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How Learning My Myers-Briggs Type Made Meetings Better

Like most people, I attend a lot of meetings at work. Meetings can range from casual check-ins to more formal team meetings. Sometimes it’s a small group and other times a big committee. Sometimes I’m there just to listen, other times to take notes, other times to remind the group where we left off last time. Meetings aren’t terrible, but I recently started to wonder why some meetings end with some colleagues in high spirits feeling motivated and refreshed while I just feel frantic and completely overwhelmed.

I think I may have figured it out, with the help of Anne Bogel and her book Reading People. I had several important takeaways from Reading People, but the one with the most immediate impact on my attitude is how my Myers-Briggs type affects my mindset when it comes to meetings.

I’m a sensing type in Myers-Briggs. It’s not my most extreme preference, but it’s the one that really drives how I approach work. I had a huge a-ha moment when Anne explained the difference between sensing and intuition:

Intuitive types may think they’re contributing by sharing their grand plans in a team meeting, unaware that the thought of making so many changes at once completely stresses out their sensing colleagues.
— Anne Bogel, Reading People

YES! Wow, is that spot on. I have experienced meetings exactly like the one Anne is talking about, and I’m the person frantically taking notes while trying to suppress the panic I’m feeling about how exactly to execute the grand plans.

Sensing types tend to be realistic and practical. I want big ideas to be used and executed, not just discussed and then forgotten. I like sharing stories, but I’m less interested in the story itself and more interested in how the information can be used to help meet goals or move a project forward.

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I realize I now sound like a very boring kill-joy. Sorry! It is true that I do love a well-organized to do list and corresponding time line more than the average person. But I now understand that my intuitive colleagues are best at making connections and seeing big, unique possibilities. They have great ideas they are excited to share and have no intention of overwhelming the sensing types in the room. I can help make the big idea into an action plan. It’s the best of both worlds when I look at it this way.

This week has been full of meetings, my first meeting packed week since finishing Reading People. When I started to feel anxious, I reminded myself to not let my sensing theme get in the way of really listening to the ideas floating around the room. I reminded myself that talk of a big wild change was not a request for me to leave the room and put it into action immediately. When I understand myself better, I am more open minded to understanding others. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it if it makes meetings more enjoyable.

If you’re curious about personality frameworks and how they can help you out at work, start with Reading People. The book officially hits shelves September 19, but you can pre-order now to get some pretty great pre-order bonuses. Pretty great as in a super fun webinar about different reading personalities (tons of book recommendations included!) and a free audio download of the book. 

Questions: Do you know your Myers-Briggs type? If so, did learning your type change your behavior? Are you more likely to speak up or sit back and listen during meetings? 

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