The below piece was written by one of our fantastic CEU presenters, Andrea Peck. It includes information about the Meyers Briggs tool, what it does and doesn’t measure, and what it means to be an introvert or extrovert in the workplace. Enjoy!
Family vacations can be exhilarating. Who doesn’t like exploring new destinations with loved ones? But spending extended periods of time with people you normally only see once or twice a year for a week or less can be stressful.
My three siblings live out west while I reside in Ohio. In more recent years, we only meet up for special occasions—weddings, funerals, short term getaways. This October, however, we spent almost three weeks vacationing in the Mediterranean, ample time to reveal real, though not deal breaking, differences: my sisters and I are planners while my brother likes to wing it; several of us are extroverts who share our stories with every stranger we meet while our introvert prefers private and selective conversations; and then there are us feeling types: we worry-- about tipping, who or how much; everyone’s safety; and if we’re all getting along, while my rational siblings are more pragmatic about their spending, the challenges of travel, and matters of the heart. And though most of our differences were easily resolved, in the workplace— we often spend more time with coworkers than with family and friends –these same differences can wreak havoc.
The Myers Briggs assessment provides insight into one’s own and others’ behaviors and mental processes and can be used to strengthen leadership, problem solving, decision making, conflict management and team building skills. What follows is some background, facts, and a few tips for better understanding and handling workplace differences.
Background: Based on the work of Carl Jung, The Myers Brigg Type Indicator was initially developed by Katheryn Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers during WWII to help place women into jobs vacated by men. Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc. later published the MBTI in 1975. Today it is used worldwide by over 2 million people a year.
Facts: It measures preferences and inclinations-- not traits, skills, aptitudes, or competence; there are patterns to how people think and behave. A high score in any category is an indication of what you prefer, not whether you’re highly skilled. No preference is better than another; although, our culture most values the traits of ESTJs—extroverted, rational, objective, methodical planners. And though we can do all preferences, we don’t do them equally well.
Application: How people get energized and motivated in the workplace is one category measured by the MBTI; one has either Extroverted or Introverted preferences.
Extroverts like face to face interactions. They prefer brainstorming, group interactions, and may quickly respond to other’s questions, ideas, or emails before they’ve fully processed their responses; hence, they value the feedback and input that can result from exchanging ideas with others. Extroverts may finish your thoughts, interrupt you mid-sentence, or walk into your office without prior notice if they have something important to say.
Benefits: Their energetic talkative style encourages creativity and teamwork and may encourage those who are more passive.
Tips: Maintain eye contact. Don’t assume they’re not interested or superficial because they dominate conversations or interact with so many. Let them share their opinions and ideas.
Introverts prefer spending time alone, working by themselves, reflecting on decisions and judgments, and a quiet workplace. They like direct communication versus small talk or chatter, leading self-starters, and they appreciate having time to think before they respond -- responding in writing allows them time to reflect.
Benefits: They are excellent listeners and thoughtful responders. As a result, they can guide extroverts with good questions, and validate and encourage others— great leadership skills.
Tips: Give them ample advanced notice. Include options for them to respond in writing. Be patient with their longer response times - don’t assume it means a lack of interest. Finally, provide them with opportunities to express themselves.
Though Extroverts and Introverts may not always understand one another’s approaches —Extroverts can see Introverts as unsocial, aloof, or shy while Introverts view Extroverts as intrusive, egotistical or aggressive-- they each offer valuable skills and perspectives that can complement and support one another’s success, or in my family’s case, a great vacation. Using assessments like Myers Briggs can provide the tools and insights needed to enhance our appreciation of workplace differences.
Andrea (Andie) Peck
Facilitator, Consultant, Coach
Professional Enhancement through Communication
Helping others discover their voice, vision, and value.