Benziger’s Personality Types
Using Your Natural Talents
What are employers interested in when they ask you to do a personality test as part of an interview process? Do they want to know if existing team members will get along with you? Are they interested in finding out what motivates you? Or do they hope to uncover how you think and perceive the world?
All of these things, and more, can be looked at using personality tests. That's what makes personality so fascinating. It's also what makes it such a loaded topic: With so much riding on your personality type, it's easy to try and fit yourself to an "ideal" type.
One of the most common business uses for personality typing is matching people with job types. But when someone has an idea of the kind of profession he wants to pursue, or the type of person he wants to be, how likely is it that he or she will answer a personality test question without some form of distortion, whether conscious or subconscious?
If you've taken a personality test like the Myers-Briggs or DISC, how objective were your answers really? If you're like most of us, your answers were probably tainted, just a bit, with how you want to act, think, behave, or react, instead of purely how you do respond. It's nothing to be ashamed of; it's just human nature to want to project a desirable image. Unfortunately, this can lead to a poor match between person and job.
The Benziger Thinking Styles Assessment (BTSA) seeks to address this disjoint by looking at different patterns of brain function, and the personality types associated with these.
Benziger's Brain Types
Dr Katherine Benziger's approach to personality is based on the idea that we all have a dominant and preferred way of thinking. This dominance is determined by the quadrant of our brains that are naturally the most efficient. In Benziger's model, people's brains are separated into four zones. Each of these zones, or "modes", has specialized functions. Depending on our pattern of dominance, the behaviors and thinking styles represented in each zone are what determine our strengths.
Below is an aerial view of the brain and the four corresponding modes as defined by Benziger.
Figure 1 – Benziger's Brain Model
|Basal Left||Seeks order, processes, procedures, systems||Sensing is dominant – realistic, grounded, practical, sensible|
|Basal Right||Seeks feelings, harmony, spirituality, emotional connections||Feeling is dominant – subjective, takes things personally, values closeness with people,|
|Frontal Right||Seeks meaning, expresses through images and metaphors, strong imagination||Intuition is dominant – uses hunches and speculations, imagines what the future might bring|
|Frontal Left||Seeks clarity, criteria, standards, objective measures, benchmarks||Thinking is dominant – analytical, logical, objective, critical|
According to Benziger, we all have one mode where we are naturally the strongest. When you are using your most natural thinking style, you are most effective and least stressed. However, you can, and many people do, develop skill in other less innately efficient modes.
When someone has a second mode which is almost as strong as their dominant mode, for example, their Basal Left mode is almost as strong as their dominant Frontal Left mode, they would be described as having a "Double Left" brain type. Just 5% of people are almost equally strong in all four modes: This is called being "Whole-Brained".
Some examples of brain types are as follows:
|Deadline oriented, attends to detail, follows instructions||Rigid, averse to changes, lacks creativity||Clerks, supervisors, safety officers|
|Listening, creating harmony, interpersonal skills||Hard to say no, tries to please everyone||Nurses, teachers, trainers|
|Spatial skills, conceptualizing, creating models, enjoys change||Becomes bored, doesn't finish projects, idiosyncratic||Entrepreneurs, artists, architects|
|Analytical skills, objective decision making, sound judgment, goal setting||Underdeveloped people skills, willing to break rules to get results||Managers, CEOs, Business analysts|
|Double Lefts||Modes 1 and 4 combined||Modes 1 and 4 combined||Doctors and lawyers|
|Double Rights||Modes 2 and 3 combined||Modes 2 and 3 combined||Teachers, writers, dancers|
|Whole-brained||Modes 1,2, 3 and 4 combined||Modes 1,2, 3 and 4 combined||Heads of large, global, multifaceted organizations (UN, political leaders, Red Cross)|
Using Benziger's Brain Types
According to Benziger's model, your brain type determines the areas where you are strong, and those in which you are weak. The more modes you have working for you, the more well-rounded you are. However, you can never escape the fact that only one mode is more or less effortless. You may have developed competence in other areas due to education, experience, and training but these skills are never quite as efficient or comfortable as those driven by your natural tendencies. Benziger calls this working in a mode that's not your naturally dominant one "falsifying type". She suggests that as many as 80% of people work using highly developed competencies which they may even have mastered, but which are not their natural gifts.
To apply Benziger's theory to your own circumstances, think about the following:
- When you look at the brain type descriptions above, do any of them seem particularly like you, or not like you?
- Does your job demand that you use skills that seem foreign to your natural approach?
- Do parts of your job bore you?
- Are there parts of your job that you just dread doing?
- Do you have idealized image of yourself or what you should be doing, and does this image match or conflict with the brain type you think you have?
Having answered these questions, do you think you're using your natural strengths?
If not, take some time for self-reflection and look for ways in which you can start to use your natural talents more. If changing jobs is not an option, perhaps there are other ways you can fulfil your talents through hobbies and interests.
The electronic BTSA is usually offered through licensees. Visit www.benziger.org for more information.
Benziger's personality types provide an interesting view of your innate strengths and weaknesses, based on the relative dominance of different parts of your brain. Given that the different parts of our brains have different functions, Benziger argues that dominance of one part of the brain shows through in a particular personality type, and a particular set of strengths.
By choosing a job that allows you to use your natural strengths, this approach argues that you can minimize the stress that comes with a poor fit for your job, and make your best contribution.