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Changing Jobs to Suit Personality: Victor Prokofiev's View

Saturday January 28, 2017

From time to time I check in with the world of Socionics and do a bit of research there. I find Socionics very useful as it focuses on providing models for human relations based on personality type, as opposed to just modeling individual psychology based on personality type.

(By the way, I will continue to use “INTJ” in this article, but in Socionics, the INTJ type would be written as an INTp or an ILI type. In the four-letter format, the “J” and “P” are swapped for introverts and made lowercase. ILI stands for “Intuitive Logical Intratim” and indicates that our intuitive perception preference precedes our logical judging preference, and we are introverted.)

Among many great quotes I extracted from the source interview with Victor Prokofiev, this quote stood out to me (emphasis mine):

Victor Prokofiev: And there are often questions such as: “I can get money for what I really love, really?”. People often think that we are all the same, consequently, we all have to do the same things in life.

Interviewer: So you pick the type of activity that is as comfortable as possible?

Victor Prokofiev: Yes, or do we just say that if someone likes his work, he just needs to change the priorities within the job description, change daily routine. Job Description consists from the list of works. We need to try something to pay more attention to, and something – to pay less attention to. [He means making decisions of what we prioritize based on our psychological preferences, in order to bring us more comfort in our work -Marc] And you have to see what would happen to the demand for your work, whether people work with great pleasure. Here the knowledge of socionics purely helps. And in fact, it turns out great. After all, people begin to work with great pleasure. Sometimes people change their position, profession. If you have gained the rich experience, than dramatically change everything from that point is not a good choice, it does not make sense. But to change your behaviour, change priorities – this is what really useful.

I personally did this in my own career. At first I wondered if I should change jobs. I knew I was an INTJ, and I knew I wanted to be happier in my work. But looking at other “INTJ jobs” was disappointing. I could see where what we think of as a “job” is really just a discrete set of people, tasks, and goals, and those could change from job to job even if the job title stayed the same, and I lacked important background interests for many jobs. It also seemed like a huge waste to just put my current career behind me.

Then I took a job-to-personality matching test, and it suggested the job I already had! That was a funny moment.

So I reexamined my current job. There’s a lot of amazing stuff there—I own a technology business, I get to evaluate and deploy different technologies, I get to determine my hours and working style, I choose my clients—it’s really great in a lot of ways. So after thinking it through, I started altering my focus at work from long-form, detail-oriented work to higher-level planning and organization, with a focus on just the details that are important to me for the success of the project. In addition to that, I take advantage of my flexible time and make trips to the library to combine playful research with planning for work projects, and I make use of the opportunity to combine things I’m learning through playful research with my work projects.

I also—and Prokofiev doesn’t mention this but I’m sure he’d suggest it—have benefited from looking at Socionics intertype relationships and deciding on how I want to alter my communications style or work style from client to client. I even allowed myself to, for example, not take on another client of type X if I already work with other clients of that type. Or even not work with that type at all if I can’t do it well. Changing communications style or work style requires shifting into a lower gear, in a sense. The anxiety is a bit higher when trying this, but the potential gains in personal development are huge. So it’s seriously nice to be able to just say, “no, I don’t have the capacity for even more personal development right now.” The victories have been worthwhile. Learning to downplay my Ni in conversations with an ESTJ was a very fulfilling step in the end.

I’ve only really done this sort of adaptation / development with clients that are a bit more difficult than normal. In the case of the ESTJ it has worked amazingly well. In another case, it’s taken longer to figure out but I picked up some important clues today from Prokofiev’s interview, and I’m still working at it.

This alteration of the way I mold my job to fit myself has provided me a lot more peace of mind. Work has a better feel to it now. I’m open to more change and hope to tweak the parameters within my job in the future, so to speak, but I like the change that I’m experiencing so far.

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