Screw You, Myers-Briggs
I’m a postdoctoral research fellow, which is a euphemism for someone who has gone to college for at least ten years but whom the world feels is still not ready to be a fully productive member of society. In fact, I was told on the first day of my postdoc assignment that having only a PhD while working in a medical school is downright embarrassing, and I would need to enroll in new classes right away that would help me grow extra gadget arms and be less useless.
My attitude about this trip back to the classroom changed, however, when I looked at the next class I was scheduled to take:
CRE 252: Professional Development and Communication Skills
The back of my mind immediately began to write the next chapter in my life. I could see it all: wearing pencil skirts, laughing around the water cooler about Johnson getting another parking ticket and sitting in leather chairs discussing synergistic, bottom-line quarterly merger memo faxes. This could be a start of a whole new career path -– a whole new me. It would be me the professional. The images were still abstract, but I liked this version of me. She had quiet dignity. People respected her. She washed her hair at least three times a week. I wanted in.
I thought the first step to becoming a professional would be hiring a personal assistant, but it turned out, for the sake of the class, it was taking a Myers-Briggs personality test, a test that tells you your preferences for interacting with and thinking about the world. This test was going to tell me how I prefer to communicate, then give me gentle, constructive direction on how to be more perfect, which would then allow me to take over the professional corporate world. Once I had a personal assistant.
I answered the questions with genuine curiosity about myself. Would I turn out to be an extrovert or an introvert? I can get up in front of 300 people and lecture for two hours without breaking a sweat. But I’ve also spent upwards of an hour examining fabric patterns in furniture at parties in order to avoid talking to new people.
We received our results on the first day of class, and I opened my 17-page report eagerly, hoping to gain a better vision of my life as a professional -– including tips on pantsuits and hair products. My type: ENFJ, or extroversion, intuition, feeling, judging. According to my report: “ENFJs are typically friendly, diplomatic, compassionate, and empathetic and place a high value on harmony between individuals. They are loyal to people and to their ideals. They are conscientious, persevering, and orderly in getting things done in a timely and caring manner.”
I sat up a little taller in my chair and gazed benevolently at those around me. Go on.“ENFJs draw out what is best in other people … They like working with people’s potential and helping others grow and develop by focusing on visions, insights, and new ideas.”
There it was, right there on the page. I. Am. Destined. For. Professional. Greatness.“ENFJs are likely to be most satisfied in a work environment where they can help people achieve their potential. People can count on them to follow through in a concerned and organized manner and to encourage others’ personal growth and development.”
As I read the last words, a reverent hush fell over me. This is no longer just about me and my pantsuit and memos and synergy. This isn’t about a new version of myself or my well-kept hair; this is about a world that needs me. Together with Carl (the assistant I hired in my head), I will help the world rise like a glorious phoenix from the ashes of its broken, bailed-out dreams. This could be a new beginning for all of us.I could only assume the rest of the 17 pages would reinforce this vision.
Extrovert communication style: Very Expressive
“You find it easy to express your feelings and interests to others.” Generally, yes.
“You are seen by others as cheerful, warm, and humorous.” Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but that sounds about right. Scary how accurate this thing is.
“You are easy to get to know.” Well, when you’re inspiring people to reach their full potential, you can’t hold too much back.
“You may sometimes wonder whether you’ve talked too much or said inappropriate or perhaps embarrassing things.” Well, I do --
Wait a second.
Um, somebody? My personality report is broken. It’s suggesting that my preferred way of expressing myself is to make a jackass of myself. There is no way that that is an actual line in my personality report. This must have been a typo. I read on.
“You readily envision what is needed for the future and enjoy strategic planning.” See? That’s better. Now who’s embarrassing and inappropriate?