A critical moment

Andrew came to his coaching session exhausted, without completing his action steps: again!  After a wilderness season of searching for both relationship and calling, Andrew had recently been offered a dream position in an innovative new missions venture. Part of his new responsibilities included living in a discipleship house with roommates and an ever-changing roster of guest speakers, interns and visitors. Andrew was puzzled: “Why am I so tired? This is the role I have been praying for and dreaming of for 5 years! Now I am here and I just want to get in my car and drive away!”

Andrew was bringing a good deal of emotion to the session. He felt like a failure and was questioning his calling. It was a critical moment. How should Andrew’s coach respond? 

What was going on?

Trained in the Myers Briggs Personality Indicator (MBTI), Andrew’s coach immediately became curious about how Andrew’s personality might be influencing his experience of his new role. Andrew was responding like a classic introvert to a very extroverted living situation! 

Introverts get recharged when they have time alone. They will gravitate towards one-on-one or small group activities and tend to be more sensitive to noise and activity. They go deep with a few, rather than go wide with many. Not having time and space to themselves will significantly impact an Introvert’s quality of life and level of stress. 

Bringing personality preference into the coaching session

Andrew’s initial question was “Why am I so tired?” So, his coach asked him a series of questions that helped him reflect on how he “recharges” including how he likes to spend free time; preferences for personal space, privacy and meeting new people; and how he processes information (internally or verbally/externally). All of Andrew’s preferences were strongly introverted. Then the coach shared some basic information about introversion and extroversion. Andrew had an “aha!” moment: he realized that, rather than questioning his calling, he simply needed to build some “alone time” into his schedule. What a relief! 

Extroversion and Introversion can impact the coaching process itself. Here are some tips for coaching these personality preferences:

  • Extroverts process out loud and will more naturally come to a decision and commit to action in the session. Introverts may need solitary processing time afterwards. Therefore, an Introvert’s action steps are often reflective (for instance, committing to journaling or prayer); and an Extrovert’s, more action oriented.
  • Extroverts may ask for face to face sessions; while Introverts may prefer to not even turn on the video function on skype! 
  • Extroverts like a fast pace in the session and don’t mind meeting in a noisy coffee shop; while Introverts will prefer a quiet place to meet with a more relaxed and reflective pace.

This is not optional!

Without this understanding of personality preferences, Andrew’s coach would have been handicapped in helping him get to the real source of his fatigue. And without grasping his inclination towards Introversion, his coach would not have been able to adapt to Andrew’s preferences about the coaching process either. 

Great coaches must develop an internalized understanding of personality in order to serve their clients well. Many systems and assessments are useful:  DISC, MBTI, the motivational gifts in Romans 12, for instance. But whatever system you choose to learn, learn it thoroughly, and practice until it becomes second nature.

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more about coaching with the MBTI, CMI offers a  unique Coaching Personality workshop both through our MCT program or as a stand alone workshop available in your organization or region (for more information, contact director@cmiprograms.com).


Coaching is the art of asking questions that help a person discover deeper insights, greater awareness and the opportunity to live more fully the life they were meant to live. Learn more about what Coaching or Coach Training could do for you!


Tinaby Tina Stoltzfus Horst, founder and Executive Director of CMI.  A Master Coach and Trainer, Tina is a thought leader for cross cultural coaching in the missions context and designed CMI’s Cross Cultural Coaching course.  She has been coaching cross culturally for over 10 years and travels regularly to provide coach training for missions leaders. Her book, “Culturally Intelligent Coaching: Cross Cultural Coaching for Missions and Ministry” is expected to come out in late 2016. Subscribe to CMI’s “Insights for Impact” blog to keep informed about this and other recommended resources.

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