Personality Progress

Using your MBTI to enrich your life and relationships.

How MBTI Has Changed My Life

I’ve seen a lot of negative feedback and skeptics out there that try to diminish the value of MBTI and it really frustrates me. I feel that they just don’t really grasp the concept of what MBTI tells us and overall what it is. From my perspective, they are a set of tools. When you go to counseling to deal with any issue – depression, addiction, anxiety, relationship issues, communication problems – your therapist will give you tools to deal with the issue. Those tools can make an impossible situation become so simple to solve. That is the value I see in the MBTI.
The biggest complaint is usually that it does not define a person well enough, and every single person is too unique to be shoved into four little letters. I feel that this complaint shows how little they understand MBTI. All the little details about a person are impossible to define, that is obvious, but also they aren’t important. When you are close to someone you see all those little details anyway, you don’t need a personality test to show you that. What you usually lose sight of is the overall “function” of a person. The way that someone takes in information and processes it will reveal so much about why they come to a certain end result. When I am able to see what MBTI someone is, I can then see their underlying “drive” and what flips those “switches” inside of them.
I have only recently learned about MBTI and found out that I was an INFJ. Over the last few months of learning more about it and discovering what my close friends are, I have begun to understand so many things about my relationships that I had felt all along but had never been able to define. Almost every fight I have ever had with my significant other, every misunderstanding or unintentionally hurt feeling can be understood by comparing our different functions. The realization that other people really do work differently than I is actually quite shocking to me. It seems obvious that people would function differently but a lot of the things that have hurt me in the past are representations of someone using their Perceiving function when I was expecting the Judging function. The fact that I am an INFJ has created the idea inside me that Judging is the “correct” way and when forced to deal with a Perceiver I have always taken their actions as blatant disregard for my feelings, inconsistency in their identity and a lack of responsibility. Now with my knowledge of the differences between Judging and Perceiving I can see why the conflict started and how to prevent it in the future. I can understand what the situation looked like from their perspective and why they chose to do the things they did.
Today, the INTJ in our trio made a comment about the nickname I have given him. He is a new friend in my life and as an INFJ I don’t often accept new friends. We’ve gotten close really quickly and to me, trust is the most important gift I can give someone. As an INTJ he can be really cold and inconsiderate sometimes. I had jokingly attached a false adjective to his nickname and called him “The adjective Nickname”. He replied saying “The only part that isn’t a lie is the word ‘The’”. This would imply that my nickname for him was a lie. My feelings were hurt. I knew he didn’t mean anything by it but it made me slightly sad that he would call the nickname I had lovingly bestowed upon him a lie. In my mind, calling it a lie would mean that he doesn’t accept it or care for it.
The ENFP of our trio brought to my attention that this is a perfect example of the difference between INFJ and INTJ. I have Extroverted Feeling and so I care about how someone feels about a nickname and that is how I apply “truth” to the situation. I am driven by feelings and so I assume others are too. When he said the nickname was a lie, my first impression was that he deliberately said something hurtful. Because I trust him, I brushed away the hurt feelings, telling myself he was just teasing – either way though, there were feelings hurt. As a feeler I ultimately choose if a situation is “good” or “bad” and while that small comment wasn’t heartbreaking, it was a “bad” feeling.
The INTJ has Extroverted Thinking. This means he is driven by logical thought and ultimately chooses if a situation is “true” or “false”. When he said that the nickname was a lie, he said it because it is a lie. The nickname is not his real name. He is driven by logical thought and had no feelings attached to that judgment. Because he judges a situation on the scale of true or false, he left the situation feeling satisfied knowing what he had said was “true”. He had no intention of hurting my feelings or devaluing the nickname (that I’m sure he loves dearly – winky face). He had judged the information as true and, expecting me to function the same as he did, didn’t assume I would be offended by a true statement.
When the situation was described to me using the tools that MBTI has provided me with and the vocabulary I have learned to express the differences in types, my hurt feelings vanished. I understood what had happened and was confident that it wasn’t “bad” as I had thought. If it were a more serious offense and I was still upset despite understanding, I could have confidently expressed my concern to him, accurately explained how his Te function had hurt my Fe function – and because he understands we have those differences – it would have been a mutually beneficial conversation. We could have skipped the fight and gone straight to figuring out a solution. Without MBTI it could have been an awkward or tense conversation that focused on the problem and never got around to a solution. The lack of understanding on both sides could have caused more hurt feelings.
Of course you don’t need MBTI to have good communication skills, but nonetheless it is clearly a valuable tool that can be used in almost any situation. It provides a mutually safe platform, with agreed upon vocabulary, to express how your differences effect your relationship. It gives insight to how conflict develops and a fast track to get to the problem solving/compromising portion of the argument. It also helps you understand what that person needs from you, so you can be attentive to them while addressing what you need from them. This way each person is accounted for and treated equally in the relationship.
~Your INFJ

11 comments for “How MBTI Has Changed My Life

  1. September 7, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Interesting read. I wouldn’t say that the MBTI “changed my life” in any way, but it has helped me understand my own quirks and those of others. It also helped me understand why I have always had so few female friends — as a female INTJ, I probably come across as kind of cold and aloof, which is of course just shyness and being lost in my own mind.

  2. September 7, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I have an INTJ female friend. Find female ENFPs, or INFJs. you’ll love them! :)

  3. September 7, 2013 at 7:57 am

    It *has* changed my life. I work under a lot of different doctors during my internship. Many of them work a lot less smart than I do. MBTI helped me understand why, and also to see their qualities passed their inefficiencies. Now I can learn the most from them instead of trying to puch an immovable object.

    • September 7, 2013 at 8:30 am

      I work in psychiatry, but I pretty much saw everything. Except ESPs, maybe. According to studies, psychiatrists are one of the most diverse specialties regarding personality, and I think it applies to MBTI types too.

  4. September 7, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Thanks for the tip! :)

    • September 7, 2013 at 8:01 am

      My close circle of friends are all either INTJ, INFJ, or INFP. Those types mix very well together. There’s probably more, I just haven’t observed it yet!

  5. September 7, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Which types have you found the doctors being?

  6. Sinthemoon
    September 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Yup. Noticing facial expressions is fuckin useless if you don’t know how to use is therapeutically. You better notice an occult bleeding artery while the patient is asleep. Psychiatry is all about understanding what’s wrong *for the patient*, and ESPs don’t excell at that. Although I know at least two ISFPs who do a good enough job at it. They just don’t make much sense when they speak to other doctors, but they’re very convincing. :)

  7. Fluffy
    September 9, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I can see how it’s been useful to you. I agree with a lot of your points. Thanks! I look forward to future posts.

  8. September 11, 2013 at 6:09 am

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  9. September 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I know an ISFP who *thinks* she’s a psychiatrist. Not sure if that counts.

    ESPs might actually be the best at noticing people’s facial expressions. Every other type filters the external world somehow, but they pretty much see it raw and unfiltered. I guess they just feel like psychiatry is too boring or constraining — I imagine a lot more of them go into surgery.

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