The four basic types are:
|E – Extrovert
|I – Introvert
|S – Sensor
|N – Intuitor
|T – Thinker
|F – Feeler
|J – Judger
|P – Perceiver
These are only a guide to the ways we filter information and are based on the more complex Myers-Briggs Personality inventory. Bear in mind there are no good and bad types, they are just useful models with a certain predictive power. Metaprograms are filters to describe the way we describe the world we see and feel around us.
It is often useful to read and understand why we do things the way we do, and how our partners do what they do, to help understand ourselves and the relationship we have with those close to us.
Extroverts are “people” people. They are at their most energised when they have others around them. A cosy night in for them would probably involve about half a dozen friends or family as well as yourself. They love people. Some will love them with compassion and a genuine interest, others because they offer the opportunity to have an audience.
Extroverts can be warm, funny, energetic, the life and soul of any party. They can also be very demanding, liking centre stage, and prepared to do almost anything to keep the spotlight on them. For many this is no problem because they can be charming and good company. They find it easy to establish contact with new people, the kind who walk straight into a party and start chatting to whoever is in the kitchen. By the end of the evening they’ve probably met at least three ‘really nice people’ who have been invited to dinner, but have been too busy to say more than three sentences to their partner.
Extroverts need stimulation or they become bored quite quickly. Repetitive tasks will be a turn off unless they are fun or have some kind of payoff – like attention. Their concentration span, particularly in solitary pursuits, tends to be shorter than introverts.
They are happy to share their thoughts, even if they have not been thought through fully. Bouncing around an idea is part of their thought process so sometimes they shoot from the hip – “Honey, how about us moving to Orkney?” doesn’t mean their mind is made up, only that it is an option, so often it is easier to change their minds than an introvert, who will have polished the idea to (their version) of shining perfection before they let you know it.
Extroverts tend to have a wide circle of friends, and will put a lot of energy into those friendships which are ‘current’.
Introverts love some people. Some introverts will love only a very few people, and then only in measured doses which they need to control – so the in-laws dropping in unannounced will be stressful, even if they aren’t interrupting anything.
Generally introverts don’t like attention from a crowd unless they are very familiar with everyone. They can be content in a bar with a group, but will mainly be the ones quietly listening, the ones who usually don’t say very much but when they do often deliver the killer line. Just because their participation is low does not mean they are not having a good time, or even that they are shy.
Shyness is usually the result of a fear connected to social intercourse which originated from a negative emotional event when they were young. Shyness can be found in extroverts as often as introverts, it is just that the behaviour of an introvert is often similar to someone who is shy. A shy extrovert can be the one who is silently longing to get up and sing ‘My Way’ on the karaoke but doesn’t dare, until they are very drunk or have been dragged on stage. A real introvert may not want to sing no matter how many drinks they’ve had and nothing will drag them up.
Introverts are mainly focused on their own internal world and can be quite oblivious to what is going on around them. “How can you sit down and read a book when the kids are making so much noise?” is a question an exasperated E might ask their partner. It is because they often have an astounding knack for shutting the world out, and be happy in this self imposed isolation. It is perfectly possible for an introvert to be more lonely in a crowded room, than on their own. It can be a real drain to have to pay attention to other people for any length of time, but they can concentrate on ‘things’ that interest them for ages. They tend to pursue solitary hobbies and pastimes rather than seek to be involved in groups or team games.
Because of their circumspection Introverts can be slow to develop relationships. When they do the relationship will be a strong one that often endures for the rest of their lives. They will have a small circle of close and trusted friends that they would do anything for, even if they don’t see them from one year to the next.
Introverts like to keep their ideas to themselves until they have thought them through. They can be very uncomfortable being made to speak about something they are not sure about. ‘Knocking an idea about’ is not there way of figuring something out, in fact it will distract and even confuse them.
In relationships they may not be forthcoming with their feelings, particularly verbally. Often they communicate better in letters and cards, or in gestures. I have heard on many occasions partners saying something like “He writes the loveliest things when he sends me cards, but he can’t mean them because he never says them to my face.” Oh yes he does, but on the wrong side of his face (the in-side.)
Some of us are attracted most towards matter-of-fact, concrete information. They will tend to be anchored more in ‘the here and now’ than the future, and be pragmatic. People like this are described as Sensors.
Sensors would probably describe themselves as practical. Sensors like detail and are attracted to facts. They operate very much in the now and are more interested in facts than in possibility. They like order, and tend to have rules about how things should be done. In that sense they are quite conservative and the fact that ‘it has always been done this way’ can be a compelling argument for them. They will generally rather change by evolution rather than revolution, adapting something they are already doing to solve a new problem rather than coming up with something altogether novel. Generally the way things should be done is their way, and they can be quite judgmental and unforgiving if this doesn’t happen.—
Sensors tend to be systematic (not necessarily organised), in that they like to start from a given point and build sequentially from there. They acquire information inductively i.e. Starting with a detail and building up to the big picture.
Some of us are more attracted to possibility. They will love ideas more than hard facts and will be more imaginative than practical.
People such as these are called Intuitors. Intuitors don’t much like detail, they find it boring. They look for possibilities in situations and are more concerned with patterns and the relationships between things. They will tend not to have rules about things, and will often appear to make things up as they go along. This can lead to them repeating the same mistake again and again because they are so focused on something else that the mistake only registers as a minor irritant and not something to focus on enough to make a rule about.
I remember giving a lecture once when, over the course of an hour, I tripped over the flip chart stand times without once thinking of moving it or me to avoid it happening again because my focus was so on what I was talking about.
Intuitors gain information deductively i.e. They start with the big picture and then build the detail if they have to.
Thinkers are people who pride them-selves on being objective. They respond according to ‘the principle of the thing’ and apply standards to measure the appropriateness of behaviour. They are often seen as critical (less accepting), who will always question others decisions before accepting them. They tend to step out of their situation and apply their logic to it, working through it in a sequential way until reaching a conclusion.
Feelers are more subjective. They make decisions based on their feelings, gut reactions, what is important to them, and how things affect other people. They value harmony highly, and will try to avoid argument, often to the point of doing something they don’t want just ‘for a quiet life’. They thus appear more accepting, and trusting of their ‘gut instincts’. In a situation they will not step out of it and reason, but stay within it to assess its impact on ‘the whole’. They see a problem not as something linear, but more like a web, where anything occurring on it is felt all over, by everyone connected to it. This is the only filter where there does seem to be an orientation based on gender. Most men describe themselves as Thinkers, while most women are more comfortable with Feeling. Perhaps no surprises there for you.
Judgers like order. They like to work to deadlines and will keep to them. They will tend to be punctual and are usually work oriented. They are almost driven to make decisions, just to bring something to a close. These are the people with lists, with packed diaries and organisers. At their best they make things happen. They organise, they prioritise, they produce results. At their worst they can become so determined to get closure that they remain attached to a decided outcome long after it should have changed, they make the decision before they have all the facts, and can be inflexible.
Perceivers dislike closure. They like to keep their options open and will often delay making a decision until the last moment. They seem to value play over work and like to go with the flow. They may have a filofax, but it will have little in it, or they forget to look in it. At their best they can be innovative, able to be fluid and adjust to changes at short notice. At their worst they can take so long to make a decision that they miss the boat, miss deadlines, miss everything.