leadership training, part deux

Today was day two of the week-long leadership course. We spent a little time first thing discussing in small groups our responses to our homework case study from last night. Then we spent the rest of the morning exploring the MBTI, and looking at the responses to various situations by the opposing functions on the individual axes. For example, we separated into Ns and Ss, and were given a cup containing M&Ms, and then had to record on newsprint the thoughts that came into our heads; the Ss tended to describe the cup, list the colors of the M&Ms, and give other facts and details, while the Ns used words like “cool,” “kaleidoscope,” “impressionistic painting,” etc.

For exploring the T/F axis, we were asked to list the thoughts and feelings that came into our heads around the theme of conflict, how we’d like to be approached around a conflict, and how we tend to deal with it. For the P/J axis, we described how we go about planning a vacation, and when.

This took up the entire morning until right before lunch, at which point we were actually given our own full type results: my re-testing confirmed that I am an INFP, though the F was a little stronger than I expected; previous tests had shown me fairly close to the center point. Similarly, I knew I was a strong P, but this time I tested 100% P, much higher than any time before; as expected, I tested as a fairly strong I, and an off-the-scale N (I’ve scored 100% N on the S/N scale every time I’ve taken the assessment in the past twenty years).

The oddest thing was to see how unreflective our training group was, entirely coincidentally, from the general population. Es make up, I think, 75% of the general North American population, and are highly represented in the State Department too, we were told, yet in our training class we were 75% I to only 25% E. Similarly, INFP–my own type–describes only about 1% of the general population, yet six of us in the class–fully one quarter of the group–were INFPs, the largest single type represented among us. INFP also tends to be overrepresented among Internet users who have recorded their test results, at nearly 8%, and very heavily overrepresented among Blog writers who have recorded their types at Bloginality–with 21% of respondents, as of today–which I find fascinating. Is there something about the INFP type that tends to be more likely either to take training (though, since it’s mandatory for all people at a given grade, it should be more reflective of the general population, or at least of the management levels within the State Department), write a blog, take tests, or all of these?

In the afternoon, we talked about EEO issues, affirmative action, sexual harrassment, and diversity more generally, the latter also in the context of Secretary Powell’s statement that we want to “attract, retain and unleash” the “best and brightest.”

I was starting to get really pissed at one point during the morning exercises. There was one woman who was in my group during both the N and F exercises who completely ignored any of my comments–she was recording on newsprint, and we’d been directed to write everything down that was thrown out. It got to where the other people started noticing, and when I would throw out a word and she would ignore me, one of them would then repeat it at which point she would include it. I was standing right beside her, so it wasn’t as though she couldn’t hear me. And I never met her before the class started yesterday, and we were at different tables and in different groups that entire previous day, so there’s no history between us of which I’m aware. I even tried to bring it up with her, to find out what was going on, but she just ignored that as well; she wouldn’t look at or acknowledge my existence. It was a very surreal, frustrating and alienating experience.