Here is the full text of MBTI expert | Jean Kummerow’s talk titled “What’s Your Type?” at TEDxGrinnellCollege conference. In this talk, she walks the audience through the different personality types with humor and personal experience.
Jean Kummerow – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT
I’m going to talk to you today about something every one of us does. We categorize everything that crosses our path, including people, and sometimes we do this in not a very flattering way.
My favorite quote about categorizing people comes from the comedian George Carlin. He said there are three kinds of people: those who can count and those who cannot.
I’m glad you got that.
Well, I want to talk about a positive way of categorizing people. It’s called personality type, and it’s based on something called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI Assessment.
I’m just going to be able to give you a little bit of that framework. There’s a lot more to it than I’m going to get to today.
So, what this is about is it’s about how you prefer to gain energy, gather information, make decisions and live your life.
Now, this word “preference” is a really important thing in this system. So I just want to do a quick demonstration of what preference happens to be.
So, let’s say you’re really skeptical about personality type and you cross your arms and maybe you even tap your foot. Just try that with me, if you would, okay?
Now, you probably didn’t even think, “Which arm do I put on top?” You have a natural preference for how you cross your arms.
So, try crossing them in the other way. You can do it, easily. It doesn’t feel quite as natural. And we’re going to be talking about personality preferences within ourselves. And they’re really natural habits, natural mental habits that you have, for the ways you might like to think, or do, or act.
Now, I think it’s helpful to know about personality type for two reasons. One is, it can help you understand that that other person is not really trying to drive you crazy on purpose. They just see the world in a different way than you do.
And the second reason is it can help you understand more about yourself, about things that come more easily for you, things that might take a little bit more time, that might be a little bit more difficult, so that you can forgive yourself when you’re not perfect.
But that doesn’t excuse yourself from trying. So, let’s start in on this framework.
When I was growing up, I thought family togetherness was everyone in the same room reading a book. I’m an extrovert, I grew up in a family of introverts. My mother thought that my siblings needed to go to nursery school and I didn’t. It probably should have been reverse.
They needed their quiet time and I would have had fun with those other kids. I can assure you we’re all just fine today.
So, this is the first what we call preference pair, and it has to do with where we direct and receive our energy. There’s an extroverted way and an introverted way.
Now, these are not social skills. You can have people who prefer extroversion and people who prefer introversion who are shy. This is about energy.
So, extroverts want their energy to go out and, when it goes out, they’re with people, they’re doing things, it comes bouncing back to them.
And introverts want their energy to go in. By looking at ideas, impressions, facts inside their head, they create more energy.
Now, I need to do a quick aside on this idea of preference pairs. We believe that you have both within you. It’s just that you prefer one over the other. It really does not guarantee just because you prefer something that you’re good at it.
You might need to develop skills with it and, while you’re at it, develop skills with the other preference. That’s going to be helpful because there are times when you need to flex and act in a different way.
If you just do everything according to your preferences, it’s not going to always work.
So, when we look at extroversion and introversion and how it appears in meetings, it’s kind of interesting. So, extroverts in a meeting are more likely to be talking their ideas out.
If I bring it out, it becomes real, and I may start over here and end up over here, because I’ve made it real as I’m talking it out.
Now, the introvert listening to that extrovert may be thinking, “If they just shut up, we would get somewhere.” Well, they don’t understand extroversion is about bringing it out.
So, our introverts are taking things in during that meeting, they’re mulling it through, and our extrovert looking at them is probably going, “Are they awake? Are they listening to me?”
And we assume that they are because they’re working it out inside. Silences for extroverts are space to be filled. Silences for introverts are space to be cherished.
When we think about interruptions, there’s also a different way that people may look at that. Interruptions for extroverts actually may be compliments: “Gee, someone’s listened to what I’ve said! They want to jump right in, you know, build on my idea.” It’s a compliment.
But, for an introvert, that same interruption may be rude: “I’ve thought about it inside, I’m bringing up my ideas, you’re interrupting me. I need to stop and think, ‘Is that new information or is it a pure dribble?’ and then I’m going to continue with my talk.”
Introverts, by the way, once they know people and topics well, will act like extroverts because they’ve done their inside work. We say that, if you want to know what an extrovert is thinking, you haven’t been listening.
If you want to know what an introvert is thinking, you haven’t asked. So, now I want to go on to the next one, which is how we gather data and the kind of information we like and trust.
The preference pairs here are sensing and intuition. Now, I happen to prefer sensing. I like things to be practical, actual, real. I just really want to get down to the here and now of what’s going on.
Now, by contrast, intuitive types like possibilities, meanings, the big picture, and I want to show you a picture that gets at some of these differences.
So, if we look at this particular picture with a sensing lens, we may see pillars, trees, yellow flowers, there’s an umbrella in there, and so forth. If we look at this picture from an intuitive point of view, we might see an ancient lost civilization, where the wild things are, or a ballet of dancing trees.
Now, we both looked at the same picture. So, I use this in a community leadership program and we get people into sensing groups and intuitive groups and have them look at this picture and talk about it.
We had a civil engineer once who pointed over to — he was in the sensing group — he pointed to the intuitive group and he said, “Hum, I always thought they were liars. I would go to a community meeting and present my facts. I would see them a couple of days later and they said I said things I know I didn’t say. Our memories are just fine. So, now I know I need to sit down with them and find out how they got from my facts to what they’re interpreting.”