04 November 2009

ENFJ vs. ESTJ, or why Myers-Briggs are just 4 letters

How is it that 4 little letters can determine so much about you - or at least, the perception of "you"? The Myers-Briggs personality type test is an interesting one that gives you insight into how you function has a human being. I have friends who can recite to me not only their four letters, but also the percentages of each dichotomy - now that's either pure nerdiness or self-awareness, but given that I haven't taken the test since sometime in high school, I figured I would do it again and see.

And I got some surprising results, mostly the persistent appearance of an "E" for "Extroverted" in every test I took. Last time, I most definitely was an Introvert, perhaps an INFP (maybe INTP) or something along those lines. In exploring various (free) online tests, I eventually got one of two types: ENFJ (Extroverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging - Idealist Teacher) or ESTJ (Extroverted Sensing Thinking Judging - Guardian Supervisor). Puzzling... why? See below:

1) why I : I used to be very shy - and still am, at times. My mom used to say that I was forced to speak up more once my brother left for college, in order to fill the silence at home.

2) why E : It's hard for me not to be involved and busy, meaning interacting with and being around people most of the time. I do enjoy it, although...

3) why I (again) : there comes a point when I get really tired and just want to retreat from the world. Being with 1 or just a couple people works well, though, and I'm fine with silence (of the unawkward nature) and just being pensive.

4) why S : I like to do research and gather facts, just as a squirrel stores away nuts - and always ask "why ________?" Yes, it's that time for the difficult questions! In that way, I'm sometimes more satisfied with the tangible at hand, although...

5) why N : ...serendipity is essential and it happens - that's really how design works in some ways. Being creative and trusting the hunch are key, and I guess this is why I ended up choosing Columbia over MIT the first time around and becoming a designer rather than a scientist or engineer (but funnily enough, where am I now...?).

6) why T : Flo calls me her "female Kurt" (Kurt being her rational engineer husband) because of my "let's take a step back, shall we?" approach to situations. Sometimes, though, I think too much and my head hurts...

7) why F : which is why in the end, I can change my mind last minute, usually on a hunch or a final "sense" (sometimes feelings-based, sometimes Spirit-based). This can frustrate others (and myself), but trusting intuition has served me well.

8) why J : Like many people, I like to plan and plan well in advance. Kunle has told me many times that I'm probably the busiest person he knows outside of himself, w/ the number of things I have penciled in my mental calendar,

9) why P : ...although really, within that rigid time structure I have moments of spontaneity that people just don't really know about...unless they're actually around me at that time. In the end, I can't be very uptight - go with the flow.

10) And since there's a little of everything in there, this is why I take M-B with some hulking grains of salt and will not be pigeon-holed! Sure, it might help determine things like how I'll function at the workplace, who I might be most compatible with, etc., but really... If it makes me more self-aware, then it's already done its job and I need not dwell on it longer than that (although I still find it interesting from a psychological standpoint...a different issue).

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That was longer than anticipated, but ah well - just the beginning.

What type are you, and do you think it's accurate?