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by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
In Part 1 of this 5-part series, we introduced the Myers–Briggs Personality Indicator and its first pair of characteristics, Introversion and Extroversion. Part 2 covered the second pair, Intuition and Sensation; Part 3 the third pair, Thinking and Feeling; and Part 4 the fourth pair, Perception and Judgement. Remember that everyone, to varying degrees, has both of the characteristics described in each of the pairs of attributes. Here in Part 5 we provide some shorthand tips for interpreting and applying this remarkable tool to everyday life.
You need not be able to make complete sense of this acronym jumble to receive some benefit from the insights of Carl Jung and Myers and Briggs. The most important point is to realize that some of your more intransigent characteristics may simply be part of you—they’re innate, almost like the color of your eyes or your unique fingerprint—and that rather than trying to change or alter them, it’s best to accept them. Then, should they cause trouble for you, you’ll know you can learn about the opposing characteristic, and try to cultivate those qualities in yourself. They are there already, you just need to find them and nurture them. This can help you to become more accepting of others as well as yourself, and this usually leads to better and more peaceful relationships.
Fundamentally, it’s a big help to understand and recognize introversion and extroversion in yourself and others. Simply knowing that extroverts get energy from being with people, that introverts need time alone to recharge their batteries, and that extroverts outnumber introverts in this world, can be quite valuable.
As important as the I/E pair is, you don’t even need it to recognize the main types of people in the world. Interestingly, just four combinations of the S/N, J/P, and T/F pairs determine all the main personality types. In extreme shorthand:
Remember, everyone has each of these eight tendencies to varying degrees. You can think of them as existing on a range from zero to one hundred, with more people falling into the middle 40–60 range than the extreme 80 or 90 range for any given trait. MBTI is a useful guide to understanding yourself and others, but needs to be interpreted and applied flexibly, not rigidly. Now, which MBTI characteristic is that?