About this blog

The purpose of this blog is to help you communicate with others.

Safe, correct, ethical and beneficial use

What You’ll Achieve By Reading this Post

An understanding of what you might gain from reading these blogs.

A solid grasp of what Type is and what it is not.

An overview of some of the ways that Type can be applied safely, correctly, ethically and beneficially.

100 Years

The year 2021 marks the centenary of the publication of Carl Gustav Jung’s Psychological Types in Germany. Google Psychological Types today (17 February 21) and you’ll get a list of 255 million results; absolute testimony to the fact that it’s very unlikely that Jung’s work is just going to quietly fade into history. Repeat the same exercise with Myers-Briggs Type which was inspired by Jung’s Types and you’ll return 25.7 million results. It’s here to stay.

Millions have benefited from using the model to lead more fulfilling lives and to successfully tackle the classic difficulties in navigating life. From psychiatry to religious faith from private to work life the model has inspired thousands of applications used one-to-one and in group work. It is the ongoing subject of rigorous academic debate and research.

Central Aim

This blog has a central aim: to encourage the correct use of Type in my community through exploration of the practical application of it in a wide variety of situations. Ultimately, Type supports better decision making through better data collection.

Correct Use?

The internet has spawned many “free” online tests that claim to offer the chance to accurately identify your Type preferences. Sadly, that offer is for many, many people invalid. In his introduction to Psychological Types Jung makes the simple, but profound, statement that our personalities are most often clouded. Whilst a free online report may point you in the right general direction, it is not for the majority, your true Type. That can only be uncovered through a verification process with a trained Type practitioner. Type is a development system for people and its use is not as straightforward as, say, Astrology which can be pinpointed through a time and date of birth. If only Type was as easily accessible.

Incorrect Use

Recruitment and selection. To label people e.g. “I don’t get on with XXXX Types. To make excuses for what would generally be considered inappropriate or dangerous behaviour. To manipulate people. To impose your opinions on others. To devalue some Type preferences or to over inflate your own. To mislead others about who you really are at heart.

The Risks

There are some clear dangers here. Someone with a reported online preference for say Extraversion may just simply not recognise how to marshal and use his energy. This might lead to burnout and often does. In contrast, a verified Introvert has at her disposal the means of regulating her energy successfully and thereby avoiding possible health, work and life problems.

But I Don’t Know My Type!

Whilst I’m dipping into the technical world of Psychological Type as a source of inspiration, you don’t need to either know your own Type or understand the sometimes labyrinthian and arcane world of Carl Jung’s Psychological Types to benefit from it. There are a myriad of ways that practitioners have developed to make Type accessible to those who haven’t had the accreditation training. Some examples are the temperaments, interaction styles, the functional pairs and so on.

A Word on Professor Jung

I do not endorse everything Jung wrote, said and did, nor do I wholly agree everything that that has emerged from the Myers-Briggs Types work and research. I do, however, support Jung’s firm belief that we are all unique individuals but not to the exclusion of critical and essential relationships with other people.

Type is a Development Model or System

We are not a Type. We are unique individuals. Type does not necessarily determine behaviour. And Type identification is highly sensitive to specific contexts: health, career choice, parenting, and so on. We have Type preferences showing what we may choose to focus upon and how we may prefer to make decisions more often than not. Type does not, in my experience, offer off-the-shelf, easy solutions. It does, however, suggest a direction and approach for our full development as human beings that is likely to be unique for each of us. It is not a cage. I am not an INTJ. I merely have INTJ preferences. My development is, therefore, very likely to be different from the journey someone with ESFP preferences may wish to take although some elements may be similar.

What You Need to Ask Yourself

In the last analysis, you need to ask yourself do these ideas, data, values and models fit with my personal experience of the real world of people and can they offer me some benefit or utility?  Personally, I hold two important truths in mind, Carl Jung wanted to understand people with a concrete theory and model and, Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers and her son Peter Myers genuinely set out to help people realise their full potential.  For me, that is good enough.

My Experience

I was introduced to Myers-Briggs Type in 1987, got a licence to use the indicator in 1992 and have applied, the model and the considerable research supporting it, in one-to-one and group sessions as a consultant, lecturer and sometimes friend both inside and outside organisations. I must have introduced Type to over 500 people over the years. On a personal level, Type has been a means for me to develop myself and especially as follows:

  • How I manage and maximise my energy levels;
  • Recognising the signs of stress in myself and the steps I need to take to find equilibrium;
  • In choosing a communication style that suits and supports others;
  • In finding joy in recognising the strengths that folk with other preferences reveal to me e.g. attention to detail, immediate warmth, and so on;
  • Pausing to avoid leaping to conclusions when I fail to understand another person’s choices.

My bookshelf includes Type books and booklets on:

  • Communications;
  • Nature and technology;
  • Type in organisations;
  • Leadership;
  • Stress;
  • Innovation;
  • Coaching;
  • Mid life;
  • Change;
  • Selling;
  • Depth Typology.

I hope that these blogs give you pause for thought, some inspiration and ultimately a means of getting fulfilment in life. As long as we’re all trying to do our best, that may be all that is necessary. I have found this is a journey well worth taking. Make no mistake, it is a journey much more than a destination.

Finally, my own use of Type and my use of it with other people is restricted to my qualifications and experience gained as a Human Resources consultant and professional, a management consultant and as a teacher.

COVID Briefings: A Type Assessment

Have they got the balance about right?

The Biggest Communication Challenge the World has ever Faced?

Some things haven’t changed!

Communication is a dilemma at the best of times and no more so now for authorities across the globe in trying to respond to a pandemic. Thankfully, few of us are ever likely to have to deal with such an enormous communication challenge.

Attention Drift

Like many of you, I’ve felt I’ve had to tune in to the regular COVID briefings provided by the UK and Scottish governments. I’m struck by how often, within five minutes or so of the start, my attention has drifted away to the point where I’m no longer taking in the information being presented. I’ve usually switched channels long before the rather clunky questions from journalists process. This got me to wondering about why I find it hard to stick with the briefings?

Being in a Minority

I have INTJ personality Type preferences and this does mean that I’m one of the least common of the 16 Myers-Briggs Types at 2.1% of the population so perhaps I’m a little more difficult to “reach” than other Types. The most common Type, at 13.8% of the population, is ISFJ known as the compassionate assimilators from a communications perspective. INTJs, by contrast, are logical visionaries; a human tragedy of the scale we are witnessing may not be best served by this particular communication style.

What INTJs Want to Hear about the Pandemic

Donna Dunning (2003) in her Introduction to Type and Communication suggests that what we INTJs are likely to want to hear is: explanations of how and why things are going to work, the long-term implications of the governments’ plans and complex and abstract ideas for solving the problem. Some of these matters are touched upon in the briefings but not to the extent that would fully satisfy the average INTJ. It strikes me that it would probably be unreasonable to expect all of this to be covered in response to a new disease, a dynamic situation and a very frightening, current here and now situation.

What we actually get

The focus is on the “science” and most importantly the “data”. As logical analysis is of significant importance to us INTJs, I’ve often wondered where this science has come from when this is a new virus which appears to have unknown characteristics. Much of what is said from the podiums is about justifying the restrictions and the various lockdown measures much of which seems a little illogical.

Nonetheless, there is also a great deal of positive feedback and appreciation for our forbearance, what is expected of us is clearly articulated, our active collaboration is explicitly requested, we get details and step-by-step explanations and some personal stories and examples. These features of the briefings are just what ISFJs want to hear (Dunning, 2003, p24).

Crucially, from my INTJ perspective, the briefings are just too long and highly cautious. Whilst being acutely aware of my personal frustration at aspects of the briefing communication process, I do fully appreciate the enormity of the challenge and that, in needing to win people over, the briefings need to resonate with all Types at least to some extent. I also need to respect and show my appreciation for the hard work that is going into the effort to stabilise a worrying situation and the risks that people in the frontline are taking to save lives. So, I do follow the restrictions as closely as I can despite my reservations about the efficacy of some of them.

Interestingly, the ISFJ preferred approach to communication is also subtitled “don’t rock the boat”. This gives me pause for thought on the basis that the prominent tone of a communication does need to suit the specific situation as well as the needs of the majority of the people to whom it is directed. Rocking the boat is not really what is required right now and may explain why attempts to question the authorities’ decisions often have failed to gain traction. I’m pondering over whether a communication style focusing solely on the needs of INTJs would scare the vast majority of the population witless and could potentially cause widespread panic.

Communicating and Briefing on COVID is a huge challenge from a Type or any other Perspective

The UK population is around 68 million as of today’s date. Even allowing for reducing this figure for the very young and the very old that’s an awful lot of people to brief. When you overlay demographic differences of age alone, there is a very broad spectrum of interests to span and respect from young adults to those at the other end of the age range. The 16 Myers-Briggs Types have slightly different needs from communication and that adds yet another set of complexities.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps a little reluctantly, through putting this post together, I’ve realised that the unique situation and the needs of the majority of other people is what probably what has shaped the style of these briefings. Rather humbly, I accept that this calm, steady, detail-laden, cautious, appreciative and reassuring approach is what is best for all of us regardless of our Type preferences. I’m grateful that I get a little of what I prefer from the communication briefings and will happily tolerate the bits that others need more than I do in the knowledge that it works for them and that, in the last analysis, is in my best long-term interests. As is often the case, using Type as a lens to view the communication challenge that the COVID response poses, my understanding and insight has deepened. Type is not a panacea and was never intended to be so but it does offer a particular insight.