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Answering Those Inevitable Personality Type Questions

In just about every psychological type workshop I teach, most if not all of the following questions are posed. Feel free to use my answers–my goal is to promote practices in using this great tool!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Am I born to be a certain personality type?  While most research indicates that type is inborn, outside factors can influence our preferences. For example, we might be born intype logo.001to a family or culture that does not nourish a particular type. If you are the only Feeler in a family of Thinkers, you may be conditioned to find logical support for decisions. If you are the only Thinker in a family of Feelers, you may learn considerate ways to express your objective analyses. In addition to family, outside factors such as culture, work settings, or life experiences can influence our expression of personality preferences. Some people therefore may find it hard to select what they were hard-wired to be as opposed to what others thought they should be.
  • Can I work to change my personality type preferences? You can change behaviors and develop skills, just as you can learn to write with your non-preferred hand. But your preferences are your best pathways for reaching your potential. No preference or type is better than another, just different. While we all can learn to use all eight preferences when appropriate, it makes more sense to concentrate most of our energy on working out of what comes easiest to us. Then we can use our non-preferred style when it is appropriate—for example, noticing spelling and grammar details (S) when writing a forecast of future marketing possibilities (N). In summary, if we are all gifted but in different ways, then the best type to be is the one you were born to be!
  • Are all people with the same personality type preferences alike? While there are some similarities among people of the same type, type doesn’t explain everything about you or anyone else. For example, while two ENFP’s may be attracted to global schemes for helping others, one may do it though science and improving crop yields while the other leads a nonprofit organization. Further, type does not measure ability or competency in any area. It does, however, do an excellent job of helping us understand ourselves, appreciate others, know the work/service setting that is best, and make sense of some of our life choices.
  • People with my personality type preferences have trouble with time management (or interpersonal niceties or accuracy, etc.) Can I use my type as an excuse? Blaming your personality type preferences is a poor excuse for any inexcusable behavior! Further, your type doesn’t “cause” any behavior. Personality type instead can be used as a framework for growth. You can look at areas where other people with your personality preferences have both excelled and struggled, read about their insights into those trouble spots, and then put the information to use in working on your own blind spots or developmental needs. For example, someone with a preference for Perceiving who constantly struggles to finish projects might learn to set deadlines for each step of a process rather than focusing on a single completion date. A person with a preference for Introversion may analyze whether speaking out earlier may be more appropriate and effective in some meetings.

What other questions are you constantly asked? Share your knowledge and spread best practices in type facilitation!

Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

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