1010 N Tennessee St
Published July 05, 2010 in Psychology by Sharon Harris
You want to talk to your Aunt Bess about libertarianism. You begin by explaining that "everyone should be free to do whatever they like, as long as…" and before you finish your sentence, you see obvious fear in her eyes. She looks like she might run away from you!
Later, you get into a discussion with Cousin Ben about what's wrong with society today. You say, "A libertarian world would be a lot safer and secure than what we have now," and as you start to explain why, you notice that he's not really listening. He interrupts to suggest, "Wanna ride on the back of my new motorcycle?"
Let's face it: not everyone thinks like we do. People are different in many ways, including how they gather information, how they make decisions, what they hold of highest value, what lifestyle they prefer, and what they find interesting.
The good news is that once we understand some of these differences, we can make a quantum leap in our ability to persuasively present libertarian ideas to others.
I'd like to share a model with you that will help you do just that. (And we'll see how this model applies to Aunt Bess and Cousin Ben.)
Most widely used
Why are people so different? One fascinating and scientific explanation was developed by Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers in the 1920s and 30s. Combining decades of Briggs' observations with the work of psychologist Carl Jung, they came up with a series of questions called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) -- and what an eye-opener it is!
The world's most widely used personality test, the MBTI is valued in business, personnel, counseling, and management. The central idea behind it is that we all have specific and very definite preferences in four key areas:
1) We get energized from one of two sources: internal or external. That is, our energy primarily comes either from being alone and having quiet time, or from interacting with other people. Depending on our preference in this area, we are either Introverts or Extraverts, respectively (designated I or E).
2) We gather information primarily from either our senses or from our intuition. We tend to think either concretely or abstractly. This makes us either Sensors or Intuitives (designated S or N). By the way, it is estimated that about 70% of the population thinks concretely, thus the glazed-over eyes when I discussed the abstract concept of a free market.
3) We make decisions in one of two ways. We rely primarily on objective and logical criteria, or we prefer to consider how the decision will affect the people involved (including ourselves). These two decision makers are classified as Thinkers or Feelers (designated T or F).
4) We approach life in general in one of two ways. We either like to have closure and tend to make decisions as quickly as possible, or we prefer to keep our options open and postpone decisions as long as possible. These two choices determine whether we are Judgers or Perceivers (designated J or P).
By combining the four preferences, we come up with 16 different "types" with a four-letter designation (i.e., INFP, ESTJ, etc.). No one type is better or worse than another -- they're just different.
Keep in mind that we're talking about preference. What this means is that the differences between us have to do with how we prefer to approach things and what is most important to us. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses, and as individuals we are more comfortable when we are in alignment with our preferences.
The MBTI is not about being labeled or pigeon-holed. It is a powerful tool that gives us a far better understanding and appreciation of ourselves and others. And of course it doesn't explain everything about one's psychology.
But once you determine what "type" you are, you can read about yourself in a number of books on the subject -- and believe me, you will be amazed! You might even suspect that the authors have been spying on you! The accuracy of MBTI profiles is astonishing, and you will receive invaluable insight into why you think and act the way you do.
And when you discover what type other people in your life are, you will find a whole new world of understanding. Suddenly things make sense that never did before.
For example, in a seminar I conducted for a human services organization, the staff and director learned why they had such conflict when it came to goal setting: we discovered that the director has a preference for long-range visionary goals, while 90% of her staff has a preference for a pragmatic, day-to-day approach. With this insight, we were able to devise strategies for more harmonious planning and conflict resolution.
Are you a “card carrying” libertarian type? Find out in part two of Unlocking the Secrets of Personality Types here on the Advocates blog.
For more insights on personality types read Life Types by Sandra Hirsh & Jean Kummerow. It’s truly eye-opening!
Picture ©2006-2010 ~Frider