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Learning more about my personality type really improved my life...and it can improve yours too!

Having a background in psychology and the mind, I was familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test, which categorizes individuals as one of 16 personality types, for quite some time. In fact, years earlier, I had even figured out which Myers-Briggs personality type fit me, but had somehow just forgotten my personality type and never really used the information at all.

Then in April, 2004, a friend, who was being trained in sales, was showing me a personality schema that is used to allow salespeople to quickly identify the personality style of potential customers. This fascinating lesson, combined with a discussion with a co-worker the next day, rejuvenated my interest in learning about my Myers-Briggs personality type. Finding a personality profile of my type on the web, I almost got goosebumps on the back of my neck upon reading the eerily accurate description of my personality.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most commonly used personality test in the world. It was developed in order to provide a practical application of Carl Jung's theories on personality. The understanding that it has brought me has led my business partner and I to incorporate personality concepts from MBTI and other schemas as integral elements of our Personal (Life) Coaching, Group/Organizational/Business Consulting and Training company, Emergent Associates, LLC.

The MBTI categorizes a person on four preferences:

  • Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I) - This pair refers to your "source of energy". Extraverts are energized by being around other people, while Introverts need time alone to recharge their batteries and can be drained by too much time spent among many others.

  • Sensing (S) and Intuition (N) - This pair refers to how you take in information about the world. Sensing people focus on information coming directly from their senses while Intuitives get information more from within their own imaginations.

  • Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) - This pair refers to how you make decisions. Thinkers decide more through careful consideration, while Feelers make decisions based more on emotions.

  • Judging (J) and Perceiving (P) - This pair refers to how we like our world structured. Judging people like a great deal of structure in their lives, while Perceivers are more flexible and are better able to handle spontaneity and change.
Each person is ultimately assigned one of the two choices on each scale. Thus, there are 16 total combinations and each person's personality type consists of a four letter series such as ESFP or ISFJ. My type is quite clearly INTJ (also see and see). People have then gone on to further categorize certain of the combinations together under headings that highlight their similarities. For instance, all those types containing I and S are known as Analyticals, while all those containing E and N are considered "expressives". Categorizing further, INTJ and INTP are known as "introverted conceptualists", while ESTJ and ESFJ are considered "extraverted traditionalists".

In reality, nobody can be categorized completely accurately in such a way. In fact, when a person takes the Myers-Briggs personality test, they actually receive a percentage score on each scale. So a person could be 75% introverted or 25% feeling. The final letter that you receive on each scale represents the side to which you most lean.

But despite its imperfections, I've found knowing my personality type to be extremely interesting and useful. It is one of the marks of the INTJ that we look to apply information, rather than simply knowing it for its own sake. Upon reacquainting myself with my type, I joined a couple of INTJ email lists and immediately met someone who shared an incredible number of interests with me.

I am intrigued by the idea of using types to help improve the odds of finding a compatible career or meeting likeminded people - those who share 2, 3 or even all 4 of your letters - for friendships or romance (also see). There are a number of firms, websites, email lists and counselors that offer to help you do exactly that. If you're thinking of approaching me for a relationship, then you may want to read this first - and then run toward me or away from me as the case may be *grin*. While I always approach such simplified methods with a skeptical mind, knowing your type, in my experience, can help give some valuable guidance in all of these areas.

If you'd like to know your Myers-Briggs type, there are a couple of ways to go about it. The best way is probably to take the test itself - or one of the simplified forms of it that are available - and then see how you score on each of the four scales.

Here are some links to various version of the Myers-Briggs or similar personality tests that will allow you to determine your type.
However, sometimes, if you are very aware of your own personality, you can simply read the descriptions of each pair and decide which personality profile fits you. Are you Introverted (I) or Extraverted (E)? Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)? Many of us can tell these things without taking the test, simply by reading the definitions of each choice. Another alternative is to read the descriptions of the 16 personality types and find the personality profile that sounds like you. Or perhaps you know which letter fits you on a couple of scales, in which case you can simply read the ones that include those letters.

But don't stop at understanding more about yourself. The great thing about personality typing is it can give you insight into your friends, co-workers, family members and lovers, as well. Some of the puzzling behaviors and ideas that these people have become easier to make sense of in the context of their whole personality. Just as reading my own type was a bit of an epiphany, I have also experienced near-revelations while reading the types of other people I know.

Not only does this information help you learn to get along better with people of various types, but it gives you some insight into the parts of yourself that may be underdeveloped. Remember that while it is great to understand more about who you are, an important part of life is growing and developing new aspects of ourselves to reach a more balanced state. Perhaps you can pick up some ideas that will help you get closer to the midpoint on some of those scales. If you're extremely thoughtful, maybe you can get an idea that will help you develop your feeling side. Or if you are a person who judges a lot, you can start to learn what it is like to use your perceptive abilities more.

The Myers-Briggs can't completely capture everything about a person. It's also not the only personality typing schema. Another is the enneagram, which overlaps a good deal with the Meyers-Briggs. But, if you use it as a general guideline, it can help you better understand yourself and others. It can arm you with some important insight when choosing a career or a mate. And most of all, it can help you learn about the parts of yourself that need to grow to obtain a healthier balance in your life.

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Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey
Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey - Incredible book giving a complete history of personality typing, describing in detail the personality profile and characteristics of all of the types, as well as how they fare in various careers, and how they interact in terms of mating, parenting, etc. Also includes a personality test in the book.


  • Wikipedia Page on Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - Tons of info on the MBTI thanks to Brian.


  • TypeTango Myers Briggs Dating Personals - Find your match by personality type.

  • - Find your match by personality type.


  • MBTI Mousepads - Each mousepad with a concise phrase appropriate for a given personality type. Find yours!.


  • - Page with brief description of INTJ, great section on how others can deal with an INTJ, a Q and A about INTJ tendencies and a list of further links to INTJ resources.

  • How to Deal with an INTJ - 10 tips to improve your interactions with us INTJ's.


  • Archive for the Personality Type category of my blog

    Dr. Howard Ditkoff is a personal coach, group/organizational/business consultant and trainer through his company, Emergent Associates, LLC, which shares its unique knowledge, understanding and tools to support health in human systems of all types. Howard helps people discover and develop their deepest talents and potentials, bringing greater satisfaction to all areas of their lives, ranging from health to career to relationships, while helping groups, organizations and businesses of all kinds achieve greater success. For more information, or to contact Howard about setting up a Free Introductory Consultation, visit Emergent Associates, LLC's Website or email him.

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