Tend to your relationship garden with the MBTI tool

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Tend to your relationship garden with the MBTI tool

Posted 03 July 2023 by
Vanessa Bradford
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Like a garden, relationships need to be watered and tended to regularly. While there’s bound to be a metaphorical thorn or two along the way, new growth happens when you plant and prune with intention. One of the most fruitful ways to tend to your “relationship garden” is to learn about personality type through the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) assessment.

If it’s not too mulch to ask, you could always listen to episode eight of The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast to learn about this very topic. During the episode, The Myers-Briggs Company’s Principal Consultant and Certified MBTI Master Practitioner Michael Segovia taught listeners how personality type impacts both personal and professional relationships.

Read part one to learn what Michael discussed during the first half of the episode. Here are a few overarching themes and lessons from the second half of the episode (quotes slightly edited for clarity):

Relationship and personality insights can give you a professional boost too

It makes sense that the ways we think, speak, and act become so deeply ingrained in us that we operate on autopilot. But it’s a sign of personal growth when you can reevaluate your choices and ask yourself: does this serve the people around me well too?

Growth like this isn’t just helpful for personal relationships. It also applies to the friendships and connections you make at work. During the episode, Michael spoke about how a corporate leader learned a difficult lesson about how one of her autopilot behaviors (an overuse of the Thinking preference) manifested as a lack of consideration and empathy:

“I can think of a very high-profile leader who was overusing her preference for Thinking without understanding the negatively powerful impact she was having on her team. I talked to her about that, and then when we went into the workshop, I had the leader start with, ‘When I talk to you this way, how does it make you feel?’ I specifically asked her to use the word ‘feel’ and she asked me, ‘Do I want to know how people feel?’

I told her to use the word and see what happens. And you should have seen the looks on people's faces. After about 30 seconds, somebody said, ‘Well, when you talk to me that way, I'm completely demoralized. It devastates me.’ The leader replied, ‘You're the vice president of our company. I can't believe I do that.’ And then one after another, others chimed in and said, ‘Me too. I don't I don't like to be talked to that way. It doesn't help me. It doesn't motivate me to move forward in the work that I do.’”

People won’t always “get” you at first – and that’s OK

In the example above, the high-profile leader had to learn to adjust some of her behaviors based on the personality preferences of her team. But to be clear, personal growth in the context of personality type isn’t about changing who you are at your core. It’s about consideration for others. It’s an invitation to see things from a different perspective. For example, people with personality preferences that differ from yours may not always show you appreciation or kindness in the ways you expect them to. Michael spoke about how an awkward interaction with a colleague turned into an opportunity for connection:

“I remember years ago we had somebody join the company. I didn't know his preferences at the time. I learned later his preferences were INTP. And I remember I walked into his office and thought that because he was new, he was probably nervous. So I walked in and said, ‘I've heard great things about you. Welcome to the company. I'm so happy to have you here. If I can help with anything, even those questions you feel embarrassed to ask, feel free and ask me.’ And the whole time he was giving me this look of, ‘What do you want?’

When I left his office, I thought, ‘Well that wasn't a connection at all.’ We talked about it a few weeks later, and we kind of laughed about it. He said, ‘Michael, you were just trying way too hard.’ I said, ‘Yeah, and you came across as really kind of cold, and I didn't think I really liked you.’ In fact, I ended up liking the person quite a bit. It's just that we needed to get to that place of understanding those preference differences – and in this case, how we like to connect, maybe even how we both like to be appreciated or not.”

Forget the Golden Rule. The Platinum Rule shines brighter.

The Golden Rule (to treat people how you want to be treated) is good, but The Platinum Rule (to treat people how they want to be treated) takes it a step further. If there’s one thing that sticks with you from this podcast episode recap, let it be this quote from Michael:

People like to be appreciated in different ways. For example, people who prefer Thinking like to be appreciated for going above and beyond. Typically, they like that appreciation once they've completed something, not necessarily along the way. More often than not, they want that appreciation from someone that they value or respect. Appreciation from just anyone isn't as meaningful. My preference is for Feeling. I like to be appreciated along the way and afterward. Think about how you want to motivate and show appreciation to people who are different from you

Be sure to read part one of the podcast episode recap. And check out these other resources on relationships and connection too: