Your Myers-Briggs is Showing - How to get the most out of your meetings

Let’s state the obvious: some people love meetings and others *strongly* dislike them. Whether you attend meetings eagerly or begrudgingly, it will help to understand the diversity of personalities at the conference table.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has often been used to explain the delicate ecosystem of interpersonal relationships. Organizations use it to categorize employee types, identifying work styles and “zones of genius.”

When managers view an MBTI score, they can play upon individual strengths to optimize the functioning of the collective unit.


MBTI uses the theory of psychological types described by C.G. Jung, which was expanded upon by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs. The system asks four critical questions:

1. How do you interact with your surroundings? If you’re an introvert (I), you prefer solitary activities and feel depleted from too much social interaction; you tend to be sensitive to external stimulation. Conversely, extroverts (E) prefer group activities and get energized from social interaction. They tend to be more enthusiastic and easily excited.

2. How do you see the world and process information? Observant (S) types are pragmatic, down-to-earth folks who maintain strong habits and focus on what’s happening or what has happened in the past. Intuitive (N) types are typically imaginative and curious; they prefer novelty over stability and focus on future possibilities.

3. How do you make decisions and cope with your emotions? If you’re a thinking (T) type, you might coolly calculate decisions based on objectivity. You tend to hide your feelings and see efficiency more important than cooperation. This might affect feeling (F) types, who prefer social harmony and cooperation; they tend to be more sympathetic and less competitive than their T-type colleagues.

4. How do you approach work, planning, and decision-making? Judging (J) types are decisive, thorough and highly organized. They value clarity and closure, preferring structure over spontaneity. Prospecting (P) types tend to be flexible, relaxed and nonconforming. They prefer to keep their options open and are adept at spotting opportunities.

To break it down further, four roles typically emerge in the workplace. Try to spot yourself and your colleagues.

The Analyst: This person loves strategic thinking. They are far more interested in what works than what satisfies everybody. Analysts are often perceived as impartial and strong-willed, often displaying fierce independence. Because of this, Analysts often dislike meetings that focus on relationship building or feature any kind of topic meandering. Get the most out of your meetings by leveraging the Analyst's strengths: give them a way to signal to the group when topics veer off-track and make sure you're timing discussion.

The Sentinel: This person makes plans and sticks to them. Cooperative and highly practical, sentinels are hard-working administrators. They enjoy meticulous planning and embrace order and stability. Because of their cooperative nature, Sentinels see value in meetings if those meetings produce plans and measurable action items. They enjoy thorough meeting agendas and summaries; for Sentinels, the more detail, the better.

The Explorer: This person has a relaxed, free-form attitude. They’re comfortable with uncertainty and demonstrate remarkable ingenuity. Explorers are spontaneous and maintain dynamic social relationships. They might feel uninspired in traditionally structured meetings with firm, preset agendas, so keep them engaged by crowdsourcing your agenda all the way up to your meeting start time.

The Diplomat: Diplomats value empathy and cooperation more than anything. They excel in situations that require peacekeeping, often assuming the role of harmonizer in the workplace. Diplomats can be warm and influential folks who appreciate dialogue at the conference table. They thrive when everyone participates, which is challenging for teams comprised of introverts and extroverts (extroverts tend to talk over others). Be sure to provide methods that enable all attendees to participate equally. For example, round-robins and casting votes for important decisions encourage everyone to contribute.

To learn more about MBTI personality types, click here.