Type Talk: The 16 Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work (1988) by Otto Kroeger and Janet Thuesen

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Best intro to Type

Knowing where to begin the journey of understanding Type can be a bit challenging. After all, there is no “right” way to look at personality, and many of us in the community have been introduced through many different doors.

Type Talk was one of the first 3 books related to MBTI that I finished, and still to this day I reference it before a session with my clients. In addition to being a fabulous reference for the practitioner such as myself, it is highly accessible to the newbie just breaking into the MBTI world. The background of personality and the history of its progression eases the reader into the Type world, and truly cannot be missed when discussing landmark personality books.

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On par with David Keirsey’s Please Understand Me, Type Talk gives a highly thorough and differentiated explanation of the dichotomies. When I say differentiated, I mean that the reader will clearly be able to delineate what the difference between a Sensor (S) and an iNtuitive (N) is based on the descriptions.

Expands understanding of Keirsey Temperaments

Type Talk takes what David Kiersey created with the 4 Temperaments and expands them into many different manifestations we see in day-to-day life. Literally, Type Talk is filled with examples of Temperament in regards to fashion, parenting, management, self-management, decision making, dating/romance, career success, etc. 

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As you become more aware of the Temperaments, you start to notice patterns. You will say, “That guy dresses like an NT…her speaking style is very SP…she expresses her feelings in a very NF way.” This is not labeling or discriminatory. This is noticing a pattern and applying a framework to it. In addition to helping you empathize and understand others to a deeper degree, this pattern recognition becomes a very fun game that helps you sharpen your typing skills.

Getting a solid benchmark understanding of temperaments is the way I personally started to cement the Types in my head. As I have mentioned previously in videos, articles, and interviews, there is no way to possibly memorize how ALL the 16 types act, speak, or react to things; especially at the beginning of understanding Type. Breaking them down by temperament is the place to start that helps encapsulate their essence.

Sex Differences in Type

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Type Talk takes a very compassionate view of the differences between gender and Type. The reality is the reality, no matter how much we rally against it in the modern age. This book recognized the reality, along with the unfairness of gender differences in Type, back in 1988 (before it was cool).

An ESTJ female is going to be received much differently than an ESTJ male, particularly in a corporate environment. According to Type Talk, the desired “femininity” that most corporations look for, is not usually present with the ESTJ female. You tend to see a much more “masculine” and driven person who clashes with the prejudiced view of what a female “should be.”

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The ENTJ female will likely experience the same kind of pushback, both from her male and female counterparts. Certainly, there will be a level of intimidation that is felt by colleagues of the ENTJ and ESTJ female, but to deny this reality is to assign blame on things that aren’t actually real. Meaning, your standard sniping remarks at sexual frustration, chip on the shoulder, daddy issues, etc.

Consider the other dynamic which would be the INFP male. The INFP male typically does not exude the standard aggressiveness that is expected of a male in Western society. To counter this, INFP males may overcompensate and attempt to exude hyper-masculinity as a means of fitting in with their male counterparts. Understanding this phenomenon in both yourself and others can help cut to the core of problems that may arise at work or in your personal life.

Concept of Typewatching

Typewatching is the practice of Typing people in your world as you start to notice patterns, as I’ve mentioned previously. You do not need to send them an assessment to know they are an ISFP. Especially with people you live or work with, observational and anecdotal data are more than enough to get a precise Typing of someone.

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As with anything we start to do on a daily basis, you get really good at Typing people, and much faster. This doesn’t mean you get more accurate per se, but that you hone in on patterns of activity that you can quickly latch onto when making Typing decisions.

My Rating

Type Talk deserves a 90/100. It’s nearly the perfect book to intro Type to the world, and it genuinely takes a broad approach to the subject. Though it does not cover the cognitive functions — and it doesn’t need to– there is hardly a topic that isn’t touched on throughout. 

Albeit written in 1988, it has stood the test of time, much like the field of personality and MBTI. 

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