Wednesdays with Words: Gifts Differing

I’ve been interested in Meyers-Briggs type for a few years now.  At first I thought I was INTJ, but after learning more about type, and testing again, I realized that ISTJ is a better fit.  I’m a little sad about that; the memes are funnier for INTJs.  Oh well, we ISTJs may be boring, but we keep everyone on schedule and in order. Wayne hasn’t taken the test, but I have typed him as ISTP.

Mystie has written a number of posts about type, and she recommended the book Gifts Differing, by Isabel Briggs Myers.  I had to request it on interlibrary loan.  I’m glad I took the trouble; this stuff is fascinating.

As an aside — according to the publisher’s foreward, the author was homeschooled, then went to college at 16 and graduated first in her class.  Three cheers for home education!

I enjoyed the book, but I thought a few things were confusing.  First of all, in Chapter 5, Effect of the SN Preference, I identified more with the N characteristics over S.  Maybe that means my intuition is fairly well developed?  Throughout the book the author asserts that sensing types have trouble with language, with words as symbols.  On page 59, she says outright, “sensing children have less scholastic interest than intuitive children.” Apparently, S types generally make lower scores on intelligence tests, because their native language is “reality spoken by the senses.” Since tests use the symbols of language and metaphor, “the sensing child has more translating to do.”  As I’ve always been a reader and considered language a strong point, this doesn’t ring true for me.

I was surprised to read that S types “will not skim in reading.”  Well, I skimmed parts of this book, so how about that? 😉  I don’t have time to read things that aren’t of interest to me.  This is also why I prefer reading to watching a video.  I can skim a book or article; videos take too long.

In contrast to my experience in that regard, the book talks quite a bit about how S types take a long time to ponder questions on tests and therefore score quite low.   She believes that we need more time to process symbols of language and numbers, while N types are in a hurry.  I am always in a hurry. Again, maybe I have a well-developed N side, even though I am predominately S?  Or can I go back to claiming INTJ?  Because the memes, y’all…

Chapter 7 discussed the Judging / Perceiving preference.  Oh my goodness.  The J description is me, completely.  The P description is Wayne, completely.

“Inclined to regard the perceptive types as aimless drifters.”  “Inclined to regard the judging types as only half-alive.”  Can you feel the love?!?

Also in this chapter, Briggs-Meyers suggests that the early American colonists were more likely to be intuitives – the appeal of possibilities in the New World would be felt more strongly by N types, while the S types would rather stick with what they know, the old customs and traditions of England.  This might explain some of our American characteristics such as individualism and ingenuity – we were probably top heavy on intuitives from the get-go.  That makes so much sense.  So interesting, right?

But I did feel like she understood me when discussing ISTJs and ISFJs in chapter 9, where she says it is “impossible to know what droll and unexpected associations of ideas take place behind their outer calm.”  I’ve never been the life of the party, but it is droll inside my head. Quite droll.

But it is true that as a child I preferred realistic toys.  I never was much for dolls; they obviously weren’t real.  For my first birthday, I was given a toy pitcher, the kind where liquid moves between the plastic to make it look like it is going to pour out. I turned it upside down and when nothing came out, my mom says I gave it a disappointed look, tossed it down, and moved on.

Towards the end of the book, Briggs-Meyers cautions that “falsification of type robs its victims of their real selves and makes them into inferior, frustrated copies of other people.” (p. 189)  I do wish I had understood my introversion earlier in life. I think back to college, when everyone around me wanted to be with people 24/7, and I felt like an unsocial weirdo for wanting to be alone sometimes.  Pretending to be an extrovert just made me an inferior version of someone else. Thank goodness I was a piano major and had to spend hours and hours alone in a practice room each day.

What’s your type?  Do you find that you identify more with certain explanations of your type than others?  And if you don’t know your type, you can take the test here.

Visit Dawn’s Wednesdays with Words link-up for more reading posts.

About waymel

Navy wife. Homeschooling mom. Adoptive parent. Pianist. Introvert. One who loves quiet and beauty.
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5 Responses to Wednesdays with Words: Gifts Differing

  1. Karen says:

    INTJ here. But that S vs N difference is one of the hardest to type, I think. I also find that as a rare type (especially for females) some of my other functions are more developed than they might otherwise be. For instance, I pick up on social cues and emotions better than a “typical” INTJ might be expected to and far better than my INTP husband does. 😉

  2. Robyn Keeney says:

    I am a “J” too but didn’t click with all the stuff listed, so maybe not as strong of one? I like lists and I like procedure because it’s comfortable, but I also like to keep options open for a long time sometimes, if I feel like I don’t know enough about the situation yet. And even if I think I know what people ought to do, I hardly ever tell them. But for sure I’m more decisive than curious. Once a friend asked, “Are you more cautious than curious, or more curious than cautious?” I laughed and said, “More Cautious Than Curious should be the title of my autobiography.”

    • waymel says:

      But I also think the title would have to include the word “dogs.” And “kittens.” And “horses.” It might be a long title.

      • Robyn Keeney says:

        More Cautious Than Curious: My love affair with dogs, stray kittens and horses

      • waymel says:

        Well, that fits but it’s a bit misleading. Because your life story would actually prove that you throw caution to the wind where animals are involved. So… More Cautious Than Curious (Except where dogs, stray kittens and horses are involved)

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