Insights May 13, 2020

Why writers and translators are nailing lockdown – and how knowing your personality type can help you do the same

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By Linnea Dunne

Did you panic as you watched the world go into lockdown, or breathe a sigh of relief at the prospect of getting to work from home, no questions asked, for the foreseeable future? Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, your likelihood of succeeding in a home office depends on a number of factors. Here at Living Word, we predict that linguists and other freelance language professionals will be among those coming out on top.

As the global pandemic swept in across the world and offices started shutting down in defense, who was panicking the most? Parents were likely among those breaking out in a cold sweat at the thought of wrangling toddlers and home-schooling tweens while attempting to come across as at least semi-professional on Zoom calls, but those with personality types prone to perceiving over judging may have felt like sinking through the floor, too. Allow us to explain.

Personality types inspired by Jung

You may have heard about the 16 personality types, or the Myers-Briggs tests, based on Carl Jung’s conceptual theory. The 16 unique types outline preferences across four category spectrums: introversion/extroversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perception. Introverted personality types (starting with an I) may be assumed to cope well in the home office, but it’s not quite that simple.

The four personality types collectively called Guardians, for instance, who share a tendency towards sensing and judging, are likely to manage pretty well when working from home – despite two of them, ESTJ and ESFJ, being extroverts. They’re simply organisational ninjas, so their main struggle in this new reality will be that of other people’s lacking work ethic and the difficulty in controlling it from a distance.

Hello, freelance writers and translators

Idealists, meanwhile, with a propensity for intuition and feeling, feel constrained by external structure and love their home-office autonomy. Their main challenge throughout this new normal is in maintaining that human connection they buzz off so much – something that can likely be managed through regular catch-up calls or video chats. In fact, introverted idealists – INFJ and INFP – make successful freelancers and often exceptional writers, and we’ve come to work with a huge number of them over the years. Look at any language and transcreation agency, and you’re likely to find that these personality types are massively over-represented, despite them being among the rarer types.

The takeaway? While some people are bound to struggle a lot more than others with the new reality of work they find themselves in, no one’s immune to teething problems and everyone can make adjustments to make life easier and work run more smoothly. Why not take a test, do some reading and identify the ways in which you can help yourself? And if you turn out to be one of those rare introverted idealists, perhaps this is the time to consider a liberating freelance career once and for all…