Temperament in the Workplace: The 5 W’s of Rationals

Temperament in the Workplace: The 5 W’s of Rationals

Today, I’m welcoming Gary Benton, Myers-Briggs practitioner, back to the blog. Today, he’s going to continue talking about temperament – an aspect of Myers-Briggs that a lot of people don’t know about. To read up on his previous blogs on the Artisan temperament, click here, and for the Guardian, here. To read up on his previous blogs on Myers-Briggs in business, click here, here, here and here.

Thankfully, we have David Keirsey, a psychologist and student counselor who did excellent work in distilling personality theory down to the level of what is practical and observable. Keirsey divides the sixteen personalities into four groups that focus on two areas: how we communicate and how we pursue goals. The groups are: Artisans, Guardians, Rationals, and Idealists. Each week we will cover one of these temperaments and gain some insight into how these types can best be understood, loved, supported, and motivated in the workplace.

The Rational

Who They Are: Rationals are the problem-solvers and “systems people”of society. They correspond with the Myers-Briggs types INTJ, ENTJ, INTP, and ENTP. They are abstract in communication but pragmatic in achieving their goals. As opposed to Artisans and Guardians, Rationals don’t just want the nuts and bolts of a task. In fact, they are at their best when they are dealing with the abstract ideas and principles that govern the world, whether that be in theoretical physics or in banking and investing. When it comes to applying these principles, that is when life gets complicated for the Rational.

What They Bring: Albert Einstein is perhaps our time’s most famous Rational, and his work exemplifies much of the temperament’s strength. He developed groundbreaking theories seemingly by intuition, had the mental acuity to distill them down to neat equations, and was always concerned with the possibilities of his field—not just what had already been researched or thought up. Rationals can bring these same abilities to any workplace that has use for them.

When They Deliver: The soul of the Rational lies in challenge and accomplishment. Most are aware of their mental abilities and are always on the lookout for ways to nourish and exercise their minds. This plays out in the workplace, in the home, and in leisure activities. Rationals never want their tasks spelled out for them, but want the space to figure things out on their own. When there is no challenge, Rational types can tend either to disconnect and go inside their minds or to create a challenge for themselves.

Where to Find Them: Rationals can be found anywhere where a little bit of knowledge and some focused thought will go a long way. They are most commonly found in research and science fields, especially in the more abstract realms of physics and math. Tireless innovators, they are a core part of the ever-growing field of engineers, though they need to work as part of a team to make sure their grand schemes are implemented carefully. Finally, as Rationals are content to deal with theory in itself, they can thrive in academic and university settings.

Why They’re Important: From technology to research fields to businesses to non-profits, so much of today’s workplace relies on constant innovation—new solutions to ever-emerging problems and new ways of doing things more efficiently. If we can encourage and develop our problem solvers, we will open up a channel of ideas and solutions.

Do: Let the Rational do their own thinking, making sure they have all the right information and expectations to work off of. Don’t let their intellectual confidence turn you off! Rationals are still humans and can still get things wrong. We all need teammates to bring out our best.

Don’t: Try to emotionally manipulate a Rational into doing your will, or engage them purely on the level of feeling. Remember, according to Myers-Briggs theory, Feeling is a rational function. If your feelings are correct, there will be logic to match. A little thinking about the why of a problem will go a long way in honoring a Rational and helping them to engage.

Next week we will cover the Idealists: the human potential people. As always feel free to email me with any questions at Gbenton15@gmail.com. Thanks!


To discover your type, take the Myers-Briggs test here: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp. Share your temperament in the comments!

Billy Epperhart
Billy Epperhart

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