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Coaching By Type: A Perspective Worth Considering

October has been a month to add new skills and perspectives so that I may assist clients as effectively as possible.  oak_variations_fallEarlier this month, I learned the use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator  Step III instrument. Recently,  l  attended a seminar titled, “Using Type in Coaching”.  This was an excellent class that I would recommend to anyone who is certified in the administration of MBTI instruments.  The course materials were particularly informative with many practical suggestions to enhance type maturity and effectiveness. In addition,  behavior that suggests an individual  is operating from the 4th or inferior function or behaving out of character was discussed. This is also known as the grip. It also raised awareness that coaches and counselors need to be aware of their own biases and mindsets, characteristic of their own types, in order to provide effective guidance to those that they serve.

In order to illustrate these concepts, I will use myself as an example.  My MBTI type is ENFP which means that my dominant or strongest cognitive function is extraverted intuition.  Therefore, I am inclined to view the world by noticing patterns, relationships, and new angles.   My tendency would be to extravert my thoughts via brainstorming rather than experience them as “psychic flashes” or a vivid imagination as an introverted intuitive (INTJ, INFJ) would.  My auxiliary or supporting cognitive function is intoverted feeling.  That means as I am actively generating possibilities, seeing connections and patterns, I am also quietly appraising these ideas  in terms of my internal value system, or my subjective judgment (as opposed to an extraverted feeler, such as an ESFJ who tends to wear his heart on his sleeve). My tertiary, or third cognitive function is extraverted thinking.  So when I am trying the evaluate the plausibility of an idea through thinking, I am likely to do this out loud although it may not appear as smooth or as a logical as an argument put forth by a dominant thinker such as an ENTJ. Finally, my inferior or 4th function is introverted sensing.  Introverted sensing is  an individual’s archive for past experiences especially facts and details. Since it is my least preferred function, I have to really concentrate to use this effectively. ENFP’s  tend to be optimistic about tapping the potential of other human being and that is their strong suit, seeing a bright future for others.  However,  they must also guard against unbridled optimism that has no consideration for logic or details.  An ENFP must ask how can I fulfill this vision?

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MBTI Step III Training Afterthoughts…

The MBTI Step III training and my series of blogs (used to share the experience with others but also solidify my own learning) deepened my understanding of psychological type. Then, just like when I see a good movie, I continue…

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MBTI Step III Day 3 of Training: Case Studies, Practicing Interpretation, Q & A

Today was the final day of training for the MBTI Step III. After 2 days of studying the theoretical underpinnings of the instrument as well as the construction and validity, today we practiced interprettingusing it under the watchful eye of our esteemed instructors.  We examined 3 different cases  of people who had donated their Step III report for the purposes of training.  Therefore, these were real people who had answered inventory questions and received a report that was based on the rules they triggered resulting in specific statements about their current behavior and accompanying suggestions for personal growth.  Everyone had the opportunity to play the role of the client, the coach and/or counselor, and the observer.  Final questions and answers about our own reports or any other topic were also discussed.

The first thing I noticed about using the Step III report in a real life setting was even though it was rich with information and feedback,  there was infinite flexibility in how this information could be used to promote a discussion. Because the report is not a diagnosis or a final rendering of an individual’s personality, a statement contained in the report could be discussed in any number of ways.  For example, a statement might read: “You seem to be indifferent to or ignore logical consequences in matters that are of immediate concern to you, perhaps because other things are more important to you at the time.”  From there, a client might say, “Well yes. I don’t tend to worry too much about what I consider small stuff.”  Or, “You know, I am just not myself these days. I usually pay my bills on time but lately, they have been piling up on my desk.   My mother broke her hip 3 months ago and it seems all I do is tend to her needs.”  For one individual, ignoring certain things that are of immediate concern is simply a reflection of their laid back attitude. For another, it is recognized as an important problem that requires further discussion.

Another observation I had about the report is that it is important to keep an individual’s known type  as well as dominant function in mind when evaluating the data.  For example, an INFP  and an ENTJ might both receive the following statement in his Step III report:  “You find it hard to deal with situations that require you to take a detached and logical approach in making a decision.”  Well, for INFP who is a dominant introverted feeler (and whose inferior or least preferred function is logical, detached thinking, this statement might no raise any special concerns only to point out that many INFP’s do not tend to use “detached, logical thinking” when approaching a situation.  They are more likely to think of people or values first.  They may add logical thinking into their cognitive mix but it is likely to require a little extra mental energy.  An ENTJ, on the other hand, IS a dominant thinker and should therefore be using detached, logical thinking competently and with relative ease.  If this is not the case, it may be important to probe for some sort of stress that might be compromising optimal functioning which is often the case when someone is not using his dominant function well.

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MBTI Step III Training Day 2 (Construction, Validity, Practicing Interpretation)

Welcome again to Portland, Maine where I have just finished day 2 of lobster cartoonthe MBTI Step III training.   To review, yesterday the theoretical basis of the instrument was discussed including the allocation of mental energy based on type,  type development theory and defining what is considered good type development versus ineffective type development.  Also a general overview of the factors that generate the Step III interpretive report were discussed, namely, sufficiency scales, developmental scales and patterns that trigger “rules”, which ultimately  create  an interpretative report of statements (verbal descriptions of current behavior) and corresponding suggestions for personal growth.  It is worth repeating that even as the construction of this instrument is highly complex, the end product is user friendly and highly personalized for the  client.  The ultimate goal of the instrument is to initiate and give some direction to a productive dialogue between the client and the counselor/coach regarding personal growth and insight.

Construction: The questions that make up the MBTI Step III come from 3 sources: the items from the  MBTI Form M; the items  from the MBTI Step II Form Q; and questions from the MBTI Form F.  The reason for the inclusion of the Form F items is that they were used to produce the original “Counselor Report” in 1972, a report that described how well a person perceives and judges. Recall that type theorists assert that the  basis of  good type development and ultimately, success and satisfaction in life was based on optimally developed perception and judgment.    Furthermore, a large archived data base of Form F responses had been gathered by Isabel Briggs Myers that provided evidence to back this assertion up.  This was in fact her unfinished work, developing patterns and scales of behavior that described type development

The  MBTI Step III was constructed using MBTI forms M, Q, and F.  However the interpretative report needed updating from it’s precursor, The Counselor’s Report,  so that the language describing a client’s current behavior (statements) and the corresponding suggestions for personal growth were understandable  irrespective of a client’s knowledge of type.  This is perhaps the  greatest strength of the MBTI Step III,  the notion that  often complex patterns of behavior based on how well a client is using his perceiving and judging functions can be described in layman’s terms with easy to understand suggestions for self-improvement.

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MBTI Step III Instrument: Examining Effective Use of Perception and Judgement (Day 1 Training Summary)

I am in Portland, Maine learning about the recently released MBTI Step III Instrument.   It is conceptually similar to the MBTI  I and the MBTI II tools in that it is based on the work of Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers regarding the identification  psychological preferences. However what is different about the new Level III Indicator is that it  focuses on type development. Specifically, how effectively does an individual use his preferred  perception and judgment functions and how well can he/she incorporate non-preferred perception and judgment  functions, when necessary,  to achieve success and satisfaction in life.

There is a finite amount of mental energy that one has available to take in information (perception) and draw conclusions about those perceptionspreferences (judgment).  How that energy is allocated, according to type theory, is based on psychological preferences.  The dominant function has access to the most abundant and readily available energy, followed by the auxiliary or assisting function, then the tertiary or third function, and lastly the inferior or 4th function (everyone uses all of the functions: sensing, intuition, thinking and feeling but at different levels of  frequency and competence, hence the terms: dominant, auxiliary and so on).   Effective use of type preferences insofar as perception and judgment are concerned  is often dependent on both the opportunity to use a a natural  function and support from the environment to foster it’s development.

According to type development theory, “good type development”  is comfort and effectiveness in the processes that come most naturally to your verified type AND the ability to use the processes that go against one’s natural tendencies.  Knowing which process is most adaptive to the task and the ability to shift among preferred and non-preferred functions is also critical.   There is an overall satisfaction with life that is a byproduct of being able to use perception and judgment competently.  On the other hand, ineffective type development is like a caricature of a given type, a distortion of one’s strengths and the prominent display of one’s weaknesses.  It is also the tendency to blame others for circumstances for failures or unhappiness and perhaps stress, dissatisfaction, and poor performance  in daily life are present.

So how does the MBTI Step III shed light on an individual’s type development?   Many of the details of how certain responses pattern trigger a statement about type development will be learned in tomorrow’s session.  Briefly though, the 3 Sufficiency Scales of Confidence(how adequate one feels in a situation), Stamina (the ability to function when conditions are tough), and Compensatory Strain (use of coping mechanisms that deflect the problem away from one’s personal control)  that occur independent of and as well in concert with Developmental Scales ( some examples include flexibility, defensiveness, and logic)  trigger a Step III pattern that yields a rule (or criteria that says “this is significant”) which ultimately is brought to the attention of the client in the form of a statement, via the Interpretive Report.   An example of a statement might be: “You find it hard to deal with situations that require you to take a detached and logical approach in making a decision.”  Furthermore, the significance of this statement is interpreted based on reported type. The significance of this statement will be quite different for an ESTJ whose dominant function is thinking versus an INFP whose 4th function is thinking.

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The Talent Code

"When Gallimore and Tharp studied John Wooden in 1974, they were surprised to find that he distributed praise and criticism unevenly.  What's more, he was open about this: ...Wooden would say, "The good Lord, in his infinite wisdom did not…

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Birds of a Feather: Similar But Not the Same

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) I is an instrument that describes the broad strokes of an individual personality.  Do you tend to be “warm and sympathetic”, like an ESFJ or “logical and detached” like an INTP?  One of the goals of this questionnaire is to group  people who have similar general tendencies, “birds of a feather”, so to speak.  However, it is also clear that even thoughBirds of a Feather_8x6 people have like-minded characteristics with those of their ilk, they also exhibit a vast array of individual differences.  Parrots  mimic; eagles eat fish; and owls like to hang out at night.  However, within their type, each bird is distinctly different from another.  The MTBI II serves to capture these differences in people who have the same personality type.  Now there is the MBTI III, a questionnaire that gauges type development.  How well does an individual use his/her dominant and auxiliary functions characteristic of that type? Can that person effectively shift to the non-preferred third and fourth functions when necessary?

My interest in the MBTI system was piqued as a result of my work with patients and families in a functional rehabilitation setting and later, in my training and experience as a life coach. Truth be told, raising 3 children and getting to know their friends was also helpful.  There is no doubt that how an individual takes in information and uses it, has a great impact on what strategies will be used to attack a problem, communicate with others, and provide energy or motivation.  One example that stands out in my mind is when I served a patient who suffered a  memory loss after encephalitis caused by a mosquito bite.  I  recommended placing colorful post-it notes all over her house to stimulate her memory.  To my surprise, she rejected my idea by explaining all of that clutter would drive her crazy and she preferred a nice leather planner instead.  I was certain she would lose it because in my own mind, I would misplace something like that.   However, she always knew where it was. More than likely, her MBTI type code contained an “SJ” possibly ESTJ or ESFJ.  These types prefer order in their living space and my “brilliant” idea of eye-catching color all over her house fell flat.

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The Mysterious INFJ

A critical step in the reliable use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is verification of type through a dialogue between the individual completing the inventory and the practitioner russianinterpreting the results.  After receiving the results, the client will read the description of the personality type, in the aggregate, to determine if it is  largely accurate.  In my experience, I have found the INFJ  notoriously difficult to type.   Even after the verification step, the INFJ  can be uncertain that this description fits. It isn’t due to shortcomings in the Myers-Briggs  questionnaire.  It is mainly due to the rarity and complexity of the INFJ type.

Exact percentages vary but the INFJ, the rarest of the personality types, is said to account for 1-2% of the overall population, females slightly more often than males.  The INFJ has been called “The Mystic,” “The Counselor,” and “Empath”.  They are described as  original, gentle, caring, and highly intuitive. The quality of extrasensory perception, or ESP, is often attributed to them. People who have known INFJs for years continue to be surprised when yet another layer of their complex personality is revealed.  As a result of their inferior sensing function, they can be stubborn and obsess about an inconsequential detail , usually when they are under stress. Their ability to see the big picture can be affected during these times. INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they  are so genuinely interested in people — a product of the auxiliary feeling function they most readily show to the world (Introverts show their auxiliary function, or the function that supports the dominant function, to the world first). Still, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or mate.   Yet, INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out those closest to them. This apparent about face is  necessary, providing both time to rebuild their energy and a filter to prevent the emotional overload that can happen as they deeply experience other individuals.  This is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders particularly if experience with this type has been limited.  I have 3 INFJ’s in my life, my brother, my daughter, and my best friend and I can attest to the fact that they are like Russian nesting dolls, when one doll is exposed,  another one lies inside.

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The North Going Zax and the South Going Zax

There is a Dr. Suess short story called The Zax. If you click the link, you can enjoy a 3-minute rendition of this story via YouTube.  The essence of the story is that there are two Zaxes, equally stubborn, who…

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