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The Biggest Mistake People with Low Emotional Intelligence Make

Tuesday November 3, 2020

I stumbled across this article today:

A therapist shares the biggest mistake people with low emotional intelligence make

When I ask people what comes to mind when they think about “emotional intelligence,” their answers are often centered around themselves. I hear things things like “knowing my personal competencies,” “being self-aware” or “managing my emotions.”

Funny. A good reminder for real. This is important for the introverted side of just about anybody, introvert or extrovert, because our introverted functions are so subjective. They have this incredible way of taking a thing and making it “about me”.

  • Ni: Don’t you think my foresight and perspective on this issue is really powerful and helpful though?
  • Ti: Don’t you think my proprietary system is basically the best thing ever?
  • Fi: Don’t you think my deep feelings and values are important, too?
  • Si: Don’t you know my preferred way of doing things? It’s better this way…

This is a good note for the INTJ squad too, because someone could say “feelings” and we might even immediately think, “oh yeah! I love feelings!” but really it’s a mismatch because we’re often thinking, “oh yeah! I love (my) feelings.”

In this way our Fi can sometimes help us appear as if we don’t care about others, even though we’re sharing “emotions and feelings,” and even though we’re trying to be helpful and put ourselves in our place, maybe because we read a didactic intent into the exercise (see below on that one).

It’s not about us. That’s hard to really grasp sometimes, because we want to help using our set of known tools, and even just thinking about helping moves us back into the “me” zone, where we start to collect energy from our favorite intervention or creativity tools.

But it’s also more like we are naturally good at giving attention to Fi, not Fe so much. It’s not that we are morally wrong, as we may assume people think. It’s that we can get stuck “we-ing” and “me-ing,” and not “they-ing”.

The most emotionally intelligent people know that in addition to understanding their own emotions, it’s important to perceive the emotions of others, and the way that their environment impacts those emotions.

Personality type can really help here, by giving us questions to ask, curiosities to indulge,

(…and experiments to run?? Never!)

Welcome to Soviet Prison

There is also another important thing here: We INTJs sometimes fear that others are putting us into our place when they talk about EQ at work. Or when they seem to be headed to the preachy zone, maybe it drives us crazy. We go into 1984 mode and start to feel like some dictator is about to enthrone themselves and make our lives hell.

However, part of this perception comes down to who we are. Our own INTJ Fi can be really, really judgy. It tends to write covert contracts on demand, within seconds. And it’s easy to project our own embarrassing, subjective moral-judgment tendencies onto others, even if they are on a completely different track. For this reason it’s important to be objective, ask questions, and give these interactions time to settle.

In any case, even if there was some dictator-enthroning going on, it would still be important to get out of the “me” box ASAP and start building outward-facing relationships.

But why save that until disaster strikes?

Oh, and a Funny Thing About Others’ Stuff

Unlike your stuff, it’s pretty common that relatively shallow attention needs to be paid to others’ stuff. That is—it can take a lot of attention, but in a broad, low-touch way. A frequent way. Listening, empathizing, helping things move along, but at the other person’s speed.

People like owning their stuff. Quite often they want to do the deep part themselves. So it’s not like everyone out there is looking for an analyst, and your Fe-based approach has to be as deep as your personal, Fi-based approach. That could in fact be a real energy trap.

And one cool part of this: When other people are looking for help, even if (or especially if) there are conflicting values in play within a group, Ti can really come in handy. And it can be really awesome for INTJs to get exposure to this perspective. It opens up the “designer” role even more, to an already creative mind.

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