Explaining MBTI preferences

One of the biggest difficulties people have with the MBTI, is the concept of only being one or the other. “Surely I’m both and I can do both” is the biggest argument against the ‘preference’ argument. Well, yes, you can. Naturally, in life, you grow to learn how to do a variety of skills and you learn where you abilities lie. The nature of ‘preferences’ though is about which we ‘prefer’ to do.

The insights you derive from the MBTI centre on your understanding of ‘preferences’. The classic signature exercise is a great way of visualising this task. If you don’t know it, sign your normal signature. Now sign it with your other hand. There are clear and obvious differences. The purpose of the task isn’t about the differences though. It’s about the feeling of writing with one hand over the other.

Our development means we often just do things one way, because that’s the habit we’ve developed. It doesn’t mean we can’t do the other things though. If we practice it enough, we will be able to, and that’s important.

Equally important though, is the balance we have in our lives. We cannot constantly practice one preference, either consciously or sub-consciously. Our psyche just doesn’t allow it. Everything about the human physical condition is about achieving balance, and our psyche is no different. I had a great discussion with someone once about his confusion of being an introvert or extravert. His confusion lay in his excessive display of extravert type behaviours over a sustained period of time, and his sudden change to a career as a lone consultant. One of the reasons I suggested this happened was because he had excessively practiced his extravert preference, and his psyche was forcing him to regain balance by practising his introvert preference.

On a more daily basis though, we see this in practise in the variety of tasks we do. This starts from the moment we wake to the moment we sleep. We will, and do, practise our preferences constantly. We just know that we prefer to do one thing more so than the other. The significance of deciding one over the other is about accepting that we have a preference.

Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

2 thoughts on “Explaining MBTI preferences”

  1. Well whaddya know – I saw this blog post get tweeted – and my preference was to read it! It’s a useful reminder about balance, about ebb and flow. And perhaps most importantly, about remembering to practice. Practice trumps talent every time.

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