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Activities for the MBTI

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The MBTI, or the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator, is the gold standard for personality profile tests. This in-depth test is used by businesses and consultants to identify potential job candidates, to evaluate existing workforce personnel and to help employees develop increased personality awareness and skills. MBTI's exam professionals often use games in connection with the test results to drive home the concept of communication and personality styles.

The Human Machine

The human machine is a test of how individuals who have opposite personality styles can communicate during a difficult task. Their job is to build a complex machine made out of five volunteers. Three or four volunteers are asked to arrange 5 people into a "human machine" that has only four of the volunteers' feet and two of their hands touching the ground. The machine must be able to move a ball from one end of the machine to another. The instructions are intentionally vague. The goal of the game is intentionally specific. The MBTI professionals match individuals with opposite personality styles to illustrate how our built-in communication and personality styles affect our ability to perform in our careers.

Drawing Pictures

Based upon our personalities, individuals process information and communicate important information in vastly different styles. After the MBTI results are calculated, instructors can illustrate these differences by pairing individuals and instructing them to draw a picture that represents the test they've just taken. If the instructor pairs a concrete logical thinker with an abstract creative thinker, the two volunteers will organically demonstrate how difficult it can be to communicate with someone who thinks differently. The concrete logical thinker will want the picture to be filled with detailed descriptions while the abstract creative thinker will think in terms of pictures, images and abstract terms.

Swapping Jobs

Based on their personalities, individuals are better suited for specific jobs and completely ill-equipped for other career paths. After the MBTI results are tabulated, the instructor illustrates this with an illustrative activity. Pick three class members: an administrator, a salesperson and a team leader. Ask these three individuals to describe their daily work related tasks and ask them to describe the most significant obstacle they feel stands in their way to being more effective in their position. Then, the three volunteers randomly swap jobs. From their point of view, have them describe what they would do differently, and how they would approach their significant problems in their newly assigned job. The differences in their personalities will be reflected in the way they approach their daily tasks and problems.

Planning a Party

Match up two class participants, one who is an introvert and one who is an extrovert. Give them the task of planning a party for themselves, and then a second party for close friends. The participants will approach this task from the diametrically opposite points of view. The introvert will want a close knit and intimate setting. The extrovert who want to party with lots of fun, excitement and entertainment. Each will defend their position as the “better” party atmosphere. Neither of these positions are wrong; they simply reflect each individual's personality profile.


Since 2003, Timothy Burns' writing has appeared in magazines, management and leadership papers. He has contributed to nationally published books and he leads the Word Weavers of West Michigan writers' group. Burns wrote "Forged in the Fire" in 2004, and has published numerous articles online. As a trained conference speaker, Burns speaks nationally on the art, science and inspiration of freelance writing.

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