If the Sensing vs Intuition scale is our input scale, how we take in information, the ‘T-F’ is our output scale, ie how we make decisions. Now, accepted wisdom is that thinking types tend to make their decisions based on data, evidence and rational thought, they are not swayed by antipathies or emotions but prefer empirical data. And the view is that feeling types make their decisions based on values, emotions and impact on people. I understand this, but I think the ‘head vs heart’ argument is overly simplistic. So, in answer to our question: no, it doesn’t but sometimes it’s hard to fathom the thought processes of a Feeler. Jung himself struggled with this, saying: “…I freely admit that this problem of feeling has been one that has caused me much brain racking.” Of course, Jung was a ‘T.’
If the Thinking vs Feeling scale is our output scale, ie how we make decisions, the ‘S-N’ scale is our input scale, how we take in information. Sensors are more grounded, they like the facts, the figures, the here and now, while Intuitors are more future oriented, they like pictures, ideas, and future possibilities. There are lots of clues to figuring out whether someone is a Sensor or an Intuitor, but a sure-fire way is to ask for directions. “Can you tell me how to get to your house for the party?”
“Of course; the address is 3 Roland Road and if you come in via the A120, you take the first exit marked “Braintree East,” then follow it to the roundabout. Take the second exit, signposted “Town Centre,” you’ll see a Texaco garage on your left. Follow this for half a mile until you come to the High School on your right and, at the junction, turn left in Maple Avenue. After 100 yards you’ll see a block of flats to your left, turn in there and my place is the third house on your right, painted blue, with a red Citroen parked in the drive. Be there for 7.00PM.”
When I first studied psychology people were fascinated, but then I realised two things: firstly they were mainly fascinated by themselves. They’d say: “Oh you’d be interested in me,” (well we are all our own favourite anecdote) and secondly, they’d say: “well it depends what you mean by ‘introvert.’” That would drive me to distraction as Jung invented the terms ‘extravert’ and ‘introvert,’ so he’d know what he meant. And it is, of course, about where we draw our energy from. Extraverts draw their energy from their environment, from people, situations, conversations, they are like vampires sucking in energy. Introverts draw their energy from within, from their own space. We can see this at parties, lots of people chatting, having fun, no-one knows who the extraverts or the introverts are; but watch more closely.
Well there’s a question! Firstly have you ever met ‘the perfect manager,’ I haven’t, (though I’ve met many who thought they were). And secondly does your personality make you a better or worse manager? I don’t think so. Whenever we attend traditional management-training courses the trainer starts by saying: ‘who are the great leaders from history? And usually the ‘answer’ is Winston Churchill and Richard Branson! Next question: ‘what makes them great?’ A list of, often strange and contradictory, attributes. Last question: ‘how can we be like that?’ Stop!
Our view is that anyone can learn to be a great manager, but they have to do that in the way that suits them as individuals. The Latin root of the word ‘education,’ is ‘e-ducato,’ which means ‘leading out.’ So rather than trying, in vain, to be like her or him, we should bring out the unique manager in ourselves. Being like her or him is not possible, nor should we want to. And trying to do so will mean we are not being authentic, true to ourselves and other people will see that. So there’s no ‘best manager’ personality, even if some personality types beg to differ. There’s just all of us, with our own foibles and idiosyncrasies doing the best we can and doing it our way. Sure we can learn the practical skills to be better managers, that’s why we created Skilful.co. But they way we manage, which is a day-by-day, often hour-by-hour activity, will depend on us as individuals, so we do it our way: ‘not that way,’ or ‘that way!’ So which character type makes the best manager? All of them!
How often have you heard someone say: ‘I’m too set in my ways,’ or ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ as a way of avoiding having to change? Sure personality tends not to change, but we can all adapt and modify our behaviour depending on the situation - if we choose to.
Think about all the various situations we get involved in during a week, some social: out with friends, with family, some serious: at work, seeing a customer. We don't behave the same way in every situation, do we? Of course not! Therefore we can all modify our behaviour if we choose.
I had a friend who recorded ENFP on the Character Analysis, and this was a fair descriptor of her. When she showed up late for a meeting she told me: “well I am an ENFP, you can’t expect me to be on time!” That’s outrageous! She allowed herself to be late, safe in the knowledge that she could hide behind a personality type. But she didn’t have to be late.
It’s like personality clashes. You get two people who don't get on and everyone says: “it’s a personality clash,” so that OK then, nothing anyone can do. Not at all! What we have are two people who are different, who are unwilling to modify their behaviour. A ‘personality clash’ is a useful box into which we throw situations that we can’t, or are unwilling to, manage. So next time someone says to you: “That’s just how I’m made,” ask them if they behave that way in every situation. You know the answer!
There are so many ‘Communication Skills’ courses out there, but in essence communication is not so much a skill, but a choice; ie if you want someone to know what’s going on, you’ll find a way to tell them, in your own way. It’s the same with a ‘Listening Skills’ course, you know they teach you to pretend to listen, make your eyes big, focus hard and say “mm hmm” every so often so the other person thinks you’re really listening. Yet if we’re interested we’ll listen.
But the messaging matters and different personality types send, and receive, very differently. Just consider a Sensing type and an Intuitive type giving directions, or describing a scene: complete opposites.
We all know there are differences in personality types and that this manifests itself in all sorts of ways: from the way we interact, to the types of activities we like and the sorts of work environments that work best for us. So does it work with our buying patterns and is it easier to sell to an ENTP than it is to an ISTJ?
Hmm interesting! There is no doubt that those who are selling believe that different personality types require different approaches. My bank manager told me recently that they had all been on a course, using the DISC profiling system to work out the most effective ways of packaging a sales pitch to specific types. And I have seen some call centre organisations that use a quick assessment process to figure out what personality type they’re dealing with so they can better placate them when they are complaining or upsell to them (presumably once they have been placated!)
Well yes and no, and no and yes! There has been a huge rise on online dating sites and many are now offering personality “tests” for ‘compatibility,’ which always worries me. Since time began people have been attracted to someone for a whole variety of reasons, many of them illogical (and rightly so) and, like buying a property, you often don’t know what you want until you see it and then any previous preconceptions get rationalised away:
Yeah OK I know she’s not what I originally thought would be my type but she’s just so positive.
But you didn’t have ‘positive’ in your ‘list of requirements.
Well I do now.
There’s a (very) old saying: “When we meet someone we form an impression in the first few seconds,” I guess we’ve all heard that and it’s pretty scary. However when we hear the full quote it is even scarier:
When we meet someone we form an impression in the first few seconds, then we spend the rest of the time justifying it.
How scary is that, and how does it work? Well our brains want us to be right and so when we make that initial connections and form an opinion, our brain searches out evidence to prove that we were indeed correct in our assumption.
So for example if I am interviewing someone for a job and they walk into the room and I (totally subconsciously) believe they are aggressive then I will, (again totally subconsciously) phrase my questions in such a way that the other person will give aggressive responses thereby proving I’m right.
Question: “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?” Answer: “Only one but the light bulb has to want to change.” Sure it’s not that funny, in fact it’s a serious point. We often hold the metaphoric mirror up to people, show them their flaws; but can we change, and why would we want to?
OK first things first: We can’t really change our personalities. Personality is a result of the interaction between genetic conditions (what’s in our biological data) and environmental conditions (what is fed into us during those first crucial 7-8 years and can be represented this way: P=(GxE). So from quite an early age our personalities are roughly set.
But we can modify our behaviour. Behaviour is a result of the interaction between personality and situation and can be represented in this way: B=(PxS). So change the situation we are all capable of modifying our behaviour. When I teach psychology everyone loves these descriptions until they realise the implications: you really can change if you want to.
But of course we can’t leave it there. I have worked in organisations across the world, confronted some very senior people with some difficult truths and they sometimes say: “why would I want to change?” So there is another dimension, which is the motivation to change.