A few months ago I took the Myers Briggs personality test online. I landed squarely in the “INTP” category (which stands for: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving). When I read through the characteristics of INTP’s I felt like it really summed up the way that I experience the world, and immediately I made all of my family and friends take the test. (Apparently, over-enthusiasm about personality tests is a hallmark of the INTP personality).
I was reminded of this test today while reading one of my favorite bloggers, Fred Wilson, who also happens to be an INTP. He was saying how he uses his blog as a sounding board for his ideas, even if they’re half-formed. According to the personality test, INTP’s tend to be constantly abuzz with thoughts and ideas, and they’ll often toss out an idea and then shoot it down seconds later.
This made me laugh because it reminded me of my conversations with Rob during our Monday morning meetings. I’ll often pose a question about what we should do, then answer the question myself, then critique that answer and poke holes in it, then suggest an alternative, then poke holes in that, over and over. Sometimes I’ll notice that Rob has an increasingly worried look on his face as he tries to figure out what I’m asking him, or how he should respond. In contrast to me, Rob is very thoughtful and measured in what he says. It’s a good balance, and I think after working together for almost two years now Rob is less surprised when I launch into an idea-storm.
I’m fascinated by the vastly different ways that people perceive the world. For me, and for many other INTP’s, the world is a jigsaw puzzle of abstract ideas that we are constantly shuffling around in our minds (often not paying attention to the world around us like the classic “absent-minded professor”). Other personality types are much more aware of their environment and the thoughts and feelings of other people. Some types are very emotional, some are very logical, some like to make decisions quickly, and other like to keep their options open.
The biggest take away for me is just to be more aware that the people around me are likely processing information in a very different way than I do. To be a good communicator, or even a good friend, often means reining in my INTP impulses and trying to speak the other person’s language.