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Speaking of ISFPs: When Personality Type Leaves You with Mere Perceptions

Tuesday June 2, 2020

I wrote an email to this ISFP the other day. Guy’s a pro at what he does. He’ll help me out for sure.

“Hey, I really need to get [raw, sweet information], but I want to communicate this the right way when I approach person X. Can you help me out, with your insider ninjutsu?”

Reply.

“Hey Marc. Yeah, I think it’s OK if you are just too busy to handle all that information. They’ll understand.”

Whaaat. What.

OK, we apparently have entered the Feeler zone. Where every word I just chose is meant as a metaphorical HOT DOG BUN, merely a conveyance for some FANCY F***KING WIENER OF A SUBTEXT and somehow the equation 2+2=4 could really be a toxic insult.

Well, I’m F***ED YET AGAIN BY THESE F***ING PERSONALITY TYPE DIFFERENCES, I didn’t say, throwing a chair across the room.

No, it’s more like I sat there, simmering for a moment. The information in question was really important to me and my family.

It makes one wonder…

“How in the hell did I just talk myself out of getting information I need,” one wonders. “I mean, should I have somehow put that differently…?” one wonders some more, mostly just quietly and momentarily upset about one’s life and stuff.

I discussed this with blog-kun’s saintly ISFJ matron. She did the sympathy-cringe-look thing which let me know she knew exactly what I was talking about. Then there was this Ne-thunderstrike thing, and she brought up some other topic relevant to the day, and prefaced and suffixed it with, “I really mean that. No hidden meaning.” LOL. Too funny. But thank you anyway.

She left to go for a run, and I was left alone. Alone in this desolate information wasteland. My options:

  • Write ISFP back and say something like “ooohhh no! I’m really just wanting the info! That’s all, tee hee”. FUMING AT EVEN THE THOUGHT OF THE NEED. And if somehow that made things more complex…I just couldn’t.
  • Sit here and do nothing about that information. GAHHHHH
  • Explain personality type to my poor friend; that’ll fix him right up. Oh yeah baby.

See? How crazy this drove me for a bit there.

This is what I would call a “mere perception” effect.

I mean, if I felt like adding yet another mental model to the pile, maybe…maybe that’s what I’d call it. The Mere Perception Effect. Do we really need another one of these?

Oh god…it’s drawing me in…OK here goes.

If a model leaves you with mere perceptions, you might be in trouble. A model should also give you judgments, actions—things you can do about what you can perceive.

Also, INTJs are perceptive-dominant types. Over time, we tend to morph mixed models (perception & judgment-balanced models) into mostly-perceptions. It’s our bias, our zone of strength. We need to expand outside of those boundaries just like anybody else, so it helps to be aware of it.

And this is really where the AOAEI Loop can rocket you to the moon. (If you had a good night’s sleep, that is)

So today’s email exchange was an example of a moment where the model broke down on me for that segment of time in which I grasped for judgments and came up with mere perceptions. Followed by pure emotion.

And those moments are really frustrating. They can call entire models into question, right? You feel helpless.

It reminds me of what my absolutely crazy-ass INTJ & ESFP parents used to say about mental health professionals, “Marc, you just watch. THOSE people are the crazy ones. They are weird and disturbed, grandiose and unreliable and unhinged.” Why, because their sh** broke? Yes. That’s exactly what Mom & Dad were thinking! That their sh** never broke, like others’ did. So yeah, trust us, we’re not crazy. OK wonderful, that’s really impressive parenting. Kkkkk

The self-questioning hits in similar ways, when my grasp of a model breaks in this way: Here I am, the “coach” and “personality type expert” who has just as much trouble as anyone else! Therefore, what a fraud I am over here, ladies and gentlemen. This stuff doesn’t work; never has. My sh** broke. Bummer.

It’s really too bad we can’t fix stuff.

You know? All creative-like. Them fancy pants creative kids.

Nope, you see, friends? Learning new perspectives mostly frustrates you, as new information and learning tends to do. What are you going to do about it? You can’t do anything about all those new discoveries. Quit looking into stuff that’s probably beyond us. Quit worryin’ about it.

Well anyway. I figured out a different way to approach the problem and the information package was delivered. ISFP hopefully enjoyed a blissfully ignorant day in his unfortunately pretty-informational field, not really knowing how to detect info-seekers like us. And I don’t hate him for it. He’s a really good guy.

N.B. via Fancy-pants creative kid: Quite often this kind of experience results in a new model or framework, when a different way through can’t be found. So I guess we’ve also missed an opportunity to invent something new. In this house we attack problems creatively as they come up, whether that involves existing personality type models or creating something new, from scratch, when such models no longer yield leverage.

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