Conjunction Junction, What’s Your Function?

Conjunction Junction, What’s Your Function?

Have you figured out how you operate best? That’s the subject of my blog today – finding it and doing everything in your power to tailor the way you work to suit those preferences. Sometimes, we try to work against our general nature and it’s silly. Why not listen to our minds and senses and let them guide us to how we work best and heck, even what we should be working on in the first place!

 

On the surface, it might sound like this blog is geared only toward writers or artists. Not so. I hope you’ll keep reading even if you would not consider putting yourself into either of those categories. I had a great conversation with a friend the other day about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. You know, that’s the assessment that measures how people communicate, process and receive the world. It has been used in Corporate America for some time, and frequently out on social media, especially Twitter, there appears to be unofficial ‘clubs’ celebrating their type. I’ve noticed a particularly large group of fellow INFJs proudly listing it in their Twitter or Facebook bio.

 

I find the assessment really fascinating even though I will admit that at the time I was being tested, I thought it might be a lot of hogwash and a way to put people in a box, figuratively speaking (and yes, okay, maybe trying to be a little punny, too). I do not like labels as a rule. However, in this case, once I learned more about how and why it was designed, I realized how helpful it could be.

 

MBTest

It’s been a long time since I was tested for it (1997 – yikes!) and I won’t spend this blog explaining all of the nuts and bolts that comprise the Myers-Briggs test (you can visit the link above for all of that!) but basically it measures how a person perceives the world. Doing a little research on the Myers-Briggs site, I realized that it is based on Carl Jung theories (I did not know this) and he believed that we experience the world through four main psychological channels –  through feeling, thinking, sensation and intuition.  The belief is that we may be anywhere on the spectrum for each of these dimensions (if we’re really strong in one way like in feeling versus thinking, we might be labeled a strong F, for example) but the main thought is that we have one particularly dominant way that we experience the world of those four channels. I previously tested very strong in the Intuition  (N) realm. After completing a test, you end up with four letters — either E or I (for extroversion or introversion), S or N (for sensing or intuition), T or F (for thinker or feeler) and P or J (for perceiving or judging). I ended up an INFJ with a very strong J, which generally means closure, checklists and deadlines to measure my success and completion are super important to me. (Click here for another helpful site with information about this Myers-Briggs ‘stuff’ and other personality assessments you may find interesting. )

 

The way it is often used in business is two-fold: placing people in jobs suitable for the natural ways they operate and communicate or even to fulfill particular needs of that team or company goal; and maximizing our effectiveness in communicating and working with others who may not operate the same as us, especially helpful in teams.  The first way that I mentioned businesses use it is pretty self-explanatory but the second may need some explanation. For example, if you know that someone tends to process information and operate from a more logical perspective, using language like ‘how do you feel about this?’ isn’t going to reach them or compel them to interact the same way ‘what do you think about this?’ will. The ideal use of the Type test would be to learn the best way to communicate with your teammate at work and create a dynamic that will encourage the most effectiveness between  you working together on your respective functions on the team.

 

Where I was first introduced to it was in a software and training firm. I’ve worked for a lot of technology companies over the years and if there is one consistent pattern I’ve witnessed it is that to be successful, a technology team must have so many different types of employees serving a multitude of functions that need to be carried out before technology is launched and implemented. They don’t always see eye to eye or understand each other since their strengths and functions don’t always coincide or overlap but they must somehow work together so that each pulls off their piece in the intricate series of steps in the workflow.

 

So how does any of this pertain to the first question I asked you? Well,  I bring this up because sometimes we think we know what is best for us in terms of the ideal setting in which to work or what we need to help us do our job better but I ask you — what have you actually done to figure out this information?  To test yourself?  Sure, taking an assessment like the Myers-Briggs Type test can be eye-opening.  But you can also learn about yourself simply by shaking up things. For example,  alter your routines and try working in a totally different environment. You may discover that you can work just as effectively or even more effectively when you adjust certain aspects of your work setting. I have heard too many times in my career… ‘because that’s the way I/we have always done it.’  Okay, great. Why not try something different?  You might do it better! At least give yourself the opportunity to create your own data and make a decision based on the results instead of your assumptions.

 

To wrap up all of this Myers-Briggs  ooey gooey personality test goodness… I recently took an abbreviated version of the test to see how I would score 20 years later.  I suspected some things would change. And I was right. This time around, I did not – gasp – end up an INFJ. And this is something I’ve associated with myself all of these years. What I learned 20 years later was that all of my unique experiences did have an impact on me. Events like career changes and layoffs, personal loss, parenthood as a step-parent,  taking risks, making mistakes, working for myself, conquering fears, finally starting and finishing a book — twice! — and so much more — all of these have contributed to how I now prefer to operate. And as a result, I hereby unofficially announce that I just might be an INFP with a much stronger I than ever before.

Hmm. Guess all of that working for myself as a freelancer from home made my Introversion measurement a much stronger dimension to my working style. Not surprising, I suppose. And it seems working for myself on my own schedule and at a pace that I set also took the urgency out of deadlines I once had ‘working for the man’ full-time once I became more entrepreneurial and independent. Or maybe I just slowed down in life, which is probably closer to the truth. Heh.

 

Okay, to be fair, I’m a really week P and a strong I and F (no shock there – I’m quite the touchie-feeling chica) but I guess my experiences writing two books might have helped me overcome my addiction to closure. Anyone who has ever written a book knows you are out in limbo (aka Unfinished Land) for quite some time, something that can be pure torture for a person who likes closure as much as I do. So the fact that I even scored a P and not a J (which is usually the letter assigned to we Closure Freaks) is pretty wild.

 

INFP

 

Do you know how you operate best, how you perceive and interact with the world? What comes natural for you when you process information or face a challenge? Do you listen to your gut or are you a gatherer of knowledge and input from others? What tends to motivate your final decision — the mind or emotion? There are no wrong answers to any of these but only YOUR answers.

 

If you’ve ever found out your own MB Type before, do tell about your own results and how accurately you felt they captured your true self on the job or in your interactions with people. And if you were tested many moons ago (like me), maybe sneak over to that second link above and take the free, shortened version to see if your ‘type’ has changed, too. Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading.  ~ Chris  xo

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