What did you expect? How to Doctor Doolittle Your Relationships

A Myers Briggs Animal Field Guide

Lately, I’ve been thinking that Doctor Doolittle was onto something.

In the famous series of books written by Hugh Lofting, the good doctor abandons people in favor of animals, whom he can communicate with in their own languages.

What if we could do the same?

Not abandon people, but adjust our expectations by seeing them through the lens of their Myers Briggs animal types?

The Octopus and the Dog: A Love Story

My husband Tom is an INTJ octopus and I am an ENFJ dog. As a dog, I love everyone right out of the gate, and I’m always ready to play. He, on the other hand, often retreats to his underwater cave to immerse himself in intricate, multi-tentacled projects.

One day he came home from work and opened his laptop to tackle some leftover challenges.  I blithely padded into the room, gave him an unreturned hug, and said “Want to take a walk?”  Without looking up or stopping his typing, he muttered “Don’t talk to me right now.” 

Essentially, he expelled a big black ink cloud right onto my beautiful fur. 

Without knowing his octopus nature, I’d be hurt.  But I knew it wasn’t personal – he simply needed cave time, and, as an octopus, he doesn’t put energy into softening his message. So, I grabbed my own leash and took a fun walk by myself. And when I returned, he was out of his cave again, and enveloped me with all eight loving arms.

The Myers Briggs Animal Field Guide

This Myers Briggs Animal Field Guide can help you manage expectations at home and at work by learning to “talk to the animals…”

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ENFJ Dog, ENFP Dolphin, ESFP Seal, ESTP Cheetah

What You Can Expect: Full of energy, enthusiasm and displaying a zest for life, these extroverted types meet each day with anticipation, ready for what’s new, exciting, and fun. Need to raise the energy in a room? Bring in these charismatic “play-ers!”

How To “Talk to the Animals”:  Begin – and end – with optimism, affirmation and possibility. Speak in the language of fun, humor, happy hours and new and varied adventures, and you’ll have a playmate for life! And save your “Debbie Downer” communication for other types!


ENTJ Bear, ENTP Fox, INTP Owl, INTJ Octopus

What You Can Expect: Welcome to the land of strategy, rationality and logic. All of these intuitive thinkers love to question, analyze and outwit.  

How To “Talk to the Animals”:  Leave your messy, irrational feelings at the door. Think fast, speak logically, and don’t take their straight talk personally! They aren’t thinking about you, but about the logical details of the problem at hand – and about their next world-dominating project. If you can help them in their quest, great! If not, just get out of their way.


ESFJ Horse, ESTJ Lion, ISTJ Beaver, ISFJ Deer

What You Can Expect: Loyalty, hard work and altruism characterize these practical sensory types. The backbone of any team, organization or family, these faithful, dutiful creatures keep us bonded and moving forward.

How To “Talk to the Animals”:  Respect and responsibility are the name of the game. For them, actions speak louder than your words, so be sure to do what you say you’ll do. And let them know how much you appreciate all of their hard work on your behalf!


INFJ Wolf, INFP Swan, ISFP Panda, ISTP Cat

What You Can Expect: Quiet and creative, these Introverted types can be hard to get to know, but once you do, you’ll discover the richness of their interior worlds.  

How To “Talk to the Animals”:  With these types, it’s all about providing space: Allow them quiet and privacy to explore their inner worlds. When they’re ready to venture forth, they’ll thank you for it with moments of sweet affection and the opportunity to see that beautiful art project, novel, contraption, or insight they’ve created behind the scenes.

Once you Doctor Doolitle your relationships, you’ll understand – and accept – why an owl doesn’t swoop down to greet a cheetah, and an octopus doesn’t frolic with a dog. When you talk to the animals, you honor, rather than judge, everyone’s animal instincts – including your own.

Want to learn more about the animal instincts on your team? I’d love to hear from you. Schedule a consultation call today!

Ruff! Ruff!


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