In our last blog we talked about personality preferences in team settings, discussing the differences between introverts, extroverts, intuitives, and sensors. Now we will finish our talk on the MBTI, wrapping up with the final personality types.
So, let’s jump right back in.
A thinker tends to step back and apply critical thinking, analyzing the problem logically. Feelers, on the other hand, rely on personal values, and their priority is considering the effect of an action on other people.
For the third letter, you will either be a thinker (T) or a feeler (F). Remember that all of us are a little bit of both, this is just how you typically prefer to respond. A thinker tends to step back and apply critical thinking, analyzing the problem logically. Feelers, on the other hand, rely on personal values, and their priority is considering the effect of an action on other people. Thinkers value logic, justice, and fairness, so they come up with one objective standard for all. Feelers on the other hand are focused on people and situations, so they have a more subjective context, emphasizing things like empathy and harmony. It’s just as important for them to be tactful as it is to be truthful, while thinkers emphasize truth over tact. Thinkers are often motivated by a drive for achievement or accomplishment, while feelers are motivated by a desire to be appreciated.
When a thinker goes to their boss and asks “How am I doing with my job?” and the boss says “I think you’re doing great, I like you,” that’s not enough for a thinking person – they want numbers, they want data, they want categories, and they want a score.
Now, how do thinking types work? On average, they use logical analysis to solve problems. They prefer work that has order and critiquing, and are good at finding inconsistencies. They look at a thing and say “This is right, and this is wrong.” Feelings are a distraction for them, so they try to avoid those. They want to keep the main thing the main thing, and they like to ask questions about processes, decisions, and priorities – they want to make sure that everything is lined up straight, that everything works perfectly. Now, where do thinking types struggle? Well, they often feel frustrated by the “people” part of situations, because teams don’t just involve tasks, jobs, and assignments. Positions that are not task oriented may prove challenging for thinking types. Jobs where awards, promotions, or success are not quantifiable? That may be challenging. When a thinker goes to their boss and asks “How am I doing with my job?” and the boss says “I think you’re doing great, I like you,” that’s not enough for a thinking person – they want numbers, they want data, they want categories, and they want a score. Also, thinking types may struggle if they’re also perceivers (P’s), one of the final letters – they may struggle to feel like they have enough facts to make a decision. You may think that a thinking type would be able to make a decision, but sometimes they wonder “Is there more data out there that I could use? Is there more information that I could get to make a decision?” So thinking types may have trouble making decisions sometimes, because they wonder if they’ve got enough data. And thinking types often struggle when their questions are seen as disrespectful – they think that they’re just asking for clarification, they think that they’re honing the process and making things more streamlined and efficient, but their questions may seem like they’re challenging someone else’s capabilities or decisions.
Feeling types may also struggle with feeling unappreciated in settings that don’t provide positive reinforcement or feedback. They need to hear “You’re doing good, I like the work you’re doing.”
Now, the other side of this coin: feeling types. On average, how do they work? Daily exposure to people is very important for feelers. Positive feedback, either from clients or supervisors, are key for feelers, and a successful workplace is measured by positive interactions. If you ask a thinking person “How successful is your company?” they might point to numbers, earnings, or productivity, while a feeling person would talk about how great the people are and how well they get along. Now, where do feeling types struggle? Feeling types often feel ambivalent because they can see and understand both sides of an issue or conflict, and can struggle to decide what to do. Feeling types may also struggle with feeling unappreciated in settings that don’t provide positive reinforcement or feedback. They need to hear “You’re doing good, I like the work you’re doing.” Competitive workplaces may feel disconcerting because feeling types like harmony, not competition. So, if there’s a competition between salespeople to see who gets the most sales each month, a feeling type won’t be very motivated by that – they just want everyone to get along, they don’t want to feel like they have to step on somebody else to be successful. And feeling types sometimes have trouble enforcing rules or questioning others’ decisions, because again, they just want everybody to get along.
Feeling types have the ability to build relationships and be persuasive, and often want to uncover the greatest good in a situation, not always the truth that the thinking types are focused on.
So, what can these types offer each other? On your team, you’re going to have thinkers and you’re going to have feelers. Thinking types take a hard look at the pros and cons of a situation, regardless of their personal stake in it. They can be analytical and a little detached, and they’re able to analyze and solve problems with logic and reason. They want to discover the truth, and they naturally notice logical inconsistencies – therefore, they can improve the efficiency in the team. If your team is producing something, whether it be a yearbook or a widget, efficiency is important because you have deadlines and responsibilities. Now, what do feeling types bring to the team? Well, they know what is important to and for people, and they adhere to that, even in the face of opposition from thinking types who keep strict deadlines – the feeling types will push back and say “Give her a chance to work on it, she’s going to produce something great, give her an extra day.” Feeling types have the ability to build relationships and be persuasive, and often want to uncover the greatest good in a situation, not always the truth that the thinking types are focused on. They notice when people may be harmed, and they can improve the hospitality of the team – you have tasks and responsibilities, but you also have human beings who have to work together. If you have no feeling types on your team, it’ll be all about data and productivity, and it’s going to be a very uncomfortable place to work.
A judging type often wants to work first and play later, while a perceiving type often wants to enjoy life and then work. Judging types want to know what they’re getting into, and before they start they want to know how it’ll end.
The final pair of letters answer the question of how you view the world. You are either a judging type (J) or a perceiving type (P). When we say “judging” we don’t mean being discriminatory or anything like that, it’s just the way that you look at the world. After going through this, I think you’ll realize “Oh, I’m this, and the person over across the room is one of those,” because it’s pretty clear. Judging types need structure. Perceiving types need spontaneity. Judging types are happiest after making a decision, putting a thing to bed and closing the book. Perceiving types are happiest when they can leave their options open. A judging type often wants to work first and play later, while a perceiving type often wants to enjoy life and then work. Judging types want to know what they’re getting into, and before they start they want to know how it’ll end. Perceiving types, on the other hand, like adapting to new situations. Judging types are goal oriented, while perceiving types tend to change their goals as more information becomes available. Here’s a good one, you probably know this – judging types like finishing projects, and perceiving types like starting new projects. You know who you are. And finally, judging types take deadlines seriously, and perceiving types – well, Douglas Adams has a great quote about deadlines, saying “I love deadlines, I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.” Douglas Adams was a P, viewing deadlines as suggestions.
“Once you’ve made a decision,” a J would say, “can’t you just stick with it instead of tweaking it every five minutes?”
Now, how do judging types work? They want to plan their work, then work their plan. They desire to get things settled and finished, they want to reach closure by deciding quickly, and they really appreciate structure, schedules, punctuality, and efficiency. And again, you people know who you are. Where do J’s struggle? They’re often frustrated by ambiguity, by drawn out decision-making, and by continuous change. “Once you’ve made a decision,” a J would say, “can’t you just stick with it instead of tweaking it every five minutes?” J’s also struggle with having to focus on minor improvements instead of timely completion of the product. J’s want to get their project out the door. They struggle with last minute changes, surprises, and disruptions, and they struggle when others have a different sense of priorities or urgency. If you’re a J and you’re waiting on a P? You could lose your mind.
On average, P’s really want flexibility and spontaneity in their work. They focus on enjoying the process.
Now, let’s talk about P’s, the perceiving types. On average, P’s really want flexibility and spontaneity in their work. They focus on enjoying the process. If the employees are happy, if the process is happy, then perceivers believe they’ll make a better product. P’s love open-ended projects and flexible deadlines. Again, you people know who you are. Where do perceptive types struggle? They struggle with deadline pressure, especially when it leads to less than ideal outcomes. When your J boss says that all of your changes on a project need to be done by Friday because the project needs to ship on Saturday, you know as a P that you could make the project even better if you had the weekend to work on it. When you ask if the project could ship on Monday, and your boss says that the ship date is nonnegotiable, that’s going to make you a little crazy – P’s are not great planners, and are often creative types that aren’t great with deadlines. They often feel bored by inflexible schedules or structures, and they struggle with saying a project is finished without tweaking it for another week.
The judging types organize, they plan, they follow through on projects, they push to get things settled and decided, and they appreciate and add to the well-oiled efficiency of your team.
But you need both of these people on your team – what can they offer each other? The judging types organize, they plan, they follow through on projects, they push to get things settled and decided, and they appreciate and add to the well-oiled efficiency of your team. What do perceiving types bring? They can respond quickly and flexibly to the needs of the moment, and can be spontaneous. They strive to keep things open so that there’s new information that could be integrated into the project. Also, they appreciate the need for exploration in work. In this way, you need both of these people on your team – you’ll suffer if you don’t.
Complementary strengths can help your weaknesses, and if you think you don’t have weaknesses, wow are you kidding yourself.
Now, a final reminder about some common misconceptions about the MBTI. You can’t just say things like “Oh, I can’t function in this role because it’s not my MBTI type!” No, your preference does not equal your ability. You can’t say “Well, if I know someone’s type, I can predict or manipulate their behavior!” No, knowing someone’s Myers Briggs type only gives you a framework to understand them. You can’t say things like “Well, I need to find people with the same type as me to be productive.” No. If there’s anything you take away from this, I hope you understand that complementary strengths can help your weaknesses, and if you think you don’t have weaknesses, wow are you kidding yourself. And you can’t say things like “Type = Skill,” okay? You may look at someone’s personality type and say “Wow, they’d be a great leader,” but they may have no skills for the role. So, using the MBTI as a hiring tool is not encouraged because the reality is, any type can succeed in any role, provided that they’re free to do it according to their own personality preferences. It’s not a question of if they can do it, it’s a question of how they will do it. A manager or 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 the flexibility are there.
Understanding and discussing this stuff benefits your team because everyone has their natural way of doing things, but those natural ways will differ among your team members.
In conclusion, why does this matter? How does this help? Understanding and discussing this stuff benefits your team because everyone has their natural way of doing things, but those natural ways will differ among your team members. We at United Yearbook 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 and not just in your own. So, let’s move beyond the “Hey, just be like me” answers, because they’re not like you. I hope that this was helpful – your team will be better off knowing themselves, knowing each other, and recognizing that their differences are a strength. United Yearbook offers free MBTI workshops for our clients, so contact us if you want to take the next step with your yearbook team!
Dr. John Tuttle, Curriculum Specialist & Lecturer
Dr. John Tuttle 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, and where he has also been adjunct faculty for several years in the “great books” program.