I’m an ISTJ…What About You?

I’m also an Aries if you’re interested, but that is an entirely different post.  For those of you who don’t recognize what the strange combination of letters like ISTJ or ENFP represent, I’m talking about the results of a Meyers-Briggs test (MBTI).  The short explanation for the Meyers-Briggs is that it’s a questionnaire (or instrument in technical talk) that is used to show the ways in which you perceive and judge the world.  It is especially used in the work world to help colleagues figure out the best ways to work together as a team to be efficient, effective, and maybe have some fun at the same time.

From http://www.truthcontrol.com/pictures/mbti-chart

To many, the Meyers-Briggs test comes as close to “figuring out” your personality as your astrological birth sign.  Regardless of how much you believe these kinds of tests, I can tell you first hand that the process of taking a self-assessment and discussing the results with friends, family, and co-workers can be an helpful exercise in introspection and learning how other people see you.  How do you make decisions?  How do you view what is “right” or “wrong”?  These are the kinds of questions the MBTI seeks to provide some clarity on.

What does this have to do with relationships, love, or sex you may ask?  Well, a lot actually.  Spending the time to assess and explore the ways in which you relate to other people, approach situations, and make decisions can be one of the most valuable ways to grow individually and as a partner to another person.  Knowing how your partner makes decisions and where there might be conflicts with your own decision-making process can help you both plan to support each other and diminish conflict situations before they happen.

More specifically related to love and relationships than the MBTI, a widely used tool for partnership counseling focuses on the idea of the “Five Languages of Love.”  In a nutshell, author Dr. Gary Chapman believes that all people prefer to give and receive affection in one of five ways.

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Receiving Gifts

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

Though you are your partner might not neatly fall in to one of these categories, using them as a base for discussion can be extremely enlightening for all involved parties.  You can even expand the theory out and talk to your family and friends about how they prefer to receive kindness, love, and affection to feel most valued and appreciated by you.  You might find that while you always give presents to others as token of appreciation, they are uncomfortable with this gesture and might prefer to simply get a hug or a few kind words.

At the end of the day though, remember that a few letters or a category don’t define you.  It doesn’t matter whose “theory” or system you ascribe to.   The takeaway from it all is that exercises like these can get you thinking, talking, and hopefully starting to realize that “The Golden Rule” we all learned in grade school really misses the mark.  Treating others as we want to be treated, in relationships, friendships, or even at work, does not respect the reality that each person has their own preferences and ways of approaching the world.

So, starting this week off maybe try to replace that old rule with “The Platinum Rule” and treat others as they want to be treated.  Which probably means you’ll have to ask them!

If you are interested in learning more about the MBTI, visit http://www.myersbriggs.org/

If you are interested in learning more about the “Five Languages of Love” visit http://www.5lovelanguages.com/learn-the-languages/the-five-love-languages/

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