Personality types and emotional intelligence

If you’ve ever taken a Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI), you may have wondered about the connection between personality types and emotional intelligence. Or maybe you haven’t. Either way, cognitive style is definitely something I cover when I’m teaching EQ.

If you’re a Myers-Briggs junkie, allow me a moment to do a quick review for people who may not be familiar with cognitive style.

The granddaddy of cognitive style assessments is the Myers-Briggs type indicator made popular by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. Their assessment was inspired by the work of the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, and they started using their assessment in 1943.

Other tools, same measurements

Over the years, other organizations have also developed assessment tools that measure cognitive style, including one by my company, which we call the Cognitive Style Indicator, or CSI. But what’s important is that most of the tools, including the one we created, measure cognitive style in four distinct areas:

1. How we get our mental energy
2. How we perceive information
3. How we process information
4. How we make decisions

Our preferences in these areas are what we call our cognitive style.

The spectra explained:

On the mental energy spectrum, introversion and extraversion are the words used to describe the two sides. Strong extroverts tend to be energized by being with other people. They’re outgoing and talkative. On the other side, strong introverts get re-energized by being alone. They’re more reflective and reserved.

On the perceiving spectrum, the two words we use are sensing and intuition. People scoring strongly in sensing tend to notice what is “here and now” or what their senses tell them. People scoring strongly on the intuitive side tend to perceive future implications, as they notice patterns and possibilities.

On the processing spectrum,* thinking and feeling are the words we use. Those scoring strong on the thinking side process by being objective and fact-based. Those scoring strong on the feeling side take people’s feelings and extenuating circumstances into consideration.

(* Traditional MBTI adherents say this spectrum measures decision-making style. I see why they say that, but I think it’s more accurate to say that this spectrum measure how someone processes information en route to a decision.)

On the decisions spectrum,** the two ends are referred to as judging and perceiving. Like the judge in a courtroom, those scoring strong in judging are looking to make a decision and move on. Those scoring strong in perceiving like to stay flexible and adaptable, perceiving their options.

(** Traditional MBTI adherents describe this spectrum as how people structure their lives. Again, I see why they say that, but I think it’s more accurate to say this spectrum measures how people make decisions, which then, in turn, impacts how their lives get structured.)

All styles can learn EQ

Research about correlations in personality types and emotional intelligence show that any of the 16 types can learn EQ. Granted, some will have an easier time than others, and you might think that people scoring strong on the feeling side of the processing spectrum would be those with the highest EQ. But that’s not the case. Of the 16 combinations, those with the highest EQ were stronger in thinking than in feeling.

And so, I have two things to say when it comes to personality types and emotional intelligence. First, it’s super valuable to learn about the four spectra of cognitive style when learning EQ. And second, it doesn’t really matter which letter combination describes you. Emotional intelligence is learnable, and no matter what your style, you can learn it.

PS. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to take a Cognitive Style Indicator.

PPS. To help you learn EQ, I’d like to offer you a free book, titled 10 Steps for Improving Your Emotional Intelligence. You can download it for free here:

Get your free book on emotional intelligence

Assessment tools I use when teaching Emotional Intelligence

Over the past few decades, multiple assessment tools have emerged to “measure” one’s emotional intelligence. My company offers one of these, but you can also check out the links at the Harvard Extension School for Assessing Your Emotional Intelligence.

However, just completing one of these questionnaires isn’t necessarily going to inform you on HOW to improve your EQ. What you often get with these is a snapshot of where you’re at in terms of EQ. Think of it as, “Here’s where you’re strong, here’s where you’re not so strong.”

To learn EQ – that is, how to apply it to your daily life – more is needed.

Letting you in on a secret

Personally, I am a huge fan of using assessment tools to help people understand themselves and others, thus improving their EQ. But the tools I use are not normally thought of as EQ assessments. I use and teach assessments that equip individuals and teams with a practical understanding of the mechanics of interpersonal relations. And in all the training I do, I stress the mantra, “Value the Differences.”

The people and teams I work with find great value in these assessments. Granted, many assessments are available that measure different things, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret and list the ones I use in my EQ training:

  • For learning about behavioral styles, I use DISC assessments.
  • For learning about cognitive styles, I use either the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Cognitive Style Indicator (CSI).
  • For learning about innate intellect and natural motivators, I use the Natural Motivators assessment.
  • For learning about learned motivators, I use the Driving Forces assessment.

Again, other good assessments exist and I don’t want to discount their value. It’s just that over the years, I’ve noticed that clients find the tools listed above as easy to use. And, most importantly, they learn from them. What’s more, using these tools provides a broad spectrum of learning in the realms of cognitive, behavioral, and attitudinal styles.

Personally, I think it’s best to start with DISC assessments, but really you can start anywhere. The key to success in building your teams are EQ is simply start.

Want a freebie?

To learn more about these assessments and what they measure, I invite you to grab a copy of my new book, 10 Steps for Improving Your Emotional Intelligence. For a limited time, it’s available on this page as a free download.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, but like I said, the most important thing is to simply start.

Get your free book on emotional intelligence