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Brian Burke: About Your Divorce (Letter 131) — Take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Online, Part 2

Oblique Strategy #26 — Take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator online, Part 2.

In my previous column, I explained how anyone involved with the legal system, especially those going through a divorce, receives four benefits from taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The first two benefits are described in that column as well.

The third benefit of taking the MBTI is to learn your optimal conditions for receiving and processing new information.

For example, some people think most clearly by starting with the specific and working back to the general. Others first need to understand the gist of the big picture before they can identify and attend to relevant specifics.

The person who starts with the concrete and works back to the abstract has an MBTI preference for sensing, while those who need to understand the big picture before they can attend to details that are otherwise irrelevant have a preference for intuition. 

The term intuition may be misunderstood — as can the 25 percent of the population that prefers it as a style of thought.

To a sensate, intuitives can seem to have their heads in the clouds as speculative and indulgent of fantasy. It drives sensates crazy when an intuitive reaches the correct solution to a problem but can’t explain how they did it, while to intuitives, sensates can appear to be tedious, plodding blockheads.

The difference in these two styles for perception of new information is captured in these two statements of preference:

» I will believe it when I see it. (sensate)

» I will see it when I believe it. (intuitive)

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The fourth benefit of taking the MBTI is that knowing the MBTI preferences of the parties involved is enormously beneficial to a professional attempting to design and support a process that will lead to the resolution of their conflict. Here are three examples of how this can work:

1. When dealing with both an extravert (again the Jungian spelling) and an introvert, each must have an opportunity to make decisions in their preferred manner.

Extraverts need to “think out loud.” Whatever they say is tentative and provisional. They’re not making proposals for settlement; they’re just trying them on for size.

If they don’t get this opportunity, they’re likely to be stuck. If an attempt is made to hold them to things they were merely considering, they’ll get out of any commitment they were compelled to make and will probably withdraw from the process.

If the introvert isn’t given an opportunity to reflect on settlement possibilities both before and after their presentation, they won’t be able to commit to a resolution and, if compelled to do so, they’ll wiggle out of it and will probably withdraw from the process.

2. When dealing with an intuitive and a sensate in conflict, the intuitive will have to tolerate what will seem like a pointless and futile exercise while the sensate collects and builds upon facts.

In these cases the intuitive needs to know in advance that they’ll have to tolerate the close attention given to every bank statement and receipt.

They may complain that, given the overall value of the settlement, the other party’s focus on detail is a waste of time. A waste of the intuitive’s time, yes, but it’s what a sensate must do to have confidence in any settlement.

In other words, the sensate trumps intuitive.

3. In the dichotomy between judging and perception, the MBTI measures the difference in the way we perceive time.

A person with a preference for judging experiences time in chunks. I did this, and then I did that. They will make effective use of lists. They know and value closure. 

A person with a preference for perception, on the other hand, has what I refer to as a Buddhist-like perception of time. Hours and minutes are arbitrary divisions. The designation of a beginning or ending is delusional. There is no experience of closure, so it’s not valued.

If one party places a high value on closure, and the other doesn’t think there is such a thing, there’s potential for collateral conflict originating in the settlement process rather than in the issues it was created to resolve.

There will be no settlement until both parties are ready, and the slower party sets the pace. Impatience for closure can’t be accommodated, and this needs to be established at the outset.

If it’s possible to expedite the emotional conditions necessary for settlement, the burden is on the party who has not learned to wait. What may be perceived as delay was an initial condition of the settlement process (and also an initial condition of the marriage).

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So how do you take the MBTI?

When I went online to get a URL for CPP, I discovered there is a plethora of sites offering the MBTI and some claim to be free, whereas the CPP site charges $49.95.

The other sites might be exactly what they purport to be, but who knows what you’re going to get from anything that’s online. It’s like the Wild West.

I took CPP sanctioned training in order to qualify for buying, administering and interpreting the MBTI. It was four days long, and it required a lot of work both before the training started and during the evenings once the session began.

The instruction was excellent. A lot of time was well spent on statistics that have been gathered from hundreds of thousands of inventories.

It would have been impossible to pass the final test without reading the assigned material, which is approximately 750 pages of text, and attending the classes.

While the questions tested knowledge, they also required application of the material to new situations, which made the test instructional.

It was one of the best educational experiences I’ve had. It was worth both the tuition and the trip to Boston.

Because I’ve had an excellent experience with CCP, I recommend it as a company that will provide you with what you are paying for.

I sent an inquiry about the relationship between CPP and The Myers and Briggs Foundation. I received an immediate reply, with self-explanatory instruction for taking the MBTI online.

“Thank you for your email. The best site to refer individuals to is this one - www.mbtionline.com - this is a site we created where individuals can take the MBTI(R), complete an online tutorial, and then receive their results. We work closely with the Myers & Briggs Foundation. Please let me know if you have further questions,” Erin Barber, a CPP customer relations advisor, wrote in her email.

Oblique Strategy #27 – There can be no useful conversation unless each party is willing to “charitably construct” what the other says.

— Brian H. Burke is a certified family law specialist practicing family law and mediation in Santa Barbara. A researcher and educator in the field of divorce and family conflicts, he is also the creator of the Legal Road Map™. Click here for more information, call 805.965.2888 or e-mail [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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