Many of us are familiar with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, a personality sorter that tells us if we tend toward Introversion or Extroversion as a preference – whether we are likely to make decisions based upon the straightforward and logical Thinking function or the more subjective and personal values-based Feeling function – how we take in the world we experience, as concrete and evidence reliant Sensors or future oriented and inspired Intuitive types – and finally if we prefer to affect our world in an organized, results-oriented Judging fashion or rather let our world affect us in the observant, keep-our-options-open Perceiving way. These eight preferences result in 16 different Personality Types. Scores of journal articles have been written about lawyers and the MBTI. It is a standard part of many law school orientation programs. I have presented this material in a number of law firms – to great effect and enjoyment.
Recently, I was introduced to an instrument which is similar to the MBTI, but is quicker to take, simpler to explain and enjoys almost all of the valuable insights to be gained by the lengthier instrument. Its simplicity and brevity lends itself to a 2 hour lunchtime presentation. The break-downs are quite simple. We are sorted into Four basic preferences – each having its own way to prioritize information; communicate and make decisions. We will usually have one style – or perhaps two – which dominate our approach to life and business tasks. One of the great values of this material is that we can begin to understand that (1) there are other approaches which, (2) while different are valuable and which (3) exist in all environments, to one degree or another and (4) which, without some instruction and reflection will be impermeable to our efforts to connect and persuade. These styles are characterized by colors, for ease. Certainly the quick thinking, results oriented Directives will have some difficulty working with, and getting through to, the more easy-going, “take it as it comes, but make it entertaining Adaptives. These latter folks may have some difficulty understanding the need of the Analyticals to get it right and find their difficulty in reaching conclusion frustrating. That doesn’t even begin with the care these people take with their communication which can dismay the Supportive style, who finds the over-concern with precision to be antithetical to the higher value of empathic and interpersonally harmonious exchanges. Different environments will find certain styles dominating. Likely any law firm will see an abundance of Analyticals and Directives. In fact, there may be such a predominance of these two styles, that the livelier Adaptives and more empathic Supportives may have difficulty understanding and expressing the value they provide. It is the choice and challenge of every working system to find a way to harvest the kernels of skill and natural talents of every part. The first, obvious, step is to be able to identify these difference and then to knit the fabric of our collective powers to make the overall organization energetic, effective, resilient and a place of belonging for all involved.