I can look at it clearly, without emotion.
What I like about talking to Thinking types is that I know they can listen to me describe a painful occurrence without feeling the pain themselves.
I don’t want to cause other people pain, and sometimes, when I’m confiding to the Fs who are close to me, I realize it’s affecting them, and I end up trying to comfort them and telling them it’s not so bad. With a T, I know I can describe exactly how bad I feel, because they won’t necessarily feel it with me.
“I don’t have empathy; I can’t feel what they’re feeling, but I can step back a bit and hear the logic of what they’re trying to get across,” says John, ENTP, “I can understand their argument.”
Also, when emotions are strong, Ts can remain untouched by them and continue thinking clearly. I wish I had a Ts ability not to feel the pain or confusion of others, especially when it’s someone close to me, because then I wouldn’t be so anxious to make it go away.
“My husband, an INTJ, is able to remain calm when I’m upset, which is not my usual experience,” says Marthanne, ENFJ. “Usually, when I get upset, everyone around me gets twice as upset, which is quite annoying. I remember the first Thanksgiving we spent together when we were dating. I was cooking the turkey, and I had not allowed the right amount of time and I was supposed to take it from my house to his house. I was all upset, but he didn’t get upset, or show impatience or condemnation for my being upset. He just listened through the feeling somehow to what the problem and the solution were.”
“I can look at it clearly, without emotion,” says Pam, INTJ. “If you’re looking for someone to help you solve a problem, I’m a good one to talk to.”
Also, Ts are more able to keep in mind that even though someone is making a very good case that they have been wronged, there is probably another side to the story.
“I don’t let emotions get in the way and I try to stay fair,” says Jamie, ISTJ. I’ve learned the hard way that there are two sides to everything, so even though their emotions are legitimate, I should not take sides based on hearing one person’s side of it. I can listen and commiserate and say, Wow, that’s really rough on you,” instead of “That’s totally unfair!”
Fs might try to be good listeners simply because people like good listeners. But Ts usually need a different rationale. They may decide to become good listeners because it makes them more effective in their work. Good listening, for example, is important in the work of parenting.
“When I was raising children, I realized how important it was to be a good listener,” says Dee, ENTP. “I raised a 6-year old and 12-year-old from my husband’s first marriage, and the first year we lived together, I was amazed at how much they demanded my attention. They really needed to talk, especially because their mom had been dying for years. Kids have a way of focusing your attention. They’ll tell you, “Mom, you’re not listening.”
Good listening is also important in the workplace, and Ts often get their initial insights about the importance of listening from workplace training or experience.
“I worked on a project with two other people where we had to interview managers,” says John, ENTP. “We would get together after we’d interviewed a manager to discuss what we’d heard, but we’d spend the whole time arguing about what they had really said. Finally, I started to take notes and write them up afterwards. We were shocked to see that we do a lot of interpreting and extrapolating. For example, a guy would say, “We manage on performance,” and we thought he must mean he’s measuring the outcome of the training programs. Then we’d find out he wasn’t measuring the outcomes. “Didn’t he say that?” someone would ask, but when we consulted the notes, we realized that he never said he was measuring performance. After that insight, we became much more effective interviewers. We could ask great follow-up questions because now we were listening to what people actually said.”
“Once we had a series of staff trainings on listening,” says Jamie, ISTJ. “We’d do an exercise where you listen, and then repeat it back to make sure you understood what they intended. My first reaction was: “That’s positively silly; I know what they said. But when we did the exercise it was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I didn’t really hear what they were saying at all.’ Just knowing that so much miscommunication is possible opened my mind to the thought that listening isn’t just hearing, there’s more to it.”
“The other part of that training was that we should not just listen to words, but also to the feeling behind it. For example, if they said, ‘You never do your share of the laundry,’ I would think we were talking about laundry, but what the person is really saying is ‘I feel used.’ “We’re not honest partners.” “I’m just here to do chores for you.” It is about being valued in the relationship, and that’s what really needs to be addressed.”
Resource: The Type Reporter, No. 98