From the Enneagram, to StrengthsFinder, to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, personality assessments are pretty commonplace these days, and you might even be asked to take one at work. Ever wondered why? Just what is the Myers-Briggs test used for? At a previous job, my team began using Myers-Briggs after two employees were having trouble working together. The test revealed that one person was an extrovert who wanted the other person, an introvert, to engage in collaborative brainstorming and come up with ideas on the fly, which just isn't how introverts operate. After the results came in, these two team members discovered that they interact with the world and process information in very different ways.
Eventually the entire team was assessed, and we were even given an overall team type. Because our team was almost entirely remote and consisted of people from multiple countries and backgrounds, the MBTI was invaluable in helping us work more efficiently and take things less personally. "When you understand your type preferences, you can approach your own work in a manner that best suits your style, including: how you manage your time, problem solving, best approaches for decision making, and dealing with stress," the Myers & Briggs Foundation explained on its website. "Knowledge of type can help you better understand the culture of the place you work, develop new skills, understand your participation in teams, and cope with change in the workplace."
I'm an INFP, which means I'm an introvert who processes things through intuition, feeling, and perception. Once we took the MBTI at my previous job, another MBTI type who had taken to calling me whenever she had a question suddenly understood why this was so disruptive to me. After that she always messaged me first to ask if I had time to chat, which went a long way toward improving our working relationship. The MBTI, developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, is based on the theories of psychoanalyst Carl Jung. "The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment," the Myers & Briggs Foundation noted.
It's no secret that almost all interpersonal problems in life come from people not understanding each other. Humans tend to take everything personally and often fail to consider, or even wonder, why someone else is acting a certain way because we tend to judge everything based on our own experiences. What's more, people also ascribe intent to the actions and behaviors of others when that's not always the case. For example, "ISTJs tend to clash with intuitives, who are future oriented and often unimpressed with past data," Jack Spear wrote for Delta Associates.
In your personal life, the MBTI can help you understand why you behave in certain ways, why you prefer certain things, and the best ways to stay organized based on your MBTI type. In its most basic form, the MBTI helps people better understand one another. Once you learn what each type means, it becomes easy to determine which type someone might be just by observing them. "INFPs live half their lives in a fairytale. Many ESTPs can curse like a sailor and not really care what people think of them. ESFPs are fun and light-hearted," Leon Sao, a life coach and MBTI meetup organizer, told the Atlantic. "Over time, you get to figure out the noticeable vibe that each type gives off."
Another good reason to take the MBTI is because most people have a hard time being objective about themselves, which means you might be surprised when your type comes back different than what you expected. "People who aren’t objective and want to take the test will gain by spending time in self-reflection," Brianna Whitney wrote on Quora. "It’s equally important for a person to study theories regarding human behavior. People are the crux of our planet and society’s fate. Finding out the way you and other people act gives you a great amount of power and influence. If you understand and are able to change yourself and people around you, you’ll have the ability to change fate."
It's important to note that the MBTI, like astrology, is not an exact science. What's more, your MBTI can evolve and change over time. However, learning more about your motivations, judgments, and perceptions can be a useful tool to help you make better decisions in your life. And, even though a lot of people claim personality tests are a bunch of new age mumbo jumbo, I have found every personality assessment I have taken — the enneagram, Gallup's StrengthsFinder, and the MBTI — invaluable in helping me better understand myself and others, which ultimately leads to fewer kerfuffles.
The magic of the MBTI is that is lets you know that everyone is different, which is actually a really good thing. IMO, the most important thing the MBTI does is help people learn to accept and appreciate those differences.