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« 14. Sensates and Intuitives: Are they deliberately difficult? »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. MBTI coach with over 25 years MBTI experience, and author of the new book: "INFJ: What's it like to be one."

At the end of an MBTI workshop recently, one of the participants told the group that she was determined to be more tolerant of other people and more tolerant of other people's differences. It made my day.

If we were all more tolerant and understanding of the way in which people are different then our interactions and relationships would prosper, customer service would be less stressful, and our workplaces would be more satisfying. So how can we do this?

Here are a few tips ...

Emotional intelligence tip 1: Remember there is no one way to communicate.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), (which I have found invaluable in helping couples, work-place teams and individuals), suggests there are at least 16 different personality types.

The MBTI also suggests that no one type is better or worse than another, that no one type is right or wrong.

The MBTI also goes on to suggest that each of the 16 types communicates and perceives the world in different ways. This means there are at least 15 ways of communicating other than the way you communicate.

This also means that when people communicate in ways which are different from your way they may simply be communicating true to their types rather than your type. They may not be "being deliberately difficult". So when Uncle Albert or Cousin Mary are getting under your skin because they seem to be picky, too talkative or airy-fairy, bear this in mind and keep breathing easily!

Different types have different aspects of emotional intelligence they find harder and easier. However, developing their emotional intelligence is vitality important for each type. Come join with me in this exciting new emotional intelligence coaching package and I will make sure it is personalised to you and your type.

Emotional intelligence tip 2: Consider people to be unskilled rather than being deliberately difficult.

As soon as you label someone with a different communication or personality style as "being deliberately difficult" you may leave yourself open to conflict, especially if you are already stressed with everything else going on at Christmas. Possible ways to avoid doing this may include:

Instead of thinking, "Oh she's aggressive, arrogant" or "boring", you might think, "That's an unskilled way of communicating. I wonder what she's really trying to get across?"

Instead of thinking, "Gee, she's weird, what a stupid thing to say", or, "He's hopeless" ... you might think, "His communication or personality style is different from mine, I wonder what it's like to be like that".

Example of being "unskilled".

My husband and I have very different personality styles and therefore communicate quite differently. We differ on two of the MBTI preferences called Sensate and INtuitive. (Sensate people are detailed and sequential in their style. INtuitives are more abstract and general.) Sometimes we simply don't make sense to each other. Instead of accusing the other of being stupid, we look quizzically and say, something along the lines of, "You're obviously seeing this from the perspective of an INtuitive/Sensate person at the moment ..." or, "I'm not sure I've understood that - it sounded a bit too abstract for my Sensate mind to grasp ..." or, "I'm not sure I've understood that ... my INtuitive mind got a bit lost in the detail", or ... when we're really boggled ... "What is it like to live in an INtuitive/Sensate world?!!"

Acknowledge the differences without put downs:

Being able to acknowledge the differences without putting the other person down is liberating in any interaction whether at work or at home.


Emotional intelligence tip 3: Enjoy the differences.

Where would we be if we were all the same?! Imagine how boring Christmas dinner with family and friends would be. Even for those of us who like predictability it could become quite mundane. It is within our differences that our richness as human beings and families occurs. A couple, a family, or a work team can achieve greatness by capitalising on the differences. By drawing out and using the strengths of each person, greater companionship, increased productivity and less stress can all occur.

How do we differ?

I'd like to leave you with an example of a language difference that was demonstrated in the MBTI workshop. This is a little hard to describe on paper as it happened with a series of visual stimuli. However, I'd like to try! I put out on a table a set of objects for the group to see. There was a hoola-hoop inside of which were a series of coloured balls and a pair of broken sunglasses. Members of the group were asked to write down what they saw. We then had people read out what they'd written. Here are 2 of the answers we heard.

Answer 1:

"A thin, pink hoola-hoop with green and yellow stripes. Two yellow plastic balls. A purple ball with white dots on it twice as large as the yellow ones. Three tennis balls in front of the purple ball which are yellow and look new, made in China. A pair of brown plastic sunglasses with reflective lenses. The left lens is broken."

Answer 2:

"A juggling accident."

I am not making this up! This is what two different people wrote down in response to the same stimuli and the same request. Both are right from the perspective of their type.

Which is typical of your style?

Which would you have been more likely to have written? (If you are interested in the MBTI, Answer 1 is written by someone with a Sensate preference, Answer 2 an INtuitive preference.) Those that wrote something similar to Answer 1 were astonished at Answer 2. It made no sense to them at all. It seemed like the person was off the planet! However, he wasn't - he was just different. Nor was he alone. Four people in the group also produced something equally abstract. For example, another person wrote, "A birthday party on the beach with a bottle of wine."

While those who wrote Answer 1 type responses thought Answer 1 responses were correct and Answer 2 were wrong, those who wrote Answer 2 type responses thought it was the other way round!!

What matters?

What mattered was whether both types were willing to accept that the other's responses were acceptable, just different. Where do you stand on this? If a colleague, child or partner has a different style from you are you more likely to label them difficult or different?

Increased tolerance brings benefits!

It was an eye-opening exercise which people are still talking about. It certainly helped the course participants increase their tolerance and made them realise people are not necessarily being deliberately difficult - just different. If in any way this article has helped you shift your tolerance even higher it has been worth it!

Different types have different aspects of emotional intelligence they find harder and easier. However, developing their emotional intelligence is vitality important for each type. Come join with me in this exciting new emotional intelligence coaching package and I will make sure it is personalised to you and your type.

EQ at work, INFJ: Get to know your type, increase communication effectiveness and lower conflict

There is so much that you or your team can learn so that you develop greater understanding of, and skills with, your communication, personality and relationships at work and home. The EI Institute has a number of options to help you:

  1. You may find this book helpful to deepen your understanding of the communication differences between the types. It includes a whole section on bridging the differences, eg. between iNtuitives and Sensates, between Feelers and Thinkers; and it has a discussion on the differences between Judging and Perceiving types such as an INFP and an INFJ, and INFJ and an INTJ: "INFJ: What's it like to be one."
  2. If you are in Western Australia, a high energy, MBTI interactive team-building workshop can be organised for you: "Getting on: MBTI Team building".
  3. Meditation appeals to many introverts and we have a very popular audio-download on meditation called: "Happy Not Hassled". A perfect way to introvert and stay healthy.
  4. There is superior 1-1 coaching; and the MBTI is included as part of our smart leadership coaching package. You can find out your MBTI type and develop the skills you need, with Rachel Green.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.