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Understanding How We're Wired: Discovering Myers Briggs Personality Types

The Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (or MBTI for short) is one of the world's best known and most used personality tools. I first came across it at a leadership training course when I was working for the NHS, almost twenty years ago. We spent three days discovering our own personality types and finding learning about personality through the lens of Myers Briggs. And I have to say, it was one of the most transformative pieces of education I've ever embarked upon. It opened windows of understanding into myself and the people around me that were both enlightening and practically really useful.

One of the things I liked about Myers Briggs right from the start is that it's not that complicated to start to get your head around. It takes four facets of personality and for each one divides people into one of two categories. Add those all together, and you get sixteen different personality types. Which sounds like a lot. But you still basically only need to get your head around four different concepts.

Over the years, my understanding has grown and deepened. I have come to understand all sorts of nuances, but that basic set of four ideas continues to be incredibly useful and I wanted to share them. So last summer, I persuaded my friends Polly and Sean to record some podcast conversations with me. Polly and I are opposites on all four elements of the Myers Briggs. So as well as explaining a bit of the theory, we are also talking about our personal experiences and insights.

So here are the episodes:

This episode gives you a general overview of Myers Briggs and how it works.

Do you recharge on your own, or with other people? Do you organise your thoughts in your mind or as you're talking to other people?

What happens first for you? Knowing what you feel about something, or what you think about it?

Big picture, or details? Do you like things that are concrete and practical or are you more excited by ideas?

Do you like things planned, organised and decided, or do you prefer to keep possibilities open? Do you find structure and rules calming or constraining? Do you like the adrenaline of the unexpected? Or the opportunity to prepare properly?

There are also transcripts of each of these conversations, if you would prefer to read rather than listen:

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