You meet all sorts of people in the office, especially if you work with multinationals that occupy several floors in a big building, or if you work with the government. There’s that shy guy who keeps bowing his head whenever he meets someone in the hallway, or the snob manager who enters his office and never gets seen again until the next day, or that loud braggart who seems to treat everyone as his long lost friend, the uber friendly girl who is all-smiles to everyone, and that terrible worker who keeps messing things up.

personality typesDifferent folks, different strokes. But if everyone understood each other a little better, wouldn’t the office be a more harmonious and fun?

Everyone is unique. Yet, everyone shares lots of the same traits. To understand people in your workplace better, you need a better understanding of the different personality types in the office.

If you have any doubt about the power of personality in improving (or disrupting) the harmony in the office, just remember the two persons who just could not get along in your office.

Thankfully, a guy named Carl Jung wrote a book in 1921 entitled “Psychological Types”. With it came a better understanding of how personality differs in individuals. Katharine Cook Briggs probably read Jung’s book and got so fascinated with it that she and her daughter, Isabela Briggs-Myers, started developing several personality typologies that would help women identify the best jobs available to them, given their preferences. Soon enough, their questionnaire, which was first published in 1962, evolved into what is now known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

The MBTI is probably the world’s most popular personality assessment tools used by Human Resource Departments and Hiring companies all over the world. While it’s not a perfect tool (is there such a thing?), it helps people understand themselves better and which kinds of work are suited to their personality. But a really determined person can master any occupation, but that’s another story.

The following is a rather technical explanation of the basic concepts of the MBTI. It’s a little tedious. But before we can deal with the sixteen different personality types, we need a working understanding of the theoretical foundation and bases of MBTI.

Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Type

To better understand the MBTI, we need to look at the basic concepts of Carl Jung’s theory of the psychological type. Jung believed that individuals tend to inherit and develop certain ways of thinking and behaving. Human beings use both rational (judging) and irrational (perceiving) cognitive functions.

From this basic proposition, Briggs and Myers then developed sixteen personality types based on four dichotomies (opposing traits).

Extraversion (E)

Introversion (I)

Sensing (S)

Intuition (N)

Thinking (T)

Feeling (F)

Judgment (J)

Perception (P)

Please do understand that these dichotomies (or opposing traits) are not treated as a continuum. That is, a person is not necessarily more perceptive or less judgmental. It does not really measure aptitude in these traits but rather a preference for these traits.

I feel compelled to put a disclaimer here. I’m not a Psychologist and my understanding of the MBTI is based on my reading and research only. I don’t have direct experience in administering the test. So if you want a more comprehensive and practical application of this type, please see a licensed professional.

Let’s explore each of these dichotomies.

Attitude Function: Extraversion (E) / Introversion (I)

This dichotomy is usually referred to as Attitudes. Introverts tend to prefer their “internal life,” which draws them toward ideas and reflections. Introverts tend to think and reflect before acting and doing something. For extroverts, action first before reflection. When introverts engage in too much acting and socializing with people, they will need time off by being alone so they can replenish their energies.

Here’s an excerpt from the book “The Art of Speed Reading People” by Paul & Barbara Tieger.

Extraverts are action oriented, while introverts are thought oriented.
Extraverts seek breadth of knowledge and influence, while introverts seek depth of knowledge and influence.
Extraverts often prefer more frequent interaction, while introverts prefer more substantial interaction.
Extraverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone.

Perceiving and Judging Function: Sensing (S) / Intuition (N)

Together with the next dichotomy, Thinking (T) / Feeling (F), this dichotomy is considered as Functions of perceiving and judging.

Individuals who prefer Sensing tend to trust concrete information that can be seen, heard, smelled, touched or tasted (yep, that’s the five senses). They look for facts, data and details. Those who prefer Intuition, on the other hand, have a high tolerance for the theoretical and the abstract. They don’t easily dismiss gut feelings, instincts and hunches, and they have a tendency to look at the bigger picture instead of the looking at the details.

Thinking (T) / Feeling (F)

This dichotomy refers to the decision-making preferences of an individual. While you may think that human beings are so irrational a lot of times, by Thinking or Feeling, individuals make rational decisions. Don’t let the title of the dichotomy fool you. Feeling people also think about things, it’s just that, they focus on different things compared with those who prefer Thinking.

Those who prefer Thinking tend to make objective decisions and detach themselves from the equation. They want to make logical and reasonable decisions based on a set of rules or criteria. Those who prefer Feeling, tend to be subjective, in that they empathize with the situation and consider the people involved in the situation.

Lifestyle function: Judgment (J) / Perception (P)

Although the previous two dichotomies deal with judging and perceiving functions, this last function refers to how an individual uses the judging function (thinking or feeling) and perceiving function (sensing or intuition) as they respond to the outside world (extraversion). In a manner of speaking, this last function is a hybrid of the previous ones.

Those who prefer Judgment tend to want things to be settled and firm; while those who prefer Perception would want to keep options open.

It can be quite tricky to understand all of the 16 MBTI Personality Types. If you want to further understand your personality, take a look at the Personality Profiles below and try to determine which closely resembles your personality.

If you want to take a test to determine your personality, you can head out to this link so you can take a quick test (about 5-8 minutes). It will then explain which of the personality types closely resemble your personality.

ISTJ (The Duty Fulfillers)

Quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible. Decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. Take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized – their work, their home, their life. Value traditions and loyalty.

ISFJ (The Nurturers)

Quiet, friendly, responsible, and conscientious. Committed and steady in meeting their obligations. Thorough, painstaking, and accurate. Loyal, considerate, notice and remember specifics about people who are important to them, concerned with how others feel. Strive to create an orderly and harmonious environment at work and at home.

INFJ (The Protectors)

Seek meaning and connection in ideas, relationships, and material possessions. Want to understand what motivates people and are insightful about others. Conscientious and committed to their firm values. Develop a clear vision about how best to serve the common good. Organized and decisive in implementing their vision.

INTJ (The Scientists)

Have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry it through. Skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance – for themselves and others.

ISTP (The Mechanics)

Tolerant and flexible, quiet observers until a problem appears, then act quickly to find workable solutions. Analyze what makes things work and readily get through large amounts of data to isolate the core of practical problems. Interested in cause and effect, organize facts using logical principles, value efficiency.

ISFP (The Artists)

Quiet, friendly, sensitive, and kind. Enjoy the present moment, what’s going on around them. Like to have their own space and to work within their own time frame. Loyal and committed to their values and to people who are important to them. Dislike disagreements and conflicts, do not force their opinions or values on others.

INFP (The Idealists)

Idealistic, loyal to their values and to people who are important to them. Want an external life that is congruent with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. Adaptable, flexible, and accepting unless a value is threatened.

INTP (The Thinkers)

Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Theoretical and abstract, interested more in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained, flexible, and adaptable. Have unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in their area of interest. Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical.

ESTP (The Doers)

Flexible and tolerant, they take a pragmatic approach focused on immediate results. Theories and conceptual explanations bore them – they want to act energetically to solve the problem. Focus on the here-and-now, spontaneous, enjoy each moment that they can be active with others. Enjoy material comforts and style. Learn best through doing.

ESFP (The Performers)

Outgoing, friendly, and accepting. Exuberant lovers of life, people, and material comforts. Enjoy working with others to make things happen. Bring common sense and a realistic approach to their work, and make work fun. Flexible and spontaneous, adapt readily to new people and environments. Learn best by trying a new skill with other people.

ENFP (The Inspirers)

Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.

ENTP (The Visionaries)

Quick, ingenious, stimulating, alert, and outspoken. Resourceful in solving new and challenging problems. Adept at generating conceptual possibilities and then analyzing them strategically. Good at reading other people. Bored by routine, will seldom do the same thing the same way, apt to turn to one new interest after another.

ESTJ (The Guardians)

Practical, realistic, matter-of-fact. Decisive, quickly move to implement decisions. Organize projects and people to get things done, focus on getting results in the most efficient way possible. Take care of routine details. Have a clear set of logical standards, systematically follow them and want others to also. Forceful in implementing their plans.

ESFJ (The Caregivers)

Warmhearted, conscientious, and cooperative. Want harmony in their environment, work with determination to establish it. Like to work with others to complete tasks accurately and on time. Loyal, follow through even in small matters. Notice what others need in their day-by-day lives and try to provide it. Want to be appreciated for who they are and for what they contribute.

ENFJ (The Givers)

Warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible. Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfill their potential. May act as catalysts for individual and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership.

ENTJ (The Executives)

Frank, decisive, assume leadership readily. Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies, develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems. Enjoy long-term planning and goal setting. Usually well informed, well read, enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in presenting their ideas.

Excerpted from Introduction to Type® by Isabel Briggs Myers published by CPP. Inc. 

If you want to consult another overview of the 16 Personality Types, you can visit this site: Capt.org