Recently, I have found that the more I dive into and learn about personality typology systems (Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc.), the more I tend to get frustrated when I find myself in conversations that are using them simply as a means for surface-level identification and differentiation.
Conversations like these:
“I’m a ENTP, what are you?”
“I’m an INFJ.”
“What about your Enneagram type?”
“I’m a four.”
“Sweet. I’m a seven.”
“Nice. Good to know.”
[end of conversation]
I find myself wanting to scream, “We aren’t using these in the way they were intended to be used!” But then I remind myself that I am part of the conversation too. I am not letting on that I have been digging into cognitive functions stacks and instinctual variants, listening to podcasts and reading books. I am not asking questions that further the conversation or bring depth or to it. Plus, I have to remember that not everyone has the time or desire to dig into the depths of personality psychology like I do. Some people are content identifying their type and moving on, and that’s okay. And some people would love to deep dive, but don’t know there is more depth to it or even if they do, they may not know where to start. Because it honestly can all be incredibly overwhelming and convoluted, especially at the beginning.
And so today I have been brainstorming ways that I can engage more deeply when a conversation about personality type comes up. I have come up with five questions that could help further the conversation:
Questions to Deepen Personality Type Conversations
- What do you feel like your type says about who you are?
- How do you feel your type impacts the way you interact with the world and the people around you?
- Has knowing your type helped you to see things about yourself that you hadn’t been aware of before? Can you think of any examples (and would you be willing to share them)?
- Has knowing your type helped you to plan steps in your personal development or identify ways you wish to grow?
- Are there ways you feel like you don’t fit with the stereotypes of your specific type? Parts that may not resonate with you? Is there another type that you have mis-typed as in the past or tend to identify with?
And ideally asking these questions (or similar ones) would help to deepen the conversation, opening more doors for getting to know one another, more avenues for sharing and conversation.
For example, I am an INFJ. As an INFJ, my highest leverage point of growth (according to Personality Hacker, a site I am semi-obsessed with) would be developing my Extroverted Feeling (or Harmony as they have nicknamed it). So if someone asked me question 4, I could respond with something like:
“Through understanding more about my type (and myself) I have realized that I am not very great at having healthy boundaries with people. I tend to go for quick and easy fixes to avoid conflict, instead of pressing into real solutions in order to find true harmony. I have been getting to dig deeper into my psyche to find where that originates, and through self-awareness I am working to establish more sustainable boundaries and a more healthy relationship with conflict. What about you? Do you find you’re able to engage in conflict? Are there any specific ways you hope to grow or traits you wish to develop?”
Ideally, this could either continue our conversation about type if they have a knowledge of the system beyond the pop psychology aspect, or, equally compelling, it could launch us into a more general (yet still deep) conversation about life, struggles, ambitions, and growth.
So, what about you? Do you have answers to any of the questions above? Do you think they would be helpful for deepening a conversation about personality type? Are there any more you would add to the list or any strategies you have found for deepening conversation? Let me know in the comments below!