The problem with personality types: testing yourself rarely works

A few months ago I did an experiment. I usually charge $350 for a coaching session, and at that fee I let people pick the time they want to talk. But then I said that if people booked the session at 7am or 10pm I would discount the cost to $150. Nearly overnight I was booked for three months solid. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. There’s a really dirty underbelly in Silicon Valley.

Asperger hot houses of IQ discrimination, sex slave enthusiasts with one or two startups under their belt, and Luddite / Mormon / Mennonites who work at Google but don’t let their wives leave home without complete body coverage. If you think I’m exaggerating, read this piece in Vanity Fair.  If you want to coach the people in these cesspools of intellect, their sweet spot seems to be $150 an hour.

2. Self-administered personality tests yield inaccurate results.

Fortune 500 companies adore personality type tests, because they ensure only leaders get trained to lead. And entrepreneurs love personality type because one bad hire can kill an early-stage startup. So when I am coaching for $350, most people have taken a personality test through work, with some expensive consultant administering the test. And the test results are usually correct.

But at the $150 price point most people do not have the kind of job where your boss hires someone to give you the test. So they just give the test to yourself. This is when personality testing doesn’t quite work.

You have to know how to answer the quiz relative to everyone else in the world. So when you get the question: I am never late. True or false? If the person is a fanatic about being late and they were late once last year, they might say false. And if someone doesn’t really notice late or not late, they will think they are probably on time because no one has fired them for it yet, so they will say true.

Each decision point is just like this one. I know it’s an extreme example, but the same is true if you answer, on a scale of 1 -10 how true is the statement “I like social gatherings.” For questions like this ENFPs routinely give a low number, because ENFPs hate doing small talk. But actually, compared to other people, ENFPs love social gatherings because they always get excited about the possibility there will be someone good there.

You really have to have all 16 types in mind when you answer the questions so that you know where you fit relative to other people. Because understanding yourself relative to your surroundings forces the same question as the oversized chair on Swarthmore College’s main lawn: are you really small or does your context exaggerate how you appear? And questions on the personality test are not as simple as mentally adjusting to the size of the chair.

3. The most frequently inaccurate letters are N, T, and J.

This makes sense because these are the traits that school promotes — your teachers tell you that if you exhibit these personality traits you will be successful (money and power) or righteous (or at least a reader). But most people don’t like to read and they also don’t care about money and power. So the misguided test results come from the (huge number of) people who spend their life trying to undo the pressure teachers put on them to be someone they’re not.

Usually it’s only one of those letters that is not right. And a great thing about figuring out the wrong letter is you learn not only who the person is, but also how the person sees themselves. (This also means that ESFP and ISFP are types that are almost never inaccurate results. But those people never take the test; They don’t need a test to know everyone likes them.) Another great thing about figuring out the wrong letter is the person with a fresh, shiny type result feels immensely relieved — like finally their life makes sense.

4. Identifying personality traits is really about patterns.

To figure out type, you look at patterns. For example, having a meal together is a common denominator that works to figure out what is different about a person. So the CEO of Schwab takes job candidates to dinner and has the waiter mess up the order. The CEO learns about how a person will function at work by seeing how they deal with this scenario in relation to how hundreds of other people have dealt.

I do this at the very beginning of every coaching session. I say, “Hi, this is Penelope.” I have a big enough data sample now that I know a lot about someone just by how they respond. The words they say back to me are not really varied: maybe “Hi, how are you?” Or “This is xxx.” Or “This is xx I have a call with you.” Or something like that. But I can listen to the cadence and tone of their voice, the word choice and length, and the delay between sentences to figure out a lot about their type.

If I combine that with the type they say they are, then I can tell within the first minute if the person’s type is likely something different than they reported. Which is why I say it’s all about patterns.

5. I love the routine of coaching.

At the $150 price point many people did not have a particular thing they wanted to talk about. They just wanted to hear what I would say to them. This never happens when people pay $350, and at first it made me nervous. But then I realized that I only see someone’s selected topic as a guideline anyway.

So I realized I love the puzzle part of coaching – trying to identify their personality type and their most pressing problem within the first five minutes. And I love the process of the person finding the topic both wildly unexpected and also wildly obvious (in hindsight).

It’s so easy to see other people’s lives and so much harder to see our own.

Which is why so many people told me I needed a schedule and I didn’t think it would make a difference. But then I loved having a coaching session at 7am and 10pm every day.

So I’m extending my offer for discounted coaching sessions. The normal rate is $350 for an hour, but if you book a session at 7am or 10pm Eastern you can pay $150. Use this link to make the $150 payment and I’ll send you an email to schedule a session.

83 replies
  1. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    What about having daily 7a and 10p coaching sessions did you love? Was it that it was at 7a and 10p (and if so why) or that the conversations were different than your normal $350 sessions?

  2. Dana
    Dana says:

    so do you tell the person what type they really are if you feel that they mistyped themselves? since you didn’t tell me I’m NOT an INFP, I assume that you must have agreed with my self-analysis ;)

    • Erin
      Erin says:

      If you think you’re an INFP, you’re probably an INFP. Especially if you re-read this comment several times before sending and mb even edited it shorter so as not to be perceived as annoying.

  3. Derek
    Derek says:

    Re: “it’s all about patterns”

    Does the fact that someone notices patterns indicate NT? That’s one of my biggest strengths and I’ve always tested INTJ.

    • Chelsea W
      Chelsea W says:

      Pattern seeking is an NJ thing. INFJ and INTJ are dominant Introverted Intuition users (“Introverted Intuition” is the pattern seeking cognitive function – look it up if you’re interested, it’s fascinating stuff!). ENFJ and ENTJ are auxiliary Introverted Intuition users. They are also good at pattern seeking.

      • Chelsea W
        Chelsea W says:

        I should note that all types use all the cognitive functions. But some feel more natural than others. So, as others are asking on here, more than NJs can notice patterns, and can become good at it :)

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think pattern recognition is a signifier for Aspergers. But not for NT. For example INTP wpuld not necesaripy be strong at pattern recognition.


  4. Marshall
    Marshall says:

    Nothing article only takeaway was that assholes work in corporations and self important assholes coach them

  5. Sherry
    Sherry says:

    Ok for those of you that have never experienced suicidal feelings i’ll try to explain how and why people get to a breaking point. You feel the whole world is separate from you, like you are alone, and that no matter what you have accomplished you are never going to be good enough. You will never feel carefree and happy, oh believe me sometimes you do but it is fleeting. You can act and perform for people so they think you are ok but you’re not. The sadness consumes your heart and you just try to keep going but then one day you just feel like you can’t take it anymore. Now if you’re lucky you will just get through it until you’re in another ok feeling phase. If you’re not lucky all things line up and you take your own life. I have lived like this for years. I wish I could help anyone that feels

    • Cammie
      Cammie says:

      Sherri, I’m sorry you are in so much pain most of the time. There are people who understand and can help you. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has counselors and resources if you want to reach out to them 1-800-273-8255.

        • Elizabeth
          Elizabeth says:

          There is a large online community at / which is very understanding and supportive of people struggling with suicidal thoughts, attempts, and loved ones who have taken their own lives. Of course the secrets can be about anything, but there is something very comforting in a big group of people sharing their secrets. I’m not at all sorry you posted what you did, and I’m glad you’re feeling OK now.

    • John Wilder
      John Wilder says:

      Sherry there is help for if you seek it. I am an ENTJ and don’t require validation from others to maintain my positive self esteem and neither do you. U are not a complete failure. We all have bad points and good points. We should evaluate ourselves and keep up with the good points and work on our bad points. If you depend upon others for your validation there will always be those losers who vomit abuse and their pain on you. Unless that you know for sure that there is any truth in it you don’t need 2 own it. If there is any truth in it then thank them for their truth and tell them that you will work on it. NONE of us are perfect

  6. Linda Fairchild
    Linda Fairchild says:

    Meyes-Briggs is not a parlor game. It is very accurate and an invaluable tool for self-growth and team-building, but must be administered by a professional. The quiz is only the starting point. Nice article.

  7. Julie Gold
    Julie Gold says:

    I notice patterns as well and I create one if there is none…to anyone or myself. I’m an ENFP…is that typical?

  8. Michael LaRocca, Technical Editor
    Michael LaRocca, Technical Editor says:

    Patterns all around you, patterns everywhere
    Patterns of behavior, sometimes seem unfair
    Can you recognize the patterns that you find?

    Patterns unfamiliar, patterns lead you through
    To patterns of discovery tracing out the clues
    Can you recognize the patterns that you find?
    Stuck in your mind

    In this land where stability is hard to find
    You can rearrange the patterns so unkind

    Don’t bother asking why
    A pattern never cries
    Old patterns never die
    They just go on and on

    Patterns multiplying, re-direct our view
    Endless variations make it all seem new
    Can you recognize the patterns that you find?
    Stuck in your mind


    • Diana Hayden
      Diana Hayden says:

      Omg! Love poetry & rhyme scheme! There was a noticeable rhythm there besides the obvious repetition of the word “pattern” in each line…”I also believe old patterns can be changed & improved upon to become renewed in this journey of self-discovery.”

  9. c
    c says:

    I can always tell when I’m being tested. For example, I was given the wrong type of wine at a restaurant. I asked for Bordeaux and was given Muscato. I could tell by the way the waiter placed the wine on the table, and it was such an obvious mistake. In fact, we ordered 2 Bordeaux and received 2 Muscato.

    When I suspect I’m being tested, like in your examples, I immediately shut off my eager-to-please ENFJ qualities and feign ignorance. Play dumb. Refuse to play to the test. The person testing me assumes I’m passive or lack assertiveness, and I don’t care that they’re thinking that of me.

    Is that a normal ENFJ thing or is that a belligerent stubborn don’t-test-me thing?

    If I suspected you were testing me in our coaching sessions, I would’ve done the same thing, so what is that?

      • c
        c says:

        If the person being tested can tell they are being tested, then the test results are invalid. I get prickly because I’m disappointed in the person testing me. They failed their own test.

        I learned more about Penelope Trunk, not through her coaching or her blog, but by the things she said and did after the coaching. You learn a lot about someone when they aren’t directly talking to you.

        Several years ago, Penelope and I had a coaching call earlier in the day. She followed up that coaching call with another call to me at 10:00pm. I was already asleep since I’m up at 4:00am, usually writing. So the fact that she’s taking coaching calls now at 10:00pm for $150 isn’t surprising. She’s up. She’s ENTJ. She might as well be making money during those hours. I bet it frees up the better chunk of her day for things with the kids or other responsibilities. She’s a problem-solver and will sit up thinking about your problems anyway. She might as well take your calls.

        It’s also possible she was testing me to see if I would answer her call at any hour of the day, which I won’t. Sleep is too important for brain function. I wake for no one. So she learned something about me as well. Hopefully she interpreted that correctly and didn’t mistake it for something else.

        You never really know why people do what they do, but people will show you who they are. The test needs to be authentically organic to the situation. It needs to be hidden or I’m going to see it.

        • MMJ
          MMJ says:

          “It’s also possible she was testing me to see if I would answer her call at any hour of the day, which I won’t. ”

          Thank you, because your comment gave me a moment of insight on styles and differences. I’m in law, and was shocked to recently learn how many lawyers sleep with their smartphones on (maybe next to the bed, maybe under a pillow). Oh hell no – I may check my phone before I go to bed, but no smart phone comes before my sleep. If our plant overseas is on fire and you need to reach me at 3 am, call the land line or send someone to knock on the door. And this refusal to make what others voluntarily choose explains some other divergences in life and career…good reflections.

  10. bonnie
    bonnie says:

    Ugh…. why anyone would pay for your coaching when your life is a mess 🙄 Is beyond me.
    I get you may have some insight to others lives, however, given your track record in money, career, marriage, is enough to speak for itself.

    • BH
      BH says:

      Agreed that her life is a chaotic mess by any objective standard. But even knowing that, some people pay up for her advice. This is the mystery.

      • Amy
        Amy says:

        She’s so amazing, I went back for another.
        The way she talks to you is so insightful.
        In 5 mins she knows your deepest fear and what’s holding you back.
        I would pay double. The Penelope on the blog is someone expressing themselves, the Penelope on the call is a consummate professional providing an invaluable service, she didn’t get this far in her life by being anything else.
        So you read her blog because you like her pain?

    • Sue @ Stepfamily Lifeline
      Sue @ Stepfamily Lifeline says:

      That is a logical perspective, but I’d much prefer a coach who has repeatedly failed and recovered to one who is simply a success.

      As a stepfamily coach, the depth of my knowledge runs deep because of all the mistakes I’ve learned from.

    • Sherry
      Sherry says:

      Ooo that’s harsh even if that is your opinion,so you’re telling me only perfect people should coach? Go ahead and find one! They don’t exist. Also when you judge someone you’re judging them based off your life not theirs.

    • c
      c says:

      You should check out the train-wreck past/present of Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, and just about every other coach, teacher, therapist, healer, clergyperson or psychiatrist. Most ALL have a train-wreck life that they’ve learned from and can help other people.

      The difference with Penelope is she’s blogging about it now as she goes along. Looking into someone’s mind in real time is never pretty but always interesting. Those other coaches hide their inner turmoil, but it’s there. Don’t doubt that.

    • JD
      JD says:

      I see many things about Penelope’s life that are admirable, which is why I paid for a coaching session (and it was useful. I had actionable takeaways.)

      You focus on negatives, but I didn’t need a marriage coach or a personal finance coach, so why do I care if she’s had trouble in those areas? And even if I did need help in those areas, it would have been worth a shot because people who have been through the fire often have the best perspective.

    • Amy
      Amy says:

      She’s so amazing, I went back for another.
      The way she talks to you is so insightful.
      In 5 mins she knows your deepest fear and what’s holding you back.
      I would pay double. The Penelope on the blog is someone expressing themselves, the Penelope on the call is a consummate professional providing an invaluable service, she didn’t get this far in her life by being anything else.
      So you read her blog because you like her pain?

  11. Mindful and Mama
    Mindful and Mama says:

    So knowing all 16 personality types is sort of a prerequisite for correctly interpreting one’s own personality? I love what I have been reading here; the focus to discover oneself and excell in life with a unique personality, is very intriguing. It’s what always drew me to tarot cards, and symbolism; the future sight always seemed like a crap shoot, but the ability to understand the self based on personal interpration: that’s freaking magical.
    I hope you keep doing what you’re doing, because knowing all 16 types (to your superior caliber) is not in my future (Ha! Didn’t even need the cards to tell me that!) but I def enjoy gleaning what I can from you.

  12. Miz
    Miz says:

    What about the fact that the Meyers Briggs personality types are just largely bullshit? It’s just astrology sprinkled in some vague psychological concepts

    • Julia
      Julia says:

      This is a huge misunderstanding that shows you haven’t actually thought about this. I’m not even a devotee of MB, but I get that it’s the opposite of astrology — you describe your traits and preferences and the MB profiler builds your self-described traits and preferences into a personality profile. MBTI is just a way of organizing traits and providing a profile that describes you according to common patterns of traits — traits that you identify in yourself in order to identify the profile that fits best. The traits come first and then the profile is fitted to the traits. Astrology gives you a vague profile based on the day you were born, then you read into it and interpret it through your own experience to decide how it predicts your traits. You connect the astrological profile to your existing traits selectively and dismiss the aspects of the profile that don’t relate. It’s hogwash because the astrological profiles are either sufficiently vague or sufficiently flattering that anyone can interpret them to fit their personality.

  13. Mauvis
    Mauvis says:

    The whole thing is a money grab for the “$150 session”. I want to read to learn, not be left with a distaste in my mouth because of alterior motives. Blegh what a cash grab

    • MJ
      MJ says:

      You do realize that it’s all free content here? Of course Penenlope will advertise her business on her blog, her blog provides her withher income. If you want ad-free content, go buy or borrow a book.

  14. MBL
    MBL says:

    As a self-identified* INFP if I had a scheduled session with you and you said “Hi, this is Penelope” without any indication that you were expecting my call I would probably question that I had the right date. (I might possibly attribute it to your being more blunt and straight to the point.) I would probably respond with “Hi, this is MBL. I think I have an appointment scheduled for 10.” If I am not certain of something I tend to qualify it in order to soften the fact that I was wrong and if I am certain, I tend to qualify it so as not to appear cocky or piss people off. (I added “tend to” twice to account for the rare times that I don’t do it.)

    *I know no one is supposed to think that they are the exception, but there is zero chance that I am anything but and INFP. Being an INFP is hard as hell and I’d love to pick something else. I’ve tried finagling the answers to identify my traits as milder than I think they are or answer how I might behave in a different situation, alas it is to no avail. A lot of people don’t believe that I am an introvert because I am a “social introvert.” I love talking for hours to people I find interesting and can make myself talk to those I don’t like in order to avoid appearing/being rude, but both situations come a major cost of my energy.

    The AI links to the NYT article were interesting but the “computer generated face that looks real” gave me major uncanny valley vibes. In most of them, the eye on the left looked wonky. Like it wasn’t on the correct plane as compared to the one on the right. If I covered the left eye then the faces generally looked okay. Wondering what others’ reactions are.

  15. Gs
    Gs says:

    Taking the same test alone and responding truly would give an accurate result right?
    If there is no pressure on the outcome you can have an accurate result, but then what if you study all types, and are able to mimic all personality answers, can you do the same irl? Can you became a kind of chameleon with personalities, capable of adjusting given the peoples or situation around you?

  16. MMJ
    MMJ says:

    I don’t always agree with your views, but this capstone to item #1 – “If you want to coach the people in these cesspools of intellect, their sweet spot seems to be $150 an hour.” – will have me laughing all day. Luddites? WTF?

    • Julia
      Julia says:

      I live, but don’t work, in that cesspool and I thought this was funny because it’s true — absolutely everything here costs $150 an hour (unless it’s something that required a 6-digit education, like lawyer or MD specialist).

  17. Louse
    Louse says:

    I tested ENFP, but I think each person is so unique in what strengths they offer to any organization. People can change (more compassion, education, life skills, etc..)
    Maximize there strengths, and rise above there weaknesses.

  18. Joel Hyer
    Joel Hyer says:

    I’m not offended about the comment about Mormons making women cover up, but I need to point out that I’m LDS (Mormon), I’ve been so all my life, and I’ve never heard before of women having wear coverings. Maybe that’s mistaking us for one of our splinter groups…

    • Ginger
      Ginger says:

      I’m no psychologist, but when someone declares they can tell your personality type by the first words they hear you speak over the phone, I don’t think you should be surprised that they perpetuate generalities, true or false about categories of people.

      My Grandmother was a landlady and she used to say that she could tell a person of color by their voice on the phone, and not surprisingly she always told those people that the apartment was already rented. She, like Penelope, had already decided what their personality was like.

  19. CLD
    CLD says:

    Every time I take the tests myself I come up with variations in N T and J. I find it impossible to answer the questions because I have so many questions ~about~ the questions.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Having questions about the questions means you’re a P. And neither and ENTP nor an INTP would have questions about the questions. So that means that at least one of the letters N and T is not right either.


  20. Maurya
    Maurya says:

    I don’t think minority religious groups are the cesspools of intellect; I think small-minded people who mock and ridicule them are.
    I’m a working, educated Mormon wife with a husband who respects me and treats me as his equal. I don’t wear crop tops or Daisy dukes, but I do wear yoga pants, shorts, pencil skirts, Harry Potter t-shirts, and sometimes bikinis when I go swimming. And my husband has no say in what I wear, other than royal blue is his favorite color and I like to wear it to catch his eye. There can be extremes in any religion,but Muslims are not ISIS and Mormon men are not backwards, controlling polygamists.
    Try not to make such offensive blanket statements. You lose my respect and all of your credibility.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I did not say all Mormons are like this. But I’m sorry to sound insensitive. As a Jewish person I am accustomed to knowing that there are crazy Jews and it doesn’t mean all are. There’s always a way to make a religion seem crazy because theres always someone doing absurdly oppressive things in the name of religion. Every religion.

      Also, FWIW, from my Jewish perspective all Christians are Christians. I don’t expect Christians to be conversant on all different types of Jews, and in the same vein I group all Christians together. So when I say Mormon its just because that’s how they self-identofied. In my mind I think christian.


      • John Wilder
        John Wilder says:

        Completely off of topic, how long have you been using your pic. I don’t believe that is current and therefore dishonest, a behavior that is hated on dating sites. If you included an out of date in a job app and showed up for an interview. The interview would be short with no follow up calls. Coaching free of charge here and I charge a $100 an hour.

          • John Wilder
            John Wilder says:

            Did not claim that. Only used them as examples. Using an outdated publicity photo is dihonest and reflects poorly on you as not being authentic ir truthful. What you do with that is up to you

          • T
            T says:

            John is threatened by your $150 charge, so he’s defaulting to your looks…nice, John. Trim that beard, you look too scraggly for a pseudo professional.

        • Unnamed N. Untyped
          Unnamed N. Untyped says:

          Hoooo, boy. I must chime in here. Okay, Mr. Wilder, riddle me this. Your tearing down of Penelope’s character based on her photograph is at worst, manipulative, and at best, petty. Do you seriously think you’re giving good advice? That is the biggest load of (excuse my language) bullshit that I’ve seen in a while… but that’s not what intrigues me.

          What is your intention? As an ENTJ, you have to be more logical than that, right? (Crossing my fingers…)

          You 1) invalidated her character, then 2) dropped your clearly lower counseling price. Did you notice the few who were critical of her abilities and decide to sell yourself by using this observation to your advantage? Or, perhaps, you tried ruffling her feathers for fun or further observation? At any rate, her using the same photograph is perfectly acceptable and can work as a staple or as a familiar item when readers come to her site.

          Putting everything aside, at the very least, she doesn’t look like Mr. Smee in a Sunday suit. (Since we’re throwing petty insults and disguising them as professional advice.)

  21. Marilynn
    Marilynn says:

    I don’t know what my god damn type is. Every time I take a test it’s something different. LOL So P. I scheduled a sess. Please tell me it’s 7am Pacific time.

  22. MarJ
    MarJ says:

    I think I’m an INFP. I’ve tested as an ENFP, INFP and INTP before, but I really think I’m an INFP – the type least likely to adore sitting at a desk, doing a business job (which is what I do, not entirely happily or comfortably). There are a million things I’m very interested in and would love to do but none are in business/law/finance, I don’t know how to make money from them, and I’ve been told that I’m uncoachable (by the kind of rigid, non-FP business coaches that think a person should be really, really motivated and focused by the idea of advancing, becoming a manager, or succeeding in business and that I’m some kind of freak for not finding the biz world motivating). The only coach I could really listen to and work with would be one who recognizes that my biz job is only $$ to fund the rest of my life (the good stuff) but most are not that honest (“no, you have to aspire to the C suite!”. So…. I guess I just keep faking it during the day… :)

  23. aquinas heard
    aquinas heard says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve taken Myers-Briggs tests 4 times since I was 25. I am 43 now. I’m always labeled as an INTJ. I answer the test questions with the understanding that they are trying to gauge a *pattern* of my behavior.

    I have been a gymnastics coach for the last 24 years.

    I can totally relate when Penelope says:

    I realized I love the puzzle part of coaching – trying to identify their personality type and their most pressing problem within the first 5 minutes.

    The puzzle part of coaching, contributing to a child’s value pursuit, and just the sheer fun of interacting with children is why I have done this for so long. The puzzle part is the primary component that resonates the deepest for me. I have to take all of the elements of the child and figure out how I can get them interested in learning a particular skill. The elements that I consider are: their personality, motivation (why they chose gymnastics), their physical builds/capabilities, their intelligence, their rationality, their athletic experiences, their psychology, and their “relationship” with their parents.

    I think a person’s morality would be the fundamental determination for this kind of question but I am very curious to hear Penelope’s view based on her experience working with many different personality types. Are there any propensities within the different personality types when it comes to hierarchically arranging these top values: romantic partner, children, work, friends, hobbies, and personal physical/mental health?

    And my other question:

    Do the different personality types have their unique preferences when it comes which types of languages of love mean the most to them?

  24. alison
    alison says:

    I am so glad you brought up this topic! When I was a teenager, my mother always told me, “you are cold and unfeeling” (unlike my sister who was quite dramatic, I guess?)… This was a compliment from her (an ISTJ), I internalized it and every time I took a personality test, guess what showed up pretty much every time? Yup, ISTJ. But I just wasn’t feeling the description of my ISTJ self. I also like that you look at how school is focused on N T and J, because I was always very motivated to do well in school, so I also think that is how I forced myself a bit into that ISTJ wedge. Now that I am older and have gone back to actually look at what each letter means, I am soooo an ISFP. This was compounded by an experience I had with my husband (an ENFJ), when we were talking about personality types and I was reading him the description of ISFP. “Emotional…?” I said, “But, I’m not really that emotional.” He was like “What?? You totally are.” And of course I could see how that made sense, seeing as how he is my closest friend so I express more with him than with anyone else in my life. Also, I wouldn’t consider myself totally spontaneous, but compared to “planning everything to a T, talking it about beforehand (ad naseum)” ENFJ, I *would* consider myself spontaneous. Anyhow, just interesting stuff.

  25. Maria
    Maria says:

    I love the structure of the post – first it makes you go ‘I wish I booked a session back then!’ and at the end it surprises you with a chance to do so.

  26. Jamie Baroness
    Jamie Baroness says:

    Or how about dropping the personality tests altogether? It’s all pseudioscience. Penelope, I understand that a large chunk of your business lifeblood is based on MBTI, but it’s now at a point where you have to take an honest assessment of yourself and ask “do I care more about dispensing factual and accurate information, or information that will make money, even if it is not entirely true and only a small portion based on rigorous science?”

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      The reason I don’t give up on personality types is because I have Aspergers and understanding people is really really difficult for me, and personality types are indispensable to me making my way through the world. Otherwise I would feel like I’m blind. So I don’t actually care if people think it’s stupid.


    • ENTPgal
      ENTPgal says:

      Think of Meyers-Briggs as a tool to organize information and estimate true personality traits. Kind of like economic models- rarely accurate but helpful in decision-making.

      • c
        c says:

        Personality type helps you see what people see in themselves. How other people see you might be completely different. It helps you see if the person you’re communicating with is delusional, realistic, their ambitions if they are on the right track moving towards their ideal self and if you want to help them.

  27. mehmet
    mehmet says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve taken Myers-Briggs tests 4 times since I was 25. I am 43 now. I’m always labeled as an INTJ. I answer the test questions with the understanding that they are trying to gauge a *pattern* of my behavior.

    • Entity Management
      Entity Management says:

      Same here! I’ve taken 3 MB tests the last couple of years. I’m always an ISTJ-A (=logistician). I too answer the questions with the understanding that they are trying to gauge a pattern. I always catch myself thinking what is a logistician doing taking a personality test? : )) Becks

  28. Karla
    Karla says:

    I can count the number of times I have commented on a blog on one hand. I am commenting on this one to serve as an endorsement for Penelope’s coaching sessions. I had a call with Penelope today. Beforehand I tried to anticipate what she would say to me and I failed miserably. She looks past all of the obvious noise and gets to the crux of a problem which I could not discern on my own. She is extraordinarily insightful. Her $150 coach sessions are a bargain without a doubt.

  29. Mary M.
    Mary M. says:

    Curious as to how you know $150 is the sweet spot – did you offer it at $200 and $250 and get no takers?

  30. Lucy Chen
    Lucy Chen says:

    This is quite funny what you said about being late and how they answer that question! And about ENFP and their social. My ex-husband is ENFP, and often said he didn’t like going to social functions, but from what I could see, he loved it LOL!

    Oh do you know that the 16 Tarot suite cards were assigned to each personality types? You’re probably not into this kind of woowoo stuff?

  31. John
    John says:

    I am an ENTJ and quite sure about it. I have taken the Meyers Brigg test numerous times. I think way outside the box and as a result I have had many life successes because I see solutions that no one else sees. It has also enabled me to be a successful non-fiction writer.

  32. John
    John says:

    To back that up I am starting a marriage seminar business and had you come to me while you were married to the farmer I could have helped you two to resolve your differences. I wrote a book that a marriage counselor says that saved his marriage among all the other positive comments about the book.

  33. personality
    personality says:

    I am so glad you brought up this topic! When I was a teenager, my mother always told me, “you are cold and unfeeling” (unlike my sister who was quite dramatic, I guess?)… This was a compliment from her (an ISTJ), I internalized it and every time I took a personality test, guess what showed up pretty much every time? Yup, ISTJ.

  34. Carol
    Carol says:

    Myers-Briggs wants you to take its test (not the bootlegs on the internet). That includes a coach to interpret your results and work with you to see the match. That’s what I was told by someone from the Myers-Briggs’ organization’s finance department. He attends my church. He thinks the Strong program is good for assessing work aptitudes.

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