Do You Speak My Language? Understanding your working relationships

25 March 2003

Feedback from Jennifer Osborn

I really enjoyed last week’s SALIN session “Do you speak my language?” (communication, personality types and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) … but then, I would, wouldn’t I? 🙂 As an ENFP who is “energised by interacting with people”, likes to talk about ideas and do lots of networking, this kind of workshop was perfect for me! (although it was mildly disconcerting to discover that my personality “type” as a librarian suits me for work as a “Children’s Librarian” when I’ve been very happily working in academic libraries for a number of years…)

Okay, that aside, I would like to stress the view that the MBTI has “SOME value for increasing self-insight, and for helping people to understand individual differences in personality types.” But because it is “user friendly” and easy to administer, it gets over-used and over-valued.

Obviously, there are other interesting personality tests and theories around; for example, one current one emphasises the “Big Five” personality domains (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, intellect or openness) The Myer Briggs is fun to take, and great for helping you with insights into your own personality and values (which is what we were doing in the SALIN workshop), but it needs to be seen in context with other work in this area of psychology.

For an interesting article on “State of the art: Personality” research, see Sarah Hampson in The Psychologist, vol. 12 (6) June 1999, 284-288.

Reflections from Benjamin Wheal

At the very enjoyable SALIN “Do You Speak My Language” Personality-type Workshop the other night I heard several people speaking as if to equate Extraversion with Leadership. It was therefore interesting to read the findings of Jim Collins in his book “From Good to Great” (ISBN 0712676090).

Collins’ book concerns a study of large companies that have continually performed extremely well. Amongst various organisational factors the research team found that the successful CEO’s consistently had softly spoken, modest, almost self-effacing personalities (they were also very focussed and committed to the long-term success of the company, and always ready to credit their company’s successes to the people that they worked with rather than themselves; interestingly they started off by recruiting good people before coming up with a big plan). By contrast, CEO’s with “rock star” personalities were not found to be the most successful leaders. (accessed 27/3/03).

Food for thought.


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