When creating your personal brand you need to differentiate yourself from others. You also need to understand how others prefer to operate in order to relate to and influence them effectively.

However, you may not be comfortable with the idea of having personal characteristics categorized or labeled, especially when labels may be inaccurate or negative.

Labels and limitations

Is there a system for understanding and appreciating individual differences that does not negatively label or limit people?

When used correctly, personality type provides a solution to these problems. Personality type looks at innate preferences in the way people take in information and make decisions.

These preferences do not dictate how people act. People can choose their preferred or non-preferred ways of acting to respond to situations. Personality type provides a flexible, positive approach to individual differences, but only if it is used correctly.

Focusing on the positive intentions of the model and avoiding inappropriate uses of type builds understanding, without boxing people in. The following points clarify the appropriate uses of personality type theory.

Use personality type to:

  • Build your awareness of individual differences. Realizing that there are differences in people is an important first step for gaining knowledge about yourself and others.
  • Understand others. Once you acknowledge differences you can begin to learn more about them.
  • Understand yourself. By studying and applying the concepts of personality type, you will learn more about your interactions and yourself.
  • Appreciate the typical gifts and strengths of others. This fourth step goes beyond understanding. When you appreciate other preferences and approaches you see the gifts and strengths in all of the approaches.
  • Accommodate others’ preferences. Customizing your actions and interactions so that others will be comfortable and get what they need from you is a highly developed way of using personality type preferences.
  • Develop and grow as you learn from others. Seeing others’ strengths and learning more about alternative approaches facilitates your self-development.
  • Resolve difficulties and differences using positive language. In the context of personality type differences you can discuss the merits of different approaches and determine positive solutions to issues.

Stay tuned

I’m sure you have your own examples of appropriate uses of personality type. Thinking about how we currently apply type concepts will help us use them wisely. Next week I’ll look at inappropriate uses of personality type.


Donna Dunning, PhD, is a psychologist, certified teacher, member of the MBTI ® International Training Faculty, and director of Dunning Consulting Inc. She is the author of more than a dozen publications, including her two newest books, 10 Career Essentials and What’s Your Type of Career? 2nd edition. Donna’s guiding principle is: Know yourself, respect differences, learn and grow. Follow Donna on Twitter and Facebook and visit dunning.ca.