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The Z-Model provides a solution to balanced and responsible decision-making.

Problem Solving Model Using Personality Type (Part 1: The Z-Model)

Apr 02, 2024
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, PhD, is the Senior Development Associate at Myers & Briggs Foundation (M&BF®), the publisher for the People Stripes® website, a mother of 5, writer, teacher (BEd, MA), depth psychologist – Jungian and archetypal studies (MA, PhD), and career coach. Parenting, teaching in a classroom, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication.
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When people have been presented with the same information, have you ever wondered how they can come to such different conclusions? Have you noticed that some people are quick to decide, whereas others take much longer? Personality type may play some part in these problem-solving differences.   

Personality type theory provides an effective model for understanding how we naturally approach problem solving. Understanding our personality type makes us aware of what kinds of information we trust (Sensing or Intuition), and the criteria (Thinking or Feeling) we count on when deciding. How you approach decision-making will look different based on your personality type preferences. Our personality strengths and stretches stand out. We may miss out on important information, and not even know it.  

Personality type for young people, as represented by the Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children® assessment, is based upon the Myers-Briggs® model of four-letter personality types (ISTP, ENFJ, INTJ, INFP, etc.). Your natural problem-solving preferences are represented by the two middle letters of this type code. For example, someone with a preference for ESFJ will naturally use their Sensing preference (S; gather facts) to take in information and their Feeling preference (F; values and impact on people) to come to conclusions, but they may neglect using their nonpreferred Intuition (N; consider new possibilities) and Thinking preferences (T; logical outcomes), leading to imbalanced decision-making. And young people, who are still developing, may focus most of their energy on only one of these mental processes; in the case of ESFJ preferences, this would be the Feeling preference, which typically develops first for this personality type, briefly accessing their Sensing preference and neglecting the others altogether. This is where knowing the problem-solving model using personality type comes in handy! 

The Z-Model for Problem Solving 

The Z-Model for problem solving based on personality type was developed and first introduced by Gordon Lawrence, PhD (1979), as the Zig-Zag ProcessTM. He credits Isabel Briggs Myers for the original concept of using all four mental processes for effective problem solving and builds upon her theory by placing them into a Z-shaped diagram, the Z-Model.   

The Z-Model introduces the importance of using both perceiving mental processes, Sensing (S) and Intuition (N), when taking in information and both judging mental processes, Thinking (T) and Feeling (F), when deciding, recognizing that how we naturally access them will vary depending upon our personality type. By using all four mental processes there is potential for clearer perceptions and sounder judgments, which promotes effective and responsible decision-making. 

The Z-Model, as seen in the diagram below, involves four steps using the mental processes: 

  1. Describe the problem and gather the facts (Sensing). 
  2. Use your imagination to consider new possibilities (Intuition). 
  3. Analyze logically the pros and cons of each possibility (Thinking). 
  4. Consider values and the impact on the people involved (Feeling).

Effective Problem Solving

According to type theory, most of us have a natural bias when it comes to making decisions. We do not access each step equally or with the same level of competence. Based upon our type preferences, or strengths, we will naturally gather information using the Sensing or Intuition perceiving mental process. People who prefer Sensing, for example, will look at the problem realistically while considering facts and details from a practical stance and focusing on both the past and present. Whereas, with an Intuition preference, people begin by exploring possibilities, other ways of looking at the problem, implications, connections, and themes. Both are necessary, but where we begin often depends upon our own personality type preferences. We tend to begin with our strength, and, in some instances, we may not even consider our stretch. Put another way, if you prefer Intuition, you may not ask the questions typical of a Sensing preference, or you may rush through it and miss out on important information. 

When deciding, most of us will start with either the Thinking or Feeling judging mental process. The natural tendency for a Thinking preference approach to deciding tends to be objective, detached, and impersonal. They consider pros and cons, logical consequences, and an analytical analysis. Whereas someone who prefers Feeling typically takes an empathetic approach. Decisions are made based on how each option fits with their own values or the values of others. Considering the impact their decision will have on the people involved takes precedence over an impersonal analysis. In the same way that we tend to rely on our strengths when gathering information, people tend to rely on their type preferences for deciding as well. If they prefer Feeling they may neglect the Thinking preference, and vice versa, yet both are required for effective decision-making. 

The point here is that effective decision-making uses all the mental processes. Since we prefer one kind of perception (S or N) and one kind of judgment (T or F), we tend to focus on our strengths and overlook contributions from our stretches. What do we need to learn to become more effective problem solvers? We need to learn how to access our stretches. Practice, using the Z-Model, can help develop these. The Z-Model provides a solution to balanced and responsible decision-making. Personally, we can honor our strengths and learn how to access our stretches for better decision-making. Interpersonally, knowing, understanding, and valuing our different decision-making styles supports constructive use of our differences and helps us all to appreciate and learn from one another, leading to less conflict and more effective, responsible decision-making overall. 

Here are some type-related questions to help you access and use all four preferences when making important decisions. Some of these questions come naturally because they represent your personality strengths, whereas others may be challenging as you stretch into undeveloped parts of your personality. 

Give it a try and see if using this model helps you make better decisions! 

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Introversion or Just Shy? : Type Tip #12

There is a difference between the energy of introversion and shyness. Shyness is a social trait which causes a person to hesitate in social encounters. People who prefer Introversion only hesitate when the thought or situation is new. There is no hesitation with familiar settings. Also, introversion gives us a cue about how a person regains their energy. Shyness is a behavioral reaction. A person who prefers Extraversion may also be shy, gaining energy through interaction but hesitating in social situations.

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A schoolteacher sees new possibilities for assessing student learning.

New Possibilities for Teaching: Type in the Classroom (Research Series – NC Part 2)

Oct 04, 2021
Kesstan Blandin, PhD
KESSTAN BLANDIN, PhD is the Vice President of Research and Development at Myers & Briggs Foundation in Gainesville, FL, where she conducts research in Jungian typology and archetypes.
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This is the second article of a series on a large two-year study at Combs Magnet Elementary school in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the MMTIC® instrument and system was comprehensively incorporated into the school system.

In Combs-Part 2 we delve into the outcome of the teacher's training program that worked towards developing type awareness, understanding and connecting with their students, working as a team, and seeing new possibilities for assessing student learning.

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Teenagers navigating the complications of high school dating

He’s So Cute! Now What? (From the Kids)

Nov 03, 2021
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, PhD, is the Senior Development Associate at Myers & Briggs Foundation (M&BF®), the publisher for the People Stripes® website, a mother of 5, writer, teacher (BEd, MA), depth psychologist – Jungian and archetypal studies (MA, PhD), and career coach. Parenting, teaching in a classroom, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication.
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Starting with an understanding of communication styles can make a difference in all our relationships.

In this third article of "From the Kids" Series, Yvonne Nelson-Reid discusses how understanding type differences can help teenagers navigate the complications of high school dating. Her teenage daughter describes the positive impact that learning about, and appreciating, communication style differences based on personality type, had on her own relationship.

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Give the gift of type awareness. It can help you to spread peace, joy, and love this holiday season.

Happy Holiday Type Tips for All

Nov 29, 2022
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, PhD, is the Senior Development Associate at Myers & Briggs Foundation (M&BF®), the publisher for the People Stripes® website, a mother of 5, writer, teacher (BEd, MA), depth psychologist – Jungian and archetypal studies (MA, PhD), and career coach. Parenting, teaching in a classroom, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication.
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Happy holidays from People Stripes! May these type tips be our gift to you, bringing you peace, joy, and love, with the hope of acceptance this holiday season.

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Students using their strengths and exercising their stretches to get along

Student Outcomes (Research Series – NC Part 3)

Jan 05, 2022
Kesstan Blandin, PhD
KESSTAN BLANDIN, PhD is the Vice President of Research and Development at Myers & Briggs Foundation in Gainesville, FL, where she conducts research in Jungian typology and archetypes.
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This is the third, and final article of the two-year study at Combs Elementary school in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the MMTIC® instrument and system was comprehensively incorporated into the school system. In this article Kesstan Blandin highlights the education the third-grade students received on decision-making using the psychological type Z-model, and student outcomes for the study.

The seven main student outcomes were: (1) developing type awareness, (2) enhancing their self-awareness, (3) advocating for their choices, (4) challenging themselves to improve their stretches, (5) improving classroom community, (6) enhancing their self-management, and (7) promoting motivation and engagement. Three of these outcomes are discussed in more detail.

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Thinking/Feeling - Both Decision Words: Type Tip #16

Those with a Thinking preference tend to hear the word "feel" as an emotion. Those with a Feeling preference hear that word as a decision, a choice. So, when I work with young children, I try to use a pair of words. Instead of saying "How do you feel about that?" I say, "What do you think or feel about that?" Children who prefer Thinking can latch onto the "think" word and children with a Feeling preference can latch onto the word "feel."

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Diverse teens connecting with each other using type-awareness

Personality Type and Social Emotional Learning: Self-Awareness (SEL Series – Part 2)

Mar 02, 2022
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, PhD, is the Senior Development Associate at Myers & Briggs Foundation (M&BF®), the publisher for the People Stripes® website, a mother of 5, writer, teacher (BEd, MA), depth psychologist – Jungian and archetypal studies (MA, PhD), and career coach. Parenting, teaching in a classroom, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication.
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Knowing and understanding our strengths and stretches improves self-esteem and self-understanding. The first of the five core competencies of the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) movement is Self-Awareness. In this second article of the SEL series, Yvonne Nelson-Reid demonstrates how Self-Awareness through an understanding of type allows you to apply your strengths and reinforce your stretches.

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Teens can use the Z-model to make better decisions

Personality Type and Social Emotional Learning: Responsible Decision-Making (SEL Series – Part 4)

May 03, 2022
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, PhD, is the Senior Development Associate at Myers & Briggs Foundation (M&BF®), the publisher for the People Stripes® website, a mother of 5, writer, teacher (BEd, MA), depth psychologist – Jungian and archetypal studies (MA, PhD), and career coach. Parenting, teaching in a classroom, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication.
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In this fourth article of the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) series, Yvonne Nelson-Reid presents how to approach the SEL core competency of Responsible Decision-Making by using the Zig-Zag Process™ (Z-model). The Z-model introduces a balanced method for decision-making by using all four mental processes of Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling to allow for clearer perceptions and sounder judgments.

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Mother and teen daughter with type differences in conflict

Personality Type and Social Emotional Learning: Relationship Skills (SEL Series – Part 5)

May 26, 2022
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, PhD, is the Senior Development Associate at Myers & Briggs Foundation (M&BF®), the publisher for the People Stripes® website, a mother of 5, writer, teacher (BEd, MA), depth psychologist – Jungian and archetypal studies (MA, PhD), and career coach. Parenting, teaching in a classroom, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication.
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Communication and active listening are essential skills towards building healthy relationships. In this fifth article, of the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) series, this month concentrating on Relationship Skills, Yvonne Nelson-Reid describes how best we can communicate with others using their type language by stretching into our own opposite preference.

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Type and Decision-Making: Type Tip #21

Use the Z-model of decision-making with children just as you do with adults. Before bringing closure to a decision, they should answer four key questions.

  1. Do we have all the information we need? (Sensing)
  2. Should we consider other possibilities? (Intuition)
  3. Is this reasonable? Can we really do it? (Thinking)
  4. Is this important? Is it worth my time? (Feeling)

They may need help answering the questions but asking the questions prepares them to look at an issue from a variety of perspectives. These four questions are only an example. Many others could be used.


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A diverse group of students, working together, can develop empathy and appreciation for differences and similarities.

Personality Type and Social Emotional Learning: Social Awareness (SEL Series – Part 6)

Jul 05, 2022
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, PhD, is the Senior Development Associate at Myers & Briggs Foundation (M&BF®), the publisher for the People Stripes® website, a mother of 5, writer, teacher (BEd, MA), depth psychologist – Jungian and archetypal studies (MA, PhD), and career coach. Parenting, teaching in a classroom, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication.
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In the sixth article of the series, Personality Type and Social Emotional Learning, Yvonne Nelson-Reid highlights how Social Awareness, along with an understanding and appreciation of type differences, can make way for the constructive use of these differences. Differences often drive us apart, but valuing these differences can unite us and instill greater compassion and empathy for others.

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PeopleStripes.org article

Trick or Treat : How Important are Holiday Traditions? (From the Kids)

Oct 04, 2022
Gracyn Nelson-Reid
GRACYN NELSON-REID is a senior at the University of Texas San Antonio. She is majoring in Biology and plans to attend graduate school in the field of Microbiology research. Gracyn has been immersed in personality type theory from the time she was born! Her mom is a certified MBTI® and MMTIC® professional who introduced type theory and type language to her children to help them understand and appreciate differences.
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We are excited to add a new article to our From the Kids series, because this time it is written by a kid! Please welcome Gracyn Nelson-Reid, a junior in university, who grew up in a home where personality type differences were understood and appreciated. She shares the value of family traditions during holidays and special events, like Halloween, as it relates to her personality type.

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Thinking Out Loud with Extraversion: Type Tip #25

Because people who prefer Extraversion tend to think "out loud" they sometimes say one thing but change direction quickly. A parent with a preference for Introversion might overreact to a comment too soon. When talking with a child who prefers Extraversion, if they express something that is perplexing, I usually ask first, "Is this a final thought or a thought still forming?" If it is a final thought, you can react. If it is a forming thought, you can wait for the final version before reacting.

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Shifting your perspective to see the gifts of a child's personality preference can help you find gratitude in moments of frustration.

Thanksgiving: Gratitude Through Type

Oct 31, 2022
Sandra Etherington
SANDRA ETHERINGTON is a mother of two and the host of the Family Personalities podcast, a show that helps break down personality type models so that we can use them in our everyday parenting. A UCLA alumna, with a background in mathematics, Sandra has a love of models that help us understand humans and our interactions with one another.
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What are your kids' personality preferences and have you ever found yourself frustrated by them? In this month's article, Sandra Etherington shares how to shift your perspective to discover reasons to be grateful for your child's individual personality preferences.

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Strengths and Stretches: Type Tip #28

When children are using their personality type preferences, we say they are using their STRENGTHS. Using a strength feels natural, comfortable, easy, and typically requires less concentration and focus. When the task at hand requires them to use their opposite preferences, we say they are STRETCHING to do the task. When a child has to stretch to complete a task, they may feel awkward, uncomfortable, and it typically requires more time, greater concentration, and someone to show them what to do. When stretching, the younger the child the more help they may need to successfully complete the task.

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Good Type development is using your Type strengths and Type stretches appropriately in any situation.

Don't Box Me In: "What is personality type, really?"

Jan 03, 2023
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, PhD, is the Senior Development Associate at Myers & Briggs Foundation (M&BF®), the publisher for the People Stripes® website, a mother of 5, writer, teacher (BEd, MA), depth psychologist – Jungian and archetypal studies (MA, PhD), and career coach. Parenting, teaching in a classroom, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication.
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The language we use when talking about personality type, or Type, is directly linked to how we understand it. In this article, Yvonne Nelson-Reid answers the question "What is personality type, really?" and outlines why Type language matters.

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Understanding personality differences can provide a framework for a better, more respectful relationship.

Love is in the Air: The Challenges and Gifts that Come with Personality Type Differences (From the Kids)

Jan 31, 2023
Gracyn Nelson-Reid
GRACYN NELSON-REID is a senior at the University of Texas San Antonio. She is majoring in Biology and plans to attend graduate school in the field of Microbiology research. Gracyn has been immersed in personality type theory from the time she was born! Her mom is a certified MBTI® and MMTIC® professional who introduced type theory and type language to her children to help them understand and appreciate differences.
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Gracyn Nelson-Reid, writing an article for the From the Kids series, tells us how her preference for ESFJ and her boyfriend's preference for INTP has caused numerous disagreements between them due to their complete opposite personality types. It hasn't been easy for them but understanding their personality type differences has provided a framework for better, more respectful communication.

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Homework Help: Type Tip #29

Homework management may be personality type related. A parent's timetable may be quite different from their child's. Young people with a Judging preference typically do their best work when they start early, setting a plan and working on a project in a scheduled way. Whereas young people who prefer Perceiving tend to do their best work when pressure-prompted, as the due date approaches. Depending on the child's and parent's preferences for Judging or Perceiving, homework management can be easy or exasperating! Supporting your child's natural style may mean learning to stretch your own. A young person with a Perceiving preference may need reminders when a due date is approaching, whereas a child with a Judging preference may need reminders to relax and have some fun. Reminders, not demands.

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Sisters celebrate May the Fourth with personality type awareness

May The Fourth Be With You! The Force May Not Just Be in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

May 01, 2023
Gracyn Nelson-Reid
GRACYN NELSON-REID is a senior at the University of Texas San Antonio. She is majoring in Biology and plans to attend graduate school in the field of Microbiology research. Gracyn has been immersed in personality type theory from the time she was born! Her mom is a certified MBTI® and MMTIC® professional who introduced type theory and type language to her children to help them understand and appreciate differences.
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May the fourth, popularly known as Stars Wars Day, is a day to think about the force within you. Gracyn Nelson-Reid celebrates this day with an article about the force (type awareness) within all of us that can be accessed every day. Everyone has the capability to access the “type” force and make the world a more understanding place. It starts with becoming aware of your personality type and what strengths and stretches you have.

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Personality type awareness helps mom understand her kids behavior when playing with the new puppy

Personality Preferences and Puppy Play!

Jul 31, 2023
Sandra Etherington
SANDRA ETHERINGTON is a mother of two and the host of the Family Personalities podcast, a show that helps break down personality type models so that we can use them in our everyday parenting. A UCLA alumna, with a background in mathematics, Sandra has a love of models that help us understand humans and our interactions with one another.
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Pets, personality type preferences, and high energy kids make a chaotic house for Sandra Etherington. Using her handy-dandy knowledge of typology, Sandra figures out how to how to change her kids behavior in order to improve their relationship with the new cute, cuddly puppy.

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Kids who are going back to school can learn to use their strengths and stretches to succeed in learning, studying, and test-taking

Back to School: Personality Type and Learning

Sep 05, 2023
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, PhD, is the Senior Development Associate at Myers & Briggs Foundation (M&BF®), the publisher for the People Stripes® website, a mother of 5, writer, teacher (BEd, MA), depth psychologist – Jungian and archetypal studies (MA, PhD), and career coach. Parenting, teaching in a classroom, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication.
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Now that summer is nearing an end and kids are back at school how do we best prepare them for success in learning, studying, and test-taking? Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD, shares type knowledge on how to help children use their strengths and how to deal with the challenging stretches this school year.

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Become an effective parent and strengthen your relationship with your children through type awareness

Parenting and Personality Type: The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast with Dr. Yvonne Nelson-Reid

Oct 03, 2023

People Stripes is proud to share The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast on parenting and personality type, featuring Dr. Yvonne Nelson-Reid, our in-house Type expert. In this episode, Dr. Nelson-Reid dives into the most commonly asked questions about personality type and parenting.

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Understanding one's own personality type can enhance one's daily gratitude process.

Leaves are Falling; Gratitude is Calling (From the Kids)

Oct 31, 2023
Gracyn Nelson-Reid
GRACYN NELSON-REID is a senior at the University of Texas San Antonio. She is majoring in Biology and plans to attend graduate school in the field of Microbiology research. Gracyn has been immersed in personality type theory from the time she was born! Her mom is a certified MBTI® and MMTIC® professional who introduced type theory and type language to her children to help them understand and appreciate differences.
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Autumn brings forth a resurgence of gratitude for many, but those experiencing hardship in life might need a little help to make every day a day for giving thanks. Gracyn Nelson-Reid describes her challenging year and how understanding her own personality type has helped in her healing process.

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Understanding personality type differences can help turn holiday chaos into holiday cheer

Happy Holiday Type Tips for All

Dec 05, 2023
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, PhD, is the Senior Development Associate at Myers & Briggs Foundation (M&BF®), the publisher for the People Stripes® website, a mother of 5, writer, teacher (BEd, MA), depth psychologist – Jungian and archetypal studies (MA, PhD), and career coach. Parenting, teaching in a classroom, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication.
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Looking to foster holiday harmony? Take a peek at these type tips presented by Dr. Yvonne Nelson-Reid. And may your holidays be peaceful and fun!

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