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Intuiting

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Step 1 - Get to know myself (again)

Pic Credit teachernz I first wrote about Getting to know myself back in 2008. Here's what I'd like to add: Personality Type and cultural preferences provide a nice framework to begin thinking about where some of my behaviors might come from. My cultural background explains some of what's important to me, and Type is a unique personal and professional development tool, helping me appreciate my own strengths and opportunities for growth, as well as appreciate those points in others.

I best identify with ENFJ preferences. I may not look like an ENFJ all the time, because in my job I'm often dealing with groups and paying attention to details, seeming like an ESFP. When I work from home, I'm quite comfortable spending hours alone, reading and writing online. But the pattern is there:

"mentoring, leading people to achieve their potential and become more of who they are." (Berens, Nardi, 2004)

The first thing I want to do when meeting old and new friends is connect. Holding a space for others is important to me, although I might get too excited and just start blabbering. Staying with myself without getting absorbed into other people's drama or take on their feelings as my own is a continuous conscious exercise. Dipping into a sea of knowing what's going to happen and how someone will react to a certain situation happens unconsciously. Yet when I try to pay attention to the vibe it may disappear. I love going for walks and doing Yoga or Zumba relaxes me; my body may be tired but my mind is usually alert after exercise.

I'm not sure how my extraverted Feeling and introverted Intuiting preferences were nurtured growing up. I remember lots of feeling bad for others and wanting to please everyone and fit in, often without success. At any given time I had maybe one or two "best" friends. Lots of acquaintances, but not many friends, at least by my definition. Still, I remember lending an ear and giving advice on many matters to many people. I remember making mistakes and seeking approval in many wrong places. I know I read a lot; my parents are still sorting out boxes upon boxes of books I left behind.

Growing up in my parents' house, realistic pragmatism (is there any other kind?) definitely dominated the everyday environment. On Hofstede's cultural dimensions, Germany scores high in the Uncertainty Avoidance Index. That means Germans like to know what happens and be prepared, avoiding uncertainty wherever we can. A big part of me wants to know what the future holds, but there are also examples in my past where I jumped in without knowing what was going to happen. None of my international moves were thoroughly planned in any way - that's why I like to share what I learned to save other expats the time and tears.

Flaggen_Still, I'm very German in my approach to communication - direct and straightforward, little to no beating around the bush. Swearwords? Not a problem. I appreciate a good rational argument, but may not be able to follow your logic. On Trompenaars' dimensions, I fall on the Universalist (the same rules apply to everyone) and Achievement (respect for what you've done, not who you are) sides. Competence and expertise are important to me. I couldn't stand it if anyone thought I was an impostor. Over time, my opinion of punctuality has been taken over by a slight mediterranean influence - but I'll still let you know when I'm running late. Keeping people waiting without even the courtesy of a call or text message would be disrespectful.

Unfortunately, self-examination is not always a helpful tool when you really want to get to know yourself. I've recently asked former and current colleagues and friends to choose some adjectives (based on Linda Berens' Interaction Styles) to describe me, and it's interesting and challenging to recognize I may not appear to others as I do to myself. I still think it's a great exercise to engage in from time to time - getting to know yourself all over again.

 

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Personality Type and Job Interviews

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Personality Type and Job Interviews

Changing jobs is hard to do and interviewing generally sucks. You're nervous anyway, because you want to make a good impression, and if it's over the phone you don't even know if they're really browsing the web for cartoons while pretending to listen to you.

The ethical use of Type knowledge clearly states that someone's Type doesn't indicate skill or competence. Just because you prefer to use extraverted Thinking doesn't mean you're any good at it, or that you always come to the correct logical conclusions. It is also true that people may be more likely to enjoy professions that stimulate or nurture the inherent talents of their Type preferences, and therefore that Type shows up in greater numbers.

In a good-read Harvard Business Review article, Chris Smith from ARRYVE suggests not to hire entrepreneurs, but look for entrepreneurial spirit. He says:

At the interview, I generally like to discuss our company's philosophy of supporting employees' interests outside their specific role at the firm. When I do, I want to see if the candidate gets more excited about how we can help with those outside interests than with the job at hand. I also ask direct questions like "What motivates you?" and "What makes an individual successful?" Entrepreneurial spirited individuals are motivated by, and can find success in, the everyday activity of the company and the opportunities their role affords to grow the business. The entrepreneur's answers will focus on personal achievement and independence.

Type knowledge can help with the interviewing process.

From the interviewer's perspective

Once you identify which skills or behaviors would be helpful in the position, you can phrase questions in a way that reaches candidates of all types and gets to the heart of the capability.

For example, someone who processes information through iNtuiting and/or Perceiving is going to respond more easily to those open-ended questions like "What motivates you" or "What do our values mean to you". It allows them to move from the broad to the narrow; outline the theme before diving deeper. Questions like "describe an example when you used this particular skill and overcame that particular challenge" may be too specific for them and throw them off their game.

If you have a candidate with Sensing and/or Judging preferences, the blank canvas may unnerve them and the more specific guidance allows them to shine and showcase their expertise more easily. Framing the questions in more narrow terms helps them to move from the detail up to the theme.

From the interviewee's perspective

The idea for this post really came from a friend of mine (INTP preferences) who recently went through a telephone interview for a manager position. He knew he was completely qualified for the position, read everything he could about the company, and was inspired by the information he found. Needless to say, he was really excited about the opportunity.

The interviewer asked precise questions and expected short, concise answers. This was only going to be Round 1; all candidates have to get passed him to speak to the people who actually make the hiring decisions. They spent 45 minutes on examples, case studies, and practical tests.

Here's how the INTP described his experience:

"All the time I was thinking, 'these are questions I ask when I'm interviewing for people to join my team'. And I'm not hiring managers, I'm hiring employees! I was getting more stressed and just trying to say what I thought he wanted to hear, but really, I felt like the interviewer was doubting my competence. The questions were just too simplistic. Why didn't he ask me at a more strategic level? The level that as a manager I would be facing challenges at? I wanted to talk about the general landscape first before going deeper into the issues. He even could have asked what motivated me, or what I would bring to the position, or what value I could add to their company. This was a crap interview, I'd be surprised if I get a call back."

He was right, he didn't.

Knowing your Type preferences can help ground you and recognize when you're getting outside of your comfort zone. When we're stressed, it's difficult to maintain conscious control and keep calm. Telling the interviewer what he thought he wanted to hear in this case came from the 4th (aka inferior/aspirational) Fe function. INTP's don't generally have a lot of practice with- or conscious control over it, so using Fe is draining and not always successful.

Type also gives you a non-judgmental language to describe what's going on, so our INTP could have said something along the lines of, "before I get to the specifics of your question, allow me to paint a general picture to be sure we're on the same page."

Interviews are stressful. Making space for candidates to be themselves may take a little longer, but I'm pretty sure it will result in a better fit in the long run.

Image by vincent desjardins, flickr, Creative Commons License

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So you think you're creative

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So you think you're creative

Photo by fmpgoh
Photo by fmpgoh

According to MBTI statistics(1), about 60 % of the US population have Sensing preferences. That means taking in information through the 5 senses, usually in concrete, detailed, present-focused ways. In type language, its opposite preference Intuiting has often been described with terms like future-focused, comfortable with ideas, themes, patterns. Creativity is often inferred from these descriptions, and here's why I think there's more to creativity than ideas. 

Creativity to me means bringing something forth that is new, an unexpected combination, something that may not be alive but that makes me feel alive, infuses my senses, makes me think, feel, be. A blog post, a poem, a picture, a sculpture that touches my soul.

Creativity is often called "right-brain", because the left hemisphere supposedly deals more in concretes. From Dario's research we've learned that neatly dividing the brain into four quadrants of Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking, and Feeling is simplistic and, I might add, disrespectful of the complexities that are human nature.

In Type language, every function comes in two ways or attitudes. Let's look at Intuiting. We all have both of these functions: Introverted Intuiting Ni and Extraverted Intuiting Ne. Different types use them in different ways, and we all have them.

What is Ni?

Think of a big library with millions of clips and notes that you've accumulated throughout your whole life. The librarian has given up on the index card system a long time ago, and yet magically, new information still gets filed where it belongs. Ni takes a lot of knowledge and stores it until you need it again. You won't know where it came from, but it's there, it feels right, and it often is right, too. You use Ni when you're foreseeing the future, when you just know, when you see how this or that is going to play out. When you grasp the meaning of something and can summarize its essence.

What is Ne?

To stay with the library image, Ne is the scribbler that takes your notes down and gets more and more excited the more he scribbles. New ideas, connections, relationships, themes, patterns keep bubbling up and it's hard to keep 'em down! They're so exciting! You use Ne when you're envisioning the future, when you're improving on an idea, and find new connections.

Knowing the significance and having thoughts and ideas about how to improve the future isn't creativity. It is probably the first part of the process, but it's not actual creation in the sense of the word. The differentiating factor is actually doing something with those ideas.

And that's where Sensing and other functions come in.

Albert Einstein (INTP):

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

In my opinion, creativity is a combination of all functions. There isn't one without the other. More on that tomorrow.

(1) MBTI(r) Type Tables International, CPP Inc 2009, Schaubhut, Nancy A. and Thompson, Richard C.

Image by glans galore, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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Dare to Dream

20121224-202228.jpg I'm already looking forward to Elizabeth Murphy's presentation at the Dallas Chapter of the Association for Psychological Type at the end of the month. She's famous for her work with kids and families, having co-developed an indicator you can use with your children 8 years and up. Here's more info on the MMTIC.

From her last talk I remember her saying that kids with Sensing preferences tend to use the colors that would correspond to what they've seen in the real world. As in, a purple sun or a green cloud would probably not be on the books. Kids with Intuiting preferences, on the other hand, might be more open to using various shades.

I've been asking myself if growing up and living in the real world with bills and stuff has stifled my options a bit. Maybe it's time to explore the whole gamut again!

What would you do if you could create your life?

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Psychological Type Theory

Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875 - 1961) developed a personality theory at the beginning of the 20th century. He observed and explained patterns in seemingly random individual behavior.

His theory forms the basis for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Tool and has most recently found application in the Neuroscience of Personality research.

Energy

Jung's first observations revolved around two ways people engage with the world.

He defined the term Extraversion (in the MBTI results described with an 'E') for people who gain energy by relating to the outside world.
He defined Introversion (in the MBTI results described with a 'T') for people who gain energy by focusing on their own internal world.

Extraversion does not mean exaggerated, Introversion does not mean shy. The terms describe where our mental energy flows, and are also referred to as an "attitude".

Jung continued, stating that our brain activity is mainly engaged in one of two things: taking in information (a process he called Perception), or making decisions based on the information we have taken in (which he called a Judging process). These two processes are also referred to as the cognitive or mental functions.

Perception

Jung describes two forms of taking in information: Sensation (aka Sensing) 'S' or Intuition 'N'.

People who prefer Sensing 'S' tend to trust information from their five senses. They prefer detailed information about the here and now, as well as practical application. Introverted Sensing 'Si' is focused on past experiences and reviewing, Extraverted Sensing 'Se' is focused on experiencing the surroundings in the moment.
People who prefer Intuiting 'N' tend to find patterns and themes in the information they gather. They prefer general overviews and find possibilities of what the information might mean for future development. Introverted Intuiting 'Ni' is focused on a vision of what might be and foreseeing, Extraverted Intuiting 'Ne' is focused on future possibilities and brainstorming.

Sensing does not mean sensitive, Intuiting does not mean intuitive. The terms describe how we use our brains to take in information.

Judgment

Jung described two forms of decision-making: Thinking 'T' or Feeling 'F'.

People who prefer Thinking 'T' tend to make rational decisions based on logical objective analysis, considering the system and connected frameworks, and may not shy away from a debate. Introverted Thinking 'Ti' focuses on defining principles and analyzing, Extraverted Thinking 'Te' focuses on organizing and systematizing.
People who prefer Feeling 'F' tend to make rational decisions according to the framework of their values, how the decision might impact the people involved, and may prefer to have consensus and maintain harmony. Introverted Feeling 'Fi' focuses on clarifying what's important and valuing, Extraverted Feeling 'Fe' focuses on harmony and connecting.

Thinking does not mean rational, Feeling does not mean emotional. The terms describe how we use our brains to make decisions. 

If you'd like to bring a Type Workshop to your organization or community:

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MBTI® Background

Realizing the impact awareness of Jung's type theory could have on mankind, Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed a questionnaire in the first half of the 20th century that has been tested for validity and reliability since then. The MBTI® today is available in over 30 languages and is the world's most trusted personality type assessment. Guidelines of ethical use require the results to be facilitated by a certified professional.

The Step I questionnaire comprises 93 items, resulting in a four-letter Type out of a possible 16 combinations.

Step II questionnaire comprises 144 items, resulting in a four-letter Type out of a possible 16 combinations, as well as providing insights into five different facets on all attitudes and functions for how each person may differ from another of the same Type.

Please note:

The tool is not theory:

Your psychological type is more than a four-letter choice between two options. Your type is dynamic, there is a hierarchy to your functions, and the patterns described by your whole, best-fit type are much richer than what you see at first glance. Therefore, there is no "boxing in" of people, rather the MBTI offers a short-hand explanation of your preferences.

The tool has specific purpose:

MBTI results offer tremendous insight into how you approach life and work, and how you might structure your personal and professional development path. It is not suitable for personnel recruitment or match-making.

Don't force your answers:

If you think one side "sounds better", ask your facilitator to explain the Jungian meaning. For example, Thinking does not mean cold or unfeeling, and Perceiving is not the same as procrastinating.

Careful about "typing" others:

People are complex, and just because they behave one way at work does not mean that is their actual personality type preference. We all have access to all functions at all times, it's the order in which we prefer them that gives insight into our patterns.

Choose Individual MBTI® if you'd like to take the questionnaire or visit Process & Samples for more information.

If you'd like to take the assessment:

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