I am an ‘ISFJ’ (according to the Myers-Briggs type indicator). I am ‘Introverted’, ‘Sensing’ (meaning that I look at things as black and white, concrete), ‘Feeling’ (meaning I base my decisions on feelings – how I feel or how it will make someone else feel), and ‘Judging’ (meaning I need order and structure in my life). It has been immensely helpful for me to understand these things about myself as well as understand the personalities of others.
For instance, my husband is the exact opposite personality type as me: ENTP. He’s extroverted, he sees the gray in things and is intuitive (iNtuition), he bases decisions on facts/truth (Thinking), and does not need structure to function (Perceiving). Understanding these things about him helps me to respond lovingly when he appears ‘rude’, for example (functioning from the ‘thinking’, not ‘feeling’ side of things). He’s acting in a way I wouldn’t because I’m not wired the way he is. He doesn’t have to be like me. Actually its a good thing we are opposite personality types. We can compliment each other then. But I’m sure having this understanding of his personality type has saved us from fighting because we understand the other person. So many times fights happen as a result of lack of understanding the other’s perspective.
Knowledge of the Myers-Briggs type indicator has also been extremely helpful in relating to our children. Our 7 1/2 year old boy is as ENFP which basically means he’s all about having fun. Trying to get him to do work is like mission:impossible at times, but understanding that he’s wired this way keeps me from thinking that he’s deliberately being defiant and disobedient. Most times that’s not the reason he isn’t working. It’s just that its boring and he’d rather do something fun.
Our oldest son has similarities in his personality type to mine. He’s concrete/black and white, and needs a lot of structure. This explains why we can butt heads a lot. We’re both not willing to back down on a point and if the one were to compromise it would mean upsetting the perceived order in the other person’s world. However understanding this has helped me to ‘let go’ when we’ve entered into a disagreement. I have to admit I don’t always do this, but without understanding his personality type, I’d never back down and always interpret his reactions as defiance.
I would suggest that everyone take the test and find out what their personality type is and find out the personality types of their family, if possible. It’s made such a difference for me in how I relate to people (when I understand myself and understand others). You can find an online test at http://www.mypersonality.info/personality-types/.
On a interesting note, it seems that my personality type changes when my sense of order is threatened. I no longer operate based on feelings but on thinking, which means I’ll do things without worrying about how it will make people feel because it will enable things to run more smoothly.