Category Archives: MBTI

MBTI assassinated

MBTI image

MBTI image

Over on Facebook, my friend Aboodi posted a link to what turned out to be a pretty controversial post which was pretty rude about MBTI.

As you’ll probably know from other posts, we’re one of the UK’s most experienced MBTI practitioners, so we had to have a look.  And – to be fair – there’s some good stuff there so it’s worth heading over there and reading it for yourself. But there are a few bits and pieces of very sloppy journalism too, which is worth mentioning.

The mistakes start pretty early on when the article says “The test is completely meaningless”. The problem is that it isn’t a test. It’s a diagnostic tool, an instrument. That’s not just semantics, but indicative of a very fundamental misunderstanding. If you think MBTI is a test there’s no wonder you can then go on to complain that it “is totally ineffective at predicting people’s success at various jobs”.  That’s about as sensible as expecting a rubber band to be good at holding a building up. It’s not just that it’s not up to the job – it’s just that it’s designed for a different job.

Once you realise that the journalist in question has completely failed to understand the whole point of MBTI it’s easy to see why Joseph gets all hot under the collar about it’s “failings” such as using “false, limited binaries”. Sadly for Joseph, the new MBTI doesn’t do that – instead the Step Two MBTI gives a set of 20 scales.

Ah well, better to have ranted randomly without proper research than not to have ranted at all, eh?

That said though, and to repeat, there’s some interesting stuff there too: it’s not all just tosh! :)

Platinum and diamonds

I just bought my wife an Eternity Ring. (Technically it’s a semi-eternity ring because the diamonds only go half way around.) It’s wonderful how nice and polite people are in shops when you say you want to spend a lot of money on platinum and diamonds. :)

Eternity ring

Eternity ring - not my wife's but like it! ;)

Why platinum? Because our wedding rings are platinum, that’s why.  But what’s important is that platinum is a lot more expensive than gold.


Because it’s a lot less common than gold.

What’s this got to do soft skills? Cialdini’s six principles of influence include one called ‘Scarcity’, that’s what. On this list it’s number six.

Let’s take an example, which will make things a bit more obvious, I hope. Because people want things more if they can’t have it (why do you think sales “must end this weekend”? Or why do you suppose there are limited editions of cars, collectors cards or… well almost anything!). A lot of our work is done in-house for what we call our internal client: this internal client is responsible for selling places on our courses to the workforce where they work. Often this ‘internal client’ is one of the company’s HR team.

Instead of sending and email around everyone in Workplace X saying ‘There are are 18 places on the training place next month about MBTI, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator” our internal client says “There are only 18 place on the training place next month.”

The difference is critical.

By implying that there’s not much of me to go around, it makes people want us more… :)

The only hard part to using this technique is finding a way to describe what you’ve got as relatively rare.  For example, when you email us, one of the things we might mention is that we’re currently totally booked up for the next two months.

Oh yes, something else… A moral point!

You have to be ethical. We won’t be telling you that if it’s not true. It is. It’s just that we decide to to say it… ;)

As an aside, saying how busy we are not only hits the mark in term of Cialdini’s ‘scarcity’ tool, it is also a good example of another of his principles, that of ‘social proof’. After all, if lots of other people are using our training, it implies it’s good.

The trick for using it in your working environment is to find people that the person you’re talking to regards as peers and agree with you. Something like “After all, it’s what they’re doing on the day shift now, have been for months!”

Again, be ethical: it has to be true!

MBTI Step two – the new MBTI.

MBTI 2 (or, more properly and formally, the Myers Brigss Type Indicator, Step Two) is a relatively recent development of the well-know MBTI. The original (which gives the now-famous four letter descriptions of personality types, such as ENFP and INTJ) is a fabulously powerful tool for helping you to understand yourself…

… as well as the people around you.

It’s also useful things like figuring out how to communicate with them, understand them and lead them (or be led by them). A anyone who’s taken an MBTI assessment will testify, it can be a remarkably powerful tool. (Like all tools, of course, MBTI needs to be used, not just learned about!)

But (and it’s a big but) the process isn’t a very subtle differentiator. There are only 16 different Types in the Step One model and so, inevitably, people who are fairly different from each other end up being labeled with the same Type.

Of course, it’s not as simple as that, because your MBTI Type doesn’t stop you behaving in pretty much any other way you want to, but the point stands.

The MBTI Step Two process is designed to get passed this limitation by breaking down each of the four binary preferences of the ‘traditional’ MBTI into five subscales which unpack the different components of each preference. In doing so it allows for the fact that people are likely to behave differently in different situations, no matter what their MBTI type is.

For example, the MBTI Step 1 preference of Extravert vs Introvert is broken down into five scales (in Extravert to Introvert order):

  • Initiating to Receiving
  • Expressive to Contained
  • Gregarious to Intimate
  • Active to Reflective
  • Enthusiastic to Quiet.

The first of these is an exploration of how ‘meet-and-greet’ orientated a person is. Typically an MBTI-style Extravert would score fairly high on Initiating, suggesting that they are comfortable with being outgoing, making social chat, and taking the conversational initiative. On the other hand, Introverts typically have a high Receiving score, suggesting that they prefer ‘being introduced rather than doing the introductions’ and tend to leave social chit-chat to others who are more comfortable doing it, perhaps better able to do it and regard it as important.

Other scales within the MBTI preference of Extravert vs Introvert measure such things as how ‘easy to get to know’ someone is (versus how much they ‘play their cards close to their chest’) and such issues as how large a group someone feels comfortable in.

As a side note, because of the validity of the overall concept of Extravert vs Introvert these five scales tend to have a degree of statistical associated, of course.

However, there are plenty of exceptions to these correlations, which is where the MBTI Step two approach very useful. An overall Extravert (in the MBTI sense) may, for example, have a relatively high score on Contained (which is more typically associated with Introverts). This suggests that while they are (in the big picture and overall) an Extravert, they don’t tend to give much about themselves away in their social chit-chat!

I am an MBTI practitioner (based in Newcastle but working throughout the UK) and I find the increased sophistication of the Step two approach very helpful indeed.

Not only does it allow me to explore someone’s MBTI Type in greater depth, it is also very helpful to those people who find themselves conflicted, having difficulty identifying with either of the two choices for a preference.

Genuine dfficulties with MBTI are pretty rare, but the most common issue I hear from people who are having trouble getting to grips with their preference is “But when I…”. Having the scale-score option for unpacking their MBTI preferences means they feel their ‘oddness’ is recognised. It also, in doing so, gives them an increased faith in the whole concept of MBTI.  Their recognition that there are some circumstances when they don’t feel the simple, binary  preference option suits them is now part of the MBTI, (and an interesting one at that!) rather than an aberration.

The shift from simple binary choices to continuous scales is kept within the MBTI concept of binary preferences, however. Scales are not ‘freestanding’ – a list of 20 attributes of someone’s personality. Instead they are seen as drawing upon the ‘higher order’ concept of, for example, Introversion.

For example, an over-all Introvert may be high in Initiating (a typically Extravert tendency). That doesn’t make them an Extravert/Introvert hybrid. It makes them an Introvert with an OOPS, standing for Out Of Preference Score. Scores which lie significantly on the other side of the divide between Introverts and Extraverts of described as being Out Of Preference…

In the example above, the preference is still to be an Introvert but with one OOPS. The way an OOPS fits into the bigger picture is often the most rewarding element of working as an MBTI facilitator. I often hear “Ah! So that’s why….!”  Typically this epiphany will be related to they way they’re regarded or treated by co-workers: if a clear Introvert has a strong OOPS in Initiating (the meet-and-greet scale) it’s no wonder that people who don’t know them well treat them as an Extravert, with all the pressure and exhaustion on the now-continually-talked-to Introvert that this implies.

Don’t get me wrong – the MBTI Step 2 is a great leap forward (as far beyond the traditional MBTI step 1 as that is beyond astrology!) but it’s not perfect.  For example, it’s now computationally complex because of the statistical analysis the computer has to do to create it, compared to the MBTI concept of four simple preference scores.

It is, however, a remarkably useful tool!


(or, how many acronyms can you fit into one blog title?)

Just a quick brag, really! :)   We’ve just been asked if we can do an MBIT psychometric profile for every single one (yes, really!) of the leadership team at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle (UNN).

Looks like we can probably afford Christmas after all :)

MBTI2 vs MBTI 1 – a quickie

I recently described MBTI step 2 as being as far ahead of the ‘traditional’ MBTI (now known as step 1) as the MBTI1 is beyond astrology. I thought it might be nice, in the light of their confused reaction (“MBTI too what?”) to explore some of the pros and cons of MBTI step 2 to vs MBTI step 1.

MBTI logo

MBTI logo

The main difference between MBTI1 and MBTI2 is this: whereas the step one profile (something like INTJ) breaks personality down into four binary division, giving 16 ‘Types’ of personality, MBTI step 2 breaks each of the four divisions into five subscales. That gives a total of twenty measures of personality… That’s a massive increase in how specific the MBTI profile can be!

So then, here goes with a whistle-stop MBTI-comparison! :)

Let’s start by looking at the cons… to my mind they tend to be more logistic than conceptual but that could be just me! :)

  • it’s more expensive – that’s not to be sneezed at if you’ve got a group, to be honest and it’s not something your MBTI practitioner can do anything about
  •  it takes longer to debrief – there’s so much more information it can take quite a while for people to get their brains around it: because of this extra information, it’s worth seriously considering one-to-one debriefs of the MBTI profile
  •  the mathematical details of exactly how it’s constructed aren’t public – the beauty of MBTI 1 is that the principles are very easily understood but the statistics behind step 2 aren’t made public
  • it’s probably best done with an MBTI step 1 to explain all the principles.

To be honest the last point is just an attempt to reduce the costs – you don’t have to do it with an MBTI1 at all – it’s just cheaper to do a group introduction. Actually, having said that, a group MBTI session has all kinds of advantages in terms of the exercises and group interactions that can be explored, so perhaps a group MBTI1 is the best option.

I should probably confess something here, too, at risk of sounding horribly conceited: on my training sessions to qualify as an MBTI2 practitioner we discussed the statistical issues behind it – and frankly I was the only one in my group interested (and probably one of only a few in the country to be able to understand it… a PhD which relies on statistical analysis does funny things to a man for the rest of his life! :)  )

Okay, now for a brief idea about the pros…

  • more information – more information – more information!  Did you get that there’s more information?
  • it takes more account of the inevitable “yes but” responses that people have because it more easily allows (compared to the MBTI1 process) for things like “I’m generally E but…”
  • it begins to account (quite strongly in fact) for situational issues and – in a lot of circumstances – behavioural ones too. One of the big weaknesses of MBTI1 is that it’s a bit crude (you’re E or I, for example) whereas MBTI2 can recognise that for example you are “Generally E but will behave as an I when…”
I have to admit, as an MBTI practitioner, I love this extra flexibility. Personally, I find there’s so much information in the MBTI2 that the best way to explore it with clients is to ‘do an MBTI1′ first so that the principles are firmly fixed and then to go on to look at the MBTI2 results in the context of those principles – otherwise it can all be a bit overwhelming.
Okay – speaking of overwhelming, that’ll do. Next time I’ll work through one of the five sets of subscales so you can see exactly what I’m talking about… it’s all a bit abstract at the moment (and I duly apologies to all S-preferences out there! :)  )

MBTI in jobs with people – introversion is a good thing, honest!

I’m an introvert. And so are many of my friends… and that’s despite the fact that our jobs are (basically) about being with people, talking to people, and working with people. No wonder I’m knackered by the end of the day.

It’s something I’m often asked about, particularly by people trying to get with grips with MBTI for the first time:

You can’t be an introvert – all you ever do is work with groups of strangers!

That’s a misunderstanding of the meaning of ‘introvert’ in the Jungian sense – in the sense that MBTI uses it. I can act like an extravert – it’s just that it drains me to do so, whereas I know trainers who’re extraverts who come out of a day’s training absolutely buzzing with energy. After all, they’ve made 12 new friends in the day! :)

And I can tell you, speaking as an introvert, that being one is something of a liability because of that – but in another sense it’s an advantage. The advantage is that I’m less ‘bothered’ by the audience/groups responses as I work with them, explaining things and exploring things.

It’s not that I don’t care about them – it’s just that I’m less instinctively ‘swingy’ about things. As an introvert I’m more likely to ‘stick to my guns’. If a things are going well with lots of interaction I don’t so easily get carried away and if they’re not going so well I don’t so easily get brought down.

It makes being an introvert a pretty handy tool for working with people.

(PS: the advantages of being an extravert coming later! :) )

MBTI audios

MBTI can be a little tricky to get your head around first time, particularly if you’re not someone who likes to read stuff. With that in mind, we’ve created about an hour’s worth of audio which explains and starts to explore MBTI in audio form (MP3). We’ve broken it into bitesized MBTI-chunks, too!

It’s free to download – all we ask is that you respect our copyright and that (if you like it) you consider giving us a link to the MBTI page you’re reading this on! :)

You can download the first MBTI-bitsized audio here:  http://