You feel most “different” in times of conflict.
Men got into their roles because of their bodies. In primitive times, if you had superior size and strength and weren’t tending the children, it was natural that you went out and hunted animals for food and fought off the enemy. In other words, you did the fighting and the killing.
Today, men are still expected to hunt, although now it’s more for money and power. And they’re still expected to fight and kill, even if it’s just the competition!
But when it comes to hurting people or taking money and power from them, F men don’t feel cut out for the job. All of the F men interviewed for this issue said it’s their unwillingness to hurt people that separate them most from other males. They first noticed it when they were boys, when they were called upon to be physically aggressive.
“I found playground fights to be very distasteful” says David, INFJ, “and it was traumatic when I got into a fight.” “I avoided fights,” says David, ESFP, “I just wouldn’t rise to the bait and I’d walk away. It didn’t bother me to be called ‘chicken’.”
Did the Feeling boys try to stop the fights they saw? Not usually. Fs in situations of conflict tend to freeze up. They are often so shocked by what is happening that they can’t react. Also, they don’t want to do anything to get the conflict directed toward them. When F boys were able to stop their friends from hurting people, it was because they were able to give them a good reason not to do so. But Feeling boys do get into fights. Usually it’s because their feelings have been badly hurt, or they’ve seen someone else being hurt. In other words, their fighting is more defensive than offensive.
F boys become F men but they never lose their distaste for conflict. At the same time, they never lose their desire to defend the underdog, so they find themselves in conflict much more than they’d like. It’s their lifelong quest to find ways to successfully ‘fight’ for what they believe in, when they don’t believe in fighting.
You learn to hide your feelings around boys.
F men said they got into trouble for expressing their feelings around boys, and being Fs, they wanted to be accepted, so they chose, at very young ages, to hide those feelings. “In friendships with boys, I often did not express my feelings,” says Dan, ENFP. “I got along because I knew how to get along.”
Acceptance is important to Fs, and sometimes that means doing what others are doing when your heart is not really in it. “I kept it a secret that I was sensitive,” says Christopher, ISFJ.
Although F boys may not be admired by other boys for their Feeling talk, they can be admired by boys for their Feeling ways. “I was a leader among the boys because my F extended to them,” says Roger, ISFJ. “I was accommodating, agreeable, and easy to get along with.”
But you learn you can take your feelings to girls and women.
Feeling boys learn they can’t talk like an F in the company of most other boys, but they also learn that they can open up with most females. It begins with their mothers. “I was always close to my mother. We related well and could talk about things,” says Tom, ENFJ.
F boys soon realize that when they’re in the company of girls or women, the conversation often sounds interesting and pleasant to them. However, being around girls and women is accepted only in small doses when you’re a young boy. “I had no problem with girls, I understood them,” says Bob, ESFJ. “But I knew that boys weren’t supposed to have girls as friends, so I didn’t hang around them too much.”
Later on, in adolescence, Feeling boys become more conscious of their Feeling side, and really want to share it with someone. And once they’re teenagers, it’s OK to be around girls. And, it seems that from adolescence on, Feeling men have more female friends than male friends.
One of the pleasant surprises in life for Feeling men is that, because it’s unusual for a man to care about feelings, to be romantic, tender-hearted and thoughtful, it carries more weight than it does for Feeling women.
Your F can make you a great family man.
Fs derive the bulk of their self-esteem from their relationships, and their most important relationships are usually with their families. So as much as they may love their careers, they’ll still need more time with their families than most Ts do.
“I wouldn’t consider taking a job that didn’t allow me to be with my family,” says Tom, ENFJ. “They need my presence more than wealth.” “My home and my family are central to me, much more than my work,” says David, ESFP. I’m motivated to work only to provide for my family.”
And even when they’re on the job, F men can make their work atmosphere feel like a family. “I lead by getting to know my soldiers inside and out,” says John, ESFJ.
But your F can get in the way of being a good provider.
F men lack the “killer instinct” and they find out that it’s hard to make a lot of money without it. If they work in professions dominated by Fs, they’re usually underpaid because Fs, unless they are well disciplined, are not motivated to put high financial value on their work, to strategize ways to best the competition, to put the needs of the business over the needs of the people, or to make decisions based on objective data, like the bottom line.
“Usually, when people go to negotiate agreements, they think, “What’s the least I can concede?” says Tom, INFP. “I’m thinking, “What’s the most generous I can be?” If they go into a T environment, they may be able to get by, but it’s unlikely they’ll earn high-income positions. Like all Fs, they struggle to find careers that are in line with their values, and that usually means less and less money.
Tom probably speaks for most F men when he sums up his attitude about money and power, and his ability as a provider: “It’s not easy to make money when the kinds of things you want to spend time on are not rewarded financially. I think I’ll always be able to provide the basics for my family. I know what I need to do to be comfortable, but I don’t think I’ll ever be in a position of power because people in power have to make choices which I wouldn’t make.”
So no matter what career you choose, you learn that you need some T skills.
“I work in the federal government – a very T environment,” says Dexter, INFJ, “so I’ve had to build up my T muscle. I’ve learned that Ts take your words more seriously. They analyze what you say, word by word, and dissect it to an accurate state, so I’ve had to be careful about my imprecise and insufficiently analytical speech. I’ve learned that I can’t work on something till it feels right to me, and then take it into my boss. He’s just not interested in what I feel; he can’t even get started on it. I have to have collected the facts to support it. I check around a lot, and call different offices. I analyze things through, ask myself what I’m missing, anticipate other people’s criticisms, and get all the possible objections.”
“I’ve noticed that on matters of judging and disciplining people, which we have to do in the military, the Ts try to make rules where everyone is treated the same,” says John, ESFJ. “The Fs, on the other hand, don’t think that any two cases are exactly alike, and look at all the extenuating circumstances in the person’s life. I’ve learned that you have to find a happy medium between the two. I’ve developed a sixth sense about what decision I can make, and still function in both worlds.”
Besides developing T skills to survive in a T-dominated world, some men are finding that it’s also useful to make Ts aware that Feeling input is essential to successful decision-making.
“I used to go into my managers and explain a solution to a problem and they’d say, “Where are your facts?” says Bill, INFP. “I’d say, “I don’t need facts, trust me, I know I’m right.” Well, they never did, of course. Last year we were all given training in the MBTI and since then they’ve begun coming to me and asking me for advice. I’ve become the link between management and employees. I’ve gone from being a “bad fit” to a real asset to the company.”
The TYPE Reporter, Vol. 4, No. 6 & 7 written by Susan Scanlon
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