Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's Your Grid?

How do you deal with confrontation? Do you get your feelings hurt easily, or do most things people say and do, good or bad, sort of roll off you like water off a duck's back? Do you prefer plenty of social interaction, or is your preference to have plenty of solitude? Do you enjoy a good argument and feel empowered and refreshed by it, or do you avoid conflict at all costs? Do you process verbally, or internally? Do you like to work alone or in a group? For some people, these questions can be answered with a black and white yes or no, but for others the answer lies somewhere in the balance.

I find the study of personality types fascinating. I love to learn about what makes people tick. There are so many differences in each individual. Each of us is unique and although we may share similarities, interests and talents with some people, our perception of life and they way we process experiences and communicate may be very different.

I recently took a personality test that actually pegged me better than any I've taken before. It's the Meyers Briggs test. I was impressed with the outcome. I tend to be drawn to very strong, dominate, take charge, thick skinned, highly competitive personality types.....which is the opposite of the way I am wired. For example, I'll meet someone and find out they write, or sing, or are into health and fitness, cooking, home schooling or photography and I'll think it's awesome that we have interests/talents in common and I visualize us possibly combining our talents and enjoying the commonality. Later on down the road, I'll find out they think I am competing with them when in my mind I was simply relating to them on a common level. Suddenly their actions toward me change and it becomes apparent that they view me as a threat and I'm left scratching my head trying to figure out what happened.

Somebody once told me I am emotionally fragile and the way it was communicated was not in a positive sense, but rather like an attack on my character. The more I study personality types, the less I am bothered by accusations such as this because what she actually observed is a difference in our personalities, rather than a fatal flaw in my character. Some personality types struggle to understand a different personality grid and just don't get that differences are not necessarily negative. They're just different. In fact, criticism of others who are different is very destructive. A more factual, thick skinned, less sensitive personality may feel frustrated by someone who is sensitive, tender and compassionate because they don't know what to do with all that emotion and need for depth in relationships, while a sensitive individual often feels unsafe and unable to communicate the important stuff with the more dominate wiring. Thicker skinned personalities are often very factual and verbally aggressive. They can annihilate their more sensitive counterparts in seconds and shut them down, but they don't necessarily realize their strengths are also their weaknesses since this aggression can be very destructive to relationships. On the other hand the more tender, feeling oriented personality's strength of compassion and sensitivity can also be their weakness. Consequently they can benefit from learning to take things less seriously when communicated by their thick skinned opposites. They can learn to ask questions, rather than internalize the messages that can be so damaging to them and possibly help the less sensitive learn to become a little more thoughtful and careful. The unperceiving aspect to the factual personality can be their biggest weakness in relationships. This personality type needs to learn how to watch for signs and body language as they can be considered by many to be blunt, merciless, unperceiving, unfeeling, unreasoning and offend many without even being aware. Every personality type has weaknesses and strengths and no personality test is perfect, but by taking some of these tests and applying honesty when examining your own temperament, you may find an increased ability to relate to others in a healthier way.

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:6

The greatest commandment in the Bible is to love one another. Since love is a command, it is both an action and a feeling. Sometimes we need to take action by showing care to people we don't understand even though it's difficult to do. Seeking to understand others takes work. It takes good listening skills. It takes time. It involves asking lots of questions in order to really gain that understanding. It means lowering our defenses, getting rid of criticism and creating a safe, loving, gentle environment. it also means keeping in mind that we are not perfect and we are capable of hurting others, so we have no business criticizing or condemning others who are different than us. It's easy during conflict to lose all sense compassion, especially when we are hurt, but that's when it's most important to slow down and be careful with our words and body language.

So, I took the personality test and INFJ was the result. This stands for: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. If you would like to know more about what that means, you can read about it here.

Below is a basic overview of each personality type from this particular test.



My factual friend perceived the feeling aspect of my personality as a negative thing by saying I am emotionally fragile. She missed the positive quality God created me with because we are wired so very differently and it's difficult to bridge that gap. It is actually both a strength and a weakness for me. In light of this,I found this particular part of my personality description rather interesting:

"INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type."

Since most people would peg me as an extrovert, this is another interesting aspect to my personality that I found to resonate with what I know to be true about me:

"Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths. Perhaps the best example of this occurs in the technical fields. Many INFJs perceive themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with the mystique and formality of "hard logic", and in academic terms this may cause a tendency to gravitate towards the liberal arts rather than the sciences. However, the significant minority of INFJs who do pursue studies and careers in the latter areas tend to be as successful as their T counterparts, as it is *iNtuition* -- the dominant function for the INFJ type -- which governs the ability to understand abstract theory and implement it creatively."

I was astounded while reading the details to the INFJ personality type because it helped me realize I am an introvert....not an extrovert and it explains so well why communication with certain people is very difficult for me, while with others who are soft and gentle and accepting in their expression unlock my ability to articulate well verbally. It also explains why I do not aspire to become a public speaker, although I would be willing to rise to the occasion, should an opportunity present itself to communicate something I have a passion for and feel compelled to address. I definitely communicate much better in writing than in person as it takes time for me to process and examine what is being said. I initially respond on feeling and it takes time to turn it around and connect it to fact. Therefore, my initial responses are usually what my daughter refers to as a "rough draft" and I don't do well in conflict with aggressive, verbal, critical and insensitive communicators. I can't count the times I have been cut off in the middle of expressing something difficult, by a more aggressive communicator who thinks they already know what I'm trying to say and react harshly as a result. They missed the point completely in those moments and shut down my ability to express what I was really trying to convey.

For personalities that are  less sensitive, heavier on the judging scale and more take charge, the sensitive nature of someone who is more feeling oriented could be very irritating and difficult to understand, just as the opposite is true for a sensitive personality. Communicating with a different personality grid can feel impossible if there is no understanding of and allowance for the differences in each individual.

Understanding your personality type and studying the various other personality types is beneficial as it can help bring understanding to relationships that otherwise might seem impossible. It can help us better love one another and care for each other in a way that may not come naturally. It is an excellent tool in marriage, as well as parenting, teaching, grandparenting and in the work place. As a home schooling mom, understanding and embracing the various personalities in our home helps me know how to approach each child effectively and in my marriage, it allows me to understand how best to communicate with my husband and express care on a level that means the most to him.

I leave you with a couple of visuals about the different personality types that I find rather interesting.




  1. I think these are sooo interesting. I'm an infp with extrovert tendencies...It's pret-ty accurate!

  2. Oh, I can't wait to read about infp's! I was really surprised by the accuracy of this one too. :) It sure helped me gain some insight into the why's behind my actions and needs. AND it helps me see areas where I need to balance out. :) Thanks for sharing. <3

  3. Wow! I just read about the infp and wow! You're right....from the Amelia I know, that is pretty accurate. :)