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Understanding People: Personality Types Explained

By Edited Oct 4, 2015 1 4

personality types
Credit: photostock | Freedigitalphotos
Our world would be a dull place without the different personality types. 
When I was young, I used to hang out in a relative's mini library. Within his collection was a variety of books - from thriller to sci-fi novels, from manga to self-help books, from computers to business books. My favorites were those belonging to topics about psychology. My sister and I were free to pick any book of our choice and bring them home to read. I'd chosen a book about personality types. It had caught my attention since I'd always wanted to read and understand people.

The Art of Speedreading People

The Book that has Taught me about People

After reading the book, my eyes had been opened to the many different personality types. The personality theory is based on Carl Jung's theory and has been further developed by Myers-Briggs. Writers Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger had laid out these personality types beautifully in a book entitled The Art of Speedreading People.

The beauty of this book is that each personality type was described in such a way that each type is interesting. Each type has its own positive and negative points. No personality type is above the other.

I really appreciated the book, and had thus pursued studying this topic throughout my life. I learned that my being quiet, aloof appearance, sensitivity to emotions, or even the lack of decisiveness are due to my personality type.

Of course, reading a person should be done with care. This is not to put each and every one of us inside a box. Despite the personality theories that had developed throughout the years by psychologists, each person is still unique. The beauty in it is we learn to appreciate ourselves for who we are.

Knowing the existing theories makes us feel that we are in fact normal, which is what I'd felt in my case. Knowing our own personality type not only helps us understand ourselves better, but also lets us know our strengths and weaknesses and how to put them into our advantage.
The Art of SpeedReading People: How to Size People Up and Speak Their Language
Amazon Price: $18.00 $6.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 4, 2015)
The book contains in-depth descriptions of the 16 personality types developed by Myers-Briggs. It uses with a lot of analogies and metaphors. I just love how the writing style makes each personality type comprehensive to everyone.

Myers-Briggs Personality Types

I won't discuss in great detail about the 16 personality types written in the book. What I will write about are the four basic criteria that make up these 16 personality types. Each criterion has two sides, called preferences. Each side is the complete opposite to the other, just like a continuum. A person tends to fall under a point where one side of the continuum becomes more dominant. So, in each four criterion there is a dominant preference. A person's personality type is then defined by these four dominating features.

Criterion #1: Introvert and Extrovert

Reading with a Friend
How do you want to spend time with
your friends? 
This criterion describes where the person focuses his energy. Energy maybe driven inward or outward. A person can be noticeably quiet (if energy is driven inward) or outgoing (if energy is driven outward). He may prefer to observe others or observe oneself. However, there are some common misconceptions regarding this criterion. It does not mean that if a person is shy, he is technically labelled an Introvert. The same goes with an outgoing person. If he is outgoing, it does not necessarily follow that he is by no mistake, an Extrovert. Confused?

So, what exactly are the qualities of an Introvert and an Extrovert?
 
An Introvert is someone who tends to draw her energies inward. She likes to reflect and therefore tends to spend more time alone. In fact, it does not bother her at all if she gets to be alone. That is why she prefer solitary activities. If she does spend time with people, she prefers to just have a little circle of close friends. When she speaks, she makes sure that her ideas are well-thought of before saying the words out loud. In other words, she reflects first, then talks.

An Extrovert is someone who tends to draw his energies outward. He likes to be with people and that does not drain his energies at all. In fact, that is how he wants to relax, by being with people. Being such, he tends to choose activities that require other people to be involved. He enjoys being with a large group of people. He likes talking and telling stories. It's easy for him to talk. He doesn't need to think what he has to say very much. It comes out naturally. He's comfortable expressing his ideas even if they are just forming inside his head (so in this case, talks first, then reflects). Since his energies are outward, he can notice his environment easily. Even while in a conversation, he can easily notice what's happening around him.
 
In a nutshell, if you:
 
- tend to drive your energy outward, you are probably an Extrovert.
- tend to drive your energy inward, you are probably an Introvert.

Criterion #2: Sensor and Intuitive

Trees in a Forest
Forest or tree? 
This type of preference points to a person's way of collecting information. A person uses his five senses, and how he prefers to process this information is very much affected by this criterion. Does he tend to see the bird's eye view or the details? Does he see the forest or the trees?

So, who is the Sensor? Who is the Intuitive?

A person who is a Sensor is very akin to details. He is like a detective. He takes in minute details easily. When he meets a person for the first time, he can quickly notice the person's hair, eye color, clothes, shoes, and other accessories. When he tells you about a movie he's recently watched, you will notice how highly detailed his storytelling can get. He knows the names, the places, and the time setting of the movie! As a student, he did very well by making outlines of his lessons. He prefers it that way, as that makes him process the lessons better. He wants to see the details first to be able to understand the wholeness of an idea. He likes hard facts and figures. He also values the present moment.

A person who is an Intuitive cares less about details. She usually bypasses too many details that seem to be irrelevant to the main thing. She sees the forest rather than the trees. In order to understand a concept, she needs to know the overview of the matter. That is why as a student, she tends to make flowcharts of keywords rather than an outline. She wants to visualize the interrelatedness of key concepts. Since she tends to pay less attention to minute details, she may not become a good eyewitness to a crime scene for instance. Unlike the Sensor type, the Intuitive person values theories and the future. She also believes on her gut feeling, something that may sound ridiculous for the Sensor type.
 
In a nutshell, if you want to know if you're a Sensor or an Intuitive, ask yourself this: What type of information do you pay more attention to? Forest or Trees?
 
If you answer: the facts and figures. You see the trees. You are a Sensor.
If you answer: theories, possibilities, and gut feeling. You see the forest. You are an Intuititive.
Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
Amazon Price: $18.95 $9.35 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 4, 2015)
Discusses the history and development of Myers-Briggs personality types and the theory behind it. This book is written by the co-creator herself, Isabel Briggs Myers.

Criterion #3: Thinker and Feeler

Hearts
How often do you let your heart govern you?
This category points to the person's preference when making decisions. Heart over mind? Or the other way around? Does she stick to what's practical and down-to-earth or to what she firmly believes? Are her actions determined by the mood she's currently in or by what she thinks should be done?

So, what is the difference between a Thinker and a Feeler?

A person who is a Thinker loves logic. He decides based on what he thinks is practical and logical. This can be clearly seen in the workplace. He just wants to get things done despite how his colleagues would feel. He can also take criticisms well and view them as constructive. In the same way, he doesn't mind criticizing others as well to help them improve.

A person who is a Feeler is very sensitive to other people's feelings. When at the workplace, she wants to get along with her colleagues and would not opt for the practical solution if that would mean stepping on one's toes. She values people's feelings and doesn't want them to get hurt. That is one reason why she finds it difficult to criticize others, even when she has to. She also tends to take others' criticisms personally.
 
In a nutshell, if you tend to base your decisions on:
 
- what's rational and practical, you may be a Thinker.
- on your feelings, you may be a Feeler.

Criterion #4: Judger and Perceiver

This criterion deals with the person's way of resolving issues. How a person plans and organizes the environment depends on this type of preference. A person may be comfortable working with deadlines or may prefer to be carefree and flexible. A person may prefer to be dominant or passive.

Daily Planner
How do you organize your life?
Here are the qualities of what makes a person a Judger or a Perceiver.

A Judger is a person who tends to be dogmatic and organized. He carries with him a planner with specific tasks and deadlines. He likes planning in great detail and sees to it that his projects are completed. He is also quick on making decisions. In fact, he feels uneasy if there is no conclusion yet for the matter. He places great importance on schedules and is very strict with it. He is often seen as decisive. Even while in restaurants, he already knows what to order. Travelling requires him to make an itinerary first. His office desk is very organized and efficient. He has specific places for his personal items and gets annoyed if his things get cluttered.

A Perceiver type of person feels comfortable being passive. She likes to be led onto what to do rather than take charge of things. She is carefree and adaptable. She always makes sure that her options remain open. She feels comfortable that way. She believes that every option should be considered carefully and therefore does not decide quickly. She likes starting projects, but sometimes does not complete them. She doesn't plan in a detailed and structured manner. She sees deadlines as elastic, and therefore tends to procrastinate. She prefers exploring rather than planning ahead. That is why when she travels for instance, she would rather explore than stick with an itinerary.
 
In a nut shell, if you:
 
- think that time is essential to success, you are a Judger.
- prefer to be flexible, you are a Perceiver.

The Bottom Line

After identifying your preferences, you will come up with four letters (e.g., ESTJ). There are sixteen possible combinations of preferences, each having more specific descriptions. There are some criteria where you might feel unsure of. Don't feel pressured though. After all, this is merely a guide. The purpose of understanding personality types is to help you discover your career path, hobbies, and passion. It can give you a deeper understanding of yourself. In addition, it can also help you understand the people around you, helping you deal with them more effectively. With all the many personality tests available out there, in the end, it is only you who can most accurately describe who you are, not the paragraphs that come up from your test results. I hope though that learning about the personality types has increased your insight about your character.
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Comments

May 16, 2015 6:44pm
mycini
Interesting article. thanks
May 17, 2015 6:32pm
LyraKua
Thank you mycini!
May 17, 2015 7:28am
Moina-Arcee
Nice overview, I'm very familiar with Meyers-Briggs inventories, we even had a workshop about using them in our workplace. I've always been a very strong "I" and "J", but the other two are so close together that my type can change day to day lol
May 17, 2015 6:36pm
LyraKua
Hi Moina-Arcee! They are indeed very useful in the workplace. Lets you know how to use your strengths based on personality. Haha, I feel the same way too about the other criteria. My preferences seem to go to the opposite direction as I get older. Thanks for commenting.
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