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How to Use Your Myers Briggs Type to Your Professional Advantage

by Maggie Suszka

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves,” said Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and the godfather ofMyers Briggs personality types. It can also lead to a better understanding of how we best function in our work lives.

Myers Briggs and the 16 different personality types boils down to the understanding that our “seemingly random behaviors” are actually orderly and consistent – all due to basic distinctions in the way we prefer to practice our perception and judgement of people or situations. Not only is it a tool to use in your personal life, but it is something that could assist you in your role at work,or even help guide you into a field in which you might excel and find great joy. There are resources online that suggest careers for your Myers-Briggs type, to help you utilize your natural talents.

I am an ENFP, “enthusiastic, creative and, a sociable, free spirit who can always find a reason to smile.” This is something that anyone who knows me will attest to. I learned that ENFPs are meant to be “writers, musicians, consultants, entrepreneurs, artists, among others, because they are very creative and fun loving and excel at careers which allow them to express their ideas and spontaneity.” While my personality reads as a strength in the creative and freelance realms, I need to adapt some of my ENFP weaknesses for the workplace.

For example, I knew I was a “feeler” before my Executive Creative Director and I sat in a room crying during my mid-year review. Feelers empathize deeply (cue my tears). It’s important to learn how to use your “feeling” bone to your advantage and not fall prey to taking things personally. Jen Gotch, founder of Ban.do and mental health advocate, will argue differently, but I think it would affect my career to be crying at my desk often. To each their own, but it is useful to take the test, learn which personality type you are and use your strengths and weaknesses to elevate your work life.

So how can everyone use their Myers Briggs personality results to their advantage and find a career that fits them, instead of making themselves fit into their career?

Extraversion or Introversion

No one is fully extroverted or introverted, and the “standard” workplace can call for both extroverted and introverted tendencies. For example, no one wants a “loose cannon” running around the office talking to every person that passes their desk 24/7, but on the other hand,  many roles demand for successful public speakers – someone who is able to present and argue the strengths of their creative work, data, or even scientific findings. Extroverts need to learn how to master their talkative tendencies and outgoing nature and steer this energy into a path that does not lead to too many mid-morning coffee dates with co-workers or mid-afternoon walks with your work besties (guilty as charged here!) Instead, they should strive to strike a balance of this, by continuing to be personable and outgoing without letting it get in the way of their work.

For introverts, it’s a little different. Introverts are incredibly successful in not speaking before they think, lending them a hand in being more thoughtful and intentional in their feedback – rather than immediately blurting out whatever pops into their head. Introverts require alone time to recharge and reset. It’s important they acknowledge this and take the necessary breaks in the day to ultimately be more productive. Introverts need time to be understood and to think through their work. Additionally, you might have seen myths online that introverts don’t know how to speak up in meetings or lead a presentation AKA they’re too shy to take the floor. This could not be more untrue! According to PyshCentral, “At least half of people who speak for a living are introverted in nature. They just prepare and practice really well, and “they draw from their strengths,” said Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D, a certified speaking professional, executive coach and author.

Sensing or Intuition

For information, do you focus on what’s given and provided to you or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning to it? This is Sensing or Intuition. For those that are sensing, you focus on the here and now – what’s right in front of you. It’s the folks in the office that look at the “bottom line” and start with the facts. At times, this can be taken to the extreme. For the sensors out there, be aware to not become completely submerged and dialed into the facts that you miss an opportunity for a new possibility or growth. This intense attention to detail can get in your way and you have to take steps in order to attempt to look at the whole picture. Putting in a little extra time beyond the facts, although uncomfortable for sensors, can go a long way.  

Those that are intuitive consume information a little differently. They “would rather learn by thinking a problem through than by hands-on experiences.” Intuitive types are ahead of the game when it comes to brainstorming and creative ideation, and are huge players in the world of reading between the lines. Invite them to any meetings where you need out of the box suggestions. Intuitive types might feel the stress of delivering on their creative prowess (this pressure can get to me at times). When I am feeling less than my usual creative self, I am brutal to my mind – bantering on and on with myself about why I am in a creative mind muddle. Intuitives need to push themselves to pay attention- pay attention to the details and take the time to unpack the facts so you can properly comprehend what is being asked of you and to more successfully reach your ultimate goals and to hit those KPI’s (key performance indicators).

Thinking or Feeling

It’s important to not confuse thinking with wisdom or feeling with moodiness – neither correlate . Thinkers examine all of the basic truths and lay out the pros and cons clearly. Thinkers are great at being fair in the workplace, looking at an issue from all angles, and ultimately provide logical solutions and point of view. However, thinkers don’t think too much! You need to bring some feeling into your work decisions because empathy can influence beautiful creative work and at the end of the day – client, coworker, business partner – we are all human. Thinkers need to work towards being more conscious and tap into their empathetic bones at times.

Feelers, on the other hand, need to work on putting them away at times. For those of us that have feeling in our drivers seats, we are able to connect with a lot of different people. We are strong team players because we can work and communicate with many different types of people. We can strike a familiarity and bond within our teams that elevates the working experience. However, if we put too much pressure on finding this harmony, our anxieties and nervousness can take the wheel. We can also miss on telling the “hard truth” that is necessary in making decisions in the workplace. Feelers need to pay attention to not coming off as mushy and  too idealistic, and can do so by making an effort to express more “hard truths” in the workplace and not working to make everyone happy in your office (because it’s impossible anyway).

Judging or Perceiving

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. I can’t decide where to park my car, what to eat for dinner or whether or not to take a break from my watermelon sleep mask for the night. It would be an understatement to say that decisions are not always easy for me. How do you make important decisions? Would you rather get things checked off your list and decided for or keep things open ended and leave yourself with options? The final preference pair, Judging or Perceiving, is also thought of as your orientation to the outer world. “Judgers” can come off as the organized ones- they’re the rule-followers and the ones that stay in their own lane. The plus of this in the office is that you are not a liability. Managers and supervisors appreciate your rule-following nature and your attentiveness to timelines and reliability in reaching goals and hitting timelines. However, those that fall into the judging category, need to not pay too much attention to the goal – in fear of missing new information. Furthermore, every work world and career requires some flexibility. Those that are judging must practice balancing their own expectations and standards for themselves and work and working with others. Get flexin, thinkers!

And for all of those perceiving, you’re a smooth sailing co-worker who is the most flexible. Don’t fall prey to those who might look to take advantage of your willingness to make things work or to get something done for a coworker (without hesitation). Take time to prioritize your own schedule and needs.

Perceiving personality types are also open, work in bursts of energy, and approach work with a mix of work and play style. We also work better under approaching deadlines. It’s important that our flexibility, openness and “play at work” attitude does not get in our own way. We have to be conscious to not come off as loose and/or casual and to also make efforts to hit deadlines and decisions – instead of letting them slip by because we are so open to new information.

Use your knowledge of your personality type to your advantage. Being more self-aware will allow you to succeed in your work life and ultimately create a better work-life balance. Explore and conquer your strengths and weaknesses and start practicing what your personality type might need – whether that’s muting notifications, taking small breaks in the day or collaborating more.

Feature Image via Victoria Morris

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