Last Monday, we had a break from office routine as two lovely ladies from the London office came in to administer a mass “Myers Briggs” test. We left our desks, took residence in the boardroom, and eagerly waited to have our personalities filed into one of 16 categories.
Results were split into four sets of pairs:
E = extrovert or I = introvert
S = sensory or N = intuition
T = thinking or F = feeling
J = judgement or P = perceived
I did have one concern before embarking on the session. Not all personalities are created equal, and things could get awkward if someone was outed as a terrible person (especially if that someone was me). These fears proved unfounded however, as a cornerstone philosophy of the Myers Briggs test is that there are no bad preferences, just different ones. If people are struggling to produce their best possible work, it’s not because they’re lazy or talentless; it’s because they’re not working in an environment best suited to their personality.
The test relies almost entirely on self-assessment and awareness. Our personalities weren’t strictly put under the microscope, and we were ultimately considered to be our own best judge. Jung, Briggs and Myers have been criticised on this account, but I think it’s fair to assume that having inhabited our minds for the duration of our lives, we can be considered experts on it.
Of course, two hours isn’t really enough time to grapple with the more complex of the big identity questions. Collectivism, free will and the Nature vs Nurture debate were thankfully left untouched, but I can’t pretend that I didn’t emerge from the session feeling sufficiently more attuned to my “true” self.
The meeting concluded with the advice that we shouldn’t use our types to excuse bad behaviour, or use someone else’s type against them. Naturally this was subverted almost immediately, and I was definitely guilty of telling a friend she was a “typical heartless T”. This was all in jest though, and I do feel like I have a better appreciation for differing styles of working.
I can’t help but wonder what the implications of the Myers Briggs test could be if taken to the extreme. Could there be in-office jungle-gyms for the ‘P’s amongst us? How about opt-in open plan? Deadline extensions for ‘N’s if they get an unexpected hit of inspiration?
I think the Myers Briggs test is fantastic, and despite what the naysayers think, a great way of assessing how best you work. I don’t think it’s being used to its full potential though, and I’d love to see companies doing more to accommodate the quirks of their staff.
But then again, maybe I would say that. I’m an ENFP.
Amelia Banks, Junior Copywriter.