If you recognize what these letters might stand for, you’ll have a great hint at what the topic of this post will be.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Especially popular in business school curriculum in colleges across the states, this test reflects the psychological types of an individual as described by Carl Jung and designed by Isabel Myers-Briggs. Carl Jung tells us that there are four principal psychological functions that people experience the world through. These four functions are sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking- and argues that one of these functions is dominant most of the time. The test results are offered in the form of four letters, creating a code that could help define how you experience the world around you. There’s 16 different personality types, and each combination of letters has its own description to go along with it. To take a test similar to the MBTI and read more about your personality type, you can visit this site here: http://16personalities.com/
You may have taken tests like these in the past. Don’t like your result or don’t sympathize with it? Don’t worry.
Humans, of course, are dynamic, and the test itself doesn’t carry much water outside of the business world. Still, I think that it’s good to be introspective into who we are as individuals, how we think and make decisions, and how these preferences could drive our interests, needs, values, and motivations.
Of course, in the business world, it could serve as a great guide to solving recruiting, teamwork, and managerial challenges in the workplace. Understanding that someone might be completely different from you in how they think and operate could mean the difference between driving growth or driving off the cliff.
Personally, I have taken the MBTI several times already. One of the biggest criticisms of the MBTI is its unreliability, meaning that the same person could take the test at different times and receive different results. While INFP has not been the only result, it’s been the most frequent for me.
What INFP Means:
I: Introverted (as opposed to Extroverted)
N: Intuitive (as opposed to Observant)
F: Feeling (as opposed to Thinking)
P: Prospecting (as opposed to Judging)
According to 16personalities, INFP’s, or Mediators, ‘are true idealists, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people and events, searching for ways to make things better. While they may be perceived as calm, reserved, or even shy, Mediators have an inner flame and passion that can truly shine. Comprising just 4% of the population, the risk of feeling misunderstood is unfortunately high for the Mediator personality type – but when they find like-minded people to spend their time with, the harmony they feel will be a fountain of joy and inspiration.’
I can see a lot of that description in how I perceive myself; a laid-back guy that tries to stay positive and is passionate about a few things. As far as feeling misunderstood, I’ve definitely felt that way at some points in my life, but I think that was more due to general teenage angst, immaturity, and not being able to communicate with others properly- things that I now have a much firmer grasp on.
As a marketing major, mock interviews, networking, and group projects meant that I had ample practice in developing my communication skills, even if I meet people with vastly different personalities.
What all of this means for me professionally is that my mentality has always been one of constant improvement upon my skills and ‘keeping my cool,’ even when problems arise. When I work on projects I can connect to on a personal level, I feel that my interest and effort increases greatly, which results in a better product being created, whether that’s an action plan, tagline, or blog post.
This also means that because I’m not naturally outgoing, it takes a lot of energy to deal with situations where a lot of social skills are required. Also, because of the ‘true idealist’ aspect of my nature, I tend to be soft on criticism, even if it’s warranted. Constructive criticism is really important to improving the quality of work a team produces, so being able to vocalize it is something that I need to work on to ensure that I’m always putting my best foot forward.
Personally, being ‘the mediator’ is not something I usually think about, because I just operate in a way that makes me feel comfortable. But it is true that I try not to take life too seriously and stay flexible with my way of thinking and living. There’s a famous Bruce Lee quote that says, “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Those words really resonated with me when I first encountered them, and I try to live in a similar fashion.
Overall, I’d say that the Myers-Briggs shows a pretty accurate representation of my baseline personality, and thinking about your own self through this looking glass can be a useful tool to help you become more aware of how/why you make the decisions you make, both personally and professionally.
Next time someone asks you the question, ‘How would you describe yourself?’, what will you say?