I talk about many things on this blog, and they usually revolve around my own experience as an INFJ. This is another one of those experiences. I got MBTI certified about a year ago.
Personally, becoming MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Instrument) certified was a challenging task for me, given my anxiety, but it was more than the certificate for me.
My Interest was an Accident
I learned I was an INFJ only a few years ago, through a test that my college-aged daughter wanted me to take after learning about MBTI in one of her college courses.
I took multiple different tests with the same result…INFJ.
I was not thrilled to take a personality test that would categorize me into a box without knowing who I really was. How can a formula calculate who I am at my core?
Well, lo and behold, it did, and I was mortified. My values, characteristics, and weaknesses were all summed up quickly and accurately. I can’t tell you how UNspecial this made me feel initially, but later, I learned that each personality type is still very individual.
I’m not sure when MBTI hit the rest of the world, but I know I’m late to the game, although I was still excited about it. I was excited because somewhere, someone, somehow figured me out. Like I started to feel a little bit understood.
I finally got a glimpse into why I react the way I do in certain situations. I started to “get” why I don’t LOVE hanging out in large groups as much as everyone else around me did, and why I would feel so worn out afterwards. I was an introvert, but more specifically, an INFJ.
I don’t talk much. I’m an obsessive perfectionist. I need a plan. Why?
It’s in my nature, of course. My past plays a part, too, but based on more than a few questions, my “nature” was quickly and astutely calculated and sorted by the MBTI.
I didn’t know much about the testing or how it worked, so I dug in and did some research, and it just got more and more fascinating. I loved learning more about myself, as most people do, but this was different.
This was telling me what I already suspected about myself, but with explanations and insight that were less obvious. I could start to see why I struggled to communicate with my oldest daughter, and why I would get so flustered in the face of conflict or pressure.
I had to know more, and wanted to learn about others too, so I looked into MBTI certification and how it worked, how long it would take, and what classes were available in my area…and it kind of took off from there, but there were several personal challenges holding me back.
Overcoming My Own Fears
Being in a classroom environment is not my thing. At all. I risk doing group projects, being
picked called on, having to take tests, and possibly answering questions OUT LOUD in front other people. Not to mention interacting with a room full of strangers and getting through 4 FULL days of intense learning.
It would drain me, for sure.
It took me months of contemplating to finally decide to do the four-day class on my own. The anxiety immediately settled in.
The first day was the worst, because I didn’t know what to expect. I walked into the hotel lobby, and made my way to the conference room there to get a sneak peek of the size and layout and where I would be seated. Thankfully, I saw my name card sitting on the very back table. I think the instructor planned that.
As I made my way out to the lobby, I could see others slowly making their way in with the same materials I had in my hand, so I knew they were part of the same class. I would say there were about 30 people, give or take a few. I did not initiate any conversations, but one woman approached me and asked about why I was there, where I came from, what my goals were, etc. I soon learned she was also an INFJ.
I would later find out we were two of three INFJs taking the class.
I had to introduce myself to the class. Yes, bit of a nightmare, but I shakily introduced myself as a blogger and INFJ interested in learning. My heart raced and I was definitely vibrating from the inside, but it was short and sweet, but a few people had perplexed looks on their faces after my intro.
As introductions continued, I learned that every single person in the room, besides me, was there for business. They had either been sent by their company or had chosen to get MBTI certified so they could instruct businesses in team development.
I was the only one there for personal reasons. The only one. As I learned later, INFJs have a tendency to learn just for fun; for the sake of learning. I guess this is why I tend to research everything to death.
I also learned everyone’s personality type as we went around the room, and made a mental note at the time. Right now, I’m wishing I had taken literal notes so I could tell you their personality types, but sadly, I did not.
I actually got along quite well with a few of them, and some were downright entertaining to watch. Being in any room full of people initiates observation for me, as I get a kick out of seeing how people interact with one another. I love to watch their gestures and their faces distort when they hear something funny or exciting. People are people.
Two INFJs Walk into a Room
I only really connected with about 3-4 people in the class, and two of them were other INFJs that were there for the same reasons as everyone else.
One gentleman was a feeler (not an INFJ), but I don’t remember his type. He was a very kind and genuine man who was keen on sharing his personal life experiences with me. He spoke of his family often, and I could tell that he loved them profoundly. I also learned that his background was in psychology, and he talked of his struggles to interact with certain types of people (that was his reason for being there), to which I listened to intently, during breaks, before and after class.
I met another female INFJ, originally in the lobby before the first day, when she approached me to start a conversation. She seemed somewhat extroverted to me, but her love and empathy permeated the entire room, confirming her type. We connected and talked quite a bit here and there, throughout the class.
The other INFJ, who I didn’t get to know as well because we were seated across the room from one another, was a nice gentleman with a sarcastically funny edge to him. He was witty and quick with ideas and insights, and I discovered we had a lot more in common than our INFJ label. Not just our sarcasm, but in how we used our inferior function, Se. When we get really upset, we both clean our homes from top to bottom!
Mistype or Conditioning?
I kept getting grouped or paired up with this one woman who really rubbed me the wrong way. I have no idea how she related to us other feelers, but I was absolutely convinced she was mistyped. Nothing about her made sense, except her job, which could be the reason she seemed so hardened to me. She was an ex-cop.
You could see the stress and experience in her face.
She came across arrogant, abrasive, and aggressive. I found myself feeling offended for other people she came in contact with.
In one of the final pairings we did for practice, it was just her and I. I’ll be honest. I did not want to be there with her. She seemed annoyed by the practice and didn’t really put in much effort into the role-play. I needed the practice, so I took control as the “practitioner” and used the opportunity to ask her questions to coerce her into talking about herself and her life.
It seemed to work. She opened up a little about her family life and some about her life as a cop. Her answers were short, but direct. Honestly, it sounded tough, but we actually had our first real conversation. I felt like there was a lot hidden in her. Deep inside. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for us to talk further, but I knew there was more to be said.
After the final day of class, I heard her talking in the lobby about me to the instructor and how well I had done. I was pretty surprised to hear the compliment because I didn’t feel like she liked me much, but my usual skill of being able to read people didn’t seem to apply to her.
She also invited herself to lunch with the instructor. He looked over at me and I smiled. He was definitely a feeling type – an ENFP.
And, Oh, How We Learned
The first day of class was a little slow, going through much of the history of the Jung Psychological Type Theory and how it progressed and changed throughout the years. This, and the legal section, were two of the hardest parts for me because it was tough to be interested in all the facts and timelines.
Once we started into the heart of the matter, the personality types and their mental processes, I was enthralled…
…until we did one of our first group experiments. We were told to form groups of 3 people and then role-play alternate roles of MBTI practitioner, client, and observer. The practitioner had to write up a script of questions, use cards, and obviously, interact meaningfully with the “client”. The observer would take notes, and the client would speak honestly about themselves.
Unfortunately, the videos that were supposed to be available to help prepare us for this exercise the day before were offline and not working, so most of us arrived to class unprepared. I do NOT like being unprepared, so I was very nervous the next morning when my instructor told us to “wing it”. That’s just not something I do.
Two out of the three roles were fairly easy, but having to play the role of practitioner with a half-completed script proved difficult…until I started to feel genuine concern for my client, and began to settle into the role, almost to a point of comfort. I thought I did ok, and my partners in crime confirmed it, so crisis averted.
We did this often, separating into groups, usually by mental processes.
My favorite group exercise was when our instructor hung up a painting at the front of the classroom. We divided into groups, and something really interesting happened when the instructor asked us to write down what each of us saw in the painting.
The tables with the SF (sensing/feeling) and ST (sensing/thinking) function pairs called off their lists, one at a time, like it was a grocery or laundry list – the tangible items in the painting. This shocked our table of NTs (intuition/thinking) and NFs (intuition/feeling), and made us giggle nervously and shake our heads in confusion, because we hadn’t even thought of listing items that were actually in the painting.
We all had individual lists of our own, and upon comparison, we all saw things in the abstract. We saw conspiracies, intent, emotion, stories, and I wanted to know what the inspiration was behind the painting, as it felt sinister and chaotic.
This was the most fascinating experiment to me because it was so much fun and so blatantly obvious how differently we received and processed the information presented to us. Our perception of what was in front of us was up for interpretation, but only half of us actually interpreted it – all differently, but we did interpret a meaning behind it. The other half simply stated what was, quite literally, in the painting.
My initial inclination was to to feel sorry for the others because they couldn’t see beyond the obvious, but the class was teaching me to better understand why the facts were also important. I mean, clearly, nobody at our table even saw what was obviously right in front of them!
Same painting. Different people, different perceptions. I love it.
Officially MBTI Certified
At the end of each day, we had a test, and if we missed too many questions, we weren’t going to get MBTI certified. I passed most of them with flying colors, but I remember being so nervous before each test, even though I knew the material pretty well. I know that I struggle with how questions are worded, and these tests were intentionally worded to trick us, so it took real focus to get through them all successfully. I’ll admit, a few stumped me and I didn’t get a perfect score, but I passed, nonetheless. I was, officially, MBTI Certified.
More important to me, though, was the fact that I completed the class at all. I am a very anxiety-ridden person and all the “have to’s” of this class were very much outside of my comfort zone, and I’m really just proud of myself for going, participating, and completing the work.
The work helped me to better understand myself, and the rest of my family.
After learning about inferior functions, I was blown away. The inferior function is your least used function. I’m an INFJ, so my dominant function is Ni (introverted intuition), and that’s what I use daily. It’s my “go to” and how I interact with the world. Then, there are secondary, tertiary, and the inferior functions, in the order of most used to least used. My interior function is Se (extroverted sensing).
The inferior is used when under extreme stress. It’s a very unnatural state for us, but can become more comfortable over time, as you practice using it.
I learned the inferior functions for my daughters, and started to fully comprehend why they do what they do when they’re upset. They’re still young adults, so they have a lot of learning to do before they are able to better develop their use of the inferior function.
I still have a long way to go, too.
A Big Thank You
Our instructor was absolutely incredible. The MBTI Resource Guide can be hard to understand at times, and I found it invaluable to have someone there to put the pieces of MBTI into real-world analogies that I could easily understand.
He always made time to answer our weird and complicated questions in between class sessions, and had a very clever sense of humor, but his enthusiasm for what he was teaching is what really had me at the get-go. It was pumping through his veins, and that got the rest of us excited about it.
I had so many aha moments in that class, thanks to him, and he wasn’t afraid to have a good laugh at his own expense. He was likable, kind, and worked very hard to make sure we “got it” in a way that was unexpected and fun.
I can’t thank him enough. His name is Gerald Macdaid, if you ever decide you want to get MBTI certified, he’s your guy. It was a fantastic class, despite the bumps.
As for the people I met through all of the rigorous, fun, and daunting group exercises, I thank them for their tremendous insights and knowledge, as some of them have been doing these types of programs for years, and I felt lucky to be a part of such a great group of people, even if only for a short time.
It was quite an experience, and I’m grateful I overcame my fears and finished.