In this blog, I will talk about some methods for making use of the Elements of Personality Type reports in talking with clients. There is a great deal of information in the two reports (client report and professional report), and it does take time and practice to use it efficiently and effectively. My goal in these blogs is to provide steps to help the professional develop these skills.
One of the common issues that we experience with type assessments comes from individuals who have a prior experience with taking some form of type instrument (valid or invalid). They may report that they have taken some Type assessment several years ago and was a different type than the reported results from a Majors Assessment. Frequently, this is reflective of type development and changes in that person as an individual. Far too often, it is a result of being exposed to internet assessments that are lacking in accuracy and proper psychometric development. Type development and natural changes in expression of Type are not well understood or utilized by many professionals.
The Majors Elements is really intended to give a well-rounded report. If a person has taken another assessment, or even a previous Elements, and notices some changes it is a good opportunity for coaching the individual into greater Type understanding. When we see changes over extended periods of time (typically years) in the Elements subscales or the Personality Formations, or the 8-process scores, it prompts the professional to talk about the things that have occurred in their client’s life that has led to those changes. They can then decide how accurate the reported changes are and tell the professional what has happened or is happening in their life. There are choices that occur, either forced, or happily done, in the individual’s life and to be able to talk about those events gives clarity to a person’s experience. This in turn results in increased comfort and/or understanding regarding the changes seen in the Elements report. With changes seen from previous spurious assessments, explaining the validity of the Elements results, contrasted with the lack of validity in the other assessments, is often sufficient to put issues to rest.
I want to give an example scenario regarding developed changes that can arise. It is possible that over several years someone had eight different jobs, had three different serious relationships, ten different bosses that they interacted with, and various conflicts. The Elements of Personality results may change over time as they have those experiences. For an everyday coaching process focus, if such a person is an employee at a company and they don’t necessarily have a coach, but somebody from HR comes in and administers the Elements, what would be the recommended amount of time that the practitioner should be spending with people on changes that are found in reported results on the Elements? We need to remember that an interesting fact about the Elements Personal Development Report (client report) is that you can take it piece by piece or section by section. I believe that every section of the report should be attended to. If you add to this discussion the numeric results for the Professional Report the information increase is profound.
When all the patterns on the subscales are consistent with their reported type, we might be tempted to think that there’s nothing really to discuss. That’s not true. Each one of those subscales is very important and gives good information. It’s true that when most of the subscales are consistent with their type, there will be few, if any, surprises. Yet, one should spend at least enough time to go through and mention all the subscales, to have them look over the page with the results, and ask them, “does the reported information on this page seem comfortable and consistent with what you believe about yourself?” If the answer is yes, you don’t have to spend unnecessary time with them. Encourage them to read it and they will learn more information over time about themselves.
The important thing is that a day may come when they’re asked to do something, or they are told to do something that’s a little uncomfortable. At that point, they should go back to the subscale pages in the report and see if what’s being requested of them is on the other side (opposite their preference). Those nonpreferred behaviors can be somewhat frustrating for all of us. So, as far as a minimum amount of time, for somebody with no issues and no obvious pattern breaks in the results, just a few minutes on each page to confirm that it makes sense to them, give then an opportunity to formulate any questions or comments, and in 10 minutes one could easily go through this sub-scale section if there were no issues.
However, if you’re coaching for a specific reason and you see something in the results that give you the “aha,” then being able to help facilitate growth with that person on that point is an important process. You want to go back and talk about the descriptions and how they might have learned to do the less preferred things (now it may be a preferred thing). A good example, using Starting Action and Observing Action on the E/I sub-scales, you may have someone that reports clearly that they’re extroverted, but they have zero preference for starting action and some measure of preference for observing action. Upon asking about this, they might tell you that as a younger person, in college, they were assigned to lead a project and it was horrible! The people in the group weren’t cooperative, the project blew up, and the client states that they don’t ever want to be responsible for a project like that again. So, that’s a learned aversion, which is a common event. Unless they’re pushed to lead a project, they won’t start things, they’ll just sit back and say to themselves, “I’m not going to be uncomfortable.” When we observe a change in reported behavior over time asking them to tell that story is important. Coaches must allow for things to emerge in the results, either numerically or as the person expresses discomfort/confusion with what they see and explore it further. The amount of time is dependent on the issue and its importance in their lives. Not what we think, but what they think. When HR folks or other coaching professional are under time constraints, then the issue that most serves the client is first and foremost.
The information in the Elements report could also be helpful for someone dealing with some aspect of career development/change. When the individual is looking to change jobs or transition to a new level even within their own company (example, greater leadership) we need to guide them through the connection between reported results and the situations in which the changes will occur. It is important, if they believe they know or have a hypothesis of the job that they might enjoy or a position that they might want to move to, that we help them gather information. This may be though talking with individuals, or reading information about the job, the tasks that they will be required to do and the physical activities. What types of mental activities are involved with the job, what types of thinking and behavior? Then take them through the Elements report to see the results on the subscales that might be consistent with those behaviors and thinking processes (note which ones are preferred or less preferred). For example, focusing on ideals, which is a Feeling in decision making (Judging), as opposed to focusing on logic (Thinking). They may have a preference for Thinking (T) in the results, and the job they’re looking into requires them to spend mental energy focusing on ideals that the person has and not on the logical truth of what they may express. Explaining that element to them can give them a heads up that they might be challenged by their tendency to use logic in making decisions about the individuals that they serve when your job is to focus on ideals and helping.
Matching, which is the epitome of career counseling, matching the person with the occupation, can really be helped dramatically by looking at these subscales. The more information the person has about potential career paths matched to the information they have on their element subscales is just dramatic, the amount of improvement in picking an occupation or an occupational environment.
This blog is only concerned with how to use the information in the Elements reports in interacting/helping with the client. How to interpret the information and scores reported in the Professional Report is discussed in the manual. Those professionals who use the Elements of Personality Type assessment should have a solid foundation in the content and the intent of the various scales. This blog focused mainly on the sub-scales, and much can be said regarding the utility of the Formation scores and 8-Process scores. I will continue to blog about specific focuses of use for the Elements. The areas of utility are vast, and I would like to hear for you as to your focus of use and need for further information.