I love talking Myers-Briggs (and judging from past posts, a lot of you do, too). Sure, talking MBTI theory appeals to my inner INFP, but I truly believe understanding a little about your personality (and the personalities of those you love and work with) makes everything a little better.
This list is meant to be fun and far-from-exhaustive, but here are 5 reasons it’s helpful to know your personality type:
1. You learn that people aren’t wrong; they’re different.
When my husband and I were first married, we were truly terrible at handling conflict. For a long time, I just thought he was doing it wrong and blamed him for our poor conflict resolution. (That’s embarrassing to admit.) When I finally figured out his personality type, I realized that his behavior was textbook for his personality type–and so was mine. It was much easier to work through the conflict when we realized we we were dealing with completely normal differences in personality, and that nobody was “doing it wrong.”
Understanding personality differences has also opened my eyes to why some of my girlfriends prefer margarita night for ten, and others prefer coffee for two or three. That preference isn’t about me, or which choice is “better;” instead, it has everything to do with personality. (My preference: coffee. Of course.)
2. You can be reassured that you’re not crazy.
I can’t function for long in crowded rooms with strobe lights and blaring music. I literally can’t think when four people are talking to me at the same time. Church can be really hard for me. I used to think I was broken, or crazy–but now I know it’s just my personality.
Your personality type isn’t an excuse, but it is an incredible tool for understanding why some things are tough and how to get through them.
3. You can better manage your day-to-day routines.
When you understand what you need to thrive, you can structure your days accordingly. I’ve learned, through trial and error, that I feel my best and can be most productive with a nice balance of social time and alone time.
On days when I’m home with my kids, I’ve learned how important it is to protect my alone time. During these summer months, I’ve felt silly blasting the air conditioner upstairs where my desk is, so I fell into the habit of working at the dining room table instead. But the kids would wander out and talk to me, and I’d ask them not to, and then I’d feel like a jerk and they’d keep talking to me anyway….It was a lose/lose. I finally realized if I went upstairs and got some quiet everyone would be happier.
As for my day off, I’ve learned that staying home all day by myself is a little lonely, but if I have appointments and coffee dates all day, I feel a little nutty. I feel my best and get the most done with a nice balance.
4. You can recognize why you feel out of sorts, and know how to deal with it.
Last week, I attended a local business event where my husband was presenting. My mom offered to babysit and keep the kids overnight (woohoo!) so we planned to hit the event and then go out to dinner at a new restaurant we’ve been dying to try.
But at the event, I made small talk for two hours with a bunch of people I didn’t know, and I was zonked by the time it was over. Thankfully, I knew exactly what the problem was: I was talked out. I didn’t want to talk to any servers, I didn’t want to make any decisions. So we went home, opened a bottle of wine, made tacos in our kitchen–just the two of us–and walked the dog. It was a glorious Plan B for an exhausted introvert.
5. You can learn to manage your energy.
I’m learning to cater to my personality type in ways that never would have occurred to me five–or even two–years ago.
For example, we have a family road trip coming up. In years past, I’d be excited about having all those hours to catch up with my husband in the car. Pattern recognition isn’t my strong suit, but I’ve finally figured out that if I talk nonstop for hours and hours (especially with four kids in the car) I’ll be totally drained and need two hours with a good book to recover when we get there. (Which sounds lovely for me, but maybe not so great for the rest of the family.)
So instead, we’re planning on taking some “talking breaks” listening to some good music and an audiobook while we’re on the road. (Hopefully the kids will honor these quiet times, or I’ll be desperate for my reading time anyway!)
Do you know your Myers-Briggs type? How has it helped you? Don’t know your type? Head here to take this short (and free) test.
P.S. I wrote a book about personality! In Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, I walk you through 7 different frameworks, explaining the basics in a way you can actually understand, sharing personal stories about how what I learned made a difference in my life, and showing you how it could make a difference in yours, as well.