Myers-Briggs Column Week 4 – Who am I? Nurture by nature

Bryony Glover 7 February 2014

(To work out your personality type, read my article ‘Who Am I? A Guide to Myers-Briggs Personality Typing’, or go to http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp. It’s remarkably accurate).

Blood is thicker than water, they say. But sometimes our parents can make us see red. Whether it’s turning up hours late, nagging about work or dancing horrifically, parents are almost guaranteed to wind their children up at least once in a while. But by using Myers Briggs, we can learn to embrace the madness; or at least put up with it.

If your parent used to tell you to “respect your elders”, it’s possible that they’re an ESTJ (“The Organiser”). Reliable, objective and about 11.5% of the population, ESTJs tend to have an opinion on everything from politics to your new glasses, and they’re not afraid to say it. As parents they’re likely to be deeply committed (they were probably in the front row at all of your primary school productions), but they won’t take any nonsense and if the table isn’t laid correctly, there will be trouble. If your skirt is too short, they will say so. They’re not afraid of conflict.

It is unfortunate, then, if the child of an ESTJ is an ISFP (“The Aesthete”). Quiet, original, and keenly attuned to the senses, ISFPs are gentle lovers of beauty with no desire to lead or be led by others. About 8% of the population, ISFPs are gentle and often animal lovers (do not be surprised to find an ISFP child the proud owner of a whole zoo of pets). If a day out for the ESTJ means careful planning and packed sandwiches for the journey, the ISFP is far more comfortable just “going with the flow”. The same goes for homework – the cause of continuous amazement to Judging parents, who simply cannot understand their child’s ability to procrastinate when spelling tests are calling. Completely different, the ESTJ child is frustrated when their ISFP parent is late picking them up. Families are never perfect, of course. But by understanding Myers Briggs, you stand a better chance of loving people for their differences – however alien they may seem.

(I am indebted to Nurture by Nature by P. D. Tieger and B. Barron-Tieger for ideas and information. It’s a great book to read if you’re interested).