Entries for month: January 2012

Those Ns and Their Ideas

My friend, Denise, is an ISFJ, and she is having problems with one of her colleagues at work. “She has millions of ideas for how to promote our company,” says Denise, “but nothing ever comes of them. She’s very negative about the way we currently do things, and she’s very forceful, saying things like, ‘We have to change things around here.’ Sometimes I get so uncomfortable when she talks that I have to leave the meeting.”

It sounded to me like the colleague is an Intuitive, (“millions of ideas”) and Denise is having the classic problem that people sometimes have with Intuitives. When Ns share their ideas, instead of exciting people and enlisting their help, they often end up alienating people, and as a result, feeling alienated.

I asked Denise what her co-worker could do to make it easier for her to listen to her ideas. “First of all,” she said, “I wish she wouldn’t attack the way we do things now. It makes me feel stupid, and puts me on the defensive. I wish she’d talk a little about the things that work well in our company. Then I wish she’d ask us if we consider this certain thing a problem, and if we’d like to find a solution. 

“Second, I wish she wouldn’t tell us we have to do things differently. I don’t like being bossed around, and I’m going to resist it. If she could present her ideas as something she would be willing to work on, then I would be more inclined to help her.  

“Third, her ideas sound so vague and far away and I don’t know what she wants from me. I’d like her to tell me specifically what she would like me to do, even if it’s setting up a time to talk about it some more.”

I asked Denise if there was anything she could do to help her colleague communicate better, or anything she could tell herself to make it easier to listen to the woman.

She thought for a minute and then she said, “When she’s sounding so negative about the way we do things now, I wish I could get her talking about what she’s for, instead of what she’s against. I think sometimes she doesn’t have the words yet to describe her solution, so she only talks about the problems. I guess I could ask her that: “What are you for in this company? What would you like to see?’

“When she’s sounding bossy and telling us that we have to do something differently, I think I need to stop taking her seriously. These ideas are her babies; she’s the one who needs to do something differently. Maybe I could also ask her, “Would you be willing to be in charge of exploring this further or implementing these changes?”  

“When she sounds vague and impractical, I should ask her specifically, “What do you want me to do?”

“Denise, those are fantastic!,” I said. “They’re also things that Ns can ask themselves before they communicate their ideas: ‘What would I like to see?’ ‘What do I want to do about it?’ and ‘What do I want to ask other people to do?’ By the time they can answer those questions, they will probably have a compelling idea, an action plan, and specific requests for help.”

Then I added, “You know, as an Intuitive, a lot of the time, I’m not even sure that I want people to do anything when I share my ideas. If I really want to make something happen, I’ll find a way to do it myself. What I really want from people is just to have them understand why I’m so excited, because I can see a future that could be so much better, where we don’t have to keep experiencing the same failures over and over again."

“And also, it wouldn’t hurt to hear how clever I am for thinking of something no one else has thought of.”

“You know, if you just told me that up front, it would help a lot,” Denise said. “You just want me to listen and understand. I can do that. It would be fun.”