By Donna Dunning

Preferred Personality Type Functions

Knowing your four-letter personality type code helps you understand how you prefer to approach life and work. The two middle letters of your code, called functions, work together when you process information and make decisions. The way your preferences work together is called type dynamics.

If you want to know more about how your preferred functions work together, I discuss this in blogs on dominant and auxiliary functions.

It is helpful to understand how you do your best work, but you can’t use your preferred approaches all of the time.

Non-Preferred Personality Type Functions

A well-developed person uses all four of the personality type functions to deal with their circumstances. For example, if your preferences are NF, it is valuable to attend to facts and details (S) in order to make a realistic appraisal of how you can implement your many ideas (N). Analyzing situations by processing the logical implications and consequences of decisions (T) as well as the personal implications for the people involved (F) will help you make better choices.

Type dynamics describes how you tend to use your non-preferred functions, the two middle letters not in your four-letter type code. For example, if you prefer Intuition and Feeling (NF), your non-preferred functions are Sensing and Thinking (ST). Paying attention to and developing the non-preferred parts of your personality type helps you adapt to and thrive in a variety of situations.

Inferior function

Of your two non-preferred functions, one tends to be least developed. Personality type theory calls this the Inferior Function. This is the function opposite to your core, or dominant approach. For example, if your dominant function is Introverted Feeling (Fi) your inferior function is Extraverted Thinking (Te). The inferior function can appear as a blind spot, developmental opportunity, or may appear in a childlike, immature form during times of stress. With effort, you can learn to use your inferior function when you need it.

Tertiary function

The other non-preferred function is called the tertiary (being in third place) and is in the same preference pair as your auxiliary. For example, if your auxiliary is Intuition (either Ne or Ni), your tertiary is Sensing.

The tertiary function is usually the third function to develop. Like the inferior function, it can also be a source of blind spots and developmental opportunities. The tertiary function can also play a role in recreation and leisure activities as using it provides an opportunity to move outside of your typical way of approaching situations.

Good Type Development

A well-developed person will have a trusted, well-used core approach they prefer to use (dominant function). This core way of living and working is supported with a secondary approach (auxiliary function). Together these approaches provide a preferred strategy for taking in information and making decisions.

As a person matures they begin to recognize the importance of using non-preferred aspects of their personality. They learn to use these non-preferred sides (tertiary and inferior functions) of the preference pairs consciously to help them see situations from multiple perspectives.

Use of these non-preferred preferences is not meant to replace or equal the core way of living and working; rather these non-preferred aspects of personality are used to expand an individual’s repertoire of considerations and responses.

How do you use the non-preferred parts of your personality?

As you continue to learn and adapt to your circumstances it is beneficial to consider how you are using and developing your personality type. Understanding these aspects of personality type help you see how preferences interact (type dynamics) and how preferences typically are used and developed (type development).

Everyone has a unique life story and experiences different pressures and circumstances affecting how they use and develop preferred and non-preferred parts of their personality.

Food for Thought

Have you developed a trusted core and balancing approach to work and life? Are you using these in the work you do?

Think about how people have responded to you and the feedback you have been given. Can you start to see blind spots or developmental opportunities that link to your overuse of preferred functions or lack of use of non-preferred functions?

Are the non-preferred aspects of your personality getting in your way? Do you need to learn to use these functions more?

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