My daughter’s best friend, Sara, is engaged to be married to a young man named Jeff. My family has been with him three times now in social situations, and we all like him. After the holidays, we found ourselves speculating on his type.
We couldn’t decide if he’s an Extravert or an Introvert because he’s a good listener, but he’s also a good talker. He seems thoughtful, but he also seems interested in other people’s thoughts.
We had a hard time with Sensing and Intuition, too. He seems to enjoy talking about both facts and ideas, and puts the right amount of detail and big picture into his conversation.
We felt that he could be a Thinking type because he’s even-tempered, but he could also be a Feeling type because he’s considerate and kind.
We didn’t have any more luck with Judging and Perceiving because he shows up on time and can articulate his opinions, but he also seems to be open-minded and tolerant of others.
We weren’t able to guess Jeff’s type from just a social situation. We’d have to see him in other situations, at work or at home, to see his real preferences.
When we weren’t able to guess Jeff’s type from just a social situation, we realized…that might be a good thing. When we’re able to say about someone, “They’re obviously this or that,” it’s usually because they’re doing too much of something. They might be talking too much or too little, putting too many details or abstractions into their conversation, being overly critical or overly sensitive, or too opinionated or too noncommittal. If someone seems to be well-balanced, it’s harder to guess their type, but easier to like them.
We realized that when we’re out for a good time with a group, we really don’t want to see people’s preferences. What we want to see is their ability to do the appropriate thing, depending on what the group is saying or doing. We remembered that the best times we’d had over the holidays in groups were not when one person stood out, but when everyone blended in a light-hearted harmony, when people were just good together.
Jeff seems to have figured out something very early in life that most of us don’t figure out until later in life, (and some of us never figure out). Jeff has figured out that in social situations, you should wear your type lightly.
We got to talking about times when we had been too interested in proving that we were exceptional when we entered groups. I’m an INFJ and could remember when I had to have the best ideas for radical change in our society. My ENTP husband remembered when he had to one-up everyone in teasing. My ISFJ daughter remembered when she was trying to be such a good listener that she didn’t share anything about herself. My ESFJ son remembered when he was being so careful of people’s feelings that he would never express his own preferences.
Our special genius is always there and we are always drawing on it, but we don’t need to show it off. Especially in social situations, we should try to be present, enjoy the people around us, and keep in step with the fast-moving conversations and interactions. Then we might find that, like Jeff, no one will be able to figure out what type we are, but everyone will have fond memories of their time in our company.