Saturday, November 18, 2006

Respect for difference

Once you have completed your MBTI® (Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator) session with a Myers BRiggs Practitioner it is useful to remember two of its main ingredients:
· Respect for difference
· The I in MBTI®. means Indicator

For example: It is not respectful to charge into another person’s life telling them you know all about them because you have ‘done Myers Briggs’.

Even if you know a person’s profile, it is useful to remind yourself that there are a number of selves. Here are three: True (innate) Self, Developed (cultural, psychological) Self and the Contextual (where you are, who you are with) Self.

Having an idea of a person’s profile does not give you access to their Developed Selves and no right to enter their lives in a Context outside of their comfort zone.

It is fine to charge up to Jon Doust (ENFP) because he tells the world who he is, but he is an exception to the rule and, after all, it is part of his life’s work to be transparent and obvious to all.

But ponder for a moment what life might be like for those with a preference for Introversion.

a) They probably don’t like to be the centre of attention
b) They probably keep themselves to themselves and a small group of very close friends
c) And before discussing anything they might consider personal and private, you will probably need permission.

(My partner has, from time to time, reminded me that she has a very firm line drawn and that sometimes, in my exuberance to inform the world of my personal life, I not only step over her line, I mangle it as I pass. I am very lucky and privileged and it is a mark of her courage, that she has given me as much freedom as she has).

Even if a person has shared a passion with you, once you are in a different Context, in a different setting, a different place, then that person may not be comfortable discussing their Indicated profile. And, since those sessions, they may have pondered further and decided their profile was a little different to the original Indication.

It’s all about relationships. If you have the kind of relationship with someone that allows you to discuss matters such as their Inner Selves then that is a wonderful thing. If you are not sure, then use the old fashioned method and ask for permission. And remember, Every Individual is an Exception to the Rule.

And don't forget this: psychological profiles are averages and the more you average people, the further you get away from individuals.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

MBTI® Facts

Personality models have been around since Hippocrates was a boy (460-377BC). He had four types – phlegmatic (listless & tired), melancholic (sad), choleric (easy to anger) and sanguine (content or optimistic).

Models have survived the centuries and continue to be applied, developed and expanded. Why? Because they mean something, they serve a purpose and they work.

The most widely applied model, globally, by businesses, government departments, corporations, psychologists and counsellors is the Jungian-based Myers Briggs Type Indicator®. Myers and Briggs studied and further developed the ideas of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, who published his work, Psychological Types, in 1921.

MBTI® is not a diagnostic tool and does not measure
- skills
- abilities
- intelligence
- pathologies

MBTI® does describe differences between normal healthy adults that often lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication.

MBTI® does indicate differences in the way we
- prefer to focus attention and get energised
- prefer to take in information
- prefer to make decisions
- orient ourselves to the external world

Myers & Briggs
The MBTI® questionnaire was first developed by Isabel Briggs Myers (1897-1979) and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs (1875-1968). Both women had science based degrees and backgrounds at a time almost unheard of for women.

At the heart of the Jungian-MBTI® model is the understanding that much human behaviour that often seems random, or designed to upset, infuriate, or confuse, is in fact consistent with a person’s preferred, innate and natural, way of operating.

"If a theory describes something people do anyway, then it's probably a good theory." Andrew Samuels, Professor of Analytical Psychology, Scientific Associate American Academy of Psychoanalysis.
In a standard university psychology text book, Theories of Personality (University of Maine, Thomson Wadsworth, 2004), Richard M. Ryckman writes:
"Being able to understand the behaviour of others not only satisfies our curiosity but also gives us a greater sense of control over our lives and makes the world more predictable and less threatening."
Writing about Jung’s theories of personality, Ryckman adds:
"Although Jung’s theory is difficult to test, his position has recently generated some interest, and a number of studies have been conducted. Most of these investigations have focussed on his theory of psychological types, and the evidence for its validity has been consistently supportive.
Jung has written about his own work: It is not a physiognomy and not an anthropological system, but a critical psychology dealing with the organisation and delimitation of psychic processes that can be shown to be typical."
Peter Geyer is a consultant, researcher and writer in the field of Jung's theory of psychological types. In an article entitled Psychological Type as a Contemporary Theory of Personality, he concludes that the model is useful to help us "understand the people and institutions we deal with, as well as ourselves.
"…C.G.Jung's theory of psychological types and aspects of his broader theory seem plausible: indeed there is much more supportive data [now] than either Jung or Isabel Myers would have experienced in their lifetime."
George Boeree, Professor of Psychology at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, USA, concludes: "Rather than assessing how 'crazy' you are, the 'Myers-Briggs' simply opens up your personality for exploration."

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Type Basics

A lot of folk get nervy about psychological models.
It might be because they think the model will reveal personality aspects they don't like, or that the practitioner will discover a deep secret only they themselves have known and refused to admit to others. Some imagine it will reveal their dysfunction to the world. It doesn't and won't. And it doesn't measure criminality either. But, it can be a bit threatening.

Here are some basics, taken from the Center for Applications of Psychological Type web site.

  1. Extraversion-Introversion (EI)
    The EI index is designed to reflect whether a person is an extravert or an introvert in the sense intended by Jung.Jungg regarded extraversion and introversion as "mutually complementary" attitudes whose differences "generate the tension that both the individual and society need for the maintenance of life." Extraverts are oriented primarily toward the outer world; thus they tend to focus their perception and judgment on people and objects. Introverts are oriented primarily toward the inner world; thus they tend to focus their perception and judgment upon concepts and ideas.
  2. Sensing-Intuition (SN)
    The SN index is designed to reflect a person's preference between two opposite ways of perceiving; one may rely primarily upon the process of sensing (S), which reports observable facts or happenings through one or more of the five senses; or one may rely upon the less obvious process of intuition (N), which reports meanings, relationships and/or possibilities that have been worked out beyond the reach of the conscious mind.
  3. Thinking-Feeling (TF)
    The TF index is designed to reflect a person's preference between two contrasting ways of judgment. A person may rely primarily through thinking (T) to decide impersonally on the basis of logical consequences, or a person may rely primarily on feelings (F) to decide primarily on the basis of personal or social values.
  4. Judgment-Perception (JP)
    The JP index is designed to describe the process a person uses primarily in dealing with the outer world, that is, with the extraverted part of life. A person who prefers judgment (J) has reported a preference for using a judgment process (either thinking or feeling) for dealing with the outer world. A person who prefers perception (P) has reported a preference for using a perceptive process (either S or N) for dealing with the outer world.

It's simple really. Here's my spin on it all.

  • You start your day by waking up. If you don't wake up you don't get up. Extraverts get their energy by embracing the outer world and probably wake up sooner than Introverts who gather energyy from within.
  • Once you're awake you collect information: What's the weather like? Is this my bed?
  • Then you make a decision: I'm getting up. I will drink coffee.
  • Then the process starts: If you have a perceiving preference (P), you might spend more time collecting information, never quite satisfied; meanwhile, someone with a preference for judgement moves through the day with order, precision and deciding quickly.