Entries for month: October 2015

Easy People

We just got back from visiting four National Parks in Utah. I was amazed by the spectacular sights we saw, like the towering rock walls in Zion, and the strange looking  “hoodoo” rocks in Bryce Canyon.

I was even more amazed, however, that we could spend eight days traveling with another couple, and at the end of the trip, be even fonder of them than when we began.     

I proposed a toast to the other couple at the end of our Utah trip, and I gave them the highest compliment I can give someone. I told them they were “easy” people.

We spend a lot of time talking about difficult people, and they are obviously on our minds more than easy people. This time, however, it was easy people who were on my mind. What makes a person easy, I wondered?

It’s not their types. The man we were traveling with is an ISFJ, and his wife is an ESTJ. ISFJs can be over-sensitive and anxious in new situations. He was not. ESTJs can be controlling and critical. She was not. In fact, if I had not known their types from years ago, I would have had a very hard time figuring them out. They were clearly mature people who had learned to control the negative tendencies of their types in consideration for others.

We had a lot of time in the car and at dinner to talk. We all told anecdotes about our work, relationships, and past vacations, but our friends made sure that everyone got equal talking time. They had traveled extensively, so their stories were interesting, but if they had talked for a while, they would ask questions to get stories from us. When it came time to listen, they showed interest, and let us know that we’d been heard.

They made no demands on us, like keeping us waiting, being inflexible or making us listen to bickering between spouses. They looked after our needs, making sure there was a Diet Coke in the backpack for me every day, for instance, and that our hikes were easy enough not to hurt my husband’s knees. If there were plans to make, they made sure we were involved in the decision-making. When we did something for them, we were heartily thanked. They remained calm and good-natured even when circumstances got trying, like standing in the sun waiting for a bus to the rental car center, or when we couldn’t buy a package of Tums because the local Mormons don’t open their shops on Sunday. They smiled and laughed often, bringing sunshine to our group, and to the taxi drivers and other tourists we met.

Social scientists have found that one of the key ingredients to our success as a species is our ability to cooperate, and we’re able to cooperate because we have an instinctive desire to reciprocate, to return “tit for tat.” Think about how hard it is not to return a smile with a smile, or a frown with a frown.

On our Utah trip, it was all kindness being volleyed back and forth. Our friends were thoughtful and respectful in their words and deeds, and it was easy to send that back to them. That’s what we mean by “easy” people, I guess. They are skilled at keeping the cooperative ball in play.  

On this trip, I was amazed by how beautiful nature can be, but also by how beautiful people can be. We all have them in our lives - people who are easy to be with - and every once in awhile, we should probably spend some time thinking about them, learning from them, and thanking them. After all, it’s not easy to be an easy person, it takes practice, and they deserve something extra in return for the extra they give - tit for tat.  



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These past few months have been full of reunions. For me as an ESTJ, one of the nice things about reunions is that they are planned, and I can schedule them well in advance.  As a “Planful J” on the MBTI® Step II™ assessment, planning leisure activities is a joy for me. 

First, there was the reunion with the JMK Club (Jean, Mary, Kay), three of us who grew up in the same neighborhood in the 1950s.  The ENFJ, Mary, organized and hosted it on Sanibel Island, Florida, a place we had spent several Christmas holidays together as children.  That was the time when you had to take a ferry to get to the island; all the island merchants donated gifts so that each child there at the holidays got a present.

Mary had rented a house for six weeks and scheduled in multiple groups. She knew the best times to go out to eat and to see local events.  She was an incredible hostess as extraverted Feeling types usually are! 

My sister, the INTJ, was grateful for Mary’s understanding of her need to have alone time.  We two Extraverts often went off on our own, biking to different spots on the island.  We struck up conversations with people wherever we were that led us to new places to explore. 

Next was a college reunion in Grinnell, Iowa.  Given that I’m an “Intimate Extravert,” I had chosen to stay in a B&B with another college friend, away from the larger group of classmates.  We had time for quiet talks. 

Then I had a reunion with the group I met in Australia celebrating my Aussie friend Judy’s 60th birthday (see my Gifts Differing blog post on that one).  We live in five different countries and have since met in France, the Netherlands, England, and this summer in North America.

Yes, everyone had taken the MBTI instrument and that was quite helpful in planning.  All were Extraverts with the exception of one, so we made sure there was lots to do. And all were Judging types with the exception of the ESFP, who went along with anything.  I had the schedule posted on a large piece of flipchart paper at the front door with both open times and scheduled events. 

Next up was the MBTI User’s Conference in England, which served as a sort of reunion, because I saw many of my MBTI friends from years past when I used to do trainings in England.  Like many MBTI conferences, there were lots of Intuitives present, so it was interesting to see what’s new on that side of the Atlantic. (Check out OPP’s blog for postings on my keynote there.)

Then there was my partner’s family reunion at the Lake Mansfield Trout Club in Vermont.  It was fun seeing a new set of family traditions in a place steeped with traditions of its own (like a conch shell being blown three times in three directions to announce meals – perhaps this doesn’t scare the fish!)  

Tired yet?  Next was a reunion with several high school friends in Galena, Illinois.  They are all Feeling types, and we shared family stories and what it means to be our ages in our stages of life (see my recent blog post Caregiving). Then I visited my 100 year old father, an INTJ (see My INTJ Father), and had the experience of watching him being filmed for a Korean TV show on nutrition.

It was on to Dublin, Ireland from there for an annual summer institute based on the theories of psychiatrist Alfred Adler (see my blog post on The Crucial C’s). At that one, those who attend who do know the MBTI usually have NF preferences.  There were lots of activities, possibilities, insights, etc.

Next was a reunion in southwestern Kansas for my Mother’s side of family (see the Synchronicity and Kemp Ridley Turtles post for a story of one uncle).  Yes, at one family reunion years ago, everyone took the MBTI assessment with a mix of types. 

Several aunts (Ruth, ISFJ and Verna, INFJ) had died in the past year and were remembered fondly in memorial services by their children.  Aunt Verna had figured out a way to lure family back to the farm in (a rather desolate part of) Kansas—just put in a swimming pool and float big tractor tire inner tubes to keep us visitors entertained. We swam again in the pool and retold stories.

I feel blessed to have so many connections with so many people; knowing their types adds to that blessing. And note too that this post became a reunion of blog posts! 

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