I recently took a shortened form of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to learn what kind of personality type I am. I have always been skeptical about stuff like this, but it was part of my job, so I did my best to embrace it as a learning experience. I learned that I am an “ENFJ,” meaning I am an Extrovert-iNtuitive-Feeling-Judgment person… whatever that means.
For instance, read these two paragraphs:
A. [They] are very deep, intense people, there is always more then meets the eye. They present a cool, detached and unemotional air to the world yet lying underneath is tremendous power, extreme strength, intense passion and a strong will and a persistent drive. [They] have a very penetrative mind, do not be surprised if they ask questions, they are trying to delve deeper and figure things out and survey the situation.
B. [They] are warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible. They are highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. [They] find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfill their potential. They may act as catalysts for individual and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership.
Both of these descriptions seem too flowery to be an accurate depiction of who really I am as complex human being. There isn’t enough time in the world for that. Both of those descriptions, however, seem to allow so much wiggle room that I can’t help allowing parts of it to resonate with something inside me… That’s because one is my Myers-Briggs result and the other is my Zodiac sign, Scorpio.
I don’t mean to discredit the Myers-Briggs. Unlike the zodiac horoscope, I was active in the process of determining I am an ENFJ. Rather than base it on a set of criteria left up to other people (my parents) I was allowed to select answers based on my own behaviors. But who’s to say I wasn’t subliminally lying when I checked off “I’d rather than be in the middle of the room than the outside of the room.”
One area where I found the Myers-Briggs particularly enlightening was in my approach to conflict. I found that I commonly shy away from conflict because I’d rather be “everyone’s friend” and sacrifice my own interests. I considered this behavior “being a team player,” but after some discussion, it really became more a “mistaken kindness for weakness.”
So what does these two personality profiles say about conflict?
A. One of [their] strongest traits is their tendency to defend loved ones and friends, as they are not shy when conflict arises. They can enjoy a good argument but beware; oftentimes [they] are as right as they are very smart.
Hmm… okay? What’s the other side?
B. [They] are in many ways expressive and open, but is more focused on being responsive and supportive of others. When faced with a conflict between a strongly-held value and serving another person’s need, they are highly likely to value the other person’s needs.
Maybe Myers-Briggs is the professional zodiac. I learn that I’m a “passionate lover” in the Scorpio horoscope and that I’m a valuable “teammate” in the Myers-Briggs assessment. The stars tell me that I am “a balanced being” while results tells me I am composed of psychological opposites. We select the snippets of the horoscope we instantly connect to just like we may subliminally choose the answer we want rather than the answer we are.
I’m not saying we subliminally lie while taking tests, I just think the least trustworthy opinion of myself is mine. The people around me can tell explain how I deal with stress far more accurately than a series of disconnected hypotheticals grouped for cumulative scoring. I’m a human being! Or, at least, a Scorpio.
One more pair:
A. In conventional social gatherings they are pleasant to be with, thoughtful in conversation, dignified, and reserved, yet affable and courteous; they sometimes possess penetrating eyes which make their shyer companions feel naked and defenseless before them. (I like this one.)
B. In general, [they] are charming, warm, gracious, creative and diverse individuals with richly developed insights into what makes other people tick. This special ability to see growth potential in others combined with a genuine drive to help people makes [them] a truly valued individual. (This one’s cool too.)
So… which one’s which? (Go back and read the top ones now.)
If you guessed A was Myers-Briggs, you would be wrong. A is my Zodiac Scorpio Profile and B is my Myers-Briggs Personality Profile. Both describe me, yet both could easily not describe me. Yet both are theoretical discussions on my behavior, good and bad. Checking in on these behaviors from time to time is good for everyone.
I encourage everybody to take the Myers-Briggs I took, so I’m linking it here. It’s somewhat enlightening… you know, if you’re into that kind of thing.
P.S. At least I’m not an Outward Thinking Person with Human Judgment.