Why You Should Say 'No' To Personality Assessments At Work

Many of you have heard me tell this story.

Years ago, my HR department was asked to participate in a Myers Briggs assessment. It’s amazing what you will do for a paycheck. I couldn’t say no.

I am an INFJ.

One of our OD consultants approached me after the session and asked if I would be willing to learn how to administer and interpret the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. When I said no, she told me it wasn’t an option.

I said, “How about we group people around the room by astrological sign? I’m a Capricorn.”

Blood type would work, too. I am a B+ — like my attitude.

The OD consultant told me that it’s not funny to mock a valid way of measuring and assessing individuals. And then she added, “Information that helps us understand ourselves a little better is meaningful and valuable.”

And I said, “That’s how cults get started.”

Needless to say, I never became a certified MBTI instructor. And I want to tell you something: information that leads us to a greater awareness and understanding of ourselves is powerful in our own hands and dangerous in the hands of others. Especially untrained and unskilled HR ladies and consultants who have no background in Jungian psychology.

I worked with a Jungian therapist for two years. It’s a serious and interesting field of study where practitioners are engaged in ongoing training, learning and reading about the world around us. It’s also a goofy field that is one step above the hyper sexualized world of Freud. While there are fewer sexual euphemisms, there’s a lot of spirituality involved. Lots of talk about dreams. What I really appreciated was the focus on the narrative.

But the whole point is that the Myers Briggs Type Indicator is a commoditized and simplified version of analysis that could take a lifetime to understand. And your HR lady wants you to participate in this assessment — or others — and make carer-related decisions about your life without linking those results to valid measurements of your knowledge, skills, or abilities.

You can and should say no to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator at work. But you should always say yes to thinking about your behaviours, intentions and desires in the privacy and safety of a trained counselor’s office.

That endeavour can be truly worthwhile.

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