The Limits of Type
I adore Type and find it to be a tremendously powerful self-awareness tool, but it has limits that many people frequently overlook. Chief among these limits is that Type is a model of hard-wired cognition. It refers to the ways in which we each prefer to gather information (Sensing or iNtuition) and make decisions (Thinking or Feeling). That’s it. At its heart, Type is about these brain functions. Type is NOT about behavior (what I do, what I say, and how I act).
My Type preferences may predict or suggest the behaviors that I will most likely exhibit or the behaviors I find easiest to engage, but it is important to note that my Type preferences do not dictate or cause my behaviors. Behavior is a choice. I may prefer Introversion (I do), but I can and often do stand up in front of groups and extravert. I may prefer Feeling judgments (I do that as well), but when a question is asked that requires objective analysis, there is nothing in my preference for Feeling that prevents me from objectively and analytically coming to a conclusion. Type may be hard-wired (so says the theory), but my behavior is my choice. This fact is why Type cannot be used as an excuse for bad or ineffective behavior.
I often show people the following image to illustrate this Type truth.
While there are some aspects of our Type preferences that do not manifest behaviorally, a good portion of our Type can be seen and experienced by the world around us. The area of overlap in the above figure is the behavior you show that derives from your Type preferences—a Sensor paying attention to specifics or a Judger working to schedule, plan and control the events going on around him. However, there are behaviors you engage in that demand that you step outside of your preferences—like the Perceiver moving to schedule and control an event or the Sensor brainstorming future possibilities. Life demands all of the functions from each of us at some time—whether preferred or not, and sometimes our jobs, our roles and the demands of any given day demand we spend a good bit of time out of our preferences.
Sometimes the behavior that someone exhibits is not in keeping with their preferences. A Thinking deciding woman bends to social expectations and acts more like a Feeling decider. A Perceiving manager follows the traditional business script and focuses on closure, structure and outer-world decisiveness. Type does not suggest this cannot and does not happen, but the toll of the out of preference behaviors on the individual can be high. In other words, when your normal behaviors are not in alignment with your Type preferences, it can be exhausting, draining or diminishing. Your life can feel expensive and unfulfilling.
OKA founder Otto Kroeger used to say, “A good day is when you can be in your preferences 51% of the time. And there are lots of days that aren’t so good.”
OKA is doing a lot of work (in its print and online and traditional training) to help people understand the difference between their Type preferences (the results of the Indicator) and their behavior—and then work with them on aligning these two things if they are not already. OKA’s latest class, Using Type in Coaching and Development, is a two-day, experiential exploration of Type and the techniques that can develop and grow a person’s type to achieve greater alignment and fulfillment.
• What are your Type preferences; what is your behavioral portrait, and how do you align these two?
• What is balance, and how do you coach this in others and achieve it for yourself?
• How can you become comfortable (and even good at) your non-preferences?
To learn more about or to enroll in OKA’s latest Type application course, click here. I hope to see you soon at OKA.