Which type do you like best?

January 2013. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

The inspiration for this blog came from one written by a friend's daughter-in-law, a transplanted American in Norway. Her life in Norway has been more difficult than expected because the Norwegian government will not accept her outstanding professional credentials, thus preventing her from getting a job in her medical field. A recent posting describes her mixed emotions on her first trip back "home" in two years with her husband and four-year old.

Her four-year old daughter asks her…

… from the backseat, oblivious to the emotions spinning ‘round in my head and heart: "Mamma… which land (country) do you like better: Norway or America?"

I sighed. Such an innocent, simple question. If only the answer were so simple. "Ohhhh… that's a really difficult question to answer…"

Undaunted, she pressed on, "Pappa? Which land do you like better?"

Her father responded, also a little torn, but prepared to give a slightly more diplomatic (and non-binding) answer, "Well, there are parts of both countries that I really like."

And then the daughter responded, rather decided in her answer, "I like Sweden best." (A country she's never visited!)

Let's face it! We naturally rank things, and that includes type preferences, even when we lack a depth of understanding for all types.

Years ago when I was first teaching type, a participant said that learning about Extraversion-Introversion allowed her to become "psychologically patriotic." As an Introvert, she had put herself down, but now with this theory, she had an opportunity to see herself and her strengths in a new and very positive light.

Elizabeth Murphy's publication Questions Children May Have About Type Differences poses this one: "What if I don't like the type I am? Can I make myself change?" Her response:  "If you don't like your type, it may be because you don't know the good side of being your type. You can't change your natural preference that exists inside of you. If you try to change the real you into someone else, you will use more energy and you can become frustrated and discouraged. It is better to like yourself the way you are, and help others to like you that way too."

When Naomi Quenk and I were writing the MBTI® Step II User's Guide we wanted to acknowledge that there are aspects to like and dislike about each facet pole and these likely depend on your own perspective.

For example, Concrete-Abstract is a facet of Sensing-Intuition relating to the focus of attention. We write, "Concrete people tend to see Abstract people as "off the wall," wasting time, difficult to follow, and "pie-in-the-sky," yet admire their ability to read between the lines and see other meanings. Abstract people tend to see Concrete people as rigid, slow, boring, and stuck on details, yet admire their command of facts."

So even though we may naturally "like" some preferences more than others, it's important to recognize the good side of each — that "yet." Let's all take the time to add to our "yet" understandings.