Intro: Welcome to The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast, where we bring together thought leaders, psychologists, and personality experts from around the world to talk about work life, home life, and how to get the best from life.
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Melissa Summer (MS): For this podcast episode, we're going to be talking about relationships and personality. We're going to be talking about all kinds of relationships on this episode: friendships, partnerships, companionships, family-ships, work relationships, and colleagues who help you row the company ship. Basically all the ships.
We'll discuss how self-awareness around personality type can help improve any of these relationships, as well as different lenses that you can view personality through. Michael will also share with us a bit about communication and relationships, and how personality insights can be applied to both personal and professional relationships.
Let's face it, life without relationships is pretty lonely. And good relationships make life feel vibrant, full, and overall, they just make work – and life outside work – better.
So a little bit about our guest today, Michael Segovia. He is a credentialed MBTI Master Practitioner and Principal Consultant and Certification Faculty at The Myers-Briggs Company. He's conducted hundreds of certification courses on the MBTI assessment around the world, and has presented both research and application sessions at the International Association of Career Management Professionals Global Conference, the Association of Psychological Type International Conference, the International Career Development Conference, and more.
He speaks and writes regularly on personality type, leadership, relationships, and development, and has an ongoing article series with Recruiter dot com [recruiter.com]. He's also presented a TEDx Talk reflecting on how type theory has informed his understanding of his own life story [youtube.com/watch?v=nu63G0zGQNQ]. Michael has a Master's in Clinical Psychology from Trinity University, specializing in assessment, administration, and interpretation. So welcome, Michael.
Michael Segovia (MSeg): Thank you, Melissa. It's always good to get to work with you again.
MS: Yeah, I'm so excited for this conversation. I know that personality type and relationships is by far one of the things that's most requested when people ask us to talk about personality type.
MSeg: Yeah, I'm not surprised. You know, so often people want to know how can their preferences help them? What challenges might their preferences bring to the table when it comes to every kind of relationship? Or as you described it, every ship that we're thinking about.
MS: So just to get started, what are your MBTI preferences, Michael, if you don't mind sharing?
MSeg: Sure, I don't mind at all. My preferences are for INFP.
MS: Ah okay. I'm very close to that. My preferences are INFJ.
MSeg: INFJ. So INFP, we're about, I think 6.8%, 6.3% in the global sample. INFJ – Melissa, you're about 2.3% in the global sample. So a little bit more rare than I am.
MS: Oh INFJ.
MSeg: INFJ. Sorry yeah. I misspoke. 2.3%
MS: But I know INTJs are also very rare.
MSeg: Yeah. 2.6% for INTJ.
MS: Yeah. I had my prior boss is actually INTJ.
MSeg: Oh, really? Oh, interesting.
MS: We got along very well. Yeah.
MSeg: You know, and it's a good point. People can have different preferences and they can still get along really well when they learn to understand and appreciate the differences of other people. The person I report to has very different preferences than mine. And yet we work together great. I would describe her as maybe my all-time favorite manager and we're very, very different when it comes to our preferences.
MS: Out of curiosity, would that happen to be Sherrie Haynie, who was our Psychology of Change podcast guest?
MSeg: Yes, she did your podcast a while back. And yes, her preferences are really different. And yet she works so hard to flex to what I need, to the point that I will do anything because I know how hard she works to give me what I need to be the best that I can be in my work.
MS: Well, that's a perfect segue into the first question I have, which I know I mentioned a lot of different types of relationships in the intro. So family relationships, partnerships, work relationships – what, in your opinion, makes for a good relationship?
MSeg: Well, you know, it's a huge question. And if I had the perfect answer, I would be probably the wisest person in the world. From my perspective though, a good relationship is where we work with people, we live with people, we honor people for who they are and not try to change them into something we think they should be.
And it's something I'll admit, when I was younger, definitely something that I did where I would meet someone and think this is who you should be. And when that person didn't live up to it, it really didn't help the relationship. I think also in a good relationship, it's about communication, about talking and being vulnerable, and feeling comfortable to be able to say, “I'm not only happy, but I'm not happy.” And to talk through those different issues is really, really important I think in any relationship.
MS: So when I heard you say communication is a big one, what does personality type have to do with relationships?
MSeg: Relationships and communication . . . You know, when we talk about personality type, we're looking at preferences. That's a big word I think we need to understand. The MBTI is trying to get at these preferences that we have for how we are energized (that's Extraversion and Introversion), how we take in information (that’s Sensing and Intuition), how we make decisions (that's Thinking and Feeling), and then how do we organize our outside world (that's Judging and Perceiving).
MS: So I have preferences for INFJ: Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging. And Michael, if you don't mind sharing, what are your MBTI preferences?
MSeg: Sure, I'd be happy to share. My preferences are for INFP. So both you and I, Melissa, we have those NF preferences, those middle two letters. We're a little bit different in that you're maybe a little more rare. Your type, you know, it's about I think 2.3% in our global sample. My type is about 6.3% in the global sample.
So there are a few more of me – people of my type, if you will – than there are of you. I know somebody very well who has your preferences. In fact, one of my best friends, her painting is right behind me there. She has your same preferences. I know you're an artist as well.
MS: Ah, I am. It’s my side gig. So when we're talking about MBTI preferences, what do MBTI preferences have to do with relationships?
MSeg: You know, I think they have so much to do with relationships. Helping us understand so much more about the people that we're in a relationship with is a very, very, very big deal. I can think of things, like the people I work with who share with me at dinner after a long day of work telling me about their partner and how their partner just doesn't communicate like they would like them to.
By the way, the person talking to me has a preference for Extraversion. She believes her partner has a preference for Introversion. And so a lot of what she needed to understand was when she was ready to talk, her partner wasn't ready yet. It doesn't mean he wasn't interested. It doesn't mean he doesn't care. She felt like that was what was going on when in fact that was not what was going on at all.
Very, very different perspectives. And then when they got to that place of understanding of, all right, he needs more time, bring up the topic and then say, “How about we talk about it tomorrow? So you have some time to think about it?” And then make sure you both get that time tomorrow. Huge way to understand how our preferences, our personality can very much impact in a positive way. And when we don't work around those differences, how it can impact our relationships in more of a negative way.
MS: So I know one of the questions that we get a lot through the Facebook page and different places are – when you're saying the people who you were talking about had different preferences – does that mean that it's easier if someone has the same preferences as you in a relationship, or is it kind of one of those “opposites attract” sort of things? What do you think?
MSeg: You know, our data shows us that only about 4% of people end up in a relationship with someone of the same type. So we do find some differences, we do find some similarities. What you'll find is any relationship can be amazing if people understand and appreciate those differences.
Imagine two people of the same type. That could work. It could also maybe not work if maybe you have two people who prefer Extraversion and they need that time and they're not getting it now. They don't find that person listening enough to them. Or if you have two people who prefer Introversion. My partner and I, we both prefer Introversion. And, of course, I have permission to share – his preferences are ISFJ. There are times where we both need that space. We both need that quiet. And I've even learned because he gets so focused on something – I did this maybe about three weeks ago. He was out doing some gardening and he gets so focused on those details, on those specifics. And I opened the door and yelled, “Do you want lunch?”
And he jumped and dropped whatever tool he was holding. I've learned – and we've been together for 13 years, so I'm still learning – that he needs more quiet. And so what I've learned to do instead was open the door quietly and say, “Honey?” quietly, and then he'll look up. So I'm not interrupting his space. So huge way to understand relationships, long answer to your question.
All types can be great in relationships. The MBTI should never be used to select whether or not you should be in a relationship with someone. It's really meant to understand, “What are my preferences, what are your preferences?” And then let's work on how those preferences can come together so we can enrich our lives by learning about those differences, and of course, working with those similarities as well.
MS: And I've heard that the MBTI is actually used in like couples counseling or other, I want to say team building, but I know it’s not team building. But like couples counseling sessions are, you know, “get to know you” sessions.
MSeg: Yeah, very much so. And it's about helping two people that are looking at starting a life together: how are their preferences going to help them and what kind of, sort of, challenges might come up based on those preferences? To then help them, right off the bat, really get each other a little bit better.
Imagine how useful that would be if more and more people did that work, because it would again, right at the start, help them see, “Oh, here's why you do that. Oh, and that's why you do that. Let's talk about it more and then really get to understand each other more fully.”
MS: Yeah. And that I mean, what we're talking about with the different types of relationships – whether it's family relationships, whether it's a boss and an employee, or sorry manager and an employee, or it's a partner, even if it's a friendship – I guess what all these have in common is that it's two people who are trying to communicate or trying to accomplish something, whether that's a good relationship or whether that's a project at work.
MSeg: Yeah, without a doubt. It's about helping them understand whatever relationship it is. How might they click and where might they clash? And then work through those. Think about the relationships you've had in your life, anybody listening, anybody watching. What are the relationships that you've had that have worked and which are the relationships that haven't? And my guess is a lot of it has to do with personality type that we just haven't maybe really understood those differences, appreciated those differences well enough.
I can even think of maybe two people who have a preference for Feeling. You would think, “Oh, that's a match made in heaven, of course they would click.” Well guess what? One of them might extravert Feeling, the other one might introvert Feeling. It's a very different approach to what Feeling is about.
I can think of a relationship I was in for 15 years, and I had to learn that my partner – by the way, his preference was for Thinking – his way of saying I love you to me was, “Oh, I fixed the faucet” or “There's a new shelf in the closet.” Early on I wanted to hear the words, “I love you.” To me, that's what a relationship was about. For him, it was more about, “Here's what I did for you.” And it really helped us understand things a little bit better. Now, we didn't last forever, and I don't think every relationship is meant to be forever. And while type can help, it's not, of course, going to resolve every issue.
MS: Right. And you mentioned that someone could introvert Feeling and someone could extravert Feeling. But I know when we talk about type that Introversion/Extraversion are the first preference pair and then Thinking and Feeling are the third preference pair. So what do you mean by “introvert” Feeling?
MSeg: You know, and I use the word introvert as a verb. Sounds odd because I don't believe in it as a noun. Here's what I mean. I don't believe there's such a thing as an Extravert or an Introvert. I think we're much more interesting and complex than that. Instead, we have a preference for Extraversion, we have a preference for Introversion.
However, when it comes to how we take in information (that’s Sensing and Intuition) and how we make decisions (that's Thinking and Feeling) all of us have a part in there that we extravert (using that word as a verb) or use that in the outside world. And all of us have a part that we use in the inside world.
It's something that we really try to teach when we help people understand the real value of the MBTI. It's much more rich than just looking at it from the one dimensional perspective like INFP, INFJ, ESTP. It's looking at the middle two letters – which are often referred to as the heartbeat of our type – and then how we use those middle two letters in the outer world and the inner world.
And we need a balance of doing that, because if we just used our preferences in the outer world, that can actually be a problem. If we just used our preferences in the inner world, that's also a problem.
MS: It sounds like this also kind of goes into my next question, which was how could two people use personality insights like those of the MBTI in their relationships? So could people use this – when you said extravert/introvert as a verb – Introverted Thinking or would knowing that help in addition to knowing four letter type? Or what would be the first steps of someone- two people who know their MBTI type; they want to work together better; they want to learn more about each other? How would they use that? How would they start?
MSeg: Yeah. One, they need to understand what it's about, beyond what I'm sharing. I can just explain my own relationship where I introvert Feeling. My partner extraverts Feeling. And I had to learn early on that it's a very different understanding of Feeling where it's this outward harmony that he's all about. And I'm more of this internal value system approach to making decisions.
I've had people tell me, “Are you sure you prefer Feeling? I don't see it.” And guess what? They don't see it because I introvert it. I've actually had people say to me, “I thought you didn't like me.” And I’m thinking to that person, “You're my favorite person in this program” but they don't see it because I don't extravert it, I introvert it, again using this internal value system that helps guide me and drive me.
MS: So I know for my preferences, INFJ, I introvert Intuition and I extravert Feeling, similar to your partner. But the one thing I've heard for most of my life is, “Oh my gosh, there's no way that you have preferences for Introversion. You've got to have preferences for Extraversion. You're so outgoing and you talk to so many people and you're all about getting people together and making sure everyone is happy and everyone has what they need.” And I have to tell them, “I hate to tell you this, but yes, I do have preferences for Introversion and I do all those Extraverted activities and extravert Feeling, but it drains my battery and then I want to go be alone.”
MSeg: Yeah. Makes perfect sense. All of us have an Extraverted part. All of us have an Introverted part. So what we're hearing from you is, yeah that Extraverted Feeling, people then interpret that as, “Oh, you must have a preference for Extraversion” when in fact, your preference is for Introversion. But when it comes to making a decision, you do that in an Extraverted way, using Feeling – which is about, I describe it as harmonizing, making decisions that impact people that are important to you.
MS: And where can people find out more about this kind of depth of the MBTI? What are some reliable resources?
MSeg: There are some good ones on our website. So I would recommend visit our website, The Myers-Briggs dot com [themyersbriggs.com] and they can visit us there. There's there are all kinds of good booklets called the Introduction to Type series [themyersbriggs.com/en/mbtiproducts.aspx?pc=155] and one that I really like is Introduction to Type Dynamics and Development [themyersbriggs.com/en/mbtiitems.aspx?ic=6862].
MS: So we're talking a little bit so far about using this information in personal- well, we talked about it for relationships, but it sounds like most of the examples so far, except for the one of your amazing boss, have been personal relationships. But how would someone take the same information and use it in a work setting?
MSeg: You know, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most widely known and used personality assessment in the world, and most Fortune 100 companies actually use the MBTI for areas around communication, conflict management, how they handle change, or don't handle change through decision making. So big, big use that we find all over the world. And I can think of many, many examples where- I can think of one, for example: a leader who- very high-profile leader who was overusing her preference for Thinking and not really understanding the really powerful – negatively powerful – impact she was having on her team by overusing that preference. And so just talking to the leader about that, and then when we went into the workshop, having the leader start with, “When I talk to you this way, how does it make you feel?”
And I asked her to use the word “feel” and she's like, “Do I want to know how people feel?” Use the word and see what happens. And you should have seen the looks on people's faces. They were just, “That's where we're starting?” It was really, really quiet. And I said to this leader, “Do not interrupt. Let them think about it. Let them process it.”
After about 30 seconds, somebody said, “Well, when you talk to me that way, I'm completely demoralized. It devastates me.” And the leader was like, “You're a vice president of our company. And I can't believe that I do that.” And then one after another, other people chimed in and said, “Me too. I don't I don't like to be talked to that way. It doesn't help me. It doesn't motivate me to move forward in the work that I do.”
I can think of working with a school board. This was interesting, where there were members of that team who preferred Sensing. And when it came to rules and regulations, they were very much about, “All right, here's what we're supposed to do. Here's what students are supposed to follow.”
And by the way, they pointed out other members who prefer Intuition, “And you don't follow them because you think they're too specific.” And as a result, as they pointed to the team members who prefer Intuition, “All the students love you and they don't like us. And that's just not fair.” So we sat down and explored, “All right, what rules and regulations do we need to keep? And which ones can we alter?” By the way, Sensing and Thinking [ST] were the people who were establishing those rules and regulations. NF and NT, they're more often than not – especially people who prefer NT – I often describe them as the rule breakers. Not necessarily to break rules, but they're trying to find new ways to do things and as a result it means they might break a few rules along the way.
MS: Hmm. It sounds like people who may also play devil's advocate in an argument.
MSeg: Yeah, you might get that from people who prefer NT. And what they're doing there is really trying to challenge the status quo. Not sort of always going along with, “This is how we've always done it. This is how we're always going to do it.” Those are fighting words for people who prefer NT, “No. Why do we have to always do it the same way? There's got to be a new way to do this.”
I did work with a group of nuclear engineers where most of them preferred Sensing and Thinking and one of them preferred Intuition and Thinking. And when I shared- described them as the rule breaker, everybody got nervous because like, you're a nuclear engineer. And the person said, “Hold on a minute. No, I break rules, but only to make things safer, not to make them less safe. We can improve how we're doing things instead of always doing things the same way we've always done them.”
Now we also have to be careful for those who prefer NT. You've heard this expression not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Because rules and regulations are set up for a reason and we need to honor them on the ones, of course, that make sense – the ones that are going to preserve our safety down the road.
MS: You mentioned something about appreciation when it comes to the person who had Thinking preferences versus the people who were reporting- or not reporting, but the people who were working with that leader who had asked about how they felt when the person [who] had Thinking preferences [was] talking to them the way they did. What does MBTI personality type, or type preferences, have to do with how someone likes to be appreciated? And my follow-up question to that is, does that apply both in the personal realm and the professional realm?
MSeg: Your second question first, I'll answer. And it does, both professional and personal. And it's something that we explore quite a bit when we work with groups of people. When I've worked with individuals as well, how we like to be appreciated can be very, very different.
People who prefer Thinking typically like to be appreciated for going above and beyond. And typically, they like that appreciation once they've completed something, not necessarily along the way. And more often than not, they want that appreciation from someone that they value or maybe respect in a way. So appreciation from just anyone isn't as meaningful as it is from someone who they admire, somebody they respect, somebody who they see as very competent – versus people who prefer Feeling.
And I can definitely relate to this. My preference is for Feeling. I like to be appreciated along the way. So it might seem like a lot of work, where when you give me an assignment, I like somebody to say, “Michael, we've picked you because you're the right person for this.” And when I'm doing it, I want you to also say, “I love what's going on. It looks really, really good.” When I'm finished, I also want some appreciation. By the way, a month later, I'd love it if you sent me a note and said, “You know, what you did a month ago is still making a valuable impact on the work that we're doing moving forward.”
It seems like a lot of work, and maybe it is. However, think about how you want to motivate people who are different from you and appreciate them that way. I remember years ago we had somebody join the company. I didn't know his preferences at the time. I learned later his preferences were INTP. And I remember I walked into his office and my thinking was, he's new, he's probably nervous. So I want to greet him and make him feel welcome. And so I walked in and said, “I've heard great things about you. Welcome to the company. I'm so happy to have you here. If I can help with anything, even those questions you feel embarrassed to ask, feel free and ask me.” And the whole time he was giving me this look of, “What do you want?”
And I remember thinking, does this guy not see I'm just trying to be nice? When I left his office, I thought, well that wasn't a connection at all. We talked about that connection – or lack of – about a few weeks later, and we kind of laughed about it where he said, “Michael, you were just trying way too hard.” And I said, “Yeah, and you came across as really kind of cold, and I didn't think I really liked you.” And in fact, I ended up liking the person quite a bit. It's just we needed to get to that place of understanding those preference differences – and in this case, how we like to connect, maybe even how we both like to be appreciated or not.
MS: That's making me think of my- so I have preferences for Intuition and Feeling as well, but I know – I won't disclose who – but a few of the people on my team have preferences for Thinking as well. And I know that now that I'm thinking about it, I usually give them feedback in the way that I would like to receive it, but I should probably be giving them feedback and appreciation in the way they like to receive it, which is not as much, “I appreciate your effort and your time and your creativity,” but “Hey, the thing you produced, you know, had these great results or it worked out really well” or, you know, that sort of appreciation.
MSeg: Yeah. The idea there is going beyond the Golden Rule, which is treat people how you want to be treated and move to the Platinum Rule. And that's treat people how they want to be treated. People want to be acknowledged, appreciated in a very different way. By the way, while I like that appreciation, I want it in writing, by the way, too.
I don't necessarily want it in front of a bunch of people. Send me a note, send me a card. I keep cards that people send me. And whenever I'm having a bad day, I take out one of those cards and oh yeah, somebody appreciates me. But if you do it in front of people, I feel like I'm going to run. That's not a comfortable experience for me.
MS: So if you don't know someone's type, I mean, even if you do know someone's type, I guess it sounds like one of the ways to figure out how people want to be appreciated regardless of MBTI type is maybe just to ask.
MSeg: Just to ask. It's true. And so often, we don't do that. We think, well, I need to figure it out. Well, a better approach, I agree Melissa. Just ask, “What would you like if you're going to complete this? What would you like as appreciation from me for this work?” And then let the person tell you.
MS: So when it comes to MBTI preferences, what recommendation do you have, or do you have any examples of how it would be helpful if one person knows their own MBTI preferences, but the other person in the relationship doesn't? How can the person with the MBTI knowledge use that to make the relationship better?
MSeg: Sure. I think it starts off with of course taking the real MBTI, and people can do that at MBTI Online dot com [MBTIonline.com]. So if one person knows they're MBTI type, they've gone to MBTI Online dot com or worked with a Certified Practitioner to learn about their preferences. What they can do is just start to share what they've learned with their partner.
I talked about a relationship I was in many years ago where for the first five or six, my partner actually didn't want to take the MBTI and it was it was his right not to, because it should always be voluntary. However, he would come and talk about issues at work and I would say, “Well, why don't you try this approach instead?”
And it was based on what I knew about type. By the way, my partner had preferences for Sensing and Thinking, and he was working with the marketing group. And what I was hearing was perhaps people who prefer Intuition. And so giving him a strategy to talk to people who are different from him really then brought it home. And I remember he came home one day and said, “That was amazing. Now I really want to take that assessment. There is something there.”
So take the assessment and then talk to people in your life to help explain who you are. And then hopefully that’ll open up the door for them to also want to explore a little bit more about them. It has to be, though, a willingness for this self-awareness. It should never ever, of course, be forced.
MS: And so you mentioned MBTI Online as somewhere where people can go take the Myers-Briggs assessment and then you mentioned MBTI Certified Practitioner. How would someone find an MBTI Certified Practitioner?
MSeg: Well, one way would be to look at where they live and just do a search there. There's also a registry and they can find that at CAPT dot org, C-A-P-T dot org [capt.org]. And that will be for people who are Master Practitioners, for people who want to get certified themselves. And I recommend it if this is the work that you're doing, they can visit MBTI or The Myers-Briggs Company. Our website is – and what's our website again, Melissa? You know it better than I do. [laughter]
MS: The Myers-Briggs dot com. [themyersbriggs.com]
MSeg: The Myers-Briggs dot com.
MS: And yeah, no dashes though in the website. It’s M-Y-E-R-S-B-R-I-G-G-S dot com.
MSeg: Yes. And then find the certification section there and you can see all different ways to get certified. Our newest way, I’ll just give a plug, is you can do this through a self-guided component and we've done a lot of work to just create different ways for people to learn. The self-guided certification program is one of those options along with virtual and in-person.
MS: Thank you so much, Michael, for being on this podcast. I love all the information you shared and I hope that the people listening can learn something from it and maybe make some of their own relationships better. So before you go and before we end this, is there anything else that you would like to add that we didn't mention or just anything you'd like to reiterate?
MSeg: Sure. You know, in terms of reiteration, I would just start at the beginning, which is when it comes to any kind of relationship you're in, honor first and foremost who you are. Don't give up who you are. And then learn how to flex to that opposite side when situations call for it, but still honor first and foremost who you are.
And think about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as an assessment to help you do that, and in a relationship to help you learn and grow together. Hard to do. However, it's a great assessment and great framework, if you will, to help you do that. And of course, to help you continue communicating in a more real way, a more sort of “who you are” way, as opposed to who you think you should be.
MS: I love that. Communication is so, so important in relationships. So if people want to learn more about you or hear more of what you have to say, where is the best place for people to find you?
MSeg: That's a good question. I think they can go to our website and just in the questions section, put in my name and you'll see a number of different webinars that I've done, a few articles that I've written on type. I do a reoccurring article for Recruiter dot com [recruiter.com] and various other publications. And so you can even just do a search for me and you'll see different things that I've contributed to.
I also I've done a TEDx Talk on the power of personality type as somebody who's felt very, very different in his life – and early on feeling this feeling of pain – to finding a place of joy and really honoring and appreciating and finally enjoying the differences that I have. And you can just look up Michael Segovia, TEDx Talk, and you'll see it there online. [youtube.com/watch?v=nu63G0zGQNQ]
MS: Perfect. Stuff to Google for after the show, or search if you don't like Google. Well, all right. Well, thank you so much again, Michael, for being on. We really appreciate your time. And to everyone listening, I hope that you learn something from this and that you enjoyed it. And I wish you all wonderful relationships.
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