Experiencing Another Perspective

January 2014. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

One of the best things about knowing type is accepting that people do things differently from you — they are not trying to be contrary, undermining or annoying in the process. But that is not the same thing as truly experiencing those differences.

As an ESTJ and an Experiential on the MBTI Step® II tool, part of the way I understand things and their meaning is to try things out. So here goes my attempt at trying out different preferences within my opposite type:

To experience Introversion, I notice what it feels like to lose myself in a book or to lose myself in a writing project. There is a focus and a calmness that comes over me. I concentrate deeply on what is inside my head. I lose track of time.

Yesterday when I was writing, I was startled to see the time and chagrinned to realize that I should have left for appointments much earlier than I did!

To experience Intuition, I feel myself stepping back from a situation and noticing the of behaviors and asking myself, "What does this mean?"

I even use metaphors in my communications (or at least appreciate them). Reading a Louise Penny mystery recently, I chuckled at the metaphoric description of a chubby child in her winter pageant costume of a snowflake; the writer said she looked more like a snowdrift.

To experience Feeling, I recall the sad time putting a beloved family pet "to sleep." Logically, it should have been an easy call — the pet wasn't eating, needed to be carried outside, etc. But it's not easy when you love a pet. Trying to find harmony within the decision and how it affects everyone is wrenching.

I also experience (introverted) Feeling when I'm describing a particularly moving event to someone else. I feel goose bumps of recognition that "yes, this is important!"

To experience Perceiving, all I have to do is go on a driving trip with a Perceiving type, stopping wherever the spirit moves us, making decisions about where to stay at a time when driving is no longer fun. I've discovered more interesting places and things that way.

For example, I bet you didn't know when the first sundae was served (on a Sunday in 1881!), and where: Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Yup, Perceiving led me there and let me experience eating one there as well!!

To experience my opposite, INFP, well that is a stretch. A good friend, the late John DiTiberio who was an INFP, once told me he would coach me in how to do so. He said I'd need a prop — a newspaper. I was to sit in a corner of the room absorbed in it, not peaking over the top.

At his Memorial Service, there was a picture of him with his three-year-old INFP identical twin daughters. You guessed it — all three were "reading" newspapers.

How do you experience your opposites? If the preferences I portrayed are yours, did I get close in my descriptions to at least some of what you experience?