AYE 2008 – Making Better Use of Personality Resources

My Wednesday morning session at the 2008 Amplifying Your Effectiveness Conference was Don Gray‘s session, Building on Strengths: Making Better Use of Personality Resources.  This session was about recognizing our differences, and our strengths, based on our personalities.

The exercise involved splitting into teams according to our MBTI temperaments.  Since there were so many NTs, we made two teams of them.  It’s hard to move forward with a team that’s too big, and even more so if they’re all NTs.  We have a tendency to grab for our own vision more tightly than for a shared one.  Fortunately, the group of NTs I was with didn’t get stuck in that trap.  The others seemed to struggle more.

We defined Teamwork in bullet points, and then drew a picture that represented our vision of Teamwork.  Then we went from group to group, explaining the definition and the vision and taking questions from the other temperaments.  It was quite interesting to note the differences in viewpoint behind those questions.

In the debriefing, the group came up with these results:

What did we see and hear?

  • Different size groups behave differently
  • Definition of the goal is different
  • Temperaments communicate (and work) differently
  • Sometimes a group (of one temperament) couldn’t understand a question from another temperament
  • Communication within a group (of one temperament) seemed easier
  • Temperaments had different assumptions and self-imposed constraints
  • Styles of asking questions were different
  • Facial expressions of other groups seemed shocked/stunned at NT groups
  • It helps to have a “J” around
  • Different groups have different values

What surprised or puzzled us?

  • The amount of analysis of other groups’ diagrams, trying to derive intent
  • Surprised that all the people in “NT” diagrams had smiling faces
  • Puzzled how groups processed time
  • Surprised by detailed level of questions, down to drawing skill
  • Surprised by how quickly NT group #1 converged
  • Surprised by how surprised we are about the differences


  • Can’t change others; only your own attitude
  • Be careful working with NTs
  • We all have blind spots
  • The benefits of working with a variety of personalities — Value diversity
  • Learned a lot by working with other NTs
  • A miracle that teamwork ever happens at all
  • Interesting to work with other types (especially NT)
  • Not just attitudes.  You need to modify your behavior and communication to work better with others
  • People have different definitions for words and concepts
  • Don’t assume — Ask, clarify, verify
  • Don’t project on others

One thing to take with us

  • Try to understand the other person’s meaning
  • Ask more clarifying questions
  • Don’t skip “obvious” (to me) steps when explaining
  • Take a breath instead of shutting down
  • Reproduce this learning experience at my company
  • Try not to be frustrated when others don’t track with me
  • Silence!  3 meanings  (The rule of three: if you haven’t thought of three meanings for what the other person has said that is troubling you, then you haven’t thought enough about it.)
  • Work with my Sales Manager
  • Think about how to get NTs to … And a committee formed

And that’s as far as we got.  Don had a second exercise planned, but we’d taken all the time with the first one.

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