1. What do INTP and ESFJ have in common?

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    Cognitive Styles is more than type dynamics, so let’s take a look at INTP and ESFJ. Back when I started working with the type code, I thought these two type patterns were really different. After all, they have opposite preferences. In addition since I came into type through being introduced to Keirsey’s temperament theory in my Master’s degree in Counseling, I could easily see how they were opposites from a temperament perspective. These differences were clear to me, at least the Essential Motivator (aka temperament) ones were. Those with INTP patterns have a need for competency and knowledge, a talent for Strategy, and tend to use abstract, conceptual language and take Pragmatic, independent roles in getting things done. Those with the ESFJ pattern, have a need for being responsible and a place to contribute, a talent for Logistics, and tend to use concrete, tangible language and take Affiliative roles. Then we identified the Interaction Style differences of Behind-the-Scenes for INTP and Get-Things-Going for ESFJ. While both styles share a preference for Informing language, they are different in their core drives and aims. Behind-the-Scenes styles are driven to wait until they have enough data to integrate before they act and Get-Things-Going styles are...
  2. Cognitive Style, Respect, and Forgiveness

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    I recently conducted a workshop with a type knowledgeable group and they explored their Cognitive Styles related to a burning issue inside their organization. The insights that emerged were amazing and they were able to apply them immediately. What I noticed was that by looking at their Shadow Cognitive Styles, they were able to realize how they had discounted input from other styles and were extremely irritated by interactions with people who were habitually engaging in those styles. And this led them to disrespect the person even though they had tried not to. This new lens on type provided a leverage point for understanding and potentially resolving some very profound interpersonal tensions. It provided a language for the individuals to be more mindful as they could then control for their internal judgments. These individuals use Essential Motivators, Interaction Styles, and Cognitive Dynamics rather fluently to help them with clear communication, developing good relationships, and recognizing their own core needs, drives, and talents. The Cognitive Styles lens was helpful in ways that the other lenses had not been, so it confirmed to me that it adds information that the other models do not. What is Cognitive Style? Cognitive Style is a...
  3. Why Personality Type Instruments Don’t Work…

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    The MBTI® instrument has come under lots of criticism recently in the popular press. For those of us who have trained people to use this instrument and have found it useful, this can be painful. We realize that the criticism often comes from wanting the instrument to do things it isn’t designed to do. And usually it is a result of not following best practices such as the ones Jane Kise has described very thoroughly in a recent blog. I’ve been teaching people to use Psychological Type, Temperament and other models of individual differences since 1976 and conducted MBTI® Certification Programs for 17 years. At first we just took the instrument results as the indication of one’s type pattern. Then we learned that this often wasn’t as accurate as we thought it was. This inaccuracy is in part the basis for many of the critiques. The critics say they take the ‘test’ one time and it comes out different another time. The MBTI® Manual contains data that indicates that the agreement with instrument results ranges from about 60% -80% of the people agreeing with all four preferences ‘measured’ by the instrument. This really isn’t bad since as the Manual points...
  4. Thank you Dr. David West Keirsey

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    A brilliant mind and a caring soul is no longer with us in body, but his legacy will live on in the many lives he touched in his 91 years, not only through his books, but through his many students and the lives we touch. I first met David in 1969 when I was searching for the office of the Master’s Program in Counseling to turn in my application. My recalled image was of him sitting at a table typing on a typewriter, with no other furniture in the room. He gruffly answered my question and went back to typing. I was nearly in tears wondering what I was getting myself into. In truth, I got myself into an amazing learning journey that continues today. And I later discovered that he was really much more accessible as a professor and later as a mentor than I would ever have dreamed. I’m not sure why I remember him all alone in the room with no other furniture. Was it really true? It may have been, but the image seems symbolic to me of his singular existence as a voice in the wilderness of the very confounded and confused world of psychology...
  5. Best of Two Worlds—Just the Beginning

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    July was a busy month and one in which I immersed myself in two of my favorite worlds—The Association for Psychological Type International biennial conference and the Integral Theory Conference, also a biennial event. These two worlds have some things in common. Both address the concepts of types and valuing individual differences and in both the participants are passionate and dedicated to making the world a better place. Yet, no one from one context showed up at the others’ conferences. In a series of blog posts I will share some of my experiences and insights from both of these worlds, hoping to bring the benefits of both worlds to you all. In September, I will be presenting at the Integral Leadership in Action conference so will share insights from that experience as well. For now, here are my perspectives on the theories and the organizations that are at the leading edge of these worlds. I hope you are moved to get involved in both of them. Psychological Type Psychological type had it origins in the 1920s with great thinkers like Carl Jung, Ernst Kretschmer, Eduard Spränger, William Marston and more. Most people will reference Carl Jung, but it was a...
  6. Leading Edges of Type

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    Yes, you read that right! I said ‘edges’ not edge. So much is emerging right now that we have to say leading edges, not edge. In the last few years, we have seen some major shifts in the world of personality type. From an increase in the number of typology instruments available, to increased criticism of the MBTI® instrument confusing the theory and unethical practices with the brand and the instrument itself, to a focus on the Cognitive Processes instead of the letters of the type code, to the emergence of the Interaction Styles lens and more. What is now on the leading edge? Groundbreaking research in neuroscience, looking at type development in relationship to ego development, a deeper look at culture, and an integral approach to type though the Berens CORE™ Approach and Integral Type. So how are we to keep up? Here are few suggestions. Start by reading my recently updated article, The Leading Edge of Psychological Type, to put all of these changes in context. The roots of type are deep and much older and broader than the MBTI® instrument alone. In the article you can get a brief overview of the rich history behind type as...
  7. “Worry About Yourself” How Directing can you get?!

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    Out of the mouth of babes came a wonderful example of Directing language and probably the In-Charge Interaction Style! This 47 second video showed up in the Huffington Post and the Today Show.  I was turned on to it today on Facebook by colleague Vicky Jo Varner whose comment was that this kind of Directing language was innate. I was fascinated by the comments posted in the Huffington Post and on the facebook link. Some people thought she was being rude and that the father shouldn’t encourage her. Others thought it was great that she was expressing her independence and that she would be strong. Some predicted she would be a handful when she grows up. Here is what I posted on the Huffington Post site as a comment: It is very, very cute and she is so polite even though direct and forceful in asserting her independence. This is not just about learned behavior. Yes, she probably heard the phrase before, but longitudinal research with children has shown that temperament* differences are there from the beginning. Her intonation and direct communication style is likely natural. It can serve her well in the future and it can get also her...
  8. Types, Typologies, and Polarities

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    I’m gathering my thoughts for a formal paper on a meta theory of type that is due May 15 that I’ll be presenting at the Integral Theory Conference July 19 in San Francisco. So I thought I’d share some of these with you. What is a type? A type is often thought of as a classification according to a group of similar characteristics. However, there is another meaning to type that is deeper down in the definitions on dictionary.com: “the general form, plan, or design distinguishing a particular group” When I look at personality type, I am referring to the pattern or form of a group, not a random cluster of characteristics. I would say that a type in this sense is an organizing system. There is an energy field that self-organizes around a core of some kind. I think of it as an unconscious operating system, with a core driver of the system and ‘talents’ that maintain the system. What is a polarity? One definition, again from dictionary.com, describes a polarity as “the state of having or expressing two directly opposite tendencies”. In other words, the two tendencies are there and energy flows between the two. There is a...
  9. Avoiding the Damaging Effects of Labeling

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    In a LinkedIn discussion group on whether the MBTI® instrument is outdated and irrelevant, the conversation emerged to the point of discussing labeling that happens with most personality tools. The tendency to label others and label themselves as in “I’m a xxxxx, therefore I can’t do….” At the end the person who posted lamented that he had yet to find an organization that fosters deep understanding and went for the short, quick labeling. I decided to share my reply to that post: I think there several things to consider. 1) We have to vet the tools and the materials for language that holds the models lightly and avoids the labeling effect and select as much as possible ones that do not. 2) We have to watch our own language as we use the tools and materials to keep from labeling. For example…”someone with preferences for” or “Those with a Catalyst temperament tend to….: Avoid absolutes and definites. We are human complex systems so there is nothing that is absolutely predictive. 3) Constantly manage the tendency of our clients to use them as labels. Part of our job is in the contracting up front about how the materials are to be...
  10. Holding Type Lightly

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    “Holding the models lightly” is a phrase used by many in the circles I run in these days. I really like the phrase and have been using it. I thought I’d share it with you all since you might find it useful too. My last blog was about the use of typology models getting in the way of development. If we hold the models lightly, then there is less likelihood of that happening. So in addition to the brief recommendation I gave in the last blog, I think we need to hold the models lightly. What does it mean? When we hold the models lightly we recognize that they are models—just models, not the ‘truth.’ From Dictionary.com I found this definition of a model: “a simplified representation or description of a system or complex entity, esp one designed to facilitate calculations and predictions” (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved, September 01, 2012 from Dictionary.com website When we hold a model lightly we keep in mind that it is a simplified representation of a complex entity. We are human complex systems and no one model will full describe us. Some models work well for most people,...