Startup Culture

Using MBTI to Improve Workplace Communication

by Sabine Chen


“What’s your MBTI?”

If you hear this question on a first date, run! Or don’t, if you’re up to the challenge – these four letters will reveal a wealth of information about you as a person.

The MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is a personality preference indicator developed by mother-daughter team Isabel Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs in the 1940s. Much of their research was based off theories proposed by Carl Jung, whom many esteem as one of the leading founders of analytical psychology.

What the MBTI does is simple; it allows you to discover two things: 1) how you absorb information, and 2) how you make decisions. By analysing which cognitive functions you prefer, the MBTI condenses your inner workings into four letters that will help you understand yourself better, as well as how the people around you function.

If you don’t know your type yet, you can pop over to 16Personalities to take a short test.


How Does It Work?

The MBTI revolves around four dichotomies. The first pairing, Extraversion-Introversion, is probably the one you’re most familiar with. It refers to where one is likely to derive their source of energy.


1. Extraversion / Introversion

Extraversion refers to an individual’s preference for directing their energies outwards. Extroverts are usually expressive individuals feel much more refreshed after spending time with people.

On the other hand, introverts prefer to direct their energies inwards. They thrive on spending time alone, and can get easily tired out from excessive social interaction or outer stimuli.


Communicating with Extroverts / Introverts                             

Introverts require two things – space, and time to think. What extroverts can do is to provide their introverted coworkers with a safe space. Have a new skill to teach an introvert? Do it privately. The same applies to pointing out their mistakes; introverts would be intensely grateful if you could pull them to one side and explain one-on-one instead.

Don’t demand instantaneous responses from introverts, because you’re only likely to get them flustered. If you’d like to update an introverted coworker on a project, give them a heads-up to complete their work before returning in 15 minutes.

Extroverts require time to talk. Introverts should allow their extroverted colleagues to explore ideas by using them as a sounding board. As extroverts process things out loud, introverts can contribute by listening attentively and contributing their own suggestions.

Compliment extroverts when they complete a task well. Since extroverts derive their energy from other people, receiving a smile or small encouragements from a coworker will leave them with sparks of positive energy.


2. Sensing / Intuition

The second pairing, Sensing / Intuition, defines how one prioritises information. Sensors revel in fact and reality, valuing data that is gleaned from both experience and observation. They enjoy living in the moment, choosing to focus on one thing at a time.

Intuitive individuals are your starry-eyed visionaries. They enjoy brainstorming for future possibilities, reading between the lines, and churning out new ideas. They prize novelty, and tend to trust their gut feeling when making a first impression.


Communicating with Sensors / Intuitives                                  

Sensors want clarity. When explaining an idea to a sensor, arrange your processes in a step-by-step manner. What you want to do is invoke the five senses. If you’re presenting a product, conduct a demo. If you’re explaining a concept that’s complex, make it easier for sensors to grasp by including visual aids, concrete examples, and existing data.

Communication Studies said it best when they stated that “if you are attempting to communicate with an intuitive, begin with the big picture”. Intuitives love metaphors and analogies, preferring to fill in the gaps themselves rather than have everything spelt out. Present your ideas from multiple perspectives, and allow your intuitive coworker to brainstorm as they process information.


Thinking / Feeling

The third criterion, Thinking / Feeling, reveals how one makes decisions. Thinkers tend to be task-oriented and rational beings. They would prefer to use their head rather than their heart in order to remain objective and logical.

Conversely, Feeling individuals are concerned with diplomacy. They tend to prioritise compassion when making decisions. To them, their values are much more important than success.


Communicating with Thinking / Feeling Types

The People Process offers some great tips here. When communicating with a Thinker, show your expertise. Support your views with clear examples and logic, and be open to criticism. You are more likely to gain their respect by appearing competent and rational.

When communicating with a Feeler, provide a listening ear before jumping in with your suggestions. If you have something to add to their ideas, acknowledge their contribution in a positive way before offering your thoughts. Focus on finding a solution that everyone can agree on.


Judging / Perceiving

Judging individuals have a strong preference for order and establishment. They value clarity and tend to schedule things in advance so they don’t have to rush tasks.

Perceiving types, on the other hand, prefer spontaneous action. They tend to work in short bursts and like to keep an open, flexible schedule. 


Communicating with Judging / Perceiving Types

Judgers value focus. Before approaching them, ensure that you have your options narrowed down to a main objective. Allow judgers to do what they do best – moving the discussion forward without wasting time, and coming to an efficient conclusion.

Perceivers need discussion time. They thrive on exploring new possibilities. They should be given plenty of space to explore the situation by asking questions and sharing creative input, rather than be forced to make a decision on the spot.


Each personality type comes with its own strengths and flaws. By analysing the make-up of your character, you’ll be able to harness your positive traits to contribute more effectively at the workplace. Understanding others is just as crucial for effective communication.

Need help connecting with people through technology? Alpha7 has plenty of useful tools to help you facilitate great workplace relationships, available on our A7 AppsConnect™ platform. If you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on LinkedIn, or drop us an email to be added to our mailing list!

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