How to Leverage Your Understanding of Your Personality Type to Get What You Need

I apologize for this up front. I hate the psycho talk.

Fred: I really like superheroes.

Bob: I hear you saying that you really like superheroes.

Fred: Yeah… uh… I do. Do you like superheroes?

Bob: You’re asking me if like superheroes. I understand that. You are trying to relate to me. This is good.

Fred: Uh… I’m trying to find out… uh…. Oh, never mind.

Bob: You know what you’re problem is? You never reflect anything back to me. I reflect your thoughts back to you and it shows that I care and appreciate you. You are totally insensitive and do not know how to have healthy communication.

Fred: I hate you.

[Extend, remix, and rework above until it’s a full fledged Monty Python sketch.]

So yeah, this is fundamentally stupid, but it may be helpful if you take it with the usual caveats and grains of salt.

You need to learn to negotiate. If you have a genuinely rare personality type, you tend to cave in to other people’s assessments of you way too quickly. They’ll walk all over you because they don’t understand you and don’t think your perspective has any value. You adapt to the majority all of the time, but they will cut you down for implying that they need to accommodate you in any way. They think they have you “pegged”, but the real problem here is that they don’t have enough empathy to actually care about this. There may not be any real ill-will or animosity behind their attitude: they’re dealing with something they don’t know anything about and they *don’t know* that they don’t know anything about it!

What this means is, you don’t have to be hurt or insulted by their ham-fisted attempts to belittle or blow off your needs. You have these discussions all of the time because you’re literally a square peg in a round hole– you’re the odd man out. You’ve been criticized all of your life so you’re probably oversensitive at this point: when these people come after you, you are humiliated and maybe turn your anger and disappointment inward. This results in a downward spiral of depression and/or classic co-dependent behaviors. Some people will push you over the edge and you’ll explode in what looks to them as being completely random outbursts of anger. This makes you look bad. You look like a freak, and then they take the moral high ground… and from that position of relative power they’ll continue to turn the screws on you and kick you while you down. (Figuratively speaking, now. Stay with me, here….)

Don’t take the bait. Stay calm. Don’t be shocked that you have to keep explaining your perspective. If you hang back and give them enough rope, they’ll hang themselves. You’re not asking for much: just a little sympathy, that’s all. Just some sort of compromise here or there. You’re flexible. When they can’t handle this, they will resort to being negative… they might whine or criticize you… they may even try to commit some form of character assassination. But none of this has to affect you. It doesn’t bother you at all! The balance of power has shifted because you know what’s going on and they don’t.

Stand your ground. Have patience. You don’t have all of the answers, but you have to help your friend collaborate with you to form a solution that may end up surprising both of you. But stop apologizing and stop taking these sorts of conflicts personally. That’s not doing any of you any good. The other person will ultimately benefit from working with you in these things, so stop beating your breast because you feel like you’re so selfish you can’t even raise the issue. You’re not being selfish… you’re the one being the mature one and you’re trying to make a positive contribution to improving things.

Things aren’t as bad as you think.  You can benefit so much by just a small number changes.  Go ahead and stand up for youself.  You do deserve it.  And they do, too.

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One Response to “How to Leverage Your Understanding of Your Personality Type to Get What You Need”

  1. Mark Miller Says:

    I kind of had an encounter with this with a long time friend. We got together once and I tried sharing with him some of what I had been studying. He started laughing hysterically at me, and basically told me this stuff was a lot of intellectual mumbo-jumbo that had no practical basis in reality, which immediately made me feel like what I was saying was empty, utterly worthless; not just to him, but to me, too. But then I thought wait a minute. He doesn’t know what I’m talking about. In a way, I gave myself the moral high ground, because I realized he was ignorant. It was disquieting, because I had always considered him to be an authority figure. He used to be my boss at a place where I used to work, and he was a good manager. I often looked to him to test out my ideas, to see whether they’d fly or not. He was usually right, then. Now the tables were turned. It was an odd feeling. I kept at it, volleying what he was throwing at me. Then an interesting thing happened. I got him out of his comfort zone. He seemed puzzled and disoriented. I tried to help him a little more to see what I was saying. He started to see what I was talking about…a bit. I actually convinced him to at least try looking at what I was talking about on his own time. Ultimately he didn’t follow through much on it, but later I heard from him that he was exploring functional programming, partly on .Net, and thought “it rocked!” It wasn’t what I talked to him about in our get-together, but I was real pleased to see his open mindedness. He didn’t say it one way or the other, but I wondered whether our talk nudged him out of his attitude of complacency towards exploring what else was out there.

    I agree that you have to hold your ground and be calm. People who are ignorant can be arrogant and confident, look down their nose at you, or see you as a fool, and almost convince you that you’re off in la-la land. The reason being that you know you have a POV that’s in the minority. This in itself tends to make one feel insecure. You have to get past that and see through the confident I-know-something-you-don’t attitude they will exude, to see that they are ignorant. Don’t jump down their throat for it, just come back with rational arguments that refute what they say. Help them to see that they’re missing something. No need to make them look stupid. Just try to help them broaden their POV.

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