I was recently reminded that I am an INFJ. One of my sweet friends and old neighbors mentioned on her blog that she was, and those letters hit me, Whammo!, and sent me back to my college days when I took the Myers-Briggs test and “figured out who I was.” It was also pretty neat at the time to find out that my boyfriend, future husband and I had soooo much in common because he was an INTJ – just one little letter separating us from complete understanding.
Well, come to find out, that one little letter makes a WHOLE lot of difference. And when we took a different test – a bit variant because it was more of a “strengths” test vs. a personality test – our scores displayed that we were opposite in EVERY way!
Because of my natural love of people and learning about what makes them tick, I’m drawn to these kinds of tests like a kid is to candy. I think they give us insights and language around understanding who we are, why we do what we do, and equally important who others are and why they do what they do.
Knowing that my husband and I are both introverts helps us to know to seek out regular times to be alone. We go for runs, read, walk, pray, or write. All of those things recharge us so we can put on our smiles and be around people again. We see that one of our children is an extrovert, so we know he will always want to be around others, even when he’s reading quietly.
We discovered this new strengths test, though, about ten years ago, the “style of influence” or SOI test. This has shed light on ourselves and others in a way that has impacted our lives completely. We now use it in our businesses to help others understand their strengths and possible gaps in communication.
As spontaneous and free as we’d like to think we are, there’s tangible research and evidence to show that we are uniquely scripted and wired individuals. The verdict for the influences of nurture vs. nature are still out, but once we are adults, we have settled into predictable ways of thinking, feeling, acting, and ordering. Our brain has a “default” way of processing, and unless much effort is intentionally exerted, we will always choose that default path. And in times of stress, we definitely do.
I’d love to share about it periodically, so I thought I’d start off with a basic framework of the four key aspects it measures.
Cognitive – Ideas – This first metric is centered around the way our brain handles ideas. The range is from an “abstract” level to a “concrete” level. If you know someone who seems to have an unending list of new ideas or who likes to dialogue about principles and concepts, they are most likely “high” on this cognitive scale. People who seem to say what they mean and mean what they say and expect you to do the same are likely “low” on this cognitive scale – they are “concrete.” Specific words and time matter to them. There are a range of nuances obviously for people who fall in between these two extremes that I can speak to later. But I know these extremes best, since for the record, my husband is at the top of this scale, and I am at the opposite end, on the bottom!
Relational – Emotion – This next aspect measures how someone handles emotion. A “high relational” person feels the emotions of all the others around. Their “spidey senses” are very high in detecting when someone is feeling upset, sad, or even just a bit “off,” and they take those feelings into consideration when deciding what to say to them, how to treat them or even what to do about their own lives. We often say that these people “feel others” before they “feel themselves.” This is me. I’m “high relational.” And you guessed it, Don is at the opposite end of this scale. He is more insulated from the feelings of others, and therefore has more freedom to decide what he thinks or feels about something first. A high relational person tends to avoid conflict and a low relational person can remain calm around any tension. Both are key assets to any group in that a high relational person seeks and builds harmony, and a low relational person can help lead through any conflicts.
Goal – Forcefulness – The third scale measures how someone handles goals and authority. A person high on this scale is very comfortable leading and being in charge. They prefer it. They can handle multiple goals pulling at them at one time because they naturally identify what is most important. A person lower on this scale actually prefers to follow. In handling goals, they are more aware of their efforts and contributions to the goal, versus the actual reality of attainment of it. A “low goal” person definitely does have goals and can accomplish much, but they prefer to attack them one at a time. Any idea where Don and I fall on this scale? Don is very high, and I am very low!
Detail – Order – This last scale focuses on order and details – how much order (and control) do you need? A high detail person likes to learn the ins and outs of everything and is much more of a “do-it-yourself-er.” They can naturally manage a large amount of details in their own mind. They are aware of the door that’s left open, how much time is left for the roast to cook, and the person that is walking towards them, all at the same time. But because all of these things are pulling at them, they sometimes lack deep focus for the most important task at hand, as they are constantly pulled in all the directions of their detailed mind. A “low detail” person doesn’t sweat the small stuff and would prefer to hand off those details to someone else. A high detail person craves routine and predictability, and a low detail person needs freedom like most people need food. This is the only scale where Don and I are not at the extreme ends, but I am a 61/100 and Don is 35/100.
Here’s a snapshot of what our scores look like:
There have been so many benefits relationally that have come out of taking this test – in our marriage, friendships, and business relationships. After listening to people talk for a while, we can usually tell where they generally fall on these scales.
So in business, it helps us to understand where they are coming from, what they need to be successful, and how they handle work and deadlines.
And among other things, it helps me, personally, when I meet new people to know that they might be low-relational and not to misinterpret their lack of friendly, gushy emotion as rudeness, or to know to be patient to listen to a person who really needs to share all the details (like my daughter) or to hash out an idea (like my husband). 😉