I was asked that question when I spoke about Building Effective Teams Using the Myers-Briggs Personality Types at the Technical Communication Summit ’10 in Dallas, TX. An audience member asked whether focusing on blind spots would be a good place to start.
Blind spots are assumptions so deeply ingrained in our personalities that we’re unaware they exist. They can make us less effective and even generate conflict on work teams. So how do we overcome something when we don’t know it exists?
In her book Gifts Differing, Isabel Myers identified blind spots based on dominant cognitive function. Cognitive functions are the processes we use to gather information and make decisions. The dominant function is the one we use most often and most skillfully. But our dominant function can fail us, particularly when we’re interacting with someone whose personality type is very different from our own—and who therefore operates on a completely different set of assumptions.
The Myers-Briggs cognitive functions are as follows:
- Sensation, which gathers information through the five senses
- Intuition, which gathers information through patterns perceived by the unconscious mind
- Thinking, which makes decisions based on logic
- Feeling, which makes decisions based on personal considerations
Everyone uses all of these functions. But the different personality types place a different emphasis on each. Moreover, the dominant function is expressed differently in introverts than in extraverts. In upcoming posts, I’ll examine the natural blind spots associated with each dominant function—first for extraverts, then for introverts.