Personality Type and Relationships

Knowing your MBTI® type and that of others in your life can help you appreciate and understand differences in relationships, both personally with friends, partners, children, and family and professionally with co-workers, team leaders, and managers.

Type differences in relationships can be a source of growth and/or conflict. However, there are no best or more successful combinations of types in relationships. Two people who share all four preferences, only one or two, or none at all, can get along well. Type awareness and maturity matter more than the number of preferences you have in common.

Understanding and applying type theory to relationships can enhance communication, provide people with a better understanding of how they deal with conflict, and provide tools for a variety of situations including successfully making decisions and engaging in activities together.

In most areas of life, when differences between you and another person are bothersome, you can avoid the other person in some way. But when that person is a loved one or close friend, a co-worker or boss, you have a lot to lose by walking away.

Not every relationship problem is type related, of course, but when it is, knowledge of personality type allows you to see differences in a new way, as just different ways of "being." You may still feel frustrated or annoyed but understanding those differences can go a long way in working through many interpersonal concerns.

Instead of labeling a person and putting value judgments on his or her behavior, you can learn to see it as behavior reflecting personality type, not something designed to offend you. Many people learn to appreciate these differences and may even see them in a humorous light.

Relationships and Type

For couples. The MBTI instrument is popular in premarital counseling. This allows a new couple to identify areas of difference that may cause conflict. The respect created by this awareness can go a long way in weathering married life.

Perhaps one partner, in a relationship, likes to get the household chores completed before doing leisure activities, whereas the other partner may be spontaneous and ready for the next great adventure. This couple likely prefers Judging and Perceiving, respectively. Knowing type differences provides a way to understand one another, supporting compromises, rather than arguments.

In marital counseling, the use of type can create neutral ground—a nonjudgmental language for discussing misunderstandings and irritations. Change in a relationship can begin when there is respect for the qualities of each partner. Even when a relationship is ending in divorce, understanding the influence of type can lead to a much more amicable process and can diminish blame for what happened.

For families. Knowledge of type preferences can also help families negotiate differences in several key approaches to lifestyle, intimacy, division of chores, managing money, and other areas of potential conflict. When parents are very different from their children, or when siblings seem like complete opposites, there is potential for misunderstanding, frustration, and conflict.

When children know their personality type and parents know theirs, communication is often improved, misbehavior understood, and accommodations can be made.

For co-workers and managers. Personality type can help you work better with others and manage your work. When you understand your type preferences, you can approach your own work in a manner that best suits your style, including how you manage your time, approach decision-making and problem-solving, and deal with stress.

Knowledge of type can help you better understand the organizational culture of your workplace. Leadership styles, work environment, team dynamics, coping with change in the workplace, employee contributions and potential pitfalls, along with professional development can all be better understood through type awareness. Organizations can become more effective when familiar with the MBTI framework.

The MBTI instrument is a popular tool used for team development because it works! While honoring your type preferences, you can learn to stretch or flex your natural style to improve communication in your work environment and build healthier work relationships.