Personality types – How understanding them can improve your relationships

How to improve your relationships - know your personality typeLast week I started a short series of blogs regarding relationships. As promised this week I will be introducing you to personality types and how understanding the differences between them can help improve your relationships.

As with any model that attempts to categorise people into defined groups it is not going to ring true for everyone but it can be a useful tool to give you an overview of some of the common differences between people.

The majority of personality tests, including our own (click here), are based on the original developed by mother and daughter team Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. The Myers-Briggs personality inventory was intended to turn the theory of psychological types into a practical use and is one of the most widely used psychological tests in the world.

The model defines sixteen different combinations of personality type identified by a four letter code and based on the following pairs.

Introvert/Extrovert (I/E)

Extroverts tend to be action-oriented. 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. Introverts tend to be thought-oriented. 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. Introverts gain energy from being alone.

Thinker/Feeler (T/F)

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’.

Sensing/Intuition (S/N)

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.

Intuitors are more attracted to possibility. They love ideas more than hard facts and will be more imaginative than practical. 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.

Perceiver/Judger (P/J)

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.

The Myers-Briggs model is designed to help us understand more about ourselves through recognising our strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. There are no right or wrong answers and no one personality type is better than the other.

So how does this help us improve our relationships? Understanding personality preferences can enable you to appreciate the differences between you and the people closest to you. Instead of seeing your partner’s behaviour as something designed to irritate or offend, you can learn to see it as something that just reflects their personality type and they can do the same for you.

So want to know more? Why not take the Quiz and find out your preferences, alternatively why not have a look at Lovebirds, a book designed especially for couples.