Coaching Chemistry: Building Effective Relationships With Myers-Briggs Insight
Shona Floate in blog
15th February 2024 -  3 mins read

Perhaps nothing is more important in the realm of personal and professional development than understanding. An understanding of yourself, of those around you and of the tools that can bolster your success. One fantastic tool for heightening understanding is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI was developed by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs in the 1950s and 60s, informed and inspired by Carl Jung’s psychoanalytic theory. The MBTI categorises individuals into 16 distinct personality types based on four dichotomies: Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I), Sensing (S) or Intuition (N), Thinking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judging (J) or (Perceiving). Each combination of these psychological preferences results in a personality profile which sheds light on how individuals perceive the world, make decisions, interact with others, and organise their lives. Learning about your MBTI type can help you to enhance communication, foster empathy with others and navigate conflict and differences within your personal and professional relationships.

Fostering Empathy

The International Coaching Federation recognises that using the MBTI with mentoring and coaching can lead to ‘enhanced diversity appreciation.’ 1 When conflicting attitudes and behaviours can be perceived through the lens of differing personality types they can be treated with a heightened awareness and empathy. For example, take an Intuitive coach working with a Sensing client. The coach would prefer to ‘pay attention to the patterns and possibilities in the information they receive’ focusing on ‘the big picture and making connections between the facts.’ On the other hand, their Sensing client will ‘pay more attention to information that is concrete and tangible.’ 2 By utilising the MBTI the coach will know to use concrete examples and tangible goals to align with their client’s preference for practical, hands-on approaches instead of coaching them in a way that might appear most natural to them. This empathetic understanding can strengthen trust and rapport as well as lead to more successful coaching outcomes.

Navigating Conflict and Differences

No coaching relationship is without its challenges and differing personality preferences can lead to misunderstanding and conflict. Gathering insight and self-awareness from the MBTI sets up both coach and client for success. By acknowledging and addressing potential sources of tension, coaches can create a supportive environment that enables clients to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. The International Coaching Federation shares this anecdote on their website, illustrating the ways in which personality preferences can lead to conflict within the workplace:

‘A person from the E team shared the realization that he’d been judging co-workers who sat alone at lunch as not being team players. Through MBTI, he gained an understanding that people with an I preference simply needed time alone to recharge and re-energize, which has nothing to do with being a team player.’

The extrovert from this story naturally feels ‘energized by interaction in the outer world of people and things.’ 2 Because of this he was unable to relate to his Introverted co-workers need to recharge. With the help of MBTI, he was able to gain a heightened understanding of his co-workers which mitigated judgement, making way for openness and acceptance of difference.


Learning about personality preferences of both yourself and those around you can be a hugely powerful tool to improve your relationships with others and get the most out of a mentoring or coaching relationship. The International Coaching Federation even goes so far as to say that ‘insights… have the power to reduce and/or eliminate potential conflict and/or stressful situations.’ 1 A coaching or mentoring relationship can only work at full capacity when there is mutual trust and understanding between the individuals involved and using the MBTI to learn about your personality preferences can be an excellent way to achieve this.


1. Using MBTI to Facilitate Self-Empowerment and Understanding of Others


2. Myers & Briggs Foundation