Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What's Your Type?

I thought of doing something for April Fool's Day, but couldn't find any music that fit my mood, and besides, the day will get its proper attention, that's for sure, whether or not I take note of it. So I'm going with the flow of my thoughts.

It's gray and rainy today. A lone bluejay is singing a quiet, "doodle-oodle-oo, I'm here" song outside nearby somewhere; he and the occasional hiss of tires on wet pavement are all that break the peace of the moment. After the activity-filled weekend and the seemingly endless chores of yesterday, a day like today is a welcome change.

A major fad among federal management types a few years ago was the MBTI, (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). Did you ever take the test? It's supposed to show people who are forced together by working relationships certain personality traits, thus making it easier to deal with some individuals, or allowing for the tailoring of a presentation in a way that it may be best understood, depending on the learning style of the audience. You answer a long series of questions, the answers to which measure four traits: your degree of introversion vs. extraversion (you're either an "I" or an "E"); the degree to which you use your senses vs. your intuition to perceive things (an "S" or an "N"); the degree to which you "think" about things vs. "feel" about them (a "T" or an "F"); and the degree to which you learn new things in a brick-by-brick manner ("judging") vs. taking in the whole building at once, as it were, and then breaking it into components "perceiving" (a "J" or a "P. ")

Got that? OK. Now, I don't know if this thing is really just a glorified parlor game or not, but I found it fascinatingly accurate. It's been around since 1943, and claims that scientific support for it has accumulated over the years. What I do know for sure is that you can really only take the test once, because after you know your "type," and have learned what the questions are measuring, you become test-savvy and skew your answers either to confirm what you supposedly already know about yourself, or to change something you don't like.

I came out an ISTJ, that is, an introvert who trusts his senses more than his intuition, places more importance on his thoughts than on his feelings in making decisions, and who learns in a step-by-step, as opposed to big-picture, manner. The trained facilitators who run these sessions are at pains to explain to us "I"s that "introvert" does not equal "shy wallflower." My E/I score was very close, and I protested to the facilitator that I'm really an extravert. She asked me, "Do you think before you speak, or speak first and think about it later?" I answered that I think first. "You're an I," she said. I must admit it's a comfortable fit, and it explains why luxuriating in today's silence is so comforting. After a couple of days of much external stimulation, I need to hole up, shut the world away, and get back in touch with myself. I can't remember a time when I wasn't that way. I have known people who are lost without a constant stream of company and conversation; they seem not to know how to be alone. That is not me.

As for the J/P poles, I have to admit that the J fits me like a glove. I have little ability to see a building under construction, for example, and imagine what it will look like finished. This is especially true of inside spaces, when new walls have been studded in but not actually put up. When we were building the addition to the back of our house, I would constantly stare at the unfinished walls and try, try to see in my mind's eye what it would look like. It was impossible. If you want to show me something, draw me a picture.

The demands of the day beckon. I have chores to complete and errands to run. I'm not complaining! It's better than filling a chair in an office. I'll wrap my cozy "I" coccoon around me and face the day.


Nan said...

Ralph, you aren't going to believe it. We are truly birds of a feather! My MBTI is ISTJ too! I did a post on this - which includes a link to an online personality test - a while back. You can read it at http://jadepagepress.blogspot.com/2007/07/personality-types.html

Ralph said...

Nan, I was going to say something about "great minds" after I read the other comment. Now with this, there's no doubt!

Eclecticity said...

ENFP, the exact opposite of Ralph and Nan. But can I still hang with you?

My F and T though have been very close over the number of times I have done this.

My ex-wife was just like you guys. My future one is just like me. What fun!

I get to provide the MBTI at times as a part of my job. It's fun.

Ralph said...

Whew! That explains why you're able to put up so many different types of posts in one day. "P" indeed! As a woman friend in my office once said of somebody else, "Ralph can't get along with her because of her p-ness." Took her the longest time to figure out why everybody burst out lauging....

Cuidado said...

I am enjoying the quietness of my house after not being alone for weeks.. Not sure what it says but I'm just enjoying it.

Ralph said...

Maybe you're another "I," Cuidado. Welcome to the club!