Did Little Red Riding Hood have an S Preference?
Well, not necessarily. But it is true that her demise could have been attributed to an all-too-common Sensing blind spot: a failure to quickly and accurately recognise how facts and present realities connect to a bigger picture – and often, a very meaningful one.
In case you have forgotten some pieces of the story, a big grotesque wolf – with full intentions of devouring Little Red Riding Hood – tricks the unwitting youngster by dressing up as her elderly grandmother in an effort to lure her closer for said devouring purposes.
Now, I know what some of you might be thinking, and this may very well be a bit of an exaggerated example. As an S preference myself, I would be hard pressed to confuse a forest-dwelling wild animal with my sweet, 89 year old grandmother regardless of my preferences (I’m sure she’d be relieved to know this). However, let’s take an N approach, and look at the lessons that can be gleaned from the classic tale, using a Type perspective.
As important as realities and facts are, failing to recognise the connection, bigger picture, or the ‘why’ of those facts may be very detrimental to meaningful and effective functioning. Just ask Little Red Riding Hood. It can be tempting for S preferences – in our attempts to be accurate and thorough – to get stuck in the weeds, or we can fall victim to the adage “not seeing the wood for the trees”. As an S preference – as much as I hate to admit it – I’ve often been accused of not getting to the point or not relating my day-to-day activities with a more strategic plan.
To keep yourself from falling victim to the same fate, inject some more N and try the following:
- Be Selective with the details: facts are important, but they become more meaningful when you can decide which are most important, and which do not contribute as much to the outcome! The wolf's scary, much-too-large-for-grandma teeth ("But Grandma, what big teeth you have!", "All the better to eat you with!") may have been Little Red Riding Hood’s first major clue of something amiss, and she may have drawn quicker conclusions if she had decided to focus on what was most obviously dangerous.
- Start by asking ‘why’: by first attuning to the objective at hand, you will remind yourself to take inventory of the big picture right away. This will help inform which details you will care most about while aligning your fact-based approach with purpose. If Little Red Riding Hood had looked at the wolf from a holistic perspective initially, she may have realised that something – even if she had to investigate further – was just not right. This will be particularly helpful in your communication with N counterparts too – they like to hear the big picture first!
- Check back in: as you gather the information through realities and experience, continue to intermittently remind yourself to step back during the process to pull patterns together. Ask yourself "What do these things have in common? What may the facts imply? Have I seen this pattern before and where? What have we not done before that may work?"
The theory behind the MBTI® Instrument teaches us that we all have strengths as well as ‘big bad wolf’ blind spots that can trip us up (or eat us up!), regardless of our preferences. The first step in overcoming these monsters is to be mindful of some of these areas for development. The second step is to embrace ways to flex our opposite preferences to become more well-rounded and effective – to not only survive, but to thrive – at home, at work, and in life. Don’t be like Little Red Riding Hood – remember your blind spots!
Aidan Millar (ESFJ) is a certified MBTI practitioner and a Human Development consultant for Psychometrics Canada in Edmonton, Alberta.