In the last post about MBTI, I looked at a fairly in-depth element of MBTI step two – where one of the MBTI-subscales was what we call and OOPS – and Out of Preference Score. For this example I’m going to stick to a more straight-forward example of how Extraverts and Introverts interact.

Please note that for all our training, case studies are real, cleaned and anonymised and used with the necessary permissions. For this article however, I have pulled together several different examples of how things can go wrong when an Extravert comes to seen an Introvert, in their office. In the first instance I’m going to write it from the point of view of the MBIT-Introvert (in which the Extravert is exhibiting challenging behaviour). Then I’ll turn it around and write it from the Extravert’s perspective – where the challenging behaviour will be that of the Introvert!

Ah, the joys of MBTI!

Let’s call our Extravert Suzie and our Introvert Steve. At the start of this interaction, Steve is sitting at his desk, concentrating hard on a report he’s typing. It’s about two months after the whole team had an away-day which included working on MBTI profiles for everyone.

Version one – our poor, put-upon MBTI Introvert’s story!

Suzie arrives and breezes into his office, unannounced. It breaks Steve’s concentration, which makes him a little annoyed, especially because he notices that Suzie didn’t feel the need to knock and wait on his office door! She just barged in unannounced!

What’s more, once she’s inside the office, she stands too close to Steve, causing him to lean back in his chair – not only does that make it hard to concentrate psychologically but it’s uncomfortable too!

To make matters worse, Suzie’s talking (ten to the dozen!) before Steve has had a chance to stop thinking about his report and ‘get his brain in gear’. For the first minute or two of Suzie’s chatter, Steve has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about and is trying hard to figure out what’s so urgent (and about what project!) that Suzie needs urgent help. Once he’s figured out what the project is that’s got Suzie so fired up, he can’t figure out what the crisis is!

It must be, a crisis, mustn’t it?  She wouldn’t walk over to his office, barge in and start talking at him unless it was urgent, would she?

Shaking his head to clear it, Steve tries to interrupt Suzie to ask what it is, specifically, that she needs from him. Suzie, however, is now talking about the weekend – perhaps it wasn’t a crisis after all.

Steve frowns and just as he’s about to say something rude about Suzie’s weekend activities, she’s back talking about the Bridges project and asking “So, anyway, what do you think?”

Perplexed, with no information, Steve can only venture the most vague of responses: “I wonder if we shouldn’t wait for a while and see if we can link it to one of the other projects.”

“Just what I was thinking” says Suzie as she’s half way out of the door…. leaving Steve annoyed that he can still here her talking to some new victim, shoes clacking on the corridor outside.

“If she’d shut the bloody door” thinks Steve, “I”d not need to put up with hearing her talking at David! Poor sod!”

Finally, Steve can stand it no more and gets out of his chair to close the door with a bang, noticing as he does so that Suzie is now telling David the same things as she’s told him!

Annoyed, confused and unable to concentrate, Steve turns back to his report but can’t concentrate for another ten minutes!

Version two – our poor, put out, MBTI Extravert’s story!

Suzie’s stumped. She can’t seem to make up her mind about what to do with the new information on the Bridges Project. She’s been staring at the email with the data in it for about 20 minutes, until the numbers are swimming, but she’s no nearer a decision. She needs a fresh perspective.

If only Steve hadn’t turned his phone off she’d be able to ask him for help: he is often wise and helps her clarify exactly what she should do. Smiling, she thinks of what a good friend Steve is and how helpful it is to talk with him: she’ll tell him as soon as she gets to his office…

Hitting the print button, Suzie grabs the data output and heads over to see Steve. When she arrives she’s excited by the possibility of hearing what Steve has to say and gets into her stride as soon as she can – after all, she doesn’t want to waste any of Steve’s time!

Oh yes, time; that reminds her, she must make time this weekend to see her sister!

Suzie notices that Steve’s a bit distracted; maybe she hasn’t been clear enough in what she was asking, and she knows Steve likes a bit time to think (hey, she listened at the MBTI training course!) so she puts the print-out in his lap. As he grabs the paper, she asks what he thinks.

He’s shaking his head! Is there a problem? Has she not spotted a mistake in the data? Nervous, Suzie steps a little closer to Steve for some reassurance. If only he wasn’t so flipping stand-off-ish it would be a lot easier to chat: how can you chat to someone who’s continually trying to push you away!

There’s a long, long silence after she asks for his opinion. He must be worried about what he’s going to say! Surely it’s not that serious! Surely there can’t be such a big problem that she didn’t see it! Anxiously, Suzie fills the painful silence: “So… So… What do you think? Am I right about the next steps?”.

Finally, with the irritating habit Steve has of speaking like he is bloody God Almighty himself Steve gives his verdict!  Half annoyed at the fact it’s taken so long to say anything and half relieved that it’s not a disaster Suzie reassures Steve that she was thinking exactly the same thing. Exactly the same. She wasn’t sure until now but now that Steve says it, that’s what it ways – she just couldn’t put her finger on it.

Excited to know she’s on the right track Suzie gets out of Steve’s way as soon as she can! Oh, look, here’s Dave…

…. “I wonder” thinks Suzie “What Dave thinks of the problem. I’ll just float my ideas passed him to firm them up!”

Summary – the MBTI perspective

It’s harder for me to write one of those perspectives than the other: does it show? Have I got the kinds of things that go on right?  With my own MBTI preference, I’m instinctively more sympathetic with one of the people here and – frankly – more experienced in their point of view.

But that’s the point of MBTI – there’s not best Type, no worst Type, just different Types. With a little more sensitivity to the MBIT Type of the other person, neither Steve or Suzie would have needed to feel so miffed at the other person, or so anxious.

The point is, Steve’s productivity was shot to pieces for half an hour and Suzie still needed to talk to Dave. Neither of them got what they wanted.

Looking at it from an MBTI perspective, what could either or both of them have done differently?

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