All the things I learned studying personality types.

I’ve spent a few years of my life interested in personality types like MBTI and enneagram, reading about and reflecting on interpersonal interactions with what I’ve determined in mind. I will say it’s been quite an eye opening experience. I also have had the good fortune to have a job where I cross many (hundreds of people a year) different personality types.

Here are all the things (I can remember) that I’ve learned:

  • Whether to appeal to the “world’s benefit” or to an individual’s “personal benefit”
  • How personality types generally split people into political groups
  • How personality types shape a person’s main “goal” in life.
  • Whether to focus on the big picture or the details when talking to someone
  • Why my wife and I end up in certain behavioral loops
  • How someone is most likely prefer follow up (email or phone call)
  • Whether someone is likely to want a number of options presented or a simple packaged solution
  • Why people are significantly different in their mid-30s onward compared to their early 20s. The other functions of your personality haven’t yet matured. Knowing their personality in their mid-20s will reveal some of the changes that you’ll likely see in them as they reach full maturity.
  • Whether an individual is focused on the past, present, or future by default
  • Whether someone is a binary thinker, or sees probabilities and possibilities
  • Whether someone is a conceptual learner, or a hands-on learner
  • Why people see “negative intent” when there is actually “positive intent”
  • How our brain traps itself in loops and how to break out of these to move forward in life.

While I present all that, it may appear that I’m presenting personalities as a magic bullet. That they are the solution to understanding everything and are totally deterministic. That you can apply them like an equation to anyone and get an exact answer, which it isn’t. However, they are a 50,000 foot map. There has been neurological mapping with brain scans confirming behavioral patterns of the brain relating to the different personality types and the order in which they process their information.

I saw a post online that said they don’t believe in MBTI because there are many personality types that defy what they articles say about their careers and such. I wholeheartedly agree, you can be anything you want to be. We all have the capacity to perform any type of work we desire. However, some work feels easier. Fits our natural rhythms better. Lowers our mental stamina less. That’s what the personality types tell us. On top of it, if I had just taken a simple test one time, it would provide almost no value. It was self-reflection, helping understand and clarify my own weaknesses and blindspots as well as continuous education at the brain, observations from thousands of interactions, and testing of different methods of presenting information to people whose personalities were discernible that led to the real insight. And that insight keeps coming.

Using this information is a practice. Something to be honed over decades. I’m only a few years in. Nowhere near an expert, but it has been useful to me in my career, my marriage, and my interactions with others when we don’t seem to be understanding each other. I would like to weave some of what I’ve learned into additional insights in the future along with the messages found in my normal blogs, but I haven’t figured out how to do that without devoting this whole blog to personalities, which there are already many sites that cover that.

For now, if you’re interested here is a primer I would say to start with:

  • 16personalities.com – Go there, read every type. Read what the letters mean. Try to type yourself and people you know and then read their strengths and weaknesses. See if it fits and if you learned anything new about them and can you relate it to interactions that you had that went differently that you expected.
  • Search out the “eight cognitive functions of the MBTI personalities”. There isn’t a great singular guide on this. Read the different functions our brains process and understand that the way our brain orders the operations of these functions is how our personalities manifest.
  • Look up socionics. This was the original more scientific model of the personality itself. It’s related, though not specific to MBTI personality types which became a more corporate philosophy and training.
  • Search for Dr. Dario Nardi. He’s done some of the neurological research on the issue. His work involves brain scans and the like.

After that, it’s a lot of coming up with your own questions as needed. Revisiting the information, and doing additional reading and research.