The single most important element in my business life has been learning first who I am, and second who you are. In a business situation, especially a small business, knowing each other is not just a good thing, it is crucial. It is the same in a family. No matter how much we think we know each other, the reality is we often do not.
In 1988 our business had its first seminar in discovering each others' personality types and ways of thinking, feeling, and relating. How we prefer to work and interact fits into 16 basic "types," a fact that astounded most of us. We paid attention!
When the seminar was completed in our workplace, every one of us could not wait to take the inventory home to our families. Discovering a tool that allowed us to know ourselves and others so much better was a powerful motivator to share it.
We became zealots. But, unlike those who find a vitamin or a religion or a diet that they feel compelled to press on everyone around them, this tool is contagious in itself and, once absorbed, has lasting impact. As late as last month when we had a refresher seminar to include new hires, one of our team noted that taking the inventory six years ago had "saved" him!
It wasn't the first time I heard someone say that. Why 'saved?' A child can be a totally different personality type than his parents, for instance, and think his way of thinking and feeling and relating, being different from his parents, is wrong! I have an extended family member who suffered as a teen by being the only fact-based member in a family where father, mother, brother, and sister were all intuitive, paying more attention to what their gut said than to facts.
I believe Nikki Young, our COO, and I both attribute our seamless working relationship to the knowledge gained through taking the inventory when we learned that we are complete opposites. The factors are simple: I am an extrovert, she an introvert; I am intuitive, Nikki is "sensing" (fact based); Nikki is a thinker, I am a feeler; she likes conclusions, I like gathering more information.
No matter how much
we think we know each other, the
reality is we often do not.
Once we learned that she loved to gather details and I thrive on concepts, we began a sympathetic working relationship that has continued to this day. Team members know not to depend on me for details and I know I can depend totally on several of them to see to all the details! Some people just cannot see the forest for the trees; I see the forest but can run smack dab into a tree!
For me, the knowledge of who I am and who you are is central to my life. I've seen some resist such learning, saying, "You can't put me in a box." Realistically, however, this inventory takes everyone out of being crammed into the same box!
Just as men and women are physically built differently, extroverts prefer very different environments than introverts. Just as some people are athletic while others are not, some people like dealing with facts while others hear only from their guts. And so on! We are not all made from the same cookie cutter. Discovering who we are and how we interrelate is absolutely relationship saving!
Publisher's Note: What I am referring to in this column is widely referred to as the MBTI or Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory. Anyone can learn about it online or at any bookstore. We have had half a dozen seminars between 1988 and 2015, all professionally conducted. Our original instructors have retired. Natalie East, now owner of The Store for Stores, became a certified instructor in MBTI after initially saying, "I can't be put in any box!" before participating in that 1988 seminar. Once certified, she conducted a seminar for us in 2002. Dr. Bill Austin agreed to lead a seminar for us six years ago, the last until last month.
That recent seminar was conducted by Dr. Cecile MassÃ© of Relationships R Us, and we thoroughly enjoyed and profited from her insights. She is skilled in both the business applications for MBTI and its use within families to help parents and children understand each other better. Read Dr. Cecile MassÃ©'s story online at TheShopper.com under Relationships R Us and watch for her on-going columns in Main Street, The Business to Business Magazine.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.
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