Workplace
2008, Q1 (June 18, 2008)
by Christina Eftekhar, Carolina Chapter Member

Christina Eftekhar
Christina Eftekhar
Have you ever worked in an environment where personalities clash? Do you hardly see eye-to-eye with your boss? It could be your personality preferences and temperaments aren’t compatible.

Andrea Wenger, Senior Technical Writer and Translation Coordinator at Schneider Electric, presented at the February 21 meeting to help the audience gain insight into these clashes. While explaining the personality types and temperaments, she also gave valuable tips on how to promote understanding, reduce miscommunication, and improve teamwork.

Andrea described each personality preference to help the attendees understand their preferences better. The personality preferences are:
  • Extraversion vs. Introversion (E or I) — two ways of interacting with the world
  • Sensation vs. iNtuition (S or N) — two ways of gathering information
  • Thinking vs. Feeling (T or F) — two ways of reaching conclusions
  • Judging vs. Perceiving (J or P) — two ways of structuring thoughts and attitudes (close-ended vs. open-ended)

These four personality preferences combine to make 16 personality types. These types are grouped into the following four temperaments:

  • Have the SJ personality type.
  • Respect authority and stabilize society by working within a proven system.
  • Are dependable, hard-working, uncomplaining, patient, and realistic.
  • Are also helpful, charitable, and active in social and civic groups.

  • Have the SP personality type.
  • Enjoy manipulating objects, strive for perfection, and test new ideas.
  • Are carefree, optimistic, colorful, playful, and fun-loving.
  • Seek excitement, adventure, and pleasure, but are also very competitive and impulsive.

  • Have the NF personality type.
  • Nurture personal development, resolve conflict and promote understanding, and hold high standards of ethics and personal integrity.
  • Are romantic, imaginative, sensitive, kind, trustful, and loving.
  • Seek common ground to help people work in harmony.

  • Have the NT personality type.
  • Seek to understand complex ideas, investigate how things work, and value competence and efficiency.
  • Are pragmatic, logical, critical, curious, and determined.
  • May seem insensitive when remaining calm while upset or deep in thought.

Andrea also explained that the 16 personality types also create eight team roles, first explained by their dominant function.
  • Executives (E_TJ)
  • Coaches (E_FJ)
  • Explorers (EN_P)
  • Actors (ES_P)
  • Analysts (I_TP)
  • Persuaders (I_FP)
  • Innovators (IN_J)
  • Curators (IS_J)

Each team role has strengths and weaknesses, called blind spots. Andrea showed how important it is to understand each role’s blind spots — especially your own — for more effective communication and teamwork. Andrea then explained the team roles by interaction styles, whether the personality type is Initiating or Responding and Directive or Informative.

The interaction styles are:
  • Leaders (Directive and Initiating)
  • Motivators (Informative and Initiating)
  • Achievers (Directive and Responsive)
  • Facilitators (Informative and Responsive)

The Myers-Briggs and Technical Writers

Most technical writers are ISFJ or INTJ. Surprised? Technical writers with sensing types generally write in short paragraphs while intuitive types write in long paragraphs. During peer reviews, sensing types help ensure that intuitive types provide sufficient detail while intuitive types can help sensing types provide sufficient context and effective organization.

Tips on applying the Myers-Briggs personality types:

  • Use the Myers-Briggs test to help you understand personality types.
  • To help understand personality types in your workplace, listen to how your coworkers generate ideas. Those who speak in concrete details are usually Sensing (S) types; those who speak in abstract ideas are usually iNtuitive (N) types. Understanding the personality types will promote and foster acceptance.
  • Similar personality types with similar blind spots can clash in the workplace.
  • If you are feeling type, don’t take a thinking type’s directness personally.
  • If you are a perceiving type, understand that a judging type will not be as easily adaptable to change as you are.
  • When choosing team members, remember that diversity of personality can facilitate better meetings and better goal setting because one person’s blind spots may be another’s strengths.
  • Beware if you and another coworker speak of what you agree on instead of what you disagree on. Be sure to bring up the disagreements so there is less confusion later.

Many thanks to Andrea for an informative and important discussion and the many tips we can all use at work and at home.

If you would like to take (or re-take) the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, visit http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm.

Christina can be reached at c dot s dot eftekhar at gmail dot com. End of article.

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