Hey baby, what’s your type?

This isn’t just a schmutzy pickup line. Do you know your Meyers-Briggs Personality Type?

I took my first MBTI (Meyers-Briggs Typology Indicator) test the year I graduated law school. Oh yes, studying for the bar will drive you to many realizations, and one of mine was that this law crap was boring and I hated it.

I didn’t really take the outcome seriously at the time, chalking it up to bar study insanity. Oh well, 8 years later it finally sunk in.

The MBTI is the work of a mother-daughter team, Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabella Briggs Meyers. They based the test on Carl Jung’s famous Personality Types book. Career counselors are fond of the MBTI, though it has its fair share of critics (as does Jung). The premise of the MBTI is that there are four poles, or dichotomies, to the human personality. Your tendency toward a particular trait is scored on a scale, rather than an absolute. The traits are:

  • Introversion/Extraversion
  • Sensing/iNtuition
  • Feeling/Thinking
  • Judging/Perceiving

There are (doing the math) 16 personality types in the Meyers-Briggs world. None are inherently better than the other, but some types find certain kinds of work a more natural fit than others. For example, ESTJs are practical, realistic, and matter-of-fact, with a natural head for business or mechanics. They are born supervisors or administrators. Unlike, say, ENFJs, idealists who are born teachers.

The middle two dichotomies are regarded as the key traits. In other words, if you’re an “ST,” your comfort zone is using your five senses to gather information, then analyzing it. Intuition and feelings are not particularly valued by STs.

Most lawyers are ISTJs. Surprise, surprise.

Personally, I’ve found the MBTI a useful starting point for seeing my personality in a positive way, and to help me navigate toward work that I’m temperamentally better suited to.

What was my type? The one probably least suited to being a lawyer: INFP. Let’s just say God had a sense of humor when she packed me off to law school.

To get the best results out of the MBTI, you should take the paid version, and probably work with someone trained in its use, like a therapist. The paid version controls for more variables, like gender. At a bare minimum, take a free online version, which may be useful or at least entertaining.

The MBTI is not going to substitute for the voice of God, mind you, but it might help you sort out some of the competing voices in your head. Well, the ones you can discuss in polite company, anyway.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who coaches unhappy attorneys to discover the gifts of their personality traits, and the career they best fit into. She offers discounted sample coaching sessions, to find out what that feels like to be valued for who you are. Email jalvey@jenniferalvey.com to schedule your sample career coaching session today.