So you’re obsessed with MBTI? Sounds familiar.
You’ve probably wondered whether there are some simple tricks to figuring out a person’s MBTI using only conversation. There’s no ultimate master trick that will make it so that you can instantly tell someone’s type. However, there are several techniques you can use to be faster and more accurate at it.
Here are four tips to help you type your friends and family.
Tip #1 Learn about MBTI & then Practice, Practice, Practice!
The best thing you can do to get better at MBTI typing is to read about it. Learn to understand the cognitive functions and how they manifest differently according to hierarchy.
Hint: if you haven’t already, take a look at my Guide to MBTI. I designed it specifically with the intent to give readers a straight forward read of MBTI.
The best way to start practicing is by trying to type fictional characters as I have on this site. Sit down, watch a movie and see if you can type the characters in it. If you’re not sure you got it right, stop by here and check in with my typings. If your character isn’t here, you can always make a request.
Tip #2: Get people talking about themselves
When it comes to typing regular people just from a normal conversation, it’s easiest to pin their functions down if they talk a lot about themselves, because that gives you direct insight into their thought process.
I talked to an INFP once who was on an idea surge and she literally spewed forth her unfiltered thoughts at me while I listened quietly for an hour. I had her typed as an INFP within five minutes because I was directly following her thought process as it occurred.
Most of the time however, you won’t get that lucky. Most people don’t even understand their thought process to begin with. However, if you can get them to talk about themselves, you’ll be able to observe their thought process regardless of whether they understand it. You may not be able to type them on a first meeting, but you’ll likely be able to get a feel for some of their functions.
Tip #3 Observe their actions.
Often times, people will want to disguise their thought process behind social graces, which can complicate matters a bit. Other times their perceptions of themselves and their perception of their thought processes will actually be false.
For instance, I had an ESFJ room-mate last year who insisted early on that she was a really logical person who didn’t care much for dating. As it happened, her actions couldn’t have expressed a more opposite personality than the one she had imagined up for herself.
She was completely motivated by her feelings, quite boy-hungry, and from my perspective, one the least logical of the ladies and gents sharing my flat.
Then there is that one ESFP I keep talking about– totally convinced that his thought process works just like an INTJ’s. Also totally wrong. Mostly he’s just obsessed with Batman and thinks that INTJs personality traits are masculine and cool.
This is also a great way to figure out people who don’t talk about themselves.
You probably know people who just don’t talk, even when you get to know them well. Guess what! You can still figure out their type by watching their actions!
Tip #4 Look for contradictions between their words with their actions
The best way to go about remedying the holes caused by all of the above issues is to combine both tips #3 and #4 and compare the discrepancies between people’s words and actions.
It’s my personal belief that both words and actions lie. You cannot simply trust to one or the other if you want to gain an accurate perception of who a person is.
Often, a person’s words will express the truth, and their actions will behave as a mask of a self they’re trying to hide.
The best example I can think of this is Bruce Wayne. He hides behind the fake identity of an impulsive, irresponsible billionaire, while in reality, he’s one of the most responsible, lesser impulsive people around. Basically, he hides all of his good qualities behind fake bad ones.
Another great paradigm that shows both ends of this spectrum would be Ender and Peter Wiggin. Ender does horrible things for a good cause. Peter accidentally ends up doing good things for a bad cause.
Either way, when typing people, you must always keep in mind that people are not caricatures. They’re three dimensional.
If you truly want to understand someone’s thought process and motivations, you have to carefully compare their words and actions without bias. Look for places where the two meet in utter contradiction of one another, and that’s often where you will be able to see through the cracks and into their soul.