Giving Feedback To Different Personalities - The Myers-Briggs Indicator

In the workplace as much as in everyday life, knowing how to give effective feedback is a necessity – a skill your friends and co-workers will greatly appreciate. Essentially, it is important to realize that giving feedback is not a one-way street, but rather, a communication channel that often involves people with clashing personalities. As such, how you deliver your feedback is as important as its content, because what motivates one employee may cause offence to another! 

As you read through this guide on how to give effective feedback to different personalities, you may recognize bits and pieces of yourself, your co-workers, managers, and friends within these various personality types. Try to think of an instance where you gave feedback to someone and they felt offended or confronted. Could it be that the feedback was ineffective simply because the way you delivered it was not tailored to the person’s personality and communication style? 

THE MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, is one of the most widely known and used models of personality. The founder behind the theory of this model, Carl Jung, believed that there are four pairs of contrasting attitudes that make up people’s personalities:

Extraversion vs. Introversion

People who prefer to direct their energy outwards – to people, things, situations – are “extroverts” (E). People who prefer to direct their energy inwards – to ideas, information, beliefs – are “introverts” (I). Extroverts are action-oriented, while introverts are thought-oriented. 

Sensing vs. Intuition

People who prefer to deal with facts, details, and concrete information are “sensing” types (S). People who prefer to deal with ideas, abstract concepts, and theories are “intuitive” types (N). 

Thinking vs. Feeling

People who prefer to make decisions from a detached standpoint, using reason and logic to make conclusions are “thinking” types (T). People who prefer to make decisions from an insider, emotional standpoint are “feeling” types (F). 

Judging vs. Perceiving

People who prefer a planned, well-structured life are “judging” types (J). People who prefer to ‘go with the flow’ are “perceiving” types (P).  

When combining the letters associated with your preference, you get your personality type – for instance: ENTP. There are 16 personality types in total, but they can be classified into four groups depending on how they like to receive feedback:

Sensing-Thinking types (ST)

With ST types, the more specific the better. Give them concrete feedback that is specifically tailored to their own work. Tell them in as much detail as possible how they can improve, what they can change. ST types will not be offended and will not take this personally. Remember that ST types can often be over-critical of their own work and will ignore positive feedback if it is too general. Again, tell them specifically what is good about their work so they know what to repeat. 

Positive feedback:

  DON’T say: 

“Great job Albert, you’re the best. I knew I could rely on you.”

  DO say:

“You did a great job with preparing the presentation for the meeting yesterday, Albert. I know it was very short-notice, but you were able to generate effective and meaningful content that made the meeting very productive. I very much appreciate your ability to prioritize time-sensitive projects. Keep it up.”

Negative feedback:

  DON’T say: 

“Albert, you need to improve your communication style. You can be quite sloppy sometimes”

  DO say:

“Albert, I’ve noticed a few spelling mistakes in your two last reports, and also in the e-mail you sent out to one of our clients. It comes across as though you were rushed. Next time, you should re-read what you wrote before sending it out. 

Intuitive-Thinking types (NT)

NT types do best with straightforward, one-on-one feedback that is focused on specific areas for improvement. They find it difficult to read between the lines and do no appreciate vague generalizations. NT types also value feedback that is applicable to specific future situations. One important consideration when giving feedback to NT types is that they need to have a high degree of respect for the person giving them feedback otherwise they may not take it positively. 

Positive feedback:

  DON’T say: 

“You have such a great energy, Beth. Everyone loves you!”

  DO say:

“I can tell your team really appreciates your ability to motivate and uplift them, especially during stressful times like the leadership meeting this morning. Your positive outlook is very infectious”

Negative feedback:

  DON’T say: 

“Beth, your presentations are highly confusing. You need to write them better” 

  DO say:

“Beth, to make your presentations clearer it would help if you added graphs and tables that display your data and make it easier for your audience to understand you. It would also help if you used bullet points and spread your information over a few slides instead of putting it all in one slide”

Sensing-Feeling types (SF)

SF types like to receive specific and concrete feedback right after they complete a task, but only in a private, one-on-one setting. They are also a little more sensitive than other types and may find it challenging to accept negative feedback without taking it personally. Always emphasize their strengths and the positive aspects of their work before suggesting areas for growth.

Positive feedback:

  DON’T say: 

*In front of many people*, “John, I’m promoting you!! You’ve done so great the past few months.”

  DO say:

*In a private setting*, “John, I think you have great leadership potential. You are able to motivate your team and you are quick on your feet. Is leadership something that you are interested in exploring?”

Negative feedback:

  DON’T say: 

“John, it’s the second time now that a client complains about you being too abrupt on the phone. You need to change.”

  DO say:

“Your ability to close deals and your drive to go after clients is why we are lucky to have you on our team, John. However I just received a complaint from a client with whom you recently spoke, and she thought you were being a little too abrupt. How do you think you could be more approachable? 

Intuitive-Feeling types (NF)

With NF types, is it very important to deliver corrective feedback in a compassionate, caring manner. They are very motivated at improving themselves, but they will take it personally if they feel that the feedback is harsh and judgmental. NF types need to feel that they are being supported. It is always helpful if NF types receive feedback from someone they have a good relationship with. 

Positive feedback:

  DON’T say: 

“You’re doing a great job Amanda! Keep up the good work.” 

  DO say:

“Amanda, you always manage to make your presentations really interesting and straight to the point. You are respectful of everyone’s busy schedule and never waste time discussing matters that aren’t important. Keep up the good work.”

Negative feedback:

  DON’T say: 

“Amanda, you are the only one who’s ever behind on projects. Honestly, you are letting down the rest of your team”

  DO say:

“Amanda, I’ve noticed that you submitted the past two projects a few days past the deadline. I am concerned because the rest of your team has to wait for you and is unable to move forward. If you would like some tips and tricks on how to better manage your time and prioritize, I would be more than happy to help you”

And lastly… when it comes to extroverts vs. introverts, the rules of thumb is setting. Extroverts are social creatures and do not mind being praised or ‘tipped’ in front of others. Introverts, on the other hand, are more comfortable when given feedback in a private setting. 

So, now that you’re armed with all the necessary tips and tricks on how to give effective feedback to all the different personalities that make up your team, your family, or your friend group, you are well on your way to cultivating a successful culture of continuous learning and engagement – without offending anyone in the process.  

 

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Reference

Kaplan, R. M.; Saccuzzo, D. P. (2009). Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications, and Issues (7 ed.). Belmont, California: Wadsworth.