Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (or MBTI®), one of the most widely used personality tools in businesses today, was first published in 1962 by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers. Its success was worldwide. Why? Because, it’s a remarkable relationship tool that has been shown to significantly improve organisational performance and team work. But must its use be limited to organisations? Couldn’t families benefit just as much from a better understanding of one another? Of course! Which is exactly why I believe so strongly in MBTI for families.
Just like the workplace, there are many factors that affect the overall configuration of a family’s dynamic. When your family life is fractured and unhappy, it is reflected in all the decisions and daily routines that you have, so obviously we want that dynamic to be a happy and harmonious one.
Understanding Personality Type can take a bit of practice but is well worth the effort, and I’ll make that effort as painless as possible for you.
How the MBTI works
MBTI is divided into four sets of preferences: Energy, Information, Decisions and Lifestyle.
These preferences look at how we view life, make decisions, and interact with and structure our outer world.
Let’s quickly look at each preference.
1. Energy: Extraversion or Introversion?
These preferences relate to where you get your energy from:
- EXTRAVERTS (E) get their energy from the external world of people and activities, and need regular interaction.
- INTROVERTS (I) get their energy from the internal world of ideas, feelings and thoughts, and need regular downtime.
2. Information: Sensing or Intuition?
These preferences relate to the way that people take in information:
- SENSING (S) people make sense of the world and gather information through their five senses. They enjoy details, repetition and tradition. They prefer concrete, factual information and use it to build an understanding of the bigger picture.
- INTUITIVE (N) people gather information as patterns and connections rather than focusing on individual facts. They prefer to use their imagination, follow hunches and innovate, and enjoy abstract concepts and theories. They need to see the big picture in order to understand the parts.
3. Decisions: Thinking or Feeling?
These preferences relate to the way that people form decisions:
- THINKING (T) types seek logical reasons for making decisions. They are usually firm and fair, seek honesty and look at consequences. They ask ‘Why?’
- FEELING (F) types use their values to make decisions. They pursue harmonious relationships, consider the impact of their decisions on other people and like to be appreciated. They ask ‘Who?’
4. Lifestyle: Judging or Perceiving?
These preferences relate to how people live their outer life (their lifestyle):
- JUDGING (J) types prefer an outer life that has structure and order, and they seek closure. They would agree with the motto: ‘Just Do It’ … according to a fixed plan.
- PERCEIVING (P) types prefer an outer life that is more flexible and enjoy exploring options that give them room for spontaneity, just in case something else comes up. They would agree with the statement: ‘Let’s wait and see.’
Each of us will bias towards one preference for each of these pairs, and by stringing together the letters representing each preference, you form a Personality Type profile.
For example, when I choose my preferences from each of the pairs above, I am ESFP: Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling and Perceiving.
I prefer the outer world of people and use my senses to gather information. I use Feeling logic to make my decisions, and I enjoy mulling over many choices without having to make decisions until the last minute. I can use all of the other preferences – INTJ – but ESFP are the ones that feel like warm pyjamas and a cup of hot chocolate on a winter night.
At first, these letters might sound like gobbledygook to you (as they did to me a long time ago), but once you get to grips with them, the results can be life changing – both for you individually…and for your family as a whole.
I became a certified MBTI practitioner over twenty-five years ago and I assure you that MBTI will help you to see your precious family in a new light. It will give you new perspective on problems you may be facing within your family and give you fresh insights that lead to better connection and a good deal more fun too!
If you would like to learn more about MBTI and the impact it can have for you and your family, check out my book Who Is This Monster (or Treasure) in My House? A parent’s guide to understanding personality types to better connect with your kids at www.katemasonauthor.com.