So you’ve been reading along in this series and have had all kinds of personal breakthroughs and new insights about how you view and interact with the world. Woo hoo! Hooray for learning and self-discovery and knowledge!
Here’s the thing though: We’ve barely scratched the surface. Hooray…! Knowing what each of the letters mean creates the foundation of understanding for how we’re wired, but there is so much nuance to how that all plays out. So hang on to all that knowledge you’ve already gained, and get ready to round it out a bit!
Throughout this post I will occasionally reference The 5 Voices, a tool created and presented by GiANT Worldwide. You can read more about it in this book, and you can find out more about GiANT and their leadership programs on their website. It’s good stuff, so if you like what you’re reading here you should definitely check them out.
There are an infinite number of ways that the four letters in our type can interact with each other. That may sound like terrible math but that’s because we’re all so much more complicated than our four letters and we are definitely greater than the sum of our parts. Even when we’re talking about the letters, we’re on a spectrum. Some people are highly introverted or highly extraverted, while others fall closer to the middle. Some are highly sensing or highly intuitive, etc etc. So a highly extraverted person who’s highly intuitive is going to have some different tendencies than a mildly extraverted person who’s highly intuitive, or a mildly extraverted person who’s mildly sensing. And so on and so on. The discussion that happens here is intended to give a framework, but you may need to work out the details on your own.
So, let’s get cracking.
Are you a sensing feeler? No matter what your first letter is (I or E), and no matter what your last letter is (J or P), if your middle two letters are S and F, there are some things that are probably true about you. GiANT calls SF’s Nurturers, and you can find similar statements made elsewhere. SF’s see the world as it is (that’s the S) and they care deeply about how decisions impact others (that’s the F), so SF’s look around them and see how people are feeling, and the response is to want to make sure that everyone is cared for. They have a strong desire for relational harmony.
I’ve observed that a tendency of SF’s is to look around and appreciate all that others are doing well, and then fear that they don’t stack up. Many have a bit of an inferiority complex (aka insecurity). Usually when an SF expresses insecurity, it’s not because they’re fishing for compliments but because they really believe that others are better than they are. This means when you do compliment an SF, they are likely to deflect the compliment because they don’t believe they deserve it, or they think you’re only saying it to be nice. A better way to compliment an SF is to work it into conversation somehow, so the statement you’re making about them feels like a matter of fact rather than flattery.
Sensing thinkers are referred to by GiANT as Guardians. They see the world as it is and move forward logically with practicality as their guide. They want to make sure that things run smoothly and they usually work hard to make that happen. They can come across as very business-like, but for most of them this drive stems from a desire to take care of the people in their lives, and usually they care very deeply for others.
A tendency of ST’s is to look around and see what others could be doing better, but they hold themselves to just as high a standard, if not higher. They are quick to notice inefficiency or foolishness in those around them, and even quicker to notice their own weaknesses. They have a nearly constant drive for improvement, and so you can know that when an ST gives you a compliment it is absolutely sincere.
GiANT calls some NF’s Creatives (if they’re introverts) and others Connectors (if they’re extraverts). Intuitives see the world as it could be, and introverted feelers care deeply about how decisions reflect their personal values, so INF’s (Creatives) have heads so full of ideas they sometimes feel they can’t contain them, yet at the same time these types often find they struggle to get others to understand them. For them, being an intuitive has less to do with embracing change with open arms (which is our stereotypical image of an intuitive) and more to do with having a really good sense for whether a change will be good or bad for themselves, their family, or their organization.
Extraverted feelers care deeply about how decisions impact those around them, so ENF’s (Connectors) use their intuition to help bring people and resources together. This kind of social interaction where they are making themselves of use to others is a joy to them, and they love having a reputation as the go-to guy or gal in their circles.
I have never met an NF who hasn’t said that they crave affirmation. This is a little different than the insecurity SF’s feel. SF’s often truly believe that others are better than they are, and may be content to hang out behind the scenes, believing that’s the best place for them. For NF’s, usually there is a very deep need to feel appreciated, to know that people notice their efforts and value the contributions they make. Unlike SF’s who may feel that a passing compliment is insincere, most NF’s will light up when a compliment is given, at any time, and they are usually very quick to praise others as well.
GiANT calls the NT’s Pioneers (except for INTP’s, who they classified as Creatives). When you think about the most driven people you know, they may be any type, but there’s a good chance they’re NT’s, and this makes sense. Remember, intuitives see the world as it could be, and thinkers are very rational in their thought processes, so NT’s see what could be and they also feel confident in their ability to get there.
I’m going to say something bluntly now: NT’s tend to have a superiority complex. If you’re reading this and you just thought “Oh how mean! That’s probably not even true!” you’re not an NT. Any NT reading this is going to nod and shrug and say that yes, that sounds about right. Seriously. If you react against that statement, you’re not an NT. Intuitives already have a bit of a reputation for feeling superior (after all, they’re the ones moving us into the future and seeing things that others can’t), and so do thinkers (since they’re not distracted by little things like emotions), and the combination of those two qualities creates a great deal of confidence that can also look quite a bit like superiority.
It’s ALSO what makes them such good leaders. That kind of vision and confidence is crucial for running businesses or leading any kind of group or team, and for insecure SF’s like me, it’s a really good thing to have some super-confident NT’s around, especially when they know themselves well enough to make sure they practice humility (my husband is a confident NT who also desires to lift others up, and his personality is a great balance to mine).
Most of these are pretty sweeping generalizations, but it’s good to start to understand what these letters mean when they’re working together. This time we focused on the middle two letters. Next time around we’ll take a look at the outer letters (I/E and J/P) and how they impact those middle ones!
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