Personality Type Myth-Busting: Are Extroverts Incapable of Understanding Introverts?

One of the things that really irritates me when I see certain introverts talking online is how much they seem to hate extroverts. They’ll even use that word — “I hate this thing that extroverts do” or “I hate it when extroverts are like this.” Some even have lists of all the things they hate about extroverts.

We introverts have been pushing for a while now to get recognized as “normal.” Introversion is how about 50% of the population’s brains are hardwired. It’s an inborn preference for the inner world of thoughts and ideas, which is also shaped by our unique individual experiences. So stop judging us for it, okay?

What far too many of us forget is that the exact same things are true of extroversion. For about 50% of the population, being an extrovert is perfectly normal. It’s an inborn preference for the outer world of things and people. Extroverted and introverted mental “wiring” are both perfectly normal. Both are needed, and both personality types deserve respect.

So with that clarification out of the way, let’s talk about whether or not extroverts are incapable of understanding introverts. Read more

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What If We Stopped Trying To Impress People?

I like to keep the people around me happy. I want harmony in all my relationships, and I hate conflict. Take all those (along with a few other personality traits and some insecurities) together, and you end up with someone who’s been a “people pleaser” for most of her life.

It’s normal for FJ personality types to act based on what will meet everyone’s needs and work to maintain harmonious relationships. That’s because they use Extroverted Feeling, or “Harmony,” as their decision-making process. But at some point in their personal growth journey, FJs need to realize that 1) you’re part of the “everyone” whose needs should be met, and 2) it’s impossible to please everyone.

Since writing my post “Are You Ready To Find Your Weirdness?” I’ve been thinking about what effect embracing authenticity will have on interpersonal relationships. One of the things I’ve realized is that instead of trying to adjust my presentation of myself to impress specific people, I need to focus more on bringing my best self to every conversation and interaction. If they’re impressed by that, cool, but if not it’s okay. Failing to please everyone isn’t really failure at all. It’s just something that happens.

We Can’t Please Everyone

It’s impossible to connect with everyone unless you’re adjusting yourself to please them. There’s far too much variety in human beings’ beliefs and preferences for your authentic self to resonate equally well with every person. In fact, if we’re being honest, I’m sure there are some types of people you don’t really want to resonate with. For example, you’d probably worry about yourself if a Klu Klux Klan member felt that you understood and agreed with them 100%. Read more

7 Fictional Characters That You’ll Relate To If You’re An ESFJ

What fictional characters do you relate to as an ESFJ?

Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also use the system to type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are ESFJs, and today we’re going to talk about seven of them that I think real-life ESFJs will find relatable.

Another great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us to better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional ESFJs can serve as examples for what real-life ESFJs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.

Anna

Most people type Anna from Disney’s Frozen as an ESFP or ENFP, but hear me out. ESFJs lead with a function called Extroverted Feeling (Fe, or “Harmony”). Fe is a decision-making process that’s concerned with connection and meeting other peoples’ needs, and that’s what we see Anna prioritizing throughout the film. Like so many real-life ESFJs, Ann longs for harmonious connections with other people. She’s also so concerned with the needs of people around her that she asks Kristoff, “Are you going to be okay?” while she’s dying. If that’s not an FJ thing I don’t know what is.
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5 Tips For Resolving Conflicts Between FJ and TJ Types

Have you ever witnessed, or been part of, a conversation that starts to turn into a conflict because both parties feel the other just doesn’t “get it”? They’re approaching whatever topic they’re discussing from different perspectives, seeking different outcomes, and/or phrasing things in a way that makes sense to them but for some reason sets the other on edge.

If you talk with one of them after this conversation, you might hear things like, “I just can’t understand why they’re so irrational!” or “Why can’t they just tell me what they actually think?” Then if you talk with the other person you could hear, “I don’t see why they insist on stirring-up conflict” or “How dare they put me on the spot like that!”

This sort of situation often develops when Thinking and Feeling personality types clash. It’s especially noticeable among the INFJ, ISFJ, ENFJ, and ESFJ types and INTJ, ISTJ, ENTJ, and ESTJ types, since these types direct their decision-making processes outward. In other words, they interact with the outer world using their judging functions of Extroverted Feeling and Extroverted Thinking. If you’re not familiar with function theory, click here to read “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever.

One of my favorite applications for personality type theory is using it to better understand people who don’t see the world the same way as us. As I explained in a post a couple weeks ago, both Thinking and Feeling are considered rational functions. These two ways of decision-making use very different foundations for their rationalizations, however. And if you’re not aware of how that all works, then it can lead to quite a bit of frustration when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t share your type’s preferences. Read more

The Curious Case of the INFJ Hero

Today we’re going to talk about INFJ heroes in fiction, especially male heroes. But before we get to that, let’s talk about Russian literature for a moment. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky opens with an apologetic explanation from the narrator about his hero, Alexei Fyodorovich Karamazov. Here are a few highlights:

“While I do call Alexei Fyodorovich my hero, still, I myself know that he is by no means a great man …

One thing, perhaps, is rather doubtless: he is a strange man, even an odd one. But strangeness and oddity will sooner harm than justify any claim to attention …

If I, that is, the biographer himself, think that even one novel may, perhaps, be unwarranted for such a humble and indefinite hero, then how will it look if I appear with two; and what can explain such presumption on my part?” (p.3-4, Pevear/Volokhonsky translation)

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, Alyosha is an INFJ (most characters and the narrator use this nickname throughout the novel. In the Cyrillic alphabet, Alyosha is two letters shorter than Alexei, which makes this something like calling a man named Robert “Bob”). And I suspect that it’s his personality type that makes the narrator so worried about how people will respond to his hero.

It’s not that there aren’t other INFJ heroes in fiction. Just take a look at my post about 10 Stories You’ll Relate To If You’re An INFJ if you want some examples. Jane Eyre, Amélie, Yoda, and Atticus Finch are all INFJs in fiction who play a hero role. But even though there are male characters on this list, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if Alyosha was woman with all the same personality characteristics the narrator wouldn’t have felt the need to apologize for her.

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What Does Each Myers-Briggs® Type Look Like If They Get Stuck In A “Loop”?

When someone interested in Myers-Briggs®talks about loops, they’re referring to what happens when a person bypasses their co-pilot function and starts relying on their dominant and tertiary process instead. This can be a temporary situation, or it can last for quite a long time depending on the individual and their circumstances.

Some people teach that the Dominant-Tertiary Loop leads to personality disorders, but I have not found any good research to back up this claim. We can slip into a loop pattern without developing a disorder, and specific mental illnesses aren’t tied to any one personality type. It seems more likely to me that, as a general rule, loops are part of a reaction to stress or an attempt to avoid discomfort.

If you need a refresher on how cognitive functions work, click here to read “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever.”

We all need a balance between inner and outer world feedback, a way to learn new information, and a way to process information and make decisions. We’re got all that covered in our dominant and co-pilot functions because one is introverted and one is extroverted, and one’s a perceiving/learning function (Sending or Intuition) and one’s a judging/decision-making function (Feeling or Thinking).

When we skip our co-pilot function and go for the tertiary instead, we’re replacing the co-pilot with a function that fills a similar role because the tertiary and co-pilot are both either Perceiving or Judging functions. However, the tertiary has the same orientation (Introverted or Extroverted) as the dominant function. Going into a “loop” means we’re ignoring the world that is most uncomfortable for us and we’re opting to use a function that’s less mature than our co-pilot. This “loop” is going to look different for each type, but in all cases it means we’re not balanced. It also usually means that we’re avoiding personal growth. Read more