When the lovely over-achiever Aubrey posted about taking the Myers-Briggs (I guess we’re also calling it Keirsey?) personality test as part of her Kelley MBA prep, it reminded me of how much I kind of love this test.
As far as I remember, it asks you a ton of questions, then tells you where you fall on the spectrum of four dimensions:
Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).
At the end you get a four-letter result that’s supposed to give you a lot of insights into your personality. I know, it’s like, astrology by another name would smell as bullshit, right?
So I took it (back when I was a business-time undergrad at Kelley), and it said I was an INTJ (the scientist, or whatever). I’m reading through my so-called description, and guess the fuck what? CREEPILY ACCURATE. Generally, we INTJs are on the quiet side, take our time to process information and make decisions, are observant and practical, and have high standards.
Richard also took the test when he worked for Kelley (hey, I wonder if IU’s Kelley School of Business gets referral bonuses for making people take the test?) and turned out to be an ENTJ (the executive). ENTJs are also practical, love order and organization, are natural leaders and decision-makers, and like working with others.
Ostensibly this test will help you know yourself better, understand your coworkers and why they do what they do (which was just UNFATHOMABLE until this point), and so everyone works better together. BUT here’s what I’ve discovered: the best thing about knowing what your type and the type of your friends, coworkers, or partners is is that you can now have really well-informed arguments.
Richard and I read through our type descriptions (I like this website, because it clearly has been written by an INTJ and has not gotten the memo about web design post 2003), and now we have handy references for why I Am Right and You Are Wrong. Par exemple:
RICHARD: Hey, why are you standing on the couch with the vacuum?
JENNIFER: I’m cleaning the couch.
RICHARD: But why are you standing on it with the vacuum?
JENNIFER: Well we lost the brush attachment and this is better than using just the hose.
RICHARD: But why don’t you take the cushions off and vacuum them on the floor?
JENNIFER: Well I haven’t cleaned the floor yet and if I put the cushions down there, vacuum, then flip them, the clean side will get dirty again.
RICHARD: Why don’t you clean the floor first?
JENNIFER: Because that’s not the order I clean things.
RICHARD: …are you drunk?
JENNIFER: What? No! Vacuuming makes me hot so I just grabbed a beer.
RICHARD: I don’t understand what’s happening.
JENNIFER: What do you mean? I just explained it.
RICHARD: I didn’t understand your explanation.
JENNIFER: I am explaining this perfectly well, it’s just that my ideas are not readily translatable into a form that others will understand.
RICHARD: Whoa, whoa whoa, are you calling me an idiot? You are too quick to express judgments.
JENNIFER: Well that may be, but my judgments are always correct, because I have very evolved intuitions.
RICHARD: You INTJs are always convinced that you are right about things.
JENNIFER: And you say I’m judgmental?? Your tone makes me feel like you think I’m a self-aggrandizing asshole.
RICHARD: Well, I really don’t believe that I should tailor my judgments in consideration for people’s feelings.
JENNIFER: I, too, have little interest in other people’s thoughts or feelings.
RICHARD: Well I’m glad we can agree on something. I still don’t understand why you have to stand on the couch to vacuum it. It would be much better if you–
JENNIFER: You are constantly scanning your environment for potential problems which you can turn into solutions. Stop trying to fix things that aren’t broken!
RICHARD: Well excuse me if I want my home to be beautiful, well-furnished, and efficiently run.
JENNIFER: You know, you can be a real forceful, intimidating and overbearing individual sometimes.
RICHARD: You just can’t handle that I have many gifts which make it possible for me to have a great deal of personal power.
JENNIFER: I’m a GOD DAMN GIFT TO SOCIETY!!!
RICHARD: STOP SHOUTING! I know you’re feeling stressed, but that’s no excuse to become obsessed with mindless repetitive, Sensate activities, such as over-drinking!
JENNIFER: Oh I’M drunk? YOU’RE DRUNK!
RICHARD: ARGUING MAKES ME THIRSTY. You know what? I don’t need this. I’m leaving!!
JENNIFER: WAIT! Just because I’m not overly demonstrative of my affections…doesn’t mean that I don’t truly have affection or regard for you, I simply do not typically feel the need to express it.
RICHARD: Well…although I am not naturally tuned into other people’s feelings either, indeed I frequently have very strong sentimental streaks.
JENNIFER: Love you.
RICHARD: You too.