Gifts Differing | Isabel Briggs Myers

Summary of: Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
By: Isabel Briggs Myers


Embark on a fascinating journey into the world of personalities through the lens of Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type by Isabel Briggs Myers. This book summary offers valuable insights into the two distinct ways people perceive and judge events around them, shaping their behavior and the course of their lives. By categorizing these perceiving and judging styles into four combinations, the author highlights unique interests, values, needs, and habits of mind that define each personality type. In addition, the summary delves into the impact of extroversion and introversion on people’s thinking and decision-making processes, and how understanding the different types can foster better communication and collaboration.

Two Unique Ways

People’s behaviors vary based on two unique ways of perceiving and judging situations, according to Carl Jung. Our physical senses and intuition make up the first way of perceiving, while the two ways of judging involve weighing events logically or evaluating with emotions. The method we choose as children influences our adult personalities – logical thinkers excel in facts and ideas, and emotional thinkers are gifted in relationships. As we mature, our perceptions and decisions shape our personalities.

Personality Types

Our personalities stem from our thinking and behavior patterns, categorized by four combinations of perceiving and judging styles. Each style is unique and has its preferences in terms of interests, values, needs, habits of mind, and surface traits.

Our personalities are shaped by our thinking and behavior patterns, which are defined by four combinations of perceiving and judging styles. As people grow older, they become more adept at using their dominant perception style, which influences their preferred way of judgment. Although it can be easier to determine one’s dominant perception and judgment style, knowing their blend is equally influential.

An individual’s auxiliary style, which is the less dominant of the two, provides balance and enables them to alternate between moments of being an extrovert or an introvert, move between judging and perceiving, or communicate and use their insights. It is essential to acknowledge the influence of someone’s auxiliary style when evaluating personalities because it provides individuals with abilities that they would otherwise lack.

The Myers-Briggs approach categorizes two perceiving and two judging styles into four combinations, each impelling a different kind of personality with unique interests, values, needs, habits of mind, and surface traits. The four combinations are:

1. Sensing plus thinking (ST): These people rely on their senses and use thinking as their judgment tool. They deal in facts that their senses can verify, making them practical and matter-of-fact. They tend to enter fields such as law, surgery, economics, business, accounting, and production.

2. Sensing plus feeling (SF): These people use their senses to perceive their environment but rely on their feelings to make judgments. They draw conclusions based on how they feel rather than rational evidence and thrive in areas where they can connect warmly with others. They tend to enter pediatrics, nursing, teaching, social work, or selling jobs.

3. Intuition plus feeling (NF): These people use their intuition rather than their senses to make decisions. They downplay current circumstances and focus on possibilities. They have excellent relationship abilities and tend to enter teaching, preaching, counseling, writing, or most fields of research.

4. Intuition plus thinking (NT): These people consider different possibilities, make decisions based on impersonal analysis, and enter fields such as computing, finance, or technical areas.

In conclusion, understanding personalities requires an acknowledgement of both perception and judgment styles and their blend. Each has a unique set of mental tools that shape behavior patterns and contribute to the individuals’ overall personality type.

The Four Preferences that Make Us Unique

The book discusses how every individual is the result of four preferences that act as a fork in their developmental path. These preferences determine the type of excellence that one will pursue in their life. The book also delves into the concept of EI preferences, which describes how individuals perceive and judge the world around them. Extroverts are described as relaxed, confident, and adventurous, and tend to seek validation from others. They also tend to demonstrate intellectual superficiality. In contrast, introverts are reserved and questioning, and feel more comfortable with ideas than with people. They work diligently towards their goals and do not need supportive comments to motivate them. Notable extroverts include Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin, while Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln were introverts. Overall, the book emphasizes that our unique set of preferences gives us our distinct personalities.

The Power of Intuition

The settlement of Colonial America was influenced by intuitive individuals who believed in individualism and innovation. People who rely on their five senses for information are less likely to trust what others say or write. Intuitive children perform better on IQ tests because intuition is a fast process, unlike sensing individuals who need to convert questions into their language, which is spoken by their senses, a time-consuming process. Exam language is geared towards intuition, which creates an unfair advantage for intuitive individuals. The author suggests that we should not assume that other people’s minds work the same way as ours.

Thinking vs Feeling Preferences

The way we approach tasks and communication is determined by whether we are a thinking type or a feeling type. While thinking types work better with things or ideas, feeling types excel at people-oriented activities such as selling, counseling or socializing. Interestingly, the thinking and feeling preference is the only one that displays a gender difference, with more women falling into the feeling type category. This insight can help us understand our own preferences and work more effectively in teams that include both thinking and feeling types.

“Personality Types: Judging vs Perceptive”

Some people have a judging preference, wanting everything to be “willed and decided”, while others have a perceptive preference, seeing life as an adventure “to be experienced and understood”. Judging types offer conclusions and advice quickly, settling not only what they will do but also what others must do. In contrast, perceptive types are appalled by how quickly judging types leap to conclusions. They try to understand situations more thoroughly and see problems from different angles. Extreme judging types are narrow-minded and see things from only one point of view.

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