What Can You Do With Type?

Excerpt from The TYPE Reporter, Issue No. 39

(The TYPE Reporter is a newsletter about your personality type, and how it influences you in all the stages of life. Below is an excerpt from Issue No. 39. You can subscribe by contacting Susan Scanlon, INFJ, Editor, 703-764-5370, or on the website.)

“Well, I think this Type theory is interesting, but what can you do with it?”

I’ve heard that comment from several people over the years. You might assume they were all Sensing types, since Ss look for usefulness first, but strangely enough, the people who asked me that were all Intuitives.

Whenever people ask me “What can you do with type?” I tell them that the best thing about type is that most of the time it frees you to do nothing. Before people know about type, they do all sorts of unproductive, harmful things, like worry, get mad at people, or try to change them. But after they know about type, they are more likely to understand, forgive, relax, and do – nothing.

For example, my friend Agnes has been very concerned about her son because in school he doesn’t like to participate in group activities, but quietly busies himself alone. She worries “What can I do to make him join in?” She was even thinking of having him tested for learning disabilities. But after she figured out that he is probably an INTJ, she realized the best thing to do would be – nothing. His independence is normal and healthy, and may allow him to be a very original thinker someday. He may join in groups, eventually but only if it’s entirely his own idea to do so.

My friend Mark has been arranging speakers for a group of management trainees. The trainees rate the program highly, but they don’t interact much with the speakers by questioning, criticizing, or praising them. Mark, who is an ENFJ, assumes that they are not learning anything from the speakers and he needs to do something. But after the group took the MBTI®, he discovered that they were mostly INTs. Now Mark relaxes and does – nothing. He understands that the trainees are learning a lot from the speakers, but quietly.

My friend Sarah was very concerned because therapists were telling her that her 16-year-old son doesn’t know how he feels about things and just intellectualizes them. They’re telling her he probably repressed his feeling side because of some childhood trauma, and she’d better do something to bring him back in touch with it. But once she realized that her son is an INTP, and his therapists are Fs, she understood that he was being misinterpreted and that forcing him to address only his feeling side would be terrible for him. So, after much consideration, she did – nothing. Eventually she found him an NT therapist who understood his “concepts” and lately he just seems to feel better.

Over and over, I’ve seen people freed to do nothing because they understand why people are the way they are and they don’t have to spend all their energy in fruitless efforts to change them. The type theory must free me to do nothing at least five times a day.

But sometimes it’s not possible to relax and do nothing. Sometimes we really need to change the way relationships are going. That came home to me recently. My husband was telling me about a client who was giving him trouble. I listened to him describe the client and I realized I had a lot in my head from books, workshops, and conversations to help me figure out what type the client was. I gave my husband my analysis of his client’s type, and why he and the man were in conflict. I sorted it all out beautifully and was immensely pleased with myself.

But then my husband said, “But what can I do about it? Suddenly I was silent. There was nothing in my head from books, workshops or conversations that helped me advise my husband on how to make relations with this man smoother.

There isn’t much written about what to do to solve type-related problems, and you don’t hear it discussed often by MBTI® trainers, so The Type Reporter went looking to see if people were coming up with any solutions on their own. For this issue we asked people for problems they were having in their own lives, or problems their clients were having. Then we asked them if they had discovered any simple, successful actions to solve the problems.

That’s what this issue is full of – actions. In short, this issue is about what you can do when it’s not enough to do nothing.

The TYPE Reporter – Issue No. 39
Editor: Susann Scanlon, INFJ

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