Know Thyself by: Jessica Beckman

Why do personality types matter?

Well, let me answer that question with a question. 

Why is it important to know and understand yourself?

No, I’m not initially trying to be sassy, but those would rather mosey around in ignorance, just chose their poison. 

Okay, in all seriousness, I want to try to articulate my own thoughts on why self-knowledge is necessary. So let me rea-ask the initial question. 

Why do personality types matter?

Within this blog, I will try to answer this question according to my own experience. I’m sure those psychologists with degrees could answer far more intellectually than I; however, they might not possess the loyal passion for personality typing that I have accumulated over the years. 

Why personality types? I guess this is just the tool that I’ve found works for me. There’s other out there, but for now, we’ll stick with MBTI types.

For clarity, I’m talking specifically about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a questionnaire designed to describe an individual’s psychological preferences in how they perceive the world and make decisions. 

Now, these two items seem minor, but are extremely telling to what goes on introspectively for a person. Meaning, how a person A) sees the world around them B) makes decisions based on those observations.  Essentially these two (points A and B) make up their ‘personality’. 

DISCLAIMER: I’m a huge believer that every human, as a creature of the Infinite Creator God is a complex mystery to everyone but God, including themselves. So I am no way claiming that they are limited to those two points, or that I, as an outside observer, can state point blank who they are. I can’t. The MBTI is merely a tool to better filter through the complexity of a human being. 

And with that I’m right back to where I started: Why does understanding a person’s personality type matter? 

Well, for one, we encounter people every single day. And it’s obvious to anyone who has ever tried to work with another person, that those encounters can be very complicated, especially if you perceive the world differently than that other person. I’ve realized that if I’m able to bridge the gap between me and another by understanding more of the perspective they’re seeing, I’m gonna take that bridge. 

It’s time for a brief psychology lesson. Get ready.

The MBTI is divided into four categories to break down points A and B (see above). They are: 

Introversion (I)  vs. Extroversion (E)

Intuition (N) vs. Sensing (S)

Feeling (F) vs. Thinking (T)

Perceiving (P) vs. Judging (J)

I could go on and on explaining these four categories, but essentially what you (assuming you’re new to this) need to know is this. Introverts get their energy from being alone, while extroverts are energized by socialization. Intuitors can think deeply and enjoy the abstract, whereas Sensors are more hands-on and take in information through the five senses. Feelers tend to rely on people and circumstances to make decisions, and Thinkers rely on logic. Perceivers like to keep options open and enjoy possibilities. Judgers need structure and closer to operate.

Remember, these are essentials, just a rough break-down. Check out the Myers & Briggs Foundation if this at all intrigues you. 

So I as an INFJ, prefer small groups and need my alone time, enjoy picking up on patterns and seeing meaning in abstract concepts, look to people and circumstances over concrete facts to make my decisions, and need structure A LOT to function well. 

But my ESTP friends are extroverted and social, see more of what is directly in front them, make their decisions on consistent facts and logic, but feel cramped if a structure or order is imposed on them.

So if I was paired up with my opposite personality type for a work project (granted I know the type before-hand), I’m going to immediately stretch myself by explaining my reasoning more concretely because I know that’s how they prefer to receive it as a Sensing Thinker. And voila, we have theoretically avoided a misunderstanding.

Why are personality types important? To help us troubleshoot disagreements and misunderstandings.

But that requires ourselves and others knowing our types. Self-knowledge is a great thing.

How we interact with the world is so much a part of our lives. It is our life. I want to be aware of how I take in information, how I process it, and how I use that to make decisions. That’s just a part of being a mature human. I want to know my tendencies because they say virtue lies in the middle. So instead of always making decisions based on how others are affected, I can know that I need to allow reason to infiltrate my decision-making process.

Self-knowledge helps us to get along with others and personally strive for virtue. Need I say more?

For someone who gets super irritated when people think differently than I do, understanding myself and knowing how to identify people’s personality types is helpful just to be able to have healthy relationships. And to an understanding that difference does not equal bad. Different does not mean bad, people!!

Next time you’re in a misunderstanding, I challenge you to think about how you both might see the situation, albeit differently.