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8/15/2000

Using What You Know to Get Along at New Job

Cheryl A. Thompson

Put your best foot forward at your new workplace by gauging the personalities of co-workers you met during interviews.

Suppose you learned during your interviews that the pharmacy director had insisted on receiving written justification before approving new hours for the pharmacist-run clinic. Your director is likely a "thinker"---a person who prefers to make decisions on the basis of logic and objective analysis.

Now, you noticed that patients at this clinic tend to have their anticoagulation therapy monitored less frequently than at your previous workplace. You feel tempted to propose increasing the frequency of anticoagulation monitoring because, in your heart, you know that patients will benefit.

By recognizing that your director would likely favor logical analysis over one person’s value judgment, you can avoid needless frustration when presenting your idea. Spend some time finding supportive information, preferably studies with a cause-and-effect design.

"Thinking" and "feeling" are two of eight preferences for functioning incorporated in the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a system for characterizing personality types. The MBTI consists of four personality dimensions, each described as a pair of opposites:

  • Extroverted, focusing outward toward people and things, versus introverted, focusing inward toward ideas and impressions,
  • Sensing, focusing on the present and on solid information gathered by the five senses, and intuitive, focusing on the future and on patterns and possibilities,
  • Thinking, basing decisions on logic and analysis of cause and effect, and feeling, basing decisions on values and evaluation of personal concerns, and
  • Judging, liking a planned and organized approach to everyday life, and perceiving, liking a flexible and spontaneous approach.

A total of 16 personality types can be described by the MBTI. Remember that these types describe a person’s preferences. Under any given circumstance, a person can act out of character.

A whole industry of workshops and self-help books has evolved to help people use personality typing to more effectively communicate and function. MBTI itself is owned by Consulting Psychologists Press Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif.

There’s too much to learn at a new job to waste time walking on eggshells during your first few weeks. Look back on your initial interactions to plan how best to proceed.