In our first post in this MBTI series, we talked about working together as a team, and made the point that we aren’t all the same, which means (a) we can’t treat everyone the same, and (b) teamwork is hard! However, doing work on your team will almost certainly result in a better-working team!
We also introduced the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, as a tool that may help you and your yearbook team better understand yourselves and each other, as well as where friction or challenges may arise.
Our second post talked about the first two letter pairs, E/I, extraversion and introversion, and N/S, intuition and sensing. We will cover the remaining two pairs here.
Are you a Thinker or a Feeler?
How do you make decisions? What do you take into account, what do you devalue, and what matters most in deciding?
Everyone uses Thinking for some decisions and Feeling for others. But they differ in the degree to which they lead with logic versus tastes and feelings; this is why we describe T and F as preferences. In fact, a person may make a decision using his or her preference, then test that decision by trying to use the other preference to see what might not have been taken into account.
Important note: Don't confuse Feeling with emotion; everyone has emotions about the decisions they make. And don’t confuse Thinking with intelligence; just because you’re a T doesn’t make you smarter than an F.
"Don't confuse Feeling with emotion; everyone has emotions about the decisions they make."
Step back and apply impersonal analysis and problem-solve
Apply personal values and consider the effect of an action on others
They value logic, justice and fairness- one objective standard for all
People- and situation-focused, attuned to subjective context, emphasizing empathy/harmony
Truth over tact
It’s as important to be tactful as it is to be truthful
Often motivated by desire for
achievement and accomplishment
Often motivated by a desire to be appreciated
How Thinking Types Work (on average)
Where they struggle
Appreciate straightforward language and just-the-facts communication.
May feel frustrated by the “people” part of situations; may be seen as blunt or rude
Like work that requires order, critiquing, or finding inconsistencies
Positions that are not task-oriented may prove challenging
Try to avoid distractions, like feelings and other nonessentials, and keep the main thing the main thing
Jobs where rewards/promotions/
successes are not quantifiable may prove challenging
Ask questions about processes, decisions, priorities, etc.
When their question-asking is seen as ‘trouble-making’ or disrespectful
Use logical analysis to problem-solve
Sometimes (especially if they are also P’s), they may struggle to feel they have enough ‘facts’ to make a decision
How Feeling Types Work (on average)
Where they struggle
Day-to-day exposure to people and the human side of things is very important
Ambivalence; can see both sides of an issue and struggle to decide. May sometimes have trouble enforcing rules or questioning others
Positive feedback either from clients or supervisors is a motivating factor
May feel unappreciated in settings that do not provide positive reinforcement or feedback
A successful workplace is measured in large part by people’s positive interactions
Competitive workplaces may feel disconcerting to people who seek harmony
What each Type can give to the team
● Will take a hard look at the pros and cons of situations, even when they have a
● Able to analyze and solve problems with logic and reason
● Want to discover the “truth” and naturally notice logical inconsistencies
● Can improve ‘efficiency’ in the team.
● Know what is important to and for people, and adhere to that in the face of
● Have an ability to build relationships and be persuasive
● Want to uncover the greatest “good” in a situation and notice when people may
be harmed or left out
● Can improve ‘hospitality’ in the team
Again, this has nothing to do with intelligence or emotionality. A Feeler might be stoic, reserved, tough-minded and highly intelligent, but when they need to make an important decision, it will ultimately be based on values, conscience, and how the results of each option would make them feel. A Thinker might be sweet, caring and open with their emotions, but their decisions will center on which option is the most pragmatically useful for themselves and for others.
J or P: Are You Judging or Perceiving?
How do you view the world and your place in it? Is the world out there to be organized or experienced? Do you look for road signs or an open road? Is it about the destination or the journey? All of us have some of both; which do we prefer?
Remember, these names may mean something different than they do in common language. In this case judging does not mean being judgmental, and perceiving doesn’t mean being especially perceptive or observant, like Sherlock Holmes or something!
Judging usually means that when you receive some new input, you very quickly make a decision about it; good/bad, right/wrong, important/unimportant, reasonable/unreasonable, useful/not useful, etc. Perceiving usually means that you’re open to experiencing or observing new input, without having to put a label or a judgment on it.
People who tend to focus on making decisions have a preference for Judging because they tend to like things decided. People who tend to focus on taking in information prefer Perceiving because they keep their final decisions open in order to get more information.
"How do you view the world and your place in it? ...Is it about the destination or the journey?"
Happiest after making decisions
Happiest leaving options open
Work first, play later
Enjoy life now, work later
Prefer knowing what they are getting into
Like adapting to new situations
Change their goals as new information becomes available
Like finishing projects
Like starting new projects
Take deadlines seriously
View deadlines as suggestions
How Judging Types Work (on average)
Where they struggle
Want to plan their work and then work their plan
Frustrated by ambiguity, drawn-out decision-making, continuous change
Desire to get things settled and finished
Having to focus on minor improvements instead of timely completion of a project
Prefer to reach closure by deciding quickly
May struggle with last-minute changes, surprises, or disruptions
Really appreciate structure and schedules and punctuality and efficiency
When others have a different sense of priority, importance, urgency, especially if “waiting on” a P...
How Perceiving Types Work (on average)
Where they struggle
Really want flexibility and spontaneity in their work
Often not great planners. Hate deadline pressure that leads to less-than-ideal final outcomes
Focus on enjoying the process: “Happy cows make better milk…”
Being able to say “it’s finished” and sending it out
Love open-ended projects and flexible deadlines
Often feel frustrated or bored by inflexible structures and schedules
What each Type can give to the team
● Can organize, plan, and follow through on projects
● Push to get things settled and decided
● Appreciate well-oiled efficiency at work
● Can respond quickly and flexibly to the needs of the moment and last-minute
● Strive to keep things open so new information may be gathered
● Appreciate the need for spontaneity and exploration at work
Sometimes people feel they regularly experience both J and P traits, and this is often true. The J or P preference only tells which preference the person lives out. One person may feel very orderly/structured (J) on the inside, yet their outer life looks spontaneous and adaptable (P). Another person may feel very curious and open-ended (P) in their inner world, yet their outer life looks more structured or decided (J).
It’s important not to buy into myths and misconceptions about the MBTI. Here are some common misunderstandings:
● I can’t function in this role because it’s not my MBTI type
○ No, preference does not equal ability
● If I know someone’s type, I can predict (or manipulate) their behavior.
○ No; knowing their MBTI types only gives a framework to understand them
● I need to find people with the same type as me to be productive
○ No; complementary strengths can help your weaknesses
● Type is more important that skill
○ Someone’s personality type may make you think they’d be a great leader, but they may have no skills for the role. Using MBTI as a hiring tool is therefore not encouraged.
The reality is that any type can succeed in any role, provided they’re free to do it according to their own personality preferences. It’s really not a question of if they can do it, it’s a question of how they will do it. A Yearbook Manager/Editor-in-Chief who is an ISTJ is going to behave and function much differently than an ENTP, but both can work if the desire and flexibility is there.
"Your team will be better off by knowing themselves and each other better...and recognizing that their differences are a strength, not a problem. "
In conclusion: Why does this matter? How does this help?
Understanding and discussing differences benefits your team. Everyone has their natural way of doing things, and those ways will differ among your team members. We believe that everyone has the innate urge to grow and develop, and we believe that you’ll be more effective working together if you recognize and adapt to others...if you try to communicate with someone in their style vs. your own. A successful leader is someone who moves beyond the mindset of “can’t everybody just be like me?”
Your team will be better off by knowing themselves and each other better...and recognizing that their differences are a strength, not a problem. In the movie Rocky, Sylvester Stallone’s character is asked why he and his fiancée fit so well together even though they’re so different:
“I dunno…gaps. She’s got gaps, I got gaps. Together, we fill gaps.”
You got gaps, and your team’s got gaps, but you can fill those gaps together if you learn to understand yourselves and each other better.
There’s a lot more to be said about team building, and a lot more to be said about the MBTI (including how those four preferences work together in unique ways). United Yearbook offers free MBTI workshops to our clients which can go into greater depth on your staff’s uniqueness, so contact us if you want to take the next step in strengthening your team.
United Yearbook offers resources, curriculum, and on-site workshops on this and other topics. To learn more, contact us at info@UnitedYearbookPrinting.com or visit our website at www.unitedyearbook.net.
Dr. John Tuttle, Curriculum Specialist & Lecturer
Dr. John Tuttle is a lecturer for UYB’s in-class workshops, and also works with curriculum development, podcasts, and blog posts. He holds an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Biola University, where for ten years he was Director of Student Communications. For several years, Dr. Tuttle has also worked as an adjunct faculty member within Biola’s “great books” program.