The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a powerful non-judgmental tool for understanding the self and others. It helps us understand our similarities and differences, and how we see the world, without restricting us or putting us in a pigeon hole.
And while it is non-judgmental, it does have distinctions where characteristics may be seen as ‘well-developed’ or ‘underdeveloped.’ If those words seem a bit ‘judgy’ you could view them as ‘effective’ or ‘less effective’ instead.
In this post we look at a comparison for each of the eight MBTI preferences. We’ve put together a table below that outlines some of the comparisons and a couple of examples of how you can apply them. And for a deeper dive into this, we’d invite you to listen to this podcast episode here.
The goal is to give you a tool you can use to check where you are at in terms of your own personal effectiveness. This is particularly important for those in a leadership or managerial position as it will also have an impact on the effectiveness of your team. Sometimes the underdeveloped characteristics are temporary and can often be a sign of stress. For that reason, the characteristics can be a good indicator of whether you are off-track or on-track with your behaviours and steer you on your professional development path.
Characteristics of the MBTI Preferences
For a printable version of this table to keep handy in your desk click here.
The Energy Preferences - Introversion (I) and Extroversion (E)
These preferences are centered around where we get our energy from. Introverts are energised internally, mostly through thought and relative solitude, while extroverts are energised by discussion and the group dynamic.
An underdeveloped extrovert however, will tend to over explore ideas with others and go down rabbit holes that can be unrelated to the original idea. If you find that you tend to stray from the agenda at meetings, for example, it may well be that you are stressed or your extroversion skills could do with some refinement. The same could apply if you tend to stray from the task at hand.
A well developed introvert will enjoy exploring and developing ideas on their own with a view to sharing them with the world when they think the idea is ‘ready.’ There will be a certain degree of productive tension or anticipation at play here.
An underdeveloped introvert however, will tend to be overprotective of the idea and will develop it more as a ‘defense’ rather than something to be shared. This is unproductive tension and doesn’t serve anyone as it causes stress for all involved.
The Information Preferences - Sensing (S) and Intuition (N)
These preferences are all about how we like to receive information and how we trust it. Sensers like that which can be ‘measured’ whereas intuits are moved more by ideas and the ‘unseen.’
A person will a well developed preference for sensing will be a reliable player. They will put their skills to good use in a common sense manner that is anchored in reality. While they don’t embrace change, they are not threatened by it either.
An underdeveloped senser though, will find change threatening, especially if they think their skills might be challenged. This can be expressed outwardly through a lack of trust in the champions for any change program and even in active resistance to that change.
Well developed intuits are open to possibilities so embrace change more readily than sensers. They enjoy the complex problems that arise with change and see the possibilities that others miss, while still keeping in touch with ‘reality’ so to speak.
Underdeveloped intuits can take the possibilities too far though and become more conceptual than practical. This can be difficult to relate to but can also mean they miss out on the important details in front of them. They might have an unrealistic view of how long something might take or the impact it might have on others. On reflection, an underdeveloped intuit might often look back and say, ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time.’
The Decision Making Preferences - Thinking (T) and Feeling (F)
How we make decisions will be based on our decision making preferences, thinking and feeling.
If you have a well developed thinking preference you will be the go-to person when any logic is required. You’ll be able to analyse things without being distracted or guided by emotion. There is room for some grey in your assessment though.
Take an underdeveloped thinking preference though and your attitude towards emotional arguments is likely to be more like a disregard. Things will be more black and white in your world. Analysis might be laced with judgment and become criticism, and discussion might be laced with defence and become debate.
A well developed feeling preference will manifest as seeking to find collaboration and harmony in most situations. Logic will have some role to play but the effect or consequence on all concerned will be of paramount importance.
If the feeling preference is underdeveloped, things will become more personal, including non-personal affronts like someone speaking over them in a meeting because they didn’t hear them. Conflict will be avoided and the risk of feeling hurt easily will prevail. While well developed feelers like to feel appreciated, underdeveloped feelers are more at the ‘needy’ end of the spectrum.
Orientation to the Outside Word Preferences - Judging (J) and Perceiving (P)
These preferences are all about how you like things to be organised and how they function.
Judging types with a well developed preference are decisive, open and well organised. They like a plan and appreciate others following the plan with them.
An underdeveloped judger will be more insistent than decisive and fixated on a plan rather than appreciative of it. They will be less tolerant of deviations and might be a source of anxiety for themselves and others as deadlines are approaching.
Perceivers who are well developed will be flexible and often bring options to the table. If things aren’t going to plan, it’s less of a problem for the perceivers because they can adapt to circumstances.
If you are an underdeveloped perceiver though, chances are you won’t have a plan to begin with so will fly by the seat of your pants more. You’ll postpone decisions, and thus postpone taking action, i.e. procrastinate, until the last minute, when decisions are made because you have to rather than want to.
How to ‘Fix’ Yourself
Just having an awareness of what underdeveloped and developed preferences look like is enough. Once you are aware, you can make choices and move towards the developed characteristics at your own pace. Print the table out and review it from time to time to see how you are progressing.
And if you notice others exhibiting signs of underdevelopment, avoid the temptation to advise or lecture them on what they ‘should’ be doing.
Share this post or the podcast episode with your team and invite them to share their insights with you or the rest of the team.
And of course, if you’d like to have us come and explore it at a deeper level with you and your team, we’d love to come and do one of our MBTI workshops.
How To Use The MBTI In Your Professional Development