5 reasons it’s helpful to know your personality type

Self-awareness makes everything better: on Myers-Briggs, the enneagram, and why personality tests are so important.

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.

5 Reasons It's Helpful to Know Your Personality Type | Modern Mrs Darcy

5 reasons it’s helpful to know your personality type

1. You learn 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 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. 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 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. 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.

5 reasons to find out your personality type | Modern Mrs. Darcy


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  1. ed cyzewski says:

    Here’s something a little crazy. I was an ENFJ in college and then as a 20-something I scored as an INFJ. It took me a few years to accept this, but then I finally stopped feeling guilty about struggling with small talk. I literally didn’t know what to say to people. When I could just accept that I’m wired that way, it was WAY better than thinking I was be selfish or cowardly!

    And yes, knowing I need quiet reading time on vacation is key!

    • Jenn @ A Simple Haven says:

      Random, but me too. Ish. I’m still an ENFJ, but since having kids I’ve leaned a bit more toward “I.” I think it’s all that stimulation by little people all day…

      • Madeline says:

        Me too! I used to be an out of the park E and now I am only slightly E. Crazy how that has happened. Wait, I have a two year old and a five year old who I am home with all day, so I guess not so crazy….

    • Anne says:

      I think it’s fascinating how sometimes people change (although I’ve read that personality is pretty firmly locked in by age 20 or so).

      I agree: accepting that we’re just wired a certain way is so helpful: we can move past why we’re a certain way and move on to dealing with it.

      • ed cyzewski says:

        I think it’s true that we’re set by the time we’re around 20. I think in my case I went through a pretty tumultuous couple of years where I felt like I had to be more extroverted to survive socially. Once I got married, the stability of our home allowed me to finally face who I truly am. I think I was an introvert all along, but somehow the stress of my teen years made me more extroverted… or something like that.

      • Maisie says:

        I’ve taken the MBTI several times over the years. Initially, in college, I was ENTP. Since turning 30, I have consistently tested INTP. I find that the older I get the more “I” i become! But that’s OK with me.

    • Pook says:

      The center two letters usually stay the same throughout your life. If you look at the literature most of it classifies you as the two center letter traits. The outer ones can change, you become more (or less) of a perfectionist; same for introversion/extroversion. But those 2 center qualities almost always are who you are at your CORE.

  2. Jenn @ A Simple Haven says:

    Amen and amen. On a road trip last week, I actually read aloud to my husband his MBTI info and then proceeded to analyze our common conflicts and how they’re related to differences in our types. It’s pretty much his favorite car game now ;).

    I am an ENFJ. Finding out mine was honestly a big source of encouragement; I guess I just love how I was made (a sentiment typical of my type, maybe). Knowing the various weaknesses that come with my strengths was super helpful, too.

    Knowing that my husband is the exact opposite (ISTP) was helpful as well (see your #1 above :)).

      • Jenn @ A Simple Haven says:

        Anne, do you happen to know of a version of the test that shows you where you are on the spectrum of each letter set? (As in, if you’re a strong/weak “s” or “n”, etc)

        • Anne says:

          Jenn, I just spent a few minutes cruising around online and I didn’t find anything there I’d feel confident recommending. But I’d highly recommend just taking the test as it appears in the great book Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey. You score it yourself with their key, and can see exactly where you are on the spectrum with each pair of traits.

          • Jenn @ A Simple Haven says:

            Thanks, Anne! I had checked around online before and hadn’t found anything myself, so thanks for letting me know about the book! I’ll check it out.

        • Jamie says:

          I know this comment is old, but should anyone have the same question, a good assessment that provides percents is found at the HumanMetrics website. It is my favorite version of the test, especially because of the percentages provided.

        • carina says:

          I know I came in really late in this conversation.. but I thought I’d throw in that 16personalitytypes.com offers a free test that allows you to see your percentages of each trait! For example, I scored 14% introverted..

  3. Rebecca says:

    Have you ever had your hubbie or best friend take the Meyer Briggs as you? It’s really interesting to see how you “present” to those closest to you.

  4. I took one of the quizzes you linked to a few weeks ago and found out I’m an INTJ. The part of that I’ve been thinking of most, lately, is the bias toward planning. I’m a natural planner. I understand that other people may be different and not “wrong” — but if you’re trying to manage life with multiple kids, multiple careers in a family, etc., being willing to plan is probably what’s going to make or break you. It’s entirely possible to do date nights…but you can’t decide to do them at 8pm on Saturday, because you’ll have a heck of a time getting a sitter.

    • Anne says:

      Personally, I love to make loose plans and have a terrible time committing to final decisions. It was actually really helpful to me to read that it’s not uncommon for strong Ps (like myself) to put off deciding so long that the opportunity passes by. Knowing that’s a real possibility has helped me channel my latent decision-making muscles.

      Your example reminds me of my mom: she’s very impulsive, but when I was growing up she had a standing Saturday night sitter. My parents didn’t need to decide what they wanted to do until the last minute, but the sitter was going to show up no matter what.

      • Jennifer says:

        I’m the same way with planning (ISFP here)! Understanding this about myself is slowly helping me find ways to deal with this. Especially because it drives my ESTJ husband nuts 🙂

  5. I’m an INTJ. And knowing that – particularly the I part – has helped me tremendously. Even more so since I’m married to an extreme Extrovert. We’ve learned over 27 years how to balance our I and E natures, but it was hard at first, since we didn’t know the reason we were clashing so much.

  6. Tim says:

    INTJ, and it sure has helped me understand how I deal best with things at work and at home. For example, when someone wants – or needs – to talk things through at length after I figure I’ve already got enough information, I’ve learned to work on letting them continue; it just might be the way they process things best. Plus, occasionally I find that they had some information that I hadn’t yet considered.

    Then again, as the judge sometimes I have to tell people they’ve talked long enough. After all, there are only so many hours in a day. As one of our now- retired judges used to tell people who came to court for small claims cases, “Everyone’s entitled to their day in court. They’re just not entitled to an entire day in court.”

  7. HopefulLeigh says:

    I could talk about MBTI (and the Enneagram) forever! Now that I’ve been properly identified as an INFJ, I take great comfort in knowing how and why I operate the way I do and adjusting plans and self-care accordingly.

  8. Jennifer says:

    I’m an ISFP (although my S and N are super close). My husband is an ESTJ. So we’re pretty much opposites. After 12 years of marriage I now don’t get as upset when we disagree about certain things because of this. One of the biggest helps is understanding the whole introvert/extravert thing. I used to feel horrible because I just couldn’t enjoy certain work-related events with tons of networking and small talk. Now I get it and make plans to attend for just a short while. I enjoy myself a lot more knowing what my limits are and don’t feel guilty when I rush home to enjoy a quiet house and a good book!

  9. Melanie says:

    I love this topic! It’s fascinating. I just figured out I was an introvert a couple years ago and I’m 40-something. Wish I’d known that earlier,lol. But it’s helpful and liberating to know why I have my quirks and how to work around them when I need to. And it’s helped me to understand extroverts and their need to talk in be in the midst of everything.

  10. Stacey says:

    My percentages will sometimes be different when I redo the questionnaire…but I am always an ISTJ! I’m very curious to know what my husband is…other than just extremely extroverted!

  11. Anna says:

    I’m such an MBTI geek. I’ve been a fan ever since I read Please Understand Me as a 14 year old and finally figured out I wasn’t a weirdo (being the only Idealist in a family of Guardians and Rationals will do that to you). I happened to marry another INFP which is actually pretty awesome. Our marriage has been much smoother than many, but it does magnify our weaknesses sometimes. He’s not exactly like me though. He’s less introverted and right on the line between P and J whereas I’m very I, mostly N, moderately F, and very P. For me, understanding the depths of my introversion and how the other aspects of my personality influence it has helped me make the space I need for ample alone time.

  12. Love this post! I just wish I would have taken the test years ago…!

    I especially thought this quote was spot-on: “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.”

  13. Rachel says:

    I really appreciate the MBTI. When I found out about it in high school, it really helped me accept myself for who I am, as well as learning how I can grow and understand others’ differences better. I’m pretty sure I’m an ENFP, although I got INFP when I first took the test. I think it’s because I’m kind of an ‘ambivert,’ someone who is close to the middle of the E/I scale. Thanks for posting about this, Anne. 🙂

  14. Erika says:

    I love this. I am 6-month newlywed INFP married to an ISTP and life is so much fun learning about each other. Knowing each other’s personalities before we were married helped me really understand a lot of things about him and myself. It is so fascinating! 🙂

    • G says:

      hi, how has your marriage progressed thus far with the ISTP? I’m in a 5 month relationship with one now, and i’m worried about the problems that may surface in the long run!

  15. Danielle says:

    I am an ISFJ, which I’ve only found out recently, after years of taking the tests and getting the wrong result. It’s been so helpful to know my type, especially when it comes to conflict resolution, understanding myself and others, and how I can improve my weaknesses and capitalize on my strengths! This isn’t an official Myers-Briggs site, but it’s got lots of really interesting MBTI information on it for anyone who wants to check it out: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/home.shtml.

      • Danielle says:

        Whoops… I think my perfectionistic self (not a characteristic of an ISFJ… should have been a tip off) wanted to be an ISFJ, as I was trying to be upbeat and perfect in my role as a stay at home mom. I once again got my type wrong! After being very frustrated with myself for not living up to my supposed ISFJ characteristics, I did some more M-B research and realized I’m actually an INFJ – big difference!!

        Now I see that in actuality, day to day tasks (which are never ending in a busy house with 2 kids under 2…) are really difficult for me; I’m prone to dark moods and melancholy; and I struggle with a bad temper, especially under stressful or conflict ridden situations. No wonder it’s so hard for me to be a SAHM!! Finding your true personality is definitely very helpful. Trying to live up to a personality that you wish you had because it would make life easier is not helpful.

  16. Nienna says:

    Oh yes – I love the Myers-Briggs! I’m an INFP, and everything just seems so much easier when your friends know what you are, and what they are, too. Makes for some really interesting conversations! 🙂

  17. Jamie says:

    It has been hugely helpful to know my personality type, but I’ve found knowing my Love Language (and those of the people closest to me) to be equally critical to handling life well and understanding where conflicts and stress are coming from. It’s too bad schools give kids tests to figure out what careers they have the skills for (do they still do that?) but don’t give them the kinds of personality tests that would help them figure out how they fit with other people interpersonally – think what a difference that could make in picking careers, lifestyles and friendships early on!

  18. Cheyenne says:

    I’m an INFP, too. I’ve always wondered why I feel the way I do, especially at school. It gets hard when all you want to do is space out bit you can’t because you need to be taking notes for finals coming up ( next wed-thur). And I’ve always wondered why my boyfriend is soo talkative. He is an ENFP, and that explains why. Our relationship is interesting, and it feels good to know why. 🙂

  19. Teresa says:

    I am also an INFP! And I love personality tests, or any kind of getting to know myself test for that matter. All those silly FB quizzes? I take them. Just for fun. Sometimes they are actually pretty close to accurate.

  20. Nadine says:

    Anne I love this! I never realized that we’re the same outside of our E/I part! That’s probably why I can often relate to the words you choose to share. This post is helpful!

  21. Louise says:

    “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.”

    THIS. For a long time I hated personality tests, because it seemed like everyone who used them did so as an excuse. (“Oh, haha, I’m such a bad friend, I never call anyone, it’s because I’m an introvert.” OK … but being an introvert is not an excuse for being a bad friend.) Or else it seemed that they would be used to box people up and prevent one from actually having to understand them. Once I realized you could use them more as tools for understanding yourself, not excuses for bad behavior or a summary dismissal of other people, I was able to appreciate them so much more.

  22. Audrey says:

    One of the best personality profiling systems I’ve found is called, “It’s Just My Nature,” by Carol Tuttle. “It’s Just My Nature,” uses ‘Energy Profiling’ and extends far beyond personality profiling by analyzing body language, physical features, thought and feeling processes, gifts and talents, in addition to personality behaviors. This information has been invaluable to me in creating better relationships with my family. By understanding myself and those around me I can appreciate our strengths and weaknesses instead of harshly judging them. I am now able to honor and encourage my loved ones innate talents and gifts–instead of pushing them to become who I think they should be. There are FOUR different Energy Types. I discovered I’m a Type 2–fluid, flowing, calming and finding out details are my main concern. My daughter is a Type 1–upward, light, random, upbeat and full of ideas. My husband is a Type 4– constant, still, precise, exact, and structured. He has a natural gift to step back and see the bigger picture and how to perfect it. Type 3 people are dynamic. They “Do” things. They are the ones that push themselves and others toward action to get results. This information can be applied in so many ways…relationships, careers, clothes, decorating, etc. It’s also a TON of fun to learn!

    • Anne says:

      I didn’t know about Tuttle’s It’s Just My Nature profiling system, but quite a few readers have recommended I check out her Dressing Your Truth approach to dressing. I’ve only glanced through the info and still need to dive in more deeply. Sounds interesting!

  23. Bethany says:

    This is kind of fascinating to me. I took the quiz and got a type that didn’t seem to fit me so I read into some other options and came up with ISFJ… But is it possible to be an ISFJ with like ADD or something? Because I am NOT good with time management! At all. Lol

  24. Just found and read this post from the ‘How They Blog’ podcast show notes! Glad there was a free Myers Briggs to talk Anne – thanks for the link! I was a little surprised at my results. Mostly, I don’t see them that often. I tested as an ESFJ. (But the test confirmed I’m probably an ambivert–as I am barely over the line to extrovert land–a fact that would no doubt shock my husband and friends :). These tests are great and so helpful!

  25. Suzanne says:

    My sister and I are coauthoring a fantasy novel series, and we started researching MBTI to use as a tool to help us build better characters. In the process, we learned a lot about ourselves and how our family (father-ISTJ, mother-xNFJ, brother-ENTJ) works. I highly recommend studying up on one’s type, if only to learn to appreciate the differences in other people. We also learned that Marie’s type (INFP) and my type (INTJ) make good writing buddies, especially when we heard that J. R. R. Tolkien was an INFP and C. S. Lewis an INTJ, and those are two of our favorite authors.

    • Anne says:

      How fascinating! I love knowing that authors are reading up on personality to build better characters.

      (I’m not at all surprised that Lewis was an INTJ, but I’d never heard Tolkien was an INFP!)

  26. Margaret Chase says:

    I just love your site and all your informative and interesting takes on the books you are reading. I would not have read half of them had it not been for your insight. Thank you.
    My granddaughter was given an assignment at school to write an essay on Hamlet and to use Myers- Briggs to identify his personality type and explain why. ( I wish I was in school today, we never had such opportunities.) Anyhow she then went on to “do” our whole family. I am ISFJ from this test…it is not easy to be an “I:” in today’s world. I read the book “Quiet” and it was very helpful. Keep up the good work! Cheers. Margaret.

  27. AundreaMJ says:

    I took the MBTI a few months back and wish that I had taken it way earlier in life! I am an INFJ. Sometimes I did truly think that there must be something wrong with me because of my need to process things before I could respond to situations. (Even now I am writing and then re-writing my response. 🙂 ) I am so glad that I took the test and also had my husband take the test so I could learn more about him. 🙂 I married an ENFP. It’s so interesting and helpful to know the similarities and differences that we have spelled out. Sometimes we have a hard time balancing the extroverted and introverted sides, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

  28. Amy Carter says:

    I just read your newsletter about Kathleen Kelly, and I instantly knew you were an INFP! I looked on the internet to confirm and saw this blog post. I am also an INFP and, “You’ve Got Mail” is one that I have memorized, having watched it so often. Many years ago, I even pulled the TV into the bathroom with the movie paused at a picture of “the hair” and attempted to cut my hair like Kathleen’s. It did not turn out so well. Children’s picture books are my passion, and my dream is to write them.

  29. Being an INFJ personality type, I can closely relate to your experience. There was a time as a young teenager when I tried to “become an extrovert” , going to every party, flirting with every guy, making plans with every one I could…and it didn’t work out so well, because at the end of the day I would feel flatly disappointed, drained, and unsatisfied. And I didn’t understand why if I had every reason to by happy! In fact, I only felt great with close friends I could make a deeper connection with.
    After I took the Myer Briggs test, it was as if a bright light had been turned on because now I could see everything so clearly! There was a reason behind why I felt unsatisfied with my behavior. It was because I was pushing against my ingrained personality and that was why all these social butterfly activities didn’t come naturally to me. No wonder I always needed alone time after extensive social events!
    Thanks for the article! I totally agree with the importance of figuring out your personality type. That way, we can understand ourselves better and understand others better, thus leading to more satisfying relationships and habits.

  30. Sandra says:

    Found this while looking for kettle corn on Pinterest. Typical ISTP female here. Best friend is an INFP though so she helps me be less…..abrasive…to use a family friendly term. See….that’s me attempting to factor in others instead f not caring how my sailors mouth affects people. Only took 30 years to figure out why I was the weirdo in my family of INFJS.

  31. Guest says:

    I found your MBTI church article SO fascinating. So then I googled and found this young woman’s view of going to church as an ENTJ. I alternate between ESTJ/ENTJ but she NAILED it for me. My entire life I’ve been the ‘outlier’ amongst females at church. I’m too blunt, too opinionated, too take-charge, you name it…kind of “too” much of everything. I love MBTI and use it in my work as well but had never thought of it in the context of church. If you want to read someone else’s perspective, I would agree with much (but not every single thing) in this: http://lifeasadare.com/2014/01/living-entj-christian-girl/

  32. Emma says:

    I’m very glad I know my type (intj), I used to get kind of depressed because people didn’t understand me, and I couldn’t find anyone like me. Now I know I’m not alone in how I think and it’s very helpful.

  33. Chelsea B says:

    Oh no! I love the IDEA of MBTI, but I’ve taken the test several times now (once for a work training, once around the same time period with a coworker who could administer the test, once recently through the 16personalitytypes.com test, and just now using the free link you included above) and EVERY time I’ve gotten something different! I’ve been ENTJ, ENFJ, ENFP, and ESFJ, respectively. What do you do when you WANT to understand yourself, but clearly you don’t!?

    • Anne says:

      I think it’s best to think of the test as only a starting point. I’ve personally found it much more helpful to read through descriptions of the actual types to see what resonates.

    • Tesh says:

      It sounds like you definitely learn towards Extroversion, have a stronger or more dominant Feeling side, and possibly more J. You could be really well rounded or balanced. 🙂 I heard of someone who got a different answer depending on how they acted at home vs when out in public – i.e. in different settings or spheres of life you may draw on different strenghts/present yourself differently. And as Anne said, reading through the types helps.

  34. Annette says:

    I LOVE this article! As a newly discovered INFP, I can totally relate to what you are talking about. Used to think I was crazy and broken for the longest time. Getting really glad to know that I am not, the more I learn about my personality. Thanks for this awesome article?

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