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    Mar 20, 2017    |   Grace Panganiban

Interview With a Type Guru – Damian Killen

It’s time again for another edition of “Interview with a Type Guru” – where we get a chance to share some tips and tricks, insights, and anecdotes according to MBTI® experts and long-time type practitioners.

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, we had the chance to speak with one of Ireland’s top MBTI researchers and practitioners, Damian Killen. Needless to say, we were thrilled to pick his brain about using the MBTI tool, specifically in the context of being influenced and influencing others.

How did you become involved with the MBTI assessment? What led to the development of your research on type and influence?

My first involvement with the MBTI assessment was over 30 years ago, when I was working in the non-profit sector, and I qualified as a Myers-Briggs® practitioner in 1988. In leadership development programs that we taught, influencing was a central topic. Naturally we were curious to see if there was a link between effective influencing and personality type. In our literature review, we found very little written about this and even less written about the MBTI tool and influencing. During the early stages of our research we interviewed representatives of all 16 types and ended up with two hypotheses: influence was either linked to the dominant function, or to the function pairs. At this point, in conjunction with CPP, Inc., we ran our first online survey, with over 3,500 participants, and discovered that influence actually has to do with a person’s function pairs. More qualitative interviews and three further online surveys followed giving us the data leading to our final results, which can be found in the Myers-Briggs® Type and Influencing white paper. For further information and videos explaining our research see www.thrive.ie/influencing

What makes the MBTI assessment such a valuable tool for assessing how people are influenced, and how they influence others?

The research found that if you use the wrong language when trying to influence others, you will have a low success rate (~10%). However, using the Myers-Briggs assessment gives you an idea of what language and approach you should take based on type preferences; it allows you to create a proposition in a way that makes sense to the receiver.

What’s next for the evolution of the MBTI assessment?

I think there will be a number of developments in the coming years that include the general public having access to type information. Information on type will become a more common language, which will help people understand why they’re different and why they’re the same as others.

How would you recommend practitioners help keep themselves relevant and in-demand with a tool that – despite its popularity – is facing age and a competitive market nowadays?

I think the best way to do this is being able to show how the Myers-Briggs tool is still relevant – use up-to-date examples, not information from your training 10, 15, 20 years ago. Use examples from everyday life that will connect with and make sense to your audience.

Why the MBTI tool? What do you feel its inherent value is?

It is the most reliable type assessment. The MBTI assessment has currency based on its frequency of use and its global reach, which is helpful when working cross-nationally or when showing its usefulness to someone new to it. I have used it with people who can’t read and write, and with CEOs of multinational organizations and both can understand it and reap benefits from it. Simplicity is its gift, and application is its strength.

What has been the most profound moment for you in your practice with the MBTI assessment?

Realizing three months after being married that I was married to the complete opposite type from myself. I thought this was exciting at the time until I read Gifts Differing, which suggests that this is a rare circumstance because of the difficulty to communicate. However, 30 years later I am still happily married to the same person, and the MBTI assessment has helped me to appreciate our differences.

And, in honour of St. Patrick’s Day, what is Dublin like on St. Patrick’s Day?

It is a national holiday here, so schools and businesses are closed for the day. The day sees about half a million people lining the streets to watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade, with families getting together to find good vantage points to enjoy the festivities from. There is plenty of dancing in the streets, both impromptu and organized, and it is typically one of the cheeriest days of the year in Ireland because of the activities and camaraderie. The only downside is that it is often cold – but that does not stop us celebrating.


About the Guru:

Damian Killen is managing director and founder of thrive Consulting, an international human resources consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. He consults for organizations across the globe and is recognized worldwide for his work and research using the MBTI assessment.

An expert in conflict resolution, influencing, team development, and creating an innovation culture, Damian has used the Myers-Briggs assessment for almost 30 years, both as a consultant and as a member of the European Qualifying Program faculty. He leads workshops on personality type throughout the world, and has delivered keynote speeches at numerous international conferences and events on a range of topics covering all areas of development. He is curious about people and why they do what they do, and his type preferences are ENTJ.

Damian Killen’s publications include:

Introduction to Type® and Conflict (2003), with D. Murphy, CPP, Inc.

Introduction to Type® and Innovation (2009), with G. Williams, CPP, Inc.

MBTI® Conflict Management Program (2009) with D. Murphy, CPP, Inc.

Impactful Influencing: Harnessing the Power of Myers-Briggs® Type with Ann Flaherty, Brendan Doyle, Derek Carter and Sharon Moran, CPP, Inc.


Are you currently using – or interested in using – the MBTI tool? For more information, please visit our website.