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3 takeaways from personality typing over a hundred people

When I was interning at Qualcomm, I’d spend every evening after work reading about the sixteen Myers-Briggs personality types:

INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, ENFP, ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ESFJ

A year after, a friend and I personality typed every person in our student org, which was at least fifty members. My friend has probably typed hundreds of people now, while I dropped off since, but still subconsciously type people often.

In any case, Myers Briggs was a big part of my life for a while.

Now, I know to a lot of you, Myers Briggs is mumbo jumbo. And you know you’re right, I won’t claim there’s science behind it. But I’m telling ya, if you keep an open mind, there’s something to be learned from studying it.

To me, Myers Briggs isn’t science, but language, language to describe people. Say you wanted to understand people well, wouldn’t you want to take people and describe them by their character traits? Wouldn’t you want to debate with your friends what type” of person they are? That’s what Myers Briggs lets you do.

Now, linguistics have found many examples of how language affects how we think. I’d argue that similarly, if you learn the Myers Briggs language, and especially the concept of cognitive functions, you could improve your thinking about people. With Myers Briggs, you can talk about people in higher resolution.

It’s like, instead of describing someone as sad, you describe them as melancholy, bitter, or nostalgic. More nuance.

#1: People are so different

This is the crazy thing. People would think that after learning personality type theory, we’d be like oh, there are only 16 types of people, so people are by and large the same. No. My friend and I know maybe a dozen ENFPs, for example, and they’re all so different. Some are ambitious, others are chill. Some are more quirky, some are more bubbly.

The way they think, there’s tons of similarities, sure. But what we noticed is that there is crazy variation within a personality type. Which makes sense! Humans are so complex.

This is so beneficial to deeply understand. Every leader or every emotionally intelligent person knows that rationally, but with Myers Briggs you get no excuse, and it makes you super observant and focus on tailoring your communication style etc all the time.

#2: I suck at understanding people

From trying to type a ton of people, I have not become more confident in my intuition about people, but more humble. People I might think to be a certain type might do something totally out of character, for one, which doesn’t fit Myers Briggs. Or I might just mistype someone despite knowing them so well. It’s just tough. Again, humans are complex, and I have to be a student for ilfe to just graze the surface of it.

#3: There is tailored personality advice through MBTI that most people miss out on

There’s this concept of cognitive functions in Myers Briggs. When I started I tried skipping it cuz it’s kinda complex, but it’s useless without imo.

Part of the theory is that people have a primary mental process they favor and a secondary mental process they favor. (As well as a bunch of others but let’s ignore that for now.)

What happens is that people are super reliant on their primary mental process. Personal development for people is to develop their secondary mental process.

I’m leaving out the reasoning for why this makes sense, as well as a bunch of detail. But Personality Hacker does a great job of explaining this. I love the founders and their podcast, it’s the only podcast I’ve listened to for an extended period of time outside of the Tim Ferriss Show.

For me, my primary mental process is Extroverted Intuition, or Exploration. My secondary mental process Introverted Feeling, or Authenticity. And man, unsurprisingly, I suck at working with that.

What it requires is slowing the heck down, and doing things that align with my values, and what feels authentic to me. That’s not my natural mode at all, I’d rather do do do. I have no idea what my values are, so I just do do do, instead of turning anything or anyone down.

So it’s been tough. Personality Hacker gives me the advice of taking my time to make decisions, journaling often. But ultimately, I still suck, because I strongly prefer affecting change in the external world to working on my internal world.

An aside: daily blogging is a double edged sword. I’m able to get out posts I’ve thought about for years out onto the Internet, but of questionable quality. I need to find some kind of medium.

Another point: Not going to Amsterdam, if you were keeping up with the blog. I dissected the pros and cons for days, but it came down to this: it didn’t feel right.

Up next I wrote 50,000 words of fiction in November, and here are some thoughts Bigger is not better: A response to my good friend Rahman
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