Pick a Letter…

Hey there, my fellow business owners, I have a quick question for you today. 

Are you a T or an F? 

No, this is not some sort of strange True or False Quiz.  I’m talking about the Myers-Briggs Personality Types. 

More specifically, when making decisions, do you focus more on logic (Thinking) or personality (Feeling)? There is no one right answer, but it certainly helps if you understand how your personality traits affect how your run your business with the use of a personality test.  If you haven’t taken the Myers-Briggs test before, you can try it out here or here.

While there are plenty of different but similar tests  for personality traits (for example, DISC and Big Five/OCEAN), the Myers-Briggs is one of the most popular. 

This assessment looks at four different areas to determine your “type”:

  • Introvert or Extrovert
  • Sensing or Intuition
  • Thinking or Feeling
  • Judging or Perceiving

As a result of each of these four sets of options, there are sixteen different personality types.  There is not one “perfect” type, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. 

For example, I am an INTJ (Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging).  Some of the strengths of this personality type include being logical, rational, analytical, determined, curious and independent.  But INTJs also tend to be pessimistic, cynical, overly critical of people and somewhat dismissive of emotions. 

And of course, my personality explains much of my career path (statistical analysis, market research) and the fact that I do not do well with what I call “cheerleading” networking groups or training sessions.  I attended an online workshop recently, and the chat alongside the presentation was full of folks who were clearly not INTJs. 

They were chatting out things like this:

“Done is better than perfect!”

“You’ve got this!”

“You are powerful!”

“People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care!”

 Meanwhile I am thinking things like this:

“Shouldn’t it be both perfect and done?”

“How do you know if I’m powerful?”

“Do you have statistical evidence that shows that individuals engage at a greater rate when driven by emotion rather than by capabilities?”

 Yup, I’m a regular laugh-riot at these inspirational online chats.  People can’t get enough of my supportive and light-hearted chatter. (Did I mention INTJs are known for their “sarcastic sense of humor”?)

And that’s why it’s important to understand which type you are and where your strengths (and weaknesses) lie.  That way you can play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

For those of you who run your own business, it might be beneficial to seek out others who have different personality traits to your own to be sure you have a well-balanced group of business partners. 

The most obvious example is Introversion versus Extroversion.  Many engineering or technical fields are filled with introverts, who then do not make the best sales team.  If you are extremely introverted, it might be beneficial to partner with an extrovert who loves to network and make connections, if you want to actually sell whatever it is you are offering.  Otherwise, you may have to find ways to channel your inner extrovert (is that a thing?) and get yourself out there for the sake of making a buck.  There are plenty of successful business owners who lean toward being an introvert, but they know they have to shake some hands, show up at events, and talk to people if they want to actually grow their business.

So, let me get back to my original question – T or F.  As with the Introvert/Extrovert situation, many Thinking people are in technical, scientific or analytical fields where truth and data and logic prevail – while their fellow Feeling associates tend to prefer work with a focus on communication and working with people.

And here lies the rub.  To run your own business, you need to consider the value of both sides – thinking and feeling. 

If you are too focused on the Thinking Side, you can easily alienate people, including potential employees or customers.  You may be too focused on the task or the project at hand, and not enough on the personality of the people you’re working with, or for.  You might focus so much on data that you forget about tact or hurting feelings.  This doesn’t lead to a successful, growing business.

On the other hand, if you are too focused on the Feeling side, you may make too many decisions based on how you feel, or how the decision affects the feelings of others.  You may be less likely to look at the data, evaluate the financials, consider the most logical solution.

As a business owner myself, I struggle to keep this balance in mind (see my “chat” comments above for evidence).

As a matter of fact, in my very first Performance Evaluation at my first job out of college (Statistical Data Analyst), my boss told me I was “too business-like” and that I needed to learn to be more personable.  And I was offended.  So, he’s telling me that I should be wasting my valuable time chatting with co-workers without any goal or accomplishment in mind?  What’s the point of that if it doesn’t advance my progress?

But now that I am older and wiser (much older, somewhat wiser), I can see his point.  Jumping right to the goal of a meeting without getting to know the others in the meeting is a bad idea.  Assuming everyone is data driven, so I only need to display a nice chart or table to make clear the conclusions of my work, is a bad bet.  And not being true to my own feelings (yes, even us T’s have feelings!) can lead me in the wrong direction as I work to grow my business.

Consider these thoughts (um, and feelings?) as you interact with partners, co-workers, employees, suppliers, and customers.  Do you have a sense for their personality?  Are you communicating in a way they will understand? 

If you are an Extrovert and your customer is an Introvert, can you change your tone or body language to help make him more comfortable? 

If you rank high on Feeling and lower on Thinking, but you’re selling to an engineer, it makes sense to try to focus your sales pitch on logic more so than warm fuzzies.

The more you understand yourself and those around you, the better you will do putting people in jobs where they are most comfortable and most likely to excel, and the more success you will have in your conversations with those whose personality traits are different than your own.

I will never be the type of business owner that focuses her business on her personality: an Instagram Influencer with a website full of glamour shots and heart hands, who can’t wait to meet all her adoring followers at some big gathering. 

If that’s what you’re looking for, I’m not the gal for you. 

But I do recognize that it’s important for my potential customers to understand not only that I have analytical skills, but also that I have a true passion for helping small businesses grow.  That I honestly and sincerely love, love, love helping small business owners seek out and find new ways to grow, new ways to connect, and new ways to see a successful future for their business.  Their success is my success.  Just don’t expect me to measure that with emojis!

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