Do Some Personality Types Tend Conflict and Others to Get Along Better? Do Some Type Relationships Tend to Be Conflictive?
First in a Four Part Series
Would You Like to Have Spent the Afternoon Visiting with Albert Einstein?
Why do we instantly like some people and others we don’t—we sense an immediate conflict with them? There has been a great deal of study and speculation about this, but I’m convinced there is a strong component of personality type involved.
Albert Einstein, physicist and scientist, is not just one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century, but has an iconic face that appears everywhere still today on t-shirts, advertising, illustrations, and in a host of other media. His face and manner connect with a great many people as the face of the genius scientist.
Einstein – an Unpopular iNtuitive
Yet Einstein—an extreme iNtuitive—connected with few people before the age of 20. He wasn’t able to talk before age three and his teachers thought of him as lazy and careless. He didn’t talk about what other people, much less children, talked about. Instead of talking about sports and what was happening with the other kids, he wanted to talk about what were the gases in the atmosphere that made the sky appear blue. A great topic of conversation for the young Einstein was what it would be like to ride around the universe on a beam of light. School seemed boring and achieving academic success got in the way of pursuing interesting ideas.
Einstein, like many iNtuitives, did what interested him, and school didn’t. People don’t just squeak by as a mediocre mathematician and cram study to pass tests at the last minute to earn a PhD, but that’s what Einstein did. His teachers had so little faith in him that none of them would offer him a recommendation, and the only job that Einstein could snag was a low level position at the patent office. There he languished for seven years and would never have emerged had it not been for his famous theories.
What Makes iNtuitives the Way They are?
Einstein’s inability to connect with people was not just that he was a genius, but that he was an iNtuitive in a world where 73% of people are Sensing—what they know comes from the reality of their senses. Einstein’s way of knowing things came from his reaction to his outer world through his intuitive insights about that world.
Thomas Edison used a Sensing methodology when he invented the electric light bulb, based on the foundation of years of round-the-clock lab experimentation verified with copious and methodical notes. Einstein had no laboratory methodology of experimentation. It was his brain, intuition, and a notebook that enabled him to develop the theory of relativity that changed the world. Others later proved his theories. Doing the work of verification was to be done by someone else.
Sensing and iNtuition—Learning to Live Together and Work Productively
It would be tough to work with Einstein if he were in the cubicle next to you in the organization where you are employed. He’d be difficult to manage as a direct report, and perhaps not a hard charger as a project manager. His mind would be on the order of the universe, and my mind would be on getting orders out the door.
Few of us are either as intelligent or as theoretical and abstract as Einstein, Yet iNtuitives tend to focus on the big picture and the theoretical more than the nuts and bolts components of a job. Both iNtuitives and Sensors can begin by irritating each other and end up in a major, destructive organizational war.
Here are a few ways that iNtuitives can connect.
As an iNtuitive, carefully rehearse your idea before you present it to people on your team. The idea may have burst into your head this morning full blown and wonderful, but you don’t have it in a form where those around you will understand and get on board. Blurting out your idea before it’s organized in your mind can turn out to be like a child telling you about the cartoon movie he saw—“Oh, and I forgot to tell you, it wasn’t a giraffe that attacked, it was a Martian—but then there was this really funny frog.” Without a coherent presentation of your idea you’ll give everyone brain whiplash. Rehearse and organize before you present.
Welcome and Embrace the Storming Phase When Team Members Don’t Immediately Embrace Your Idea. As an iNtuitive, it’s your role to think in new and different directions. As a Sensor my role is to keep things moving forward and on track—new ideas really slow things down. Your idea upsets stability and don’t you see the value of stability? As an iNtuitive, tell your story and be ready to tell it over again. When people hear the story often, they’ll see it as part of the landscape and less upsetting. Don’t feel challenged or defensive. Be prepared to explain how your idea may be new, but it achieves traditional objectives for success as old as the organization itself.
Your Idea Deserves Questions—That Will Make It Strong. Getting Buy-in for Ideas Is Work. So Be Prepared. The iNtuitive often sees his or her idea full blown and implemented in his or her mind. They see questioning of their ideas as a stealth attack on the homeland. No doubt that some questions are devised to deal a deathblow to an idea at birth, but no idea will be successful without the barrage of questions that always come. Field questions both with professional competence and respect for those who are asking.
As an Intuitive, Make Everyone See You’re Willing to Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel and that You Are an Integral Component of Making Things Happen. The stereotype of the iNtuitive is someone who has grand ideas and wants someone else to carry them out. It’s the picture of the person who walks into a room and tells co-workers, I’ve got this idea, blah, blah, blah, now run with it and get back to me when it’s done. Although you may not be the implementor of the project, find out what your people need and be sure they get resources, solutions to problems along the way, and recognition for achievement.
As a Sensor, Be Open to Seeing Things Work a Different Way
As a Sensor, your focus may be on optimizing the efficient way you’ve created to accomplish your work. You may have focused on process and process improvement. The iNtuitive may be seeing a bigger picture of markets and technology that are changing. I know many Sensors who have developed a relationship with iNtuitives that embraces new ideas and ways of doing things and strengthens the iNtuitive’s vision of the future. The Sensor rightly holds the iNtuitive responsible for making ideas happen, not just for having ideas. In some cases the Sensor may convince the team that new isn’t always better—which it isn’t. Yet a working relationship between iNtuitives and Sensors is one in which the Sensor is open to rethinking the world of his or her work.