Psychological type for understanding others

In my previous post, I wrote about how discovering personality type gave me a way of looking at my life over the last years from a new perspective. In this post I want to talk about consequences for interpersonal relations.

Usually, when people interact, they seek to common grounds and when the relationship gets closer, it often becomes a question of projection, “does the other person have what I want and want what I have?” Or “are they more like me and I can learn from them”. This projection works better or worse depending on the individuals involved.

Personal issues in 
social matters

In my personal life, I have struggled for a long time with interpersonal understanding. Most of my daily encounters, especially in younger years, such as parents, teachers or classmates were marked by misunderstanding. Even though, I have had a few times of people telling me that I was special, but those could never compensate for all the things I was experiencing as my daily reality. Much of which I was either trying to avoid or too ashamed to talk about. Even with friends I would prefer to make fun of others, usually avoiding to talk about emotional distress and failure to belong.

During my teenage years I didn’t understand many social cues, simply because I missed out on many aspects of childhood socialization. After my intense exposure to literature and forming my own beliefs, I became much more positive, but also naive in dealing with others. I assumed that when a person spoke with a level of confidence about their beliefs that they must have given it ruthless thought as I had done over the previous years, being willing to dispense with all comfort and comforting lies for the sake of truth. I assumed they had received naturally, what I spend time learning and figuring out in later years by myself.  From such an assumption it became difficult to verify information or dismiss it, unless it was either an area I was familiar with or I could understand the reasons behind another persons judgement. Only when I could perceive some (un)conscious evasion or lack of understanding, I could allow myself to be critical towards their thinking. The main problem lay in the fact that I was still trying to interpret other people as if they were like myself.

Personality type as a means to interpersonal understanding

The concept of conscious functions, understanding that each individual in his perception and judgement has areas of high and those of low awareness, gave me a new context to interpret many of my former observations. With the aid of these concepts, I started to observe and describe different patterns of behavior in others. It took quite a bit of practice, but gradually I became more aware of how and why they were seeing things differently or arriving at different conclusions.

It’s as if everybody was suffering from partial colorblindness. Imagine one person can see half of the spectrum, say blue and green, the other person the other half, red and yellow. Both of their views are partial. The truth lies in the integration. Full awareness of the situation includes the aspects one might naturally less aware of. Merely to keep this is in mind is of great benefit. Especially when communicating with and trying to understand others.

Differing Gifts

Most situation do not require full cognition, though. In general, society is organized by the division of labor and one could even argue that less awareness in certain areas can be beneficial for specific tasks, for instance a lack of empathy paired with pedantic correctness in a lawyer trying to win his case. Consciously, every person is focused on a particular aspect, that supports proficiency in one area and encourages interaction with others.

Many tasks profit from particular conscious focus as activities that might naturally align with a persons preferences. David Keirsey’s Temperament Sorter (KTS) offers a very interesting view on this.

It is clear that certain types of people much more naturally find themselves in certain roles. Not everybody wants to be a scientist or political leader, or whatsoever. It can be dangerous when society or any authority propagates a limited view on what it means for any given person to be and to be successful, regardless of his or her natural inclinations. But maybe this is something people haven’t been aware of and the idea of psychological type has a definite potential to increase awareness about the diversity of people.

My ideal is seeing the whole picture and how everyone and all gifts can contribute in different ways. Yes, I am positively affirming my personal values, including mutual contribution and benefit, for each person to actualize and express their true gifts in a meaningful way at the highest level. For each individual, especially those who struggle with finding their own way, to appreciate their nature and define their own standard of success, allowing for authentic happiness in this life. Happiness that doesn’t come at the price of self-falsification, but as the result of honest self evaluation, a vision of one’s own potential and, if necessary, years of dedication to the highest within, turning it into a reality without. (But maybe the person I am writing this for is just my own self)

Asking for help is another important point. Either for a mentor, someone with similar traits, how they overcame their problems and found their way. Or when one simply is in lack of the most appropriate qualities needed for a particular situation, especially when there is not yet a commonly established external solution to rely on. 



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