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How do we best interact with our conflict type?

Today's question is from Zubir, thank you for your amazing question. Your question was:

“How do we best interact with our conflict type? For example, I'm an INFP, and ESTPs are my conflict type since our first functions are each other's vulnerable functions.”

This is a great question because oftentimes we can feel like we don’t actually understand how somebody can be so different to us when it’s our conflicter type. Oftentimes we ourselves also don’t feel very understood by those types. A perfect example are the Intuitive Feeler types or the Perceiver Feeler types, compared to Sensor Thinker types or Thinker Perceiver types. There’s a whole different aspect to the differences that we often find frustrating but we don’t know what to do about. So today’s video is all about how we are different, how the conflicter types are operating differently, and what you can do about those situations when they arise. I’ll give you a hint: more importantly, what you can do about those situations before they arise!

First, let's start with how our MBTI conflict styles are different from one another. Let's start with the likely cause of conflict:

For Feeler Perceivers (INFPs ENFPs, ISFPs, ESFPs, people who have feeler and Perceiving functionalities within them) the likely cause of conflict is challenges to their personal values.

For Feeler Judgers (INFJs, ENFJs, ISFJs, ESFJs) it is challenges to their core beliefs

For Thinker Perceivers (INTP, ENTP, ESTP, ESTP) it is challenges to how they experience trust and

For Thinker Judgers (INTJs ENTJs, ISTJs ESTJs) it is a challenge to the perceived or accepted authority.

Let’s take a deeper dive into this in relation to the INFP/ESTP dynamic.

What this means is that an INFP is likely to get provoked by their values being challenged, whereas the ESTP will more likely be triggered by perceived lack of trust in the situation. So, already you can see how very differently the two Perceiver types show up in a situation of conflict. It’s nice to know what to do about it when it arises, but if we want to really prevent this kind of activation from happening, both people- the INFP and the ESTP- can show up a little bit differently in that relationship dynamic with one another. The INFP needs to learn to communicate their values effectively before the conflict arises. INFPs are all about the values in this particular contrasting dynamic, so they need to really get to know what they’re values are and how to present those values in a way that makes sense to the ESTP. Now, the ESTP needs to learn to communicate authentically about what trust means to them. If you look at this person constantly measuring the level of trust that’s present in the interaction, the INFP can overlook that by simply focusing on their values. Whereas the ESTP can purely overlook the INFPs need to connect to their values, or for their values to be seen, and only focus on the trust, or lack of trust, which may have arisen because of, or prior to, the conflict.

Let's move on to the differences in desired outcomes of a conflict. These two types have different desires for the outcome of the conflict. I’ll go through the four different pairings:

For Feeler Perceivers (INFPs ENFPs, ISFPs, ESFPs) their desired outcome is respectful listening.

For Feeler Judgers it is the desire to keep the relationship intact, so that there’s no separation within the relationship.

For Thinker Perceivers it is a defined process of the conflict or progression of the issue that caused the conflict.

Whereas for Thinker Judgers it is closure or resolution. As in, what is the outcome that was come to and then they are ready to move on.

What this means is that an INFP feels the conflict is productive when everyone feels heard and understood. Because an INFP is an Inward Feeler, this needs to start with the self- “Am I feeling heard? Am I feeling understood?”. If those needs are not being met the INFP can feel like there was no productive outcome to the conflict.

On the other hand the ESTP feels that the conflict is productive only when a defined process has been followed throughout, or that there is progression to the issue at hand. The ESTP will not feel like the conflict is resolved if either a process was not followed or nothing improved about the issue at hand. As always, both types can bring so much to the table: The INFP needs to highlight the importance of respectful listening and understanding before the conflict arises. So, you can’t really demand respectful listening within the conflict because emotions are high and people are already on the back foot. This needs to happen beforehand. So if you really appreciate your relationships do this ahead of time!

The ESTP needs to learn to communicate what a process of conflict looks like for them, and why progression on the issue that led to the conflict is so important to them - again: before the conflict arises, because during the conflict these approaches of both INFP and ESTP can actually look like attacks because they are so different.

Let's move on to the differences in how these conflict pairs deal with emotions in conflict because, a you can imagine, they’re very different:

For Feeler Perceivers deal with the emotions by accepting them. Feeler Perceiver accept emotions.

For Feeler Judgers it is by including the emotions. Feeler Judgers show in situations of conflict by including emotions in the conflict.

For Thinker Perceivers it is all about excluding emotions from the conflict.

For Thinker Judgers it is by denying that emotions are relevant to the conflict. So, Thinker Perceivers exclude emotions from conflict, whereas Thinker Judgers deny that there are emotions involved in the conflict.

What this means for INFP-ESTP relationship is that

the INFP is likely to demand authentic expression of emotion within a conflict and will feel frustrated if they don’t get it. If authentic expressions of emotions are not present in the situation of conflict the INFP can feel like it’s not an authentic conflict. On the other hand- and here’s where it gets interesting and can get really muddy- the ESTP is likely to demand exclusion of emotions within a conflict. So you can see where this is coming from. It’s also possible that the ESTP will want to marginalise the presence of emotions in conflict. Because they want to exclude the emotions whereas INFPs want to accept, and include to a certain degree as well. So you can really see how that can be creating a challenge there.

Again, both types can bring gifts to the table. The INFP may choose to learn how to put forward their perspective without including the emotional words, or charges, or hooks. And the ESTP may choose to learn how to include feeling words in their communication during conflict. Again, this is best done, practiced outside of conflict situations!

Finally, let's look at how these conflict pairs define satisfaction around the issue of the conflict:

Feeler Perceivers are usually satisfied when there is open exploration of the issue.

For Feeler Judgers are satisfied when there is no lingering bitterness or separation.

For Thinker Perceivers are generally satisfied when the outcome can subsequently be analyzed.

And the Thinker Judgers are satisfied when the conflict is over.

What this means for INFP-ESTP relationship is that the INFP wants to leave the conflict loop open for exploration, whereas the ESTP wants a specific outcome to arise and be analysed. So you can see how the purpose of the conflict and the ending of the conflict, as well as the uses of the conflict as a tool for creating more intimacy within your relationship, are so different for the two types. Maybe you can see how those two types can feel quite separated in a conflict situation. Like with all other examples, both INFP and ESTP can bring something to the table here: The INFP can agree to a "current findings of this conflict". In other words, give it a bit of a form as to what the findings of the conflict are, and learn how to analyse the conflict through improving their critical thinking skills and excluding emotions in their communication. I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, saying that INFPs don’t do critical thinking, or that they aren’t good at it. What I am saying is that we can all get better at our critical thinking capacities and then bring those findings, which are purely based on factual situations, to the table. Imagine you are an INFP and you have massive emotional intelligence and then you’re also bringing the good enough skills of psychological or theoretical intelligence to the table. How’s that for a super human! The ESTP, on the other hand, can learn how to not over-analyse something. They can learn how to stop the analytical process and engage the INFP in their analysis by bringing in emotional and values-based conversation. So the ESTP can put their core findings into a more casual exploratory question when presenting it to the INFP. They can try and match that question, or include within the question some values that are important to the INFP.

Fantastic question! I really enjoyed answering this question, Zubir. This question is from the Healing group and it may be a little bit technical, but if you’re in a Healing space don’t worry about not ‘getting’ everything because your brain might also be in a Healing space. That means it needs encouragement, and love, and care, and nourishment, and inclusion, and that’s completely cool! But, Zubir, you asked this question so I wanted to address it in the group within which it was asked.

If you are in a Development space this might all make complete sense to you and you might be really enjoying this answer.

I’d love to hear if this is a helpful answer for you, if it gave you a bit more sense of how you could take this and implement it your own life. I would love to hear your thoughts or your main take-away from it? Was there something you would want to hear more about?

If you are serious about your personal healing and development, and you want to change your relationship dynamics, I encourage you to join us on our Personality Decoding process because it gives you an optimum starting point that is authentic and tailor-made for you. Check it out here: Personality Decoding | MerjaSumiloff.

It’s all well and good for us to talk about these things in theory but what do these things actually mean to you and your relationships? That’s what will really make the difference in your situation. If you’re serious about your Healing or Development journey and you want things to change, you will have to change things. So let’s not use this just as intellectual entertainment, let’s take some action. Find another person who’s going to hold you accountable and start learning new skills around you vision and direction of improved relationships.

Thank you for sharing this space with me, and thank you for being a part of our vision of creating more compassionate and effective, integrated individuals and leaders all around the world.

Have a day full of wonder.

I’m Merja Sumiloff. I’m the Personality Decoder and I show my clients and people who come to me how to heal and grow your relationships without massive disruption to your day-to-day life.

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