For decades if not centuries, miscommunications in the workplace have been the inevitable result of people with different backgrounds from different walks of life. However, building on new research in understanding Myers-Briggs Personality Types in which Dunning (2003) has observed relationships between how people communicate and their MBTI personality type. This post delves into how being aware of the Myers-Briggs Personality Types of your coworkers and colleagues can help you minimize miscommunications and contribute to maximizing your team’s and organization’s efficiency.
When a delicate situation arises, it is of the utmost importance to be empathetic and give others the benefit of the doubt—maybe a miscommunication is afoot, and one or both parties are well-intentioned but utterly unaware of possibly negative interpretations of their actions or words. For instance, according to Dunning (2003), ISFJ personality types are “compassionate assimilators”—they are detail-oriented and practical, and benefit from being provided enough information to get a comprehensive understanding of a particular situation. They do their best to avoid confrontation and “tooting their own horn”, and tend to be humble and work well in collaboration with others. However, their persistence, determination, and sometimes seemingly endless questioning can occasionally be interpreted as being impatient, even stubborn, and focused on details. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that their intention is to fully understand a situation and all of its intricate components.
At times, ISFJs also come across as being long winded, as they find it challenging to summarize or convey large amounts of information quickly or succinctly. However, this is because of their attention to detail and their need to accurately convey the details and nuances of a project, setting, or situation. At the end of the day, ISFJs are uncomfortable with conflict and actively avoid it, perhaps even to a fault. On the other hand, for this reason they sometimes hesitate to give direct or concise feedback to their peers, out of concern of offending or disheartening someone. This indirectness can be interpreted as detachment, especially by those who have more confrontational or direct personality types.
By being aware of these communicative differences across personality types, individuals and groups can anticipate possible sources of misunderstanding and miscommunications before they become a problem in the workplace. Communication is a two-way street, and efforts ought to be made by all parties. When communicating with an ISFJ, it may be helpful to step back during a conversation and give them the time to respond cohesively. This “wait time” can facilitate a more cohesive conversation. Also, try to provide specific when providing information, and draw explicit connections between information presented and the implications for a project or initiative. This will help ISFJs more smoothly integrate these additional considerations in their work, and ultimately produce a more desirable product.
ISFJs, on the other hand, should do their best to express their needs to others, and try to make them as explicit as possible. Expressing a preference is not the same as being imposing, and people cannot meet your needs if they are unaware of them. In the same way, others cannot praise you for accomplishments that you don’t tell them about! Share your goals and accomplishments with others and let them support you in your progress and congratulate you on your successes. At the same time, it is also important for ISFJs to be aware of others’ needs– even though you may be able to process large amounts of information quickly and efficiently, others are often overwhelmed by this. Try to keep information brief and relevant.
Integrating these simple practices into your communication can minimize workplace miscommunications and contribute to a lower-stress, more supportive, and most importantly, more productive, environment for everyone.
- Introduction to Type and Communication. (Dunning, D. CPP, 2003)
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