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Why People Do What They Do: Exploring Personality

Why People Do What They Do: Exploring Personality
Why People Do What They Do: Exploring Personality

In a previous blog, I suggested that you focus your attention on behavior, the “tangible,” observable things that people do and say daily. Focusing on behavior can help you live life at your best because, with intention, you can choose the behavior that is most appropriate for the outcomes you want. You can also request that others choose differently or adjust their behavior if what they are doing isn’t making you comfortable or meeting the commitments they made with you.

Today, I want to address one of the many intangibles that are “behind the scenes,” driving and influencing the behavior that you and others are choosing. This “intangible” is called personality type, and you most likely have heard of this or may have completed a personality assessment such as MBTI or 16Personalities. Either way, it is a great idea for you to know what personality is, what the essential functions of psychology are, and how personality traits dictate many of the ways you respond to people and situations.

My goal is to help you stop wasting time trying to mind read or guess why someone is doing something and, most importantly, have a better awareness of why you have specific patterns of behavior that continuously show up, even when they aren’t that effective.

Personality 101 Swiss psychiatrist and one of the recognized grandfathers of modern psychological theory, Carl Jung, established psychological types based on the existence of four essential psychological functions – judging functions (thinking and feeling) and perceiving functions (sensation and intuition).

Personality assessments assign individuals into one of four categories based on how they perceive the world and make decisions, enabling individuals to explore further and understand their personalities better.

The four categories are: introversion or extroversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving.

According to Jung, each person has a dominant combination of categories that shapes their unique Personality Type. This fascinating concept suggests that individuals are either introverts or extroverts, leading to a personality type that underpins how they interact with the world each day. It is believed that each person possesses one preferred quality from each category, resulting in 16 distinct personality types.

Extroversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)

These are opposite ways to direct and receive energy. Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or your inner world? This dichotomy describes how people respond and interact with others and orient themselves within the world around them.

  • Extroverts tend to be action-oriented. They focus on other people and things, feel energized by the presence of others, and emit energy outwards.

  • Introverts are more thought-oriented. They enjoy deep and meaningful social interactions and feel recharged after spending time alone.

Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)

These describe how people gather and perceive information. Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in, or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning?

  • Sensing-dominant people tend to prefer to focus on facts and details, and perceive the world around them through their five senses.

  • Intuition-dominant types are more abstract in their thinking, focusing on patterns, impressions, and future possibilities.

Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)

These describe how people make decisions and use judgments.When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances?

  • Thinking types use logic and facts to judge the world.

  • Feeling types tend to consider emotions first.

Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)

These describe how people tend to operate in the outside world and reveal the specific attitudes of the functions. In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to make a quicker decision, or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options?

  • Those judging dominant tend to be more methodical and results-oriented and prefer structure and decision-making.

  • Perceiving dominant individuals are more adaptable and flexible and tend to be good at multitasking.

Finding Your Type

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs in 1942, and is based on psychological conceptual theories proposed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in his work, Psychological Types.

It's extremely helpful to understand the essential functions of psychology and how personality type influences behavior. That knowledge can help you determine the best way to respond to people and situations, with intention and a minimal amount of guesswork or confusion. Certain patterns of behavior could be holding you back from reaching your goals, and knowing why you keep using those behaviors is the first step to making sustainable change.

To give yourself a better chance for success, join me this week for Deep Work Fast LIVE. I'm on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram at 3:00pm PT on Tuesday. Together, let's take charge of our behavior and work toward living our best life at work and home.


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