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Book Review:
Facets of Type: Activities to Develop the Type Preferences

By Margaret & Gary Hartlzler

Executive coaches, personal development coaches, and individuals interested in self-development will find this a helpful workbook.

Margaret and Gary Hartzler are veteran educators and researchers of Myers-Briggs personality type and the MBIT® instrument and are among the small corp of practitioners responsible for bringing the Type Indicator and the Myers model into mainstream psychology and human relations. This book reflects their 25+ years of experience teaching and applying personality type.

The MBTI ® instrument and Personality Type is based on Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types and the interpretations of that theory by Isabel Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs. Jung’s theory itself is heavy stuff and full of nuances that incite enthusiastic debates among Jungian scholars. Complicating matters is that his original work was written in German and thus subject to subtle alteration in the translation process. Suffice to say, Jung right out of the bottle is not for the average palate. Were it not for Myers, Jung would have remained a mere historical footnote to Freud and would not have been thought relevant to applied psychology and human relationships.

Personality theory has long focused on behavior traits, defining individual differences along a scale that reflected the degree to which an individual possessed such traits. Jung’s model of psychological types is a different paradigm, describing people differences in terms of mental functions and mental attitudes. These are inherent predispositions not behavior traits. Myers used the term “preference” to describe these characteristics in an attempt to honor Jung’s distinction, yet provide a user friendly concept.

Myers and her successors have waged an uphill battle preventing Personality Type from being recast into trait language. This reconstitution occurs among credentialed academic psychologists, pop psychology writers, and among educators - some of whom have had formal training in MBIT administration. Generations have been taught to posit human differences in trait language and so Type more easily gets incorporated into this language rather than replace it - which requires a paradigm shift.

Another inaccurate reshaping of psychological type is equating preferences with skills: a person with a sensing preference is skilled at sensing activities, a person with an extraverted preference is skilled at extraverting activities, etc. As with traits, skills are a prime preoccupation of applied psychology. The leap from preference, to trait, to skills seems natural and unavoidable.

A consequence of these distortions is that many type educators steer a careful course around traits and skills out of fear of contributing to further corruption of the Jungian model. Hartzler and Hartzler take a different, perhaps more pragmatic approach. Their attitude seems to be: “people are interested in traits and skills, so lets talk about these subjects and how personality type relates to them.”

Being a pragmatic fella myself, I like this approach. While the stated purpose of this book is to assist in skill development, I think it also provides a nice introduction to type for people who want to go beyond simply understanding the model into doing something with it to enhance their living and/or working experience.

The Workbook - "Facets of Type: Activities to Develop the Type Preferences"
The Hartzlers identify 40 traits that correlate well with the 8 kinds of preferences - five for each preference. These are drawn from the advanced form of the MBIT now referenced as Step II - MBTI but formerly known as the Expanded Analysis Report. (These 40 traits are described elsewhere in Personality Pathways)

What is unique about these traits is that they are aligned in opposing pairs in keeping with the Myers-Briggs philosophy of describing differences in value neutral terms. An example. In conventional trait psychology one who scores quite modestly on the trait of being Gregarious would be judged as deficient in this generally admirable trait - and thus relegated to a lesser status. In contrast, under the Step II MBTI instrument that person who would ordinarily be labeled as deficient in the trait of Gregariousness ends up scoring quite well on its polar opposite characteristic - the Intimate trait! [And they can take comfort in the fact that those who do score quite high on Gregarious will be rated quite poorly on Intimate!]

The authors identify “Gregarious” as a Facet of Extraverting and “Intimate” as a Facet of Introverting. There are four other facets identified with Extraversion and four others aligned with Introversion. Likewise there are five facets identified with the other 6 preferences - S, N, T, F, J, & P - for a total of 40 facets or traits.

40 Facets, 40 Skill Clusters
The Hartzler's, through their experience teaching and coaching and some direct research, have identified skill sets associated with each of these facets of Type. Gregarious people are able to establish and maintain a wide network of acquaintances and friendships; they make new friends easily and they accurately read cues in group dynamics situations. Conversely Intimate people are one-on-one specialists. They are able to focus their attention on one person and frequently understand and communicate with that person better because of this undivided attention.

Ideally in the normal course of living and working, Intimate people find occupations where their strengths in this vein can be put to good use and they structure their relationships and hobbies in a manner that compliments their Intimate nature and associated skills. Likewise Gregarious people find a path that well suits them.

But life often involves trade-offs. An Intimate person may find himself in a job that ideally fits many other aspects of his nature, yet is not a good fit for his Intimate skill set. His working life would go better if he could adopt some skills opposite his natural bent. The Hartzler’s thesis is that this is possible - by practicing the kinds of exercises they prescribe in their book.

What I find comforting about this approach is that the Intimate person is not advised to change his spots into Gregarious (as is the case with many self-help approaches), but rather value what he is and through practice develop some skills outside of his natural realm. Sort of like a natural fast ball pitcher learning to throw a change-up. He never abandons his natural talent - simply expands his repertoire.

After providing an overview and an introduction to personality type, the bulk of the book is essentially an exercise manual covering 40 significant human traits and one or more skills associated with each. The process is straight forward. Pick your set of developmental needs or wants and follow the exercises. Practice till perfection.

Another old saying, “practice makes perfect,” also applies. However, we need to make sure we are practicing the right things. This is true for your golf swing and particularly for learning the mental skills associated with our non-preferred facets. We recommend asking a friend or professional to help keep you focused on the skill you’re practicing. You should pick someone who is already comfortably skilled in the facet to watch as you practice, just as a golf pro watches as you practice your swing. We tend to avoid activities that don’t match our preferences, or we find ways to do them that are already comfortable. A coach can point out when you are using a more comfortable skill rather than the one you are practicing. A coach can suggest ways to improve your performance and get better results. (Page 47)

While designed as a self-help book, this will also make a terrific companion workbook for personal and executive development coaches.

--Ross Reinhold

Facets of Type: Activities to Develop the Type Preferences
Telos Publications, Huntington Beach California

® MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Meyers Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries (aka meyers briggs or myers briggs).


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