“Yes sir”, I said.
So, I get to live out my type. I get to write practical materials for people. I get to train people in how to interpret this instrument. I get to use who I am.
But I want to tell you a story about somebody who didn’t get to use who she was. I mentioned I do some training programs and, as part of that training, I would typically find somebody in the training class who wasn’t quite so sure of her type, but was reasonably verbal and seemed to have her act together.
So, this was in Dallas, Texas, a long time ago, and we were going through this interpretation in a very pleasant way, everything was going really well.
And, all of a sudden, we got near the end and this woman said, “I stopped using my ‘F’ and ‘J’ two years ago.”
Now, for those of you who don’t remember, “F” stands for “feeling,” making your decisions based on harmony with your value system, and “J” stands for “judging,” making a decision and getting on with it.
So, I did my good psychologist nod, my good psychologist pause, and the brilliant statement, “Tell me more — Context does everything here.”
So, she said, “Well, you need to understand that my faith is really important to me. I belong to an evangelical church. I work for that church, I believe in its teachings, but my husband came out as gay two years ago. We have children together. He is a good man, but my church says this is wrong.”
Her values had been clashing. She was stuck, she didn’t know what to do. But, suddenly, with personality type, she had a framework to understand what was happening to her and, right then and there, she started moving on.
Well, little did I know that, about 20 years later, the same thing would happen to me. My husband came out as gay. It was tough, but I’m an ESTJ. I need to move on, I need to just do it.
So, with the help of wonderful friends and a great family, who gave me love and support and advice, I was able to move on.
As the writer Garrison Keillor says, “When bad things happen to writers, it’s all just material.” And I’d like to add, as a psychologist, when bad things happen to psychologists, it’s all just a way of building empathy.
So, personality type has been enormously helpful to me in understanding myself and others, so that I can be more respectful of both of us, but I remember that it’s just preferences. I can act other ways when I need to.
So, I’m going to ask that you help me demonstrate preferences for one last time. And that is I want you to clap your hands and just freeze them, if you would. So, clap and freeze. Okay.
Now, you probably didn’t even notice that you have a way of clapping, you have a preference for that. So, I want you to practice, as loud as you can, the other way. It’s a cheap way to get applause.
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