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Thinking and Feeling: recording a personality change

Earlier this year (2016) for work reasons I was asked to complete one of those tests which work out your Myers-Briggs personality type. Now I know that the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) can be seen as a controversial tool — with many examples of critics and defenders arguing over it’s usefulness and scientific validity — but personally I have always found that the MBTI types can provide a useful framework within which to think about yourself and your behaviour. Provided that time is taken to use them properly.

When I have done these tests in the past I have always ended up being classified as the INTJ type. The picture of an independent analytical introvert interested in systems and processes seemed to match me pretty well. As did the weaknesses — those people skills — that that this type would seem to suggest.

It has been a while since I have done one of these tests and this time the result came back much more inconclusive. Apparently my score was right on the borderline for the Thinking vs. Feeling dimension. Which meant it wasn’t sure whether to classify me as my usual INTJ or as an INFJ. In Myers-Briggs language this result suggests I remain a mildly expressed introvert who prefers to gather information through intuition; but my rational decision-making has become less dominated by logic and objectivity and more influenced by empathy and the need to find consensus.

Now one MBTI score isn’t proof of anything; but it did help to clarify and highlight some conclusions I had been gradually coming to through my own introspection and self evaluation. I have been finding myself becoming more conscious of my own emotional needs and the importance of finding empathy with others. Whether this is a result of my depression and subsequent recovery, or merely just because I am that bit older, I am unsure but it does suggest a genuine shift in my personality.

I still think the INTJ type fits me best; but becoming more empathetic and open to finding deeper connections with other people is I feel the kind of personal growth I need to aspire to.

Moving away from the navel gazing aspect of this to the more practical, I am starting to think about how to apply this insight in my work and other contexts. When working as a consultant I often find myself fulfilling the role of “the expert”. Which in many circumstances works very well. Particularly those where I have genuine expertise! But I do find that in other circumstances taking that role ends up being less effective than I hope for and sometimes even jars. Often when I am trying to influence the bigger picture. This is my old problem of getting the analysis and strategy worked out, but not being able to take people with me in fulfilling it.

Thinking about this possible personality shift and the descriptions of the INTJ/INFJ personality types one conclusion is that I need to be less concerned with trying to prove that I have come up with the “right” solution and more concerned with the solution that works for everyone involved. Perhaps I need to better learn how to play the role of “the coach” and develop my mentoring skills further?

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