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Personality Types in the Workplace

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Sometimes dealing with workplace personalities can present a bigger challenge than the work itself. Understanding your own personality and the personality of others may help you to make sense of why your co-workers behave a certain way and to use these differences to approach projects and problems in creative ways. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator model, or MBTI, is one of the most widely used personality models today. Created specifically for evaluating personality in relation to occupation, the MBTI evaluates personalities in four areas: energizing, attending, deciding and living. Each of these four areas have two possible rating categories: extraversion or introversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling and judging or perceiving.

Extraversion vs. Introversion

The first personality area, energizing, relates to whether a person draws his energy and motivation from internal or external sources. Extroverts tend to draw their energy from people and the outside world, while introverts find energy from within. If you are an extrovert, you are likely a people person who enjoys working with others. You might thrive in group settings and enjoy working with others on projects. Extroverts tend to do better when working on a variety of tasks and may be good at motivating others. If you are an introvert, you may be more reserved and be comfortable working independently. Introverts also tend to think things through very thoroughly and do not act without thinking it through first.

Sensing vs. Intuition

The attending personality area refers to what catches a person's attention or how that person focuses, and whether he relies on his sensory or intuitive information. If you identify with the sensing category, you are likely a visual learner who prefers to rely on tangible things. In the workplace, you tend to work through problems one piece at a time. You may rely more on those who have proven themselves through past actions than people who talk about what they can accomplish. If you relate more closely to intuition, you likely tend to solve problems by brainstorming different possibilities and solutions. You may view the entire picture before considering all of the factors that make up the picture.

Thinking vs. Feeling

The deciding area of the MBTI relates to how a person makes decisions. The thinking and feeling categories differ based on whether you tend to think logically or emotionally. If you are a thinker, you tend to leave considerations about people and emotions out of your decisions. Thinkers may be perceived as cold, because you are more concerned with what's right or what should happen than with the effects on people or with being polite. Thinkers prefer to have rules and policies applied across the board, regardless of any other factors involved. If you are a feeler, you tend to consider the people involved when making any decisions. You may avoid actions that disrupt harmony, and may not be direct when communicating with others. You are warm and tactful when it comes to interpersonal relationships.

Judging vs. Perceiving

The last personality area, living, refers to a person's lifestyle preferences. If you are a judger, you may prefer things to be orderly, organized and under control at all times. You like to have plans and do not like to have a lot of things left up in the air. You may use to-do lists to track your progress toward completing tasks. If you are a perceiver, you may be more spontaneous and flexible. You work with what life hands you rather than trying to plan for things. You work well under pressure and may work better with deadlines.


Based in Los Angeles, Amber Collins has been working in private-sector Human Resources for 10 years. Collins has been certified as a Professional in human resources by the Human Resources Certification Institute since 2007. She holds a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in human resources management from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

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