The 16 Personalities test

A few months ago I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) test. I came out as an INFP type which felt challenging and familiar at the same time. I later did the 16 personalities test which reaffirmed my INFP profile.

I’ve always been dubious of these tests, as I don’t ever think we should pigeon hole ourselves. Pigeon holing runs the risk of us stepping into behaviours because we have told ourselves ‘that’s just what I’m like.’ But what I like about the MBTI® and 16 personalities tests is that they make suggestions about behaviours that you tend to lean towards. They do not suggest you are a certain way and that’s it, they say that if left to your own devices you will more likely naturally navigate through life in these ways.

So for me, the I stands for Introversion, the N suggests I lean towards intuition rather than being sensory, the F shows I’m more of a feeling person, and the P is about perceiving rather than judging. The N, the F and the P all felt very familiar, I’m emotional, intuition plays a huge role in my coaching work and I can sit for hours and dream and vision rather than concentrate on taking action and making plans.

The I for Introversion however, was originally a sore point for me.

I’ve spent much of my life developing social skills. I thought I was a sociable, outgoing free spirited party animal. Turns out when I really look into things, I’m actually more at home when I’m, well, at home. I’ve been holding on to a narrative for as long as I can remember that to be chatty and sociable is the best way to be. I actually think society supports and celebrates this thinking, so it’s no wonder I believe it. However, on realising I’m actually more of an introvert I started reading up, and went to an introversion workshop at the School of Life. What I now know is introverts are very powerful, we apparently have ‘game changing ideas’, we engage in deep conversations, we are great listeners and we have great concentration. The main difference really is we tend to gain energy by spending time alone as opposed to spending time with lots of other people. And that doesn’t mean we don’t like other people! It’s just about ensuring we spend time reflecting inwards.

It feels really powerful to know all this about myself. Now I’ve built this awareness about my tendancies I get to make choices about the way I show up.

There is a lot to be said for leaning into the behaviours that don’t come quite so easily for us too. I know that when I lean into extroversion, and say deliver a workshop session to a group, I grow as a person, it feels great to stretch into that side of myself, even if it takes a little more effort for me than perhaps it would for an extrovert. And it serves me to step into being more organised at times too, it’s not easy, but it really makes me feel good in the end.

Another ‘ah-ha’ moment that came up for me by doing the tests was how and why I end up in conflict with people when I do. I can trace back so many times when I’ve pushed back against people who want to spend lots of time together. I thought it was because I was moody, and often felt quite out of control and unsure why I was feeling uncomfortable, but I now know it’s because I have a need to be alone for a short period of time to recoup. And that that’s ok. I can also see where I’ve been in struggle with others when I like to keep all my options open and those around me want to plan. Neither is the right approach and neither is the wrong approach, they’re both just approaches and we are all valid in leaning towards one or the other.

So if you are a leader, a member of a family, in a partnership with someone, basically if you are a human I highly recommend giving the test a go. I’m pretty sure you’ll have a few ah-ha moments too.

Sending love as always, Hannah

*Image by Allef Vinicius

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