A while back, my social media manager and her husband, Gary, wrote about the 16 types of Myers Briggs in business. Today, I’m excited to invite Gary Benton back to write! Gary is a Masters of Divinity student at Denver Seminary and is finishing up his Myers Briggs certification today. Check out Gary and Amanda’s blogs on the 16 types in the business world here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. And read below to hear how those types can adapt to a business environment that might not come naturally to them.

Organizations are people too.

So some say, but we’re not here today to talk about politics. One thing research has found is that organizations do in some ways have personality. What exactly this will be depends on the purpose of the institution, the personalities of the leadership, and even the size of the operation. For example, every organization big enough to have an HR department is going to need to lay down a lot of rules, and there are types naturally adverse to rules—either making them or following them. Our personality types will quite likely not be the same as that of our environment, and Myers-Briggs theory claims we can do nothing to change our inborn preferences. So what is to be done? Here are a few ideas.

Learn To Appreciate the “STJ” Environment

Myers-Briggs researchers have determined that most workplaces adopt an “STJ” (Sensing, Thinking, Judging) way of doing things. What that looks like is this: taking in concrete data, analyzing the results and developing strategies, and then implementing everything as policy. For NFPs and other similar types, this can feel grating. But before we learn the places to resist this, it is important to take a second and appreciate how useful this STJ way is. It can make the workplace a relationally safe, stable, and productive environment, which is something that even big dreamers and deep feelers need to help them be their best. By creating order, STJ-preferenced personality types benefit not just their fellow STJs, but everyone else. It’s a service they offer to society, and a valuable one at that. As even the most idealistic startup grows, it will come to the point where implementing structure, guidelines, and processes will become necessary to keep those dreams alive and producing. It might be time to add an ESTJ or ISTJ to the payroll.

Own Your Type, And Sell It

Once you have made peace with your work environment and proved to those around you that you can do your duty in the STJ workplace, it’s time to start finding opportunities to be yourself. Do you offer considerate insights? Practical advice? Are you good at anticipating potential hurdles that your team might face? You won’t help anyone by hiding your strengths. Have a conversation with your team or boss and brainstorm ways that your preferences could be put to use.

I work at a restaurant while finishing up my studies and I explained to my boss that my dominant mix of Intuition and Feeling makes me an able trainer. I love to synthesize information into something learnable and then communicate it relationally. So she put me in charge of training the new hires, a much more energizing task for me than just going table-to-table. Hopefully, of course, these strengths have already been noticed by your higher-ups, but, especially in the case of introverts, that is no guarantee. It’s time to bring all of your value to the table, not just what is expected of you. This might seem like suicide—intentionally adding more work to your already busy schedule. You will find, however, that even a small opportunity to act out of your preferences will end up giving you energy back and increasing your productivity for those tasks you could do without.

Get To Know That “One” Person

We all have at least one person that we just don’t get. Sometimes, they are in the office just across the hall. Not only do you share little in the way of interests or beliefs, but their entire mode of approaching life and work seems completely alien. Myers-Briggs theory teaches that each type has its own order of functions: how we prefer to take in information and how we prefer to make decisions on or apply that information. Furthermore, each preference is oriented either towards the outside world or inner world and will look different depending on that orientation. This adds up to a lot of diversity—the 16 types!

If you can, start a relationship with that person and get to know their type. Then do some digging. Find out the places where you are fundamentally different as part of your personality. There is absolutely a such thing as a character flaw, but I have found that more common than actual flaws are perceived character flaws based on difference in type. For example, nothing could be more foreign and unattractive to me than focusing on the specific, concrete details of a project. When people take that approach I am often quick to judge them and write them off. I think that my approach would be much better. And often I’m wrong and destroy the opportunity for us to complement each other and bring our best to the project. The sin here is mine. That’s where learning types and how they complement your type is helpful.

I hope this gives you some good strategies to excel in whatever your work environment and inspires you to develop your own understanding of type. Next week we will revisit this subject from the perspective of leadership and management. Thanks for reading, and feel free to email me with any questions or comments at Gbenton15@gmail.com!

Question: How do you live out your type in the workplace? What value does it bring to the table? And take the Myers-Briggs test here, http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp, to learn your time! Share your results in the comment section.

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