The first letter of the MBTI is about how people gain energy. It comprises of the E (Extrovert) and I (Introvert) characteristics. The second letter is about how someone takes in and perceives information.
According to Psychologist Carl Jung, people take in and perceive information in one of two ways:
- intuitively a.k.a. iNtuitive (N)
- concretely a.k.a. Sensing (S)
On the MBTI assessment report, this will be labeled as iNtuitive or Sensing. The capitalization in the labels signifies what letter they represent. Don’t let the “N” confuse you. You may ask why is it not an “I”. Well, the “I” was already taken by the first dichotomy.
What being an iNtuitive (S) means
Intuitive’s start with the big picture The Second Letter of the MBTI and over time tread through the details of information.
You can think of this as “right-brain” thinking.
“N’s” tend to provide insight into the possibilities of things. They tend to use their “hunch” and come to a likely conclusion of what another is saying before the conversation is even over (I can say that because I’m an “N”).
Persons who are oriented to the “N” tend to work in the abstract, imagination and are future oriented.
What having Sensing (S) in your assessment means
Sensing (S) people start with the details and work towards the big picture of things.
You can think of this as “left-brain” thinking.
Those with an “S” like to work with what exists, what’s in front of them and what’s observable by way of their senses.
Common characteristics of someone who’s an “S” include:
- powers of acute observation
- memory for the details of the past and present
- a sense of realism
- the possibilities of an idea mean little without proof from experiences
An example of the “S” and “N” in action
If you were to ask an “S” type and “N” type to describe their perception of an apple, you’ll hear two very different descriptions.
An “S” type will describe an apple as “red, crisp, and brown stemmed.” An “N” type is likely to describe an apple as “their mom’s pie, apple crisp, and an apple a day will…”
What this means to a business
If you want to have a solid plan in place for the growth of any kind in any way, you need to have a “San and “N” type in all of your meetings.
Those who perceive information from the “S” perspective are going to come in with details and facts from the past. They’re likly the ones who’ll have data to back everything up. Allow them to share that information as past performance can help you determine what’s working and not working.
The “N” needs to be in your meetings to see connections where others may not seem them. They may understand how one decision in one area of the business can affect another decision in another. They’ll be able to come up with ideas to improve areas of your business your “S” types tell you that needs help (of course, with the data they bring).
The key to having both sides in a meeting is the respect each side has for the other. Everyone needs to understand the point-of-view others bring to the table. Without respect, meetings will become wasted time and cause frustration amongst your staff.
You can be “S” and “N”
Everyone has qualities of both. The MBTI gives you a reference point for where you’re most comfortable… what your go-to modality is when you’re not stressed. What Carl Jung understood and is considered in the MBTI is how people are dynamic. People are not solid states of emotion. Stresses in one’s life affect the amount of “S” or “N” you use in any given situation. This is important to remember when you take the MBTI and see all the letters.
You’re unique. The MBTI is a fluid tool and is not meant to put you in a box. It’s a tool to allow you to understand your most natural operating system.
The Myers-Briggs assessment is made up of four dichotomies. Each dichotomy has two letters your more in-tune with. The first dichotomy deals more with how people gain energy.
On page 298 of the MBTI Manual (third edition), 49.3% of the population is extroverted. The remaining 50.7% are introverted.
Being an Introvert
Being an introvert does not mean someone does not like people. Introverts simply need to look within themselves, in quite, to process the day’s bombardment of information. As the day wears on, if an introvert is unable to block out the noise they begin to tire. They can become more irritable. If you have toddlers, think of your toddler when they’re hungry… they can get a little cranky, unfocused, tired or any combination of the three. Introverts, when they’re unable to be in solitude, they start to show signs of a toddler being hungry. The same goes for extroverts, just in reverse.
Introverts process information before they speak. They want to make sure what they say is what they intend to say.
Being an Extrovert
Extroverts recharge by being around other people. You can tell who extroverts are as they typically are the ones in groups of people. If they’re left alone in their own world too long, they begin to get antsy. They begin to seek the company of others.
Extroverts process information aloud. When a thought comes to mind, an extrovert is likely to blurt it out before they think. It’s not that they’re being rude, it’s simply their way of processing the thoughts they have.
How to Pick Out The Introverts from the Extroverts
Observation is your key. As you watch or listen to someone, does it seem they’re taking some time to answer a question? Or, do you notice they’re answering questions quickly or have trouble with hearing silence in the room?
If someone is being thoughtful before they speak, they’re likely to be an introvert. Allow them the time to think before they speak and you’ll get a very thoughtful answer.
If it seems someone responds quickly or has trouble with silence in the room, they’re likely an extrovert. Allow them to speak aloud and give them the time they need to process their thoughts in real-time (maybe the same thought a few times in a row).
You Can Be An Introvert and Extrovert (Sorta)
Ambivert is a common term people use when they’re not sure if they’re an introvert or extrovert. In the Myers-Briggs assessment, you’re either one or the other – you’re either an “I” or an “E.” However, you must remember, the MBTI was built to measure your innate, stress-free personality. What the MBTI recognizes – and this is often what’s missing from so many people who do not believe the MBTI is valid – is people are not static.
People change when stressors enter their lives (the good and bad kind). With changes in stress, comes changes in personality – think back to that toddler again.
I believe people who believe they’re ambiverts are simply in a state of long-term stress that’s impacting they way they function. They’ve been able to adapt to what’s needed at that time in their life.
People who take the MBTI multiple times in their lives are likely to have slightly different outcomes each time.
Which Are You?
There is no right or wrong when it comes to the MBTI. If at anytime you read what it means to be any letter combination the assessment comes back with and you don’t agree, it’s your right to find the one you believe best fits you. With one caveat… we all have blind spots. Having an outside perspective gives you a different view.
There are four letter combinations that make up the Myers-Briggs assessment. Each one is called a dichotomy.
The First Letter Combination of the MBTI
This is going to tell you how people gain or loose energy. Do they gain energy by being around other people or do they gain energy by being quite and in solitude? Extrovert or Introvert.
The Second Letter Combination of the MBTI
Consisting of the Sensing or iNtuitive type, this combination is how people take in information. Is it more about the here and now or is it more about seeing patterns and connecting the dots.
The Third Letter Combination of the MBTI
Feeling or Thinking is about how someone processes information. Do they think more with the heart or head?
The Fourth Letter Combination of the MBTI
A tricky one because of the words used, this is how people work with the external world. Judging versus Perceiving. Do they gather the information they need and immediately take action or do they gain information over a long period of time and then take action?
With each dichotomy, there are only two choices but when they’re put into a matrix, it makes up 16 different human operating systems.
How Knowing the Four MBTI Letter Combinations Can Help
Would it not be a dream to be able to communicate with someone in their language? I’m not talking English or French or Spanish. I’m talking about the language of their mind. If you can speak to them in their language you can make whatever you want to get across with impact and the likelihood it’ll get across.
Just knowing how some one takes in information – the second letter combination of Sensing versus iNtuitive – can help provide the information they need to make a decision.
You could be better communicating with your:
What’s Your MBTI?
If you’re interested in taking the MBTI assessment, please let me know by contacting me or adding a comment below.
Already use MBTI? What stories can you share where it’s become an invaluable tool?