Understanding MBTI Preferences to Improve Communication

Jeff Thoren, DVM, ACC

As you communicate with clients, it is important to remember that they may have different preferences than you in the way they take in and evaluate information and the way they are oriented to the world around them. Don’t assume that people want to hear what you have to say in the way you want to say it. Effective communication means presenting different kinds and amounts of information in different ways.

For example, calm, reasonable communications attract some types (people who prefer Introversion) while others are drawn toward enthusiasm (people who prefer Extraversion). People who prefer to take in practical information (Sensing types) like to hear facts and step-by-step procedures relevant to their current situation. Alternatively, those who prefer Intuition (Intuitive types) need to hear an overview of the information before the facts will become relevant to them. Some people are drawn to personal stories (Feeling types) while others want to be convinced by logic (Thinking types). Some want conclusions and a focus on “how to,” (Judging types) while others are drawn to explore options and consider possibilities (Perceiving types).

Order the MBTI Assessment

There are three simple steps involved in utilizing the eight MBTI preferences to improve your communication with others:

1. Identify your own preferred style of communication.

2. Tune in to the other person’s preferred style or current needs.

3. Adjust your approach, if necessary, to match those needs.

Identify Your Preferred Style

Your preferred style of communication will be reflected by your MBTI type, also referred to as your personality type. Four of the eight preferences below (E or I, S or N, T or F, J or P) make up your MBTI type. As you communicate using your type preferences, you naturally exhibit specific communication-related behaviors associated with each preference.

How You Prefer to Get Energized...

Extraversion (E)
People who prefer extraversion tend to focus on the outside world and get energy through interacting with people and doing things.

Related behaviors:

  • Rapid speech
  • Appears to “think out loud,” talk things out
  • Interrupts
  • Louder voice volume

Introversion (I)
People who prefer introversion tend to focus on the inner world and get energy through reflecting on information, ideas and/or concepts.

Related behaviors:

  • Pauses in answering or giving information.
  • Appears to be thinking things through.
  • Quieter voice volume.
  • Shorter sentences, not run-on.

How You Prefer to Take in Information...

Sensing (S)
People who prefer sensing tend to notice and trust facts, details, and present realities. They like to take in information through the five senses.

Related behaviors:

  • Asks for step-by-step information or instruction.
  • Asks about the present situation.
  • Asks “what” and “how” questions.
  • Uses precise descriptions.

Intuition (N)
People who prefer intuition tend to pay attention to and trust interrelationships, theories, and future possibilities. They are drawn to the big picture.

Related behaviors:

  • Asks for the purpose of an action.
  • Asks for current and long-range implications.
  • Asks “why” questions.
  • Talks in general terms and possibilities.

How You Prefer to Make Decisions...

Thinking (T)
People who prefer thinking tend to make decisions using impartial, logical, and objective analysis. They focus on the logical implications.

Related behaviors:

  • Appears to be “testing you” or your knowledge.
  • Weighs the “objective” evidence.
  • Not impressed by what others decide.
  • Conversations follow a pattern of checking logic, “if this, then that.”

Feeling (F)
People who prefer feeling tend to make decisions to create harmony by applying person-centered values.They focus on the impact on people.

Related behaviors:

  • Strives for harmony in the interaction.
  • May talk about “values.”
  • Asks how others have acted or resolved the situation.
  • Matters to them whether others have been taken into account.

How You Prefer to Approach Life...

Perceiving (P)
People who prefer perceiving tend to adopt a more spontaneous approach to life and are flexible, adaptable, and like to keep their options open.

Related behaviors:

  • Seems to want “space” to make own decisions.
  • The tone is “let’s explore, what are some more factors to consider?”
  • May decide at the “last moment.”
  • Enjoys processing.

Judging (J)
People who prefer judging tend to like a planned approach to life and are organized, orderly, structured, and decisive. They want closure.

Related behaviors:

  • Impatient with overly long descriptions, procedures.
  • The tone is “hurry up, I want to make this decision.”
  • May make decisions prematurely.
  • Enjoys being “done.”

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