The split is pretty similar to the old left brain/right brain divide: logic vs creativity; analysis vs imagination; facts vs intuition; thinking vs feeling; words vs pictures. Consultants and many employers love it, and businesses all over the world use the Myers-Briggs test or versions of it when hiring and for management training to help organisations work more effectively. If only it were that simple. Nobody’s perfect There’s a lot of criticisms you can make about the Myers Briggs test. It’s too binary, for one. No one’s purely an introvert or extrovert; it often depends on the situation. It’s also a question of scale: You might be slightly introverted or cripplingly shy. The test is a self-assessment, too, so people can lie if they want to, giving employers the answer they think they want to hear. Even if people try to be honest, responses are always going to be affected by the person’s mood, and the answer to just one question could be enough to push them into a completely different category. You might put them down as an introvert, when they’ve just had a bad week. And people can change. In fact, there’s not much hard data to back it up at all. Myers and Myers Briggs weren’t formally trained in psychology, and as one psychology professor says: “There is no obvious evidence that there are 16 unique categories in which all people can be placed.” Fittingly, though, the Myers Briggs test isn’t all bad; and it’s not all good. It’s a bit of both. On the one hand, there probably aren’t just 16 distinct personalities in the world and our workplaces. And people aren’t just introverts or extraverts, thinkers or feelers. But, on the other hand, Myers Briggs’ central insight – that we all have different preferences and ways of working – is a good one. Used to encourage diversity rather than pigeon-hole employees, it’s a useful tool. If we recognise these differences in ourselves and others and help people work in ways that suit them, everyone can win. Because one thing does unite us: We’re all individuals. Want to apply this to your business? Check out our whitepaper which explores the different personality types and identifies which fit best with your company culture.
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