19 Feb Beyond Self-Help: Understanding Personality as a Tool, Part 1
I am pleased to welcome Gary Benton back to the blog today. Gary Benton is a Myers-Briggs practitioner who recently started up his own business, Reunite LLC. I love to use Myers Briggs in my business and with my employees. To learn more about Myers Briggs and Reunite, check out Gary’s website: Reuniteperson.com.
Somewhere in its development, personality testing began to be used as a method of personal development, and considered by some to have even a spiritual component. It is unclear when exactly the leap was made from innovative psychological metric to destiny-finder, but many now distrust personality tests in general and Myers Briggs in particular as the stuff of self-help and pseudo-science. To be fair, there is something very Scientology-sounding about a quiz which promises to give advice on who you should marry, what career path you should take, and other important and personal questions.
I believe that while there are some useful, big-picture takeaways from personality theory (like accepting that not everyone is built to think and act like you wish they were), it won’t help you reach enlightenment. The real benefit comes from using it in practical and specific ways. Over the next few posts, I am going to share some ideas about practices that can put your understanding of personality, and specifically Myers Briggs, to good use.
- Forget about your own personality for a day
You might have a perfect and elegant mastery of English, but when you’re in Spain, it’s time to put that aside and learn some Spanish. This is a great way to get Myers Briggs out of self-help land and put it to work for you. Next time you’re in the office or at home with your family, try keeping their personalities in the forefront of your mind. Try engaging your resident Thinker on the level of logic, or giving the Sensor ordered, step-wise instructions for a task. There will be plenty of opportunities for them to get on your level. See if getting on theirs brings out their best.
- Predict Successes
We spend altogether too much time trying to premeditate where our employees or coworkers mess up – the details they often forget to check, their tendency to overschedule, etc. This will take some extra learning, but Myers Briggs offers a way to predict success as well. Take an evening and do some in-depth research on the type of someone in your office. Learn their Functional Stack – the set of cognitive functions that drive their personality. Then, take 20 minutes and think about which functions they are able to put to work. You might find that you soon know a person better than they know themselves, and are able to bring out new and surprising strengths that will increase their value and sense of belonging as an employee.
- Use personality in making team decisions
For those in charge, it can be difficult to find a balance between getting team input but retaining the ultimate authority to make decisions. One way to put personality to use here is to get your team together and find solutions using four simple questions:
- What are the facts? (This one is for the sensors, who like to view things concretely.)
- What are our insights into the root of our problem? (this is for intuitives, who are always looking for the big-picture insights and connections.)
- What are some strategies for fixing this problem/accomplishing this task? (This is for thinkers who excel at constructing and critiquing logic and strategy.)
- How will these strategies affect others – the office, customers, and partners? (This is for the feelers who are especially tuned to how values and relationships are affected by our decisions.)
If you use these four questions, I can guarantee that everybody on your team will have something to offer to the discussion and a chance to operate in their strengths. This will free and equip you as the leader to make an informed, best-fit solution without feeling pushed around by the opinions of others.
Join me next Friday for more ways to utilize Myers Briggs as a functional, practical tool. If you have any thoughts on how you use personality, let us know in the comments!
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