The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people. – Theodore Roosevelt
How true – it takes more than being good at a job to achieve success. Have you ever heard (or said), if it wasn't for the people ... this would be a great place to work! Yes, people are the source of our greatest satisfaction and our greatest dissatisfaction. Often we barrel through life 'just being me – I'm being honest, authentic, real’, why can’t I get along with everyone. Maybe because the other person’s ‘honest, authentic real’ is not the same as yours!
Myers Briggs Personality Types is a great way to understand ourselves and those different from us. Let me give you a quick overview. It consists of four sets of preferences – each of us leaning more toward one side or the other.
Sensing (S) – concrete, realistic, practical, detailed
Intuition (N) – abstract, imaginative, theoretical, big picture
Thinking (T) – logical, reasoning, objective, makes decisions with the head
Feeling (F) – empathetic, compassionate, tender, makes decisions with the heart
Extraversion (E) – expressive, verbalizes thoughts, energized by people and things
Introversion (I) – contained, reflective, verbalizes conclusions, energized by time alone
Judging (J) – planned, scheduled, decisive, focuses on finishing the task
Perceiving (P) – open ended, flexible, spontaneous, likes to start tasks, doesn’t have to finish
Let me give you some light hearted examples. Js like their cupboard doors closed – open a door; close a door, normal, right? No, says the P – leave it open, I will just be going back there in a minute, as J bumps her head on the open door! Js like to plan ahead, avoid last minute rush – makes sense? No, says the P, I do my best work last minute.
How about Es and Is and the Friday night party that no one wants to go to? Both say at the door, ‘we will leave early’. Is gracefully leave at 9:30, but Es get energized by the people and the event and end up being the last to leave! Es verbalize their thoughts, Is verbalize their conclusions or decisions. How about the E talking about an idea for a trip with an I friend. Two weeks later the I friend has already booked the trip and the E is wondering what happened – did I say that?
Or, Ts and Fs doing a hiring interview. The F says, I think she’s the one, I really like her. Ts ask, which of our criteria does she meet? Years ago – my T wasn’t allowing me to get a cat - more cons than pros, but I really wanted a cat, so decided to make an F decision and went with the heart! I never regretted it!
Or Ss and Ns – details vs big picture. The N is very enthusiastic about a new idea and how great it will be! The S starts asking about the details, which the N doesn’t have and isn’t particularly interested in! How to win that S over? Get some detail.
How do we all get along, you wonder? First, self understanding. If I know my preference and how I think and come across, I can use my opposite when necessary to communicate with someone different from me. Another way is to meet half way. For example, if I am a very structured J, I can meet my P pal in the middle – maybe we don’t have to have everything ready two weeks in advance, maybe one week will do!
One goal is to understand our natural type and then learn to use our opposite, so we can choose in any situation the most appropriate and effective preference to use. When we can get to the place of laughing at our differences, rather than our differences being a source of tension, we have arrived!