Personality Types and Work

I read a post, way back in the mists of October, just before I started Nablopomo, which gave some advice on finding topics to write about for 30 days. One of the suggestions was to look at personality types. Find out what your type is, and how this relates to your work, it said.

At this, a pinging sound went off in my brain (imagine the ping that a microwave makes when it has finished spinning and radiating your food. Then imagine opening the microwave to find your food is only half cooked. That’s a little what this was like). I have some half-baked ideas about personality types and how this relates to me specifically,due to the fact that I currently work as an admin assistant to a psychiatric nurse who manages a ward and has attended a 1-day course on the Myer-Briggs personality types.

He lent me his course book, from which I gleaned that my personality type is INFP (Introverted Feeling with Extraverted Intuition). I flicked to the page which describes me and found it UNCANNILY ACCURATE.

‘You should use it more as a rough guide,’ says the ward manager ‘nothing is entirely accurate. It is quite useful as a guide, though.’

I reflect that I always find my horoscope UNCANNILY ACCURATE, even when I accidentally read the wrong one. I may be so unsure of who I am, or such a multi-faceted person, that any random set of characteristics seems to describe me. Yet still, I feel as if the description of an INFP does fit me, better than any other descriptions. It explains the variable nature of my personality and chosen occupation.

‘People with INFP preferences have an inner core of values that guides their interactions and decisions. They want to be involved in work that contributes to both their own growth and inner development and those of others – to have a purpose beyond their pay cheque.’

I thought that this applied to everyone – surely everybody wants to be involved in work that contributes to their inner growth? Surely everybody has an inner core of values that guides their interactions and decisions? Surely everyone wants a purpose beyond their pay cheque? Reading this, it occurred to me that possibly not everybody does, or not to the same extent, and that this may be why I feel at odds with people in the workplace, or why my job-hopping can seem strange to others.

I am like a magpie, flying from one job to another in search of gems of information, sparkly pieces of knowledge which are exactly what I need at the time . I feel as if I am trying to put together a huge jigsaw. I know the shape of the jigsaw, but I am still building the whole picture.

I am a Jack (eline) of all trades. Through work I have learned the practical skills I was completely lacking in when I was younger: – how to clean, how to cook, how to avoid food poisoning, how to stand up for myself, how to pour a fizzy drink without it pouring over the side of the glass, how to manage accounts, how to lift without hurting my back, and how to drive down a motorway at full speed with fights breaking out in the back, without losing my cool.

Work taught me how to live, outside of my world of books and my narrow circle of friends. It gave me the skills that I couldn’t pick up by reading. I chose my jobs in accordance with what I needed to know at the time, and as my life became more serious and difficult so did the jobs. I have learnt counselling skills, conflict resolution, how to spot the early signs of dementia and how to recognise psychosis. I have tested and adjusted many of my own hypotheses about the nature of people, and the interactions between them.

The Myers Briggs book suggested some possible careers for my personality type, but what I found in it was an explanation for why I have never chosen a career. When I did train for a career, I lasted just over 4 years. I tried, but found it simply impossible to swallow an entire world view, which seemed to be what was required of me. To put it another way, I just didn’t agree with many of the things I was asked to do.

Myer Briggs says:

‘INFPs are flexible and adaptable until something violates their inner values. Then they stop adapting. The resulting expression of value judgements can emerge with an intensity that is surprising to others.’

I think that some of my ex-bosses might find my behaviour fits more along these lines:

‘INFPs who neglect Thinking and Sensing too much may reject logical reasoning even in situations that require it, asserting the supremacy of their internal viewpoint.’

So, there we have it. I have found a complete justification for my own pig-headed nature and inability to settle in any one career, from 4 pages of a borrowed book.

You can find information about MyersBriggs here. For some reason, the MyersBriggs site seems to discourage determining your personality type from second hand information and a photocopied sheet, however if you want to do it this way drop me an email and I will be happy to help. My office companion says I can borrow the book any time.

I could do your horoscope too…

Have you ever completed a personality test? Did it give you any useful insights?

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6 thoughts on “Personality Types and Work

  1. I have done this test and it has come out different over the years, probably because I have changed over the years. I think that we all fall — somewhat, into all of the categories, but the archetypes themselves seem true.

  2. Yes, that might be it – the archetypes seem true, but nobody can fall entirely into one or the other. I am sure that personality changes according to what is going on around you as well.

    • Yes, this may be the case as well – when I was trying to decide between ‘judging’ and ‘perceiving’ I had to go for the one that was ‘most like’ me and I could imagine this would change from day to day – one one day I might well be flexible, spontaneous and energised by last minute pressures, but on another I might be systematic, methodical, and making short term and long term plans. These two could be describing, not so much personality types but different ages or the same person in different situations or in a different mood.

      It’s interesting to hear other people’s comments because I’ve only ever done this test. I’d like to see if the results changed over time.

  3. I’ve done this test so many times and I always ended up with INFP. The accuracy of it is so strange, it scares me.

    I also combined it with my horoscope (sun, moon, and rising –– no joke. I did so much research about my personality), which made it 10 times more horrible for me to read because my intentions, likes, and dislikes were laid out for me to nitpick at.

  4. That’s interesting, it sounds as if you really fit the archetypes. I’ve never looked into my horoscope either but I think it’s quite possible that the planets affect us, like the pull of the moon upon the sea.

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