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  • Your Personality at Work

    Do you ever wonder why people are so different? For more than 5,000 years people have been trying to understand individual differences. Over the centuries, many philosophers believed that people have an inborn disposition or temperament. Several systems of defining and organizing personality were developed from this idea of innate personal differences. One of the most widely used systems today, personality type, is based on the work of Carl Jung, as interpreted by Isabel Myers, and assessed through the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® (MBTI ®) tool.

    Differences in the way we’re energized

    Personality type looks at differences in the way people are energized, take in information, make decisions, and interact with the world around them. There are sixteen distinct personality types, but to simplify matters, these personality types can be paired into eight approaches with each approach, summarized below, having a distinctive motivation and way of working.

    As you read through the eight approaches, consider how well each description aligns to your personal brand and working style. You may see yourself in more than one approach, but generally people find that one of the eight best describes their way of working. Use this information to define and refine your personal brand. For those of you who already know your personality type, the four letter MBTI® code is included for each approach.

    Responders (ESTP and ESFP) Act and Adapt

    Responders prefer to approach the world in a practical, factual, adaptable manner. They live in and enjoy the moment, tending to be playful, engaging, and entertaining. Responders are energized and motivated by taking immediate action, solving immediate problems or providing a direct service. Their focus is on the here-and-now, seeking relevant and useful information and finding practical solutions.

    Explorers (ENTP and ENFP) Innovate and Initiate

    Explorers like to approach the world in an enthusiastic, open-minded, flexible manner. Interested in new ideas, patterns and possibilities, Explorers look for connections and relationships. They like to initiate change and improve situations. Explorers focus on what could be and are energized and motivated by discussing and imagining options and alternatives.

    Expeditors (ESTJ and ENTJ) Direct and Decide

    Expeditors like to approach the world in a decisive, logical, objective and results-oriented manner. Interested in analyzing situations and taking action to complete tasks competently, they are usually task-focused and direct when interacting with others. Expeditors are energized and motivated by taking control of situations. They like to organize and use resources efficiently to achieve results and reach goals.

    Contributors (ESFJ and ENFJ) Communicate and Cooperate

    Contributors like to approach the world in a warm, friendly, empathic and appreciative manner. Working in harmony with others to achieve mutually beneficial results energizes and motivates them. They often coordinate and plan activities of benefit to all and focus on collaboration, cooperation and inclusion. Contributors are greatly affected by morale and atmosphere and seek to improve and build relationships.

    Assimilators (ISTJ and ISFJ) Specialize and Stabilize

    Assimilators like to approach the world in a detail-focused, accurate and precise manner. They are energized and motivated by gaining in-depth knowledge of useful and relevant facts and then using this knowledge to complete practical tasks. Assimilators trust what they know to be true from their expertise and experience and prefer to work in a step-by-step, thoughtful, cautious way within a structured environment.

    Visionaries (INTJ and INFJ) Interpret and Implement

    Visionaries like to approach the world by creating and refining an overall framework of ideas. They are energized and motivated when engaging in long-term visioning and by accomplishing complex projects.  As big picture thinkers, Visionaries seek broad and comprehensive knowledge about theories, models, and concepts. They enjoy using metaphors to explain ideas and contemplating their areas of interest.

    Analyzers (ISTP and INTP) Examine and Evaluate

    Analyzers like to approach the world in a quiet, adaptable, calm, manner. They are energized and motivated by finding logical reasons and explanations for situations. Analyzers often enjoy solving problems. Critiquing and questioning anything that doesn’t appear to be logical, they may be skeptical of information or ideas. When interacting, Analyzers prefer to be objective, direct, and frank.

    Enhancers (ISFP and INFP) Care and Connect

    Enhancers like to approach the world in a supportive, empathic, quiet, and sensitive manner. Helping others or expressing what is personally meaningful, while remaining in the background, energizes and motivates them. Enhancers enjoy maintaining harmony, establishing rapport, and approaching situations in a personal and appreciative way.

    Which approach best describes your way of working? Are you showing your personality preferences in your brand? Thinking about how you are energized and how you prefer to process information and take action helps you define your brand and find work that suits who you are.

    MBTI, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and Introduction to Type are registered trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries.


    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 her website.

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