How can I avoid prejudice when knowing a potential partners type?
Today's question is from Eirini, thank you for your amazing question. I'm looking forward to sharing it with you. The question is:
“How can I avoid prejudice when knowing a (potential) partner’s type? I.e. how can I avoid seeing in their behavior what I expect to see based on their personality type?”
This is a really fantastic question. I love this question because it’s very insightful. But also, this question shows great maturity. It assumes that you are not necessarily right with your perceptions of who the person is and how they operate, and that you want to understand the other person more. That really warms my heart because my work is so much about bringing people together.
Having said that, it does pain me from time to time to hear that many INFs in particular, but Intuitive Feelers in general, have confused their past pain that they have experienced with their intuition speaking. It pains me because there is a danger that we bring our past pain and project it onto the current situation, and then have inaccurate interpretations of what the other person is doing. More often than not, when we stop assuming that we know what the other person is meaning with their behaviour what happens is that we discover this gold that’s within that person and the behavior they exhibit. There is all this goodness and often misinterpreted (and here I’m speaking on my own behalf) behaviours that then cause us more pain. This is a FANTASTIC question to get our teeth into today.
Because most of us are subjective beings, I think it's impossible to eradicate all projection. I think I can honestly say that I’ve never met a person who isn’t subjective, one way or another! We all project to some degree, in some ways. There are times when our projections are accurate and that’s great. Then there are times when they are not accurate. If you want to stop allowing your internal bias to make representations of others' behaviors, here are the steps you can take:
1. Get your basics right. Firstly, it's important to understand which parts of your knowledge about MBTI are actual facts and which are others' opinions that you have adopted as facts. So it’s really important that you differentiate between what the facts are about MBTI, and what are somebody else’s interpretations, including our own. The best way to refocus on the facts of the MBTI is to get official MBTI training- I’m a qualified MBTI practitioner and I really loved it. I was into MBTI for years before I did the training, and I got so much out of it. I really recommend it. If that is not an option, get yourself professionally profiled. For example, a part of my Decoding Process is a self-assessment workshop and what that self-assessment workshop does is provide us with the foundational understanding of what the preference pairs are and how they actually work. In other words, what it means to be extroverted vs introverted, sensing vs intuitive, thinking vs feeling and judging vs perceiving. Once you have your official MBTI fundamentals straight, you can move on to step
2. Understand your natural biases better. Taking a deeper dive into your individual cognitive functionalities, such as which way do you sense, which way do you feel, think, intuit (your 4 People Within), as well as the MBTI facet pairs, which highlight your strengths and blind spots beyond the 4 letter code. Once you understand more of your cognitive functionalities and your hidden facet pairs, you can move onto step
3. Eliminate your biases. Remember the first thing was getting the fundamentals right, then the next step is to understand our own natural biases- how we are naturally wired. In step 3 we can start eliminating those biases. This step is all about deliberately identifying pre-judgments within yourself as they pop up. So, stuff happens, your bias pops up, and you catch it! Once you start catching it, you can stop and notice that maybe you don’t know what’s going on there, and decide to investigate that a little more. If you lead with a decision-making process (Thinking or Feeling), like an INFP who leads with a Feeling process, you are LITERALLY wired to make judgement and decisions about everything that you encounter. It’s important that you understand that about yourself. You’re not a judgemental person just because you're making snap judgements all the time. It’s that you’re leading with a decision-making part of you. When this happens, and you catch yourself, and you want to pinch that particular bias, pause for a moment and ask yourself: "What don't I already know about this situation?". That then stops us from going down a rabbit-hole of knowledge and redirects us to ask the question “What don’t I already know here?” When we get that under control, we can move on to step
4. Become a learner. Start a conversation with the other person about their behavior or about their experience. Become an earnest learner, in other words, don't confront the behavior that you might not understand, as if it is bad, but instead ask questions out of interest. Tell them you are curious to understand more about how they operate and why. If it's appropriate, tell them that you are interested in personality psychology, but that you are not intending to dissect their every behaviour or anything like that. What you’re genuinely and earnestly wanting to do is understand them better. Pick one topic or behavior at a time, because tackling lots of areas at once can feel attacking sometimes, or feels like you’re pointing out lots of things that are ‘wrong’ with the other person. So start with one thing at a time and really get to an understanding of it.
By now you may be thinking: Yeah. I want to start blitzing my biases! If that's the case, I encourage you to join us on our Personality Decoding process. You can find out more information on www.merjasumiloff.com/decoderyourpersonality.
Now, what was your biggest take-away from today's question? What is something that really spoke to you, or one particular part of you, or the 4 People Within you? Perhaps you would like to make your own post about it and share your own experience in more detail? I would love to hear about that. Remember to tag me into your post so that I can see your findings ( Merja Sumiloff MBTI on Facebook). As we heal our relationships and become more of who we are, what tends to happen is the whole world becomes a better, safer and more integrated place for all of us. When you do your work it really helps all of us. Thank you, Eirini, for contributing to this healing with your question. It has been a privilege for me to share this time with you!
Thank you for being a part of my vision of creating more compassionate and effective individuals and leaders all around the world .
Have a day full of wonder!