- What is more important, justice or mercy?
- Where do you get your energy, from being alone or being with others?
- If you go on a road-trip, do you plan and bring a map or go where the road takes you?
- Do you tend to see the forest or the trees?
These are some of the questions from the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. I'm not the kind of person to buy into things like astrology or Facebook quizzes like "which actor would you be?" But the Myers Briggs Type Indicator is a good start for things like thinking about your career, your relationships, and your personality.
I've gotten so familiar with it that I can have whole conversations with colleagues at work where we discuss scenarios based on the 4 letter coding of the "type" of personality. It helps people understand each other, and themselves, and that's what I like. No its not foolproof or perfect, but its a good start.
First, you take a questionnaire. You have 4 categories, each category is between two poles of types, and based on your answers you are given a weight percentage of where you are between the poles.
For example, like Han Solo, I am an ISTP. Which is awesome because he was my first crush. I was 3.
Introvert vs Extrovert (I vs E)
This area measures where you gain your energy from. Introverts tend to be turned inwards, extroverts tend to be turned externally. So introverts like to be alone, they need a great deal of "me" time. Extroverts panic with too much alone time. Which would be worse? A weekend alone or a weekend with a large group of people? For me this is absolutely clear: I prefer to be alone and make decisions on my own before asking people. I get exhausted by large crowds, in fact I downright have social anxiety and I need to hide in my cave after a social interaction. The only reason I score sort of in between I and E is because my job is social. Teaching is social. At the end of the day though I can barely stand to even go to the store. No more people!!
The reason I think this is important to understand this is if you work with an Introvert and you are an Extrovert, they may seem hostile to you, with their shut door and shy personality. They're not hostile. They can just only handle so much time around other people. If you're in a relationship with an I, understand that they need to be in a cave, it isn't a choice and it isn't about you. I have spent exhausting years having to reassure people that I still liked them I just really needed to spend a lot of time alone.
Intuitive vs Sensing (N vs S)
So this is interesting because most teachers, counselors, and writers are "N." It is an intuitive type. I'm virtually all three of those things, but I always score as "S". People with "Sensing" personalities are sensually oriented. This is how they experience the world first and foremost, through physical acts. They learn through touching, and are often things like cooks, architects, athletes, mechanics, and detectives. This is an action oriented type.
Thinking vs Feeling (T vs F)
So do not confuse this with people who are smart and people who are emotional. Everyone uses their brain and everyone uses their feelings. This area is more about what you use most often to make decisions; how you navigate through the world. I'm a sensitive and feeling person. I cry all the time. I volunteer. When I learn about cruelties and abuse I sometimes literally throw up. I feel things very deeply. But I am almost 100% a T or Thinking personality (its rare to be so skewed to one pole actually). This is because when it comes to decisions my personality tends toward the logical rather than the emotional, the "justice" rather than the "mercy." Could you fire someone? Or would it tear you apart? It is easier to fire someone as a T.
One story I use to explain this is when my friend and I got tested at a Career Center. All the "T" types and all the "F" types were separated and given three tasks. The T's sat in a linear formation, quickly elected a leader, completed the tasks through logical debate, and sat quietly because we were done. The F's sat in a circle and got to know each other and did not elect a leader or complete the tasks, but understood a great deal about each other. My friend was embarrassed because she was an F because she wanted to be the cool, logical T. But I am telling you, that is such an F way of thinking about it. F's are nicer people in my experience. T's are kind of assholes. At least they seem like that because they use logical principles rather than emotive conditions to make decisions. Another way to understand the T or F in your life is that F's need to be complimented and T's cannot take compliments. Knowing which one is which can help you understand how to proceed!
Judging vs Perceiving (J vs P)
So this difference is best demonstrated, to me at least, with how you feel about decisions. Do you like to have things decided, one way or the other, as soon as possible? Or do you like to delay decisions until the last minute? Is your workspace organized or messy? Do you prefer to be routine or spontaneous? Are you reliable or flaky? I am a pretty reliable person. I am never late. But I leave things to the last minute and even though I love lists and have organized workspaces (at least to me), they totally aren't organized to other people. My "system" isn't doesn't appear as awesome to people as it does to me. Furthermore, I hate making decisions. When I'm with other people I become more J. I want to decide things, get things done. But in my personal life I have a very hard time making simple decisions. I'm wracked by "what if..." doubts. Most of all, if I got in a car to plan a trip I would wing it, like I wing everything, rather than plan it out. And I would never say "we better make a move." I prefer to be flexible. But I'm pretty close to the middle on this one and flaky people quickly get entered onto my list of shit.
Now, its important to understand :
- Yes there is no foolproof answer to the questions. You just give your most instinctual response, not the sort of "well it depends.." response. Trust your instincts and stop trying to debate and hedge bets.
- The middle letters, N/S and T/F, are the dominant indicators. For example, I am an ISTP. I will have more in common with ESTPs and ISTJ than with INFP or INFJ. This doesn't mean I won't get along with them, it just means they are a different breed of animal and its helpful to know how different.
- This is often used for relationships (even parent-child relationship) and career advice. So yes it can change over time and depending on circumstance. If I wasn't a teacher I'd be 100% Introvert I think.
ISTP are described as:
Tolerant and flexible, quiet observers until a problem appears, then act quickly to find workable solutions. Analyze what makes things work and readily get through large amounts of data to isolate the core of practical problems. Interested in cause and effect, organize facts using logical principles, value efficiency.Quiet and reserved, interested in how and why things work. Excellent skills with mechanical things. Risk-takers who they live for the moment. Usually interested in and talented at extreme sports. Uncomplicated in their desires. Loyal to their peers and to their internal value systems, but not overly concerned with respecting laws and rules if they get in the way of getting something done. Detached and analytical, they excel at finding solutions to practical problems.
ISTP's have problems with abstract learning. I'm pretty bright. I'm really not dumb. But once I start hearing abstract information I go to sleep in my brain. I always tell students "give me examples!" I do not like "theories." I like experience, examples, action, diagrams, and am a kinesthetic learner. This is weird for a book-nerd, but there you go. I consistently am told on career surveys that I should be in search and rescue operations or a mechanic. Even my "Teaching Strengths" on Positive Psychology modules is "action."
ISTP likes to live on the edge because they are comfortable with their physical world. I love motorcyles and skydiving its true. I'd skydive everyday if I could. I am a true adrenaline junkie.
A friend okay multiple friends have told me that I am masculine in many ways. You wouldn't think that if you just met me. I dress very feminine, I am very shy, and I like feminine things. But I think that masculinity they notice is because of my ISTP type. I am an introvert so I don't like being around people. I am a sensing person so I don't like sitting around talking I like action. I am a thinker so I make decisions with rather cold-seeming logic. I don't think I'm masculine at all. I just think I'd rather do an activity than really pour out my heart. If you play squash with me and have a laugh you will be much more bonded with me, in my mind, than if we have a heart to heart over a glass of wine.
It can be very lonely to be an ISTP because it is not a common Type. When I'm confronted with talking intimacy I feel distant. When confronted with physical shared experience I feel much more intimate, in fact probably too much.
My memories are coded by sensual experience - what something smelt like, sounded like, felt like to the physical touch, rather than what it felt like emotionally. I wonder if Autistic people are more "S" than N.
What are you?
Han Solo Image: