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  1. #1
    Senior Member TenebrousReflection's Avatar
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    Default Fe/Fi and the desire to improve empathy and social abilities?

    It has been pointed out to me that I have difficulties with adapting to some "social norms", and I'd like to work on improving that aspect of myself, but I don't even know if "social norms" is actually the right phrase or not, and I feel at a loss as to how to go about it. A paraphrase of the problem is that I don't "do the appropriate things at the appropriate time".

    It is natural for me to be concerned about the feelings of others and any decisions I make I do put a lot of thought into "how will this affect others", so I think I have at least some positive Fe traits in that regard, but desire to be better in social matters does not seem to equate to actual ability to do so and I'm not sure if its a type limitation, or if I'm going about things the wrong way, so at this point I'm open to ideas about how to improve my Fe/social abilities/awareness etc.

    I do try to be polite and courteous and say "please" and "thank you", but to me those are just niceties and sometimes I either get absent minded or distracted and forget to say those things when it would be appropriate to do so and that has resulted in hurt feelings (specifically of an ESFJ and an ISxJ), so I'd really like to find a way to condition myself or change my perspective or something so that doing those things for other people becomes more natural and automatic (when I am around those people, I make a conscious effort to be more alert and follow the protocols I think they expect, but it takes a lot of mental energy to do that which can cause other problems and its also not as sincere as I'd like it to be). I don't think its the change in behavior I find draining so much as the effort I need to put into being alert (Se) enough to recognize when I should say something, but thats just my theory.

    In the times where it has been pointed out to me that I hurt someone's feelings, it is nearly always what I didn't do (that they considered a "social norm" or "social expectation") that they thought everyone should be aware of. I don't know if "social norms" and "social expectations" equate to manners and etiquette or if they are something different - I did learn some manners as a child, but I also resisted learning (or abandoned on adulthood) the ones I could not see the purpose behind and that may be a factor here where I need to re-evaluate the manners I once perceived as pointless courtesies, but I'm not sure if I'm even evaluating the problem properly or not.

    Although I don't think it has caused many hurt feelings I am also conscious of the fact that saying "your welcome" when being thanked is a difficult/discomforting thing for me and I'm more likely to try to downplay being thanked or deflect thanks with by further explaining why I did what I did or said what I said that resulted in being thanked.

    I often feel like my values don't match those of Fe users (which I think is fairly common for Fi users), so even if I try to put myself in their shoes it does not work as well as I'd like because I just don't think like they do. The golden rule becomes very broken when doing for others what I'd want them to do for me is taken as rude or insensitive. I try to keep a mental catalog of other peoples values that are different from mine over time and it can help in some situations, but it often seems like that is not enough to really be empathic toward people that are very different from me.

    It does really bother me to know that I've unintentionally hurt the feelings of others through my flawed social abilities, so I'd really like to find ways to avoid repeating these mistakes, but as I mentioned, I feel at a loss as to how to go about improving that aspect of myself.

    (edit)
    After a bit more reflection on this, I think my problems can be further refined to gratitude and reciprocity being relativly low on my value scale (and very important to others) combined with ocasional absent mindedness...
    (keys2cognition) Fi (47.6), Ne (36.8), Fe (36.8), Si (31.6), Ti (29.7), Ni (27.4), Te (17.2) Se (12.5) - subject to change - last updated 11JAN2012
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  2. #2
    Senior Member pinkgraffiti's Avatar
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    I have absolutely no advice to give you but I know exactly what you're talking about and I have the same problem and I also feel bad for it (so at least you're not alone).

  3. #3
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenebrousReflection View Post
    (edit)
    After a bit more reflection on this, I think my problems can be further refined to gratitude and reciprocity being relativly low on my value scale (and very important to others) combined with ocasional absent mindedness...
    It's always strange to me when people make threads essentially saying "I don't believe in or want to do X but other people expect X. What do I do?"

    heh

    It's clear to me that you should not do anything that you don't truly feel or want to do.

    And, yes, you will have people who want a piece of you nagging at you for while, but, eventually, they'll get tired and stop/give up/move on. They'll learn that it's quite pointless, not to mention, unsatisfying to force beliefs or values onto another free will.

    If it's any consellation, I had less manners when I was a child than I do now, even though I was taught them as a child. That's because when I got older I began to really appreciate and care for people more and this continues.

  4. #4
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    I am far from an expert on F of any sort, but will share my thoughts on the questions you have raised.

    Quote Originally Posted by TenebrousReflection View Post
    It has been pointed out to me that I have difficulties with adapting to some "social norms", and I'd like to work on improving that aspect of myself, but I don't even know if "social norms" is actually the right phrase or not, and I feel at a loss as to how to go about it. A paraphrase of the problem is that I don't "do the appropriate things at the appropriate time".

    It is natural for me to be concerned about the feelings of others and any decisions I make I do put a lot of thought into "how will this affect others", so I think I have at least some positive Fe traits in that regard, but desire to be better in social matters does not seem to equate to actual ability to do so and I'm not sure if its a type limitation, or if I'm going about things the wrong way, so at this point I'm open to ideas about how to improve my Fe/social abilities/awareness etc.
    I don't worry so much about what is considered appropriate, but rather what is logical in the situation. That logic, however, includes the effect of my actions on others, or at least my best estimate of it. If you make a point of considering how your actions affect others, you are already on the right track. You can't please everyone all of the time, and it is pointless to try. If your intentions are honorable, your facts and reasoning basically sound, and you are prepared to adjust for any miscalculation, you have done all you can. The other person bears some responsibility for how they react to you as well. You can only control your end of the interaction.

    Quote Originally Posted by TenebrousReflection View Post
    I do try to be polite and courteous and say "please" and "thank you", but to me those are just niceties and sometimes I either get absent minded or distracted and forget to say those things when it would be appropriate to do so and that has resulted in hurt feelings (specifically of an ESFJ and an ISxJ), so I'd really like to find a way to condition myself or change my perspective or something so that doing those things for other people becomes more natural and automatic (when I am around those people, I make a conscious effort to be more alert and follow the protocols I think they expect, but it takes a lot of mental energy to do that which can cause other problems and its also not as sincere as I'd like it to be). I don't think its the change in behavior I find draining so much as the effort I need to put into being alert (Se) enough to recognize when I should say something, but thats just my theory.

    Although I don't think it has caused many hurt feelings I am also conscious of the fact that saying "your welcome" when being thanked is a difficult/discomforting thing for me and I'm more likely to try to downplay being thanked or deflect thanks with by further explaining why I did what I did or said what I said that resulted in being thanked.
    I share your reservations about sincerity. I have no problem with the routine "please", "thank you", "excuse me" sort of thing, having been trained that way as a child, but any more extensive expression must honestly reflect my sentiments, or it just feels wrong. I have worked hard over the years trying to find viable compromises between what I really want to say (or leave unsaid), and at least some bare minimum that will keep the situation from turning unpleasant. I have never liked "you're welcome" either, and instead might say "not a problem", or "glad it helped", or "any time" - whatever makes sense in the situation. Perhaps you can tailor some of the expected niceties to your own personal style.

    Quote Originally Posted by TenebrousReflection View Post
    I often feel like my values don't match those of Fe users (which I think is fairly common for Fi users), so even if I try to put myself in their shoes it does not work as well as I'd like because I just don't think like they do. The golden rule becomes very broken when doing for others what I'd want them to do for me is taken as rude or insensitive. I try to keep a mental catalog of other peoples values that are different from mine over time and it can help in some situations, but it often seems like that is not enough to really be empathic toward people that are very different from me.
    I have often noted this problem with most expressions of the golden rule: we are not all alike, and don't all respond well to the same treatment. I understand not relating to the values of Fe users. Even with Fi only tertiary, it is much stronger than Fe which is at the bottom of the heap for me. If I have any advantage it is only that my strongest judging function is externally directed (Te). As such it can sometimes emulate Fe in a superficial cause-effect way. You should still have the overall advantage of (much) greater interpersonal sensitivity.
    Quote Originally Posted by TenebrousReflection View Post
    After a bit more reflection on this, I think my problems can be further refined to gratitude and reciprocity being relativly low on my value scale (and very important to others) combined with ocasional absent mindedness...
    Do you actually feel grateful in the situations where you feel gratitude is expected? I find it hard to come up with more than a simple "thank you" when I don't feel real gratitude, but when I do, it is easy to express. I have had to work more on expressing appreciation at work where I view the positive actions of others more as contributions to the organization rather than to me personally. I don't feel the same sense of personal gratitude, but have become better at expressing appreciation in this context as well.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  5. #5
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    I think I understand where you're conming from here. I think the only thing you can really do is what you've started to do here. Become conscientious, pay attention, try to be aware. Watch other people and their interactions, take mental note of the ones that produce nice results. You'll start to pick up on the cues, the protocol. It's a thing that there is no school for.

    It sounds like you might think that social niceties are fake. Well many things seem fake when you don't see the meaning and purpose behind them. Tecnically money is just pieces of paper/plastic/pot metal and also a rose is just a twig off of a thorn bush. Well, manners and social niceties have a lot of purposes in themselves, and even if they didn't, they're a type of language you should learn to speak so that you can be understood for what you want to say.

    Think of them as a tool in your kit, not a straight jacket.

  6. #6
    Senior Member TenebrousReflection's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giggly View Post
    It's always strange to me when people make threads essentially saying "I don't believe in or want to do X but other people expect X. What do I do?"

    Heh

    It's clear to me that you should not do anything that you don't truly feel or want to do.

    And, yes, you will have people who want a piece of you nagging at you for while, but, eventually, they'll get tired and stop/give up/move on. They'll learn that it's quite pointless, not to mention, unsatisfying to force beliefs or values onto another free will.

    If it's any consellation, I had less manners when I was a child than I do now, even though I was taught them as a child. That's because when I got older I began to really appreciate and care for people more and this continues.
    I don't feel like the expectations they have of me really go against anything I believe, its just a matter of placing a lot less importance on those things than they do ("ya, its nice if people do those things" (me) vs "when people don't do those things, I feel like they don't appreciate me" (them))

    There actually wasn't any nagging involved, I had to end up learning through a third party that I had hurt their feelings - guilt through word of mouth. Someone letting me know how I made them feel has far more of an impact on me than nagging has - I might give in to nagging, but its just to get it out of the way, but learning that I unintentionally hurt someone's feelings, that has a significant impact on me that motivates me to want to see what changes I can make and still be congruent with my values - the only opinion I have on manners is that many of them seem antiquated or illogical, but when it is presented from the point of view that learning them prevents distress to others, then I can see a reason to make an effort to improve in that area, but I still feel like I'm just trying to learn behavior to apply to certain situations without really understanding all the theory and history behind each gesture and that makes it harder for it to be a truly natural act.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis
    I have never liked "you're welcome" either, and instead might say "not a problem", or "glad it helped", or "any time" - whatever makes sense in the situation. Perhaps you can tailor some of the expected niceties to your own personal style.
    I do use "glad I could help" when it seems fitting to the circumstance, and I'm comfortable using "not a problem" in a work environment, but I find it discomforting to use that one for more personal matters. Being thanked for gifts or compliments is where I feel most at a loss as to how to followup when thanked. Is "hope you enjoy it" an appropriate alternative to "your welcome" for a gift? Are there some alternative ways to say "your welcome" for compliments - I seem to keep following up with more detail on why I gave the compliment in the first place to try to justify it and I'm pretty sure thats not a good approach.

    I have often noted this problem with most expressions of the golden rule: we are not all alike, and don't all respond well to the same treatment. I understand not relating to the values of Fe users. Even with Fi only tertiary, it is much stronger than Fe which is at the bottom of the heap for me. If I have any advantage it is only that my strongest judging function is externally directed (Te). As such it can sometimes emulate Fe in a superficial cause-effect way. You should still have the overall advantage of (much) greater interpersonal sensitivity.
    I do sometimes ponder if I have actual Fe traits or if I just emulate them with other functions. I'm usually pretty good at reading someones emotions and mood, and that is helpful in many relationships, but the element that is lacking is understanding of their motivations and value systems and even if I have that understanding, when it is significantly different from my own, it does make it more difficult to relate and converse with them and because they are fairly common in society, they see their views as normal and "common sense" and for those lacking their perspective, it can be easy to be seen by them as lacking "common sense" or "common courtesy" - they don't always realize that its not intentional when I ignore or don't put the same value on something thats important to them. Sometimes talking to them about it can go a long way toward clearing up misunderstandings, but when they are in a position of influence or authority it feels much riskier to try to approach them to talk things through (both risk of repercussions if I further offend them and risky in the sense that I can't approach the conversation with the same tone I would in a friend to friend chat so I have to not only speak a different temperament language but a different relationship status language as well).

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis
    Do you actually feel grateful in the situations where you feel gratitude is expected? I find it hard to come up with more than a simple "thank you" when I don't feel real gratitude, but when I do, it is easy to express. I have had to work more on expressing appreciation at work where I view the positive actions of others more as contributions to the organization rather than to me personally. I don't feel the same sense of personal gratitude, but have become better at expressing appreciation in this context as well.
    I do feel some gratitude, yes, but it was a matter of practical helpfulness (it was a significant help to me, but also a minimal time/resource sacrifice on their part) and while those can be very nice and very helpful, I don't put the same weight on those as I do for things that I perceive as gestures that truly come from the heart (not the same thing as being authentic - their gesture was an authentic kindness, just not rooted in emotion from my perspective), so the level of gratitude I felt was probably not proportional to what they felt I should feel and express.

    Quote Originally Posted by Qlip
    I think I understand where you're coming from here. I think the only thing you can really do is what you've started to do here. Become conscientious, pay attention, try to be aware. Watch other people and their interactions, take mental note of the ones that produce nice results. You'll start to pick up on the cues, the protocol. It's a thing that there is no school for.

    It sounds like you might think that social niceties are fake. Well many things seem fake when you don't see the meaning and purpose behind them. Technically money is just pieces of paper/plastic/pot metal and also a rose is just a twig off of a thorn bush. Well, manners and social niceties have a lot of purposes in themselves, and even if they didn't, they're a type of language you should learn to speak so that you can be understood for what you want to say.

    Think of them as a tool in your kit, not a straight jacket.
    Ya, being aware of the problem and having a desire to fix it do generally go a long way toward automatically doing the things that are needed to improve, but it always feels like there is more I can/should be doing even if there isn't.

    I'm more inclined to say that I feel they are overused than fake. Like anything else involving words, the more you say it, the less weight it really has regardless of how sincere you are. When I use "thank you" as an instinctual reaction, it is sincere enough that I don't feel I'm being fake, but when I feel like I'm consciously monitoring the situation to "say whats expected of me" or face judgment, then it starts to feel fake even if its a situation where I would have said it instinctively 90% of the time.
    (keys2cognition) Fi (47.6), Ne (36.8), Fe (36.8), Si (31.6), Ti (29.7), Ni (27.4), Te (17.2) Se (12.5) - subject to change - last updated 11JAN2012
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  7. #7
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    I have a limited amount of social skills but the ones I have are value based. If you think of manners and niceties as the decent thing to do, rather than conforming to norms, it will make it easier for you. It's like having a conversation with someone that you don't particularly want to, for one reason or another - it isn't your natural inclination/desire to talk to them but you disguise this and try to be pleasant, because it is the considerate thing to do. Going about it in this way means you're coming from a place of positive intentions, rather than simply toeing the line out of obligation to avoid upsetting people. This will make both you and others, happier because you won't feel like you're being dishonest.

    That said, this doesn't entirely solve the problem of the general lack of awareness of Fe social expectations. I'm still oblivious of these myself much of the time - about all you can do is make an attempt.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    Its about the social feedback and learning patterns in that, not about someone telling you what the norms are, because norms simply change from situation to situation and if you learn it through feedback, you get the whole picture better. And im not talking about people telling you that you were rude and learning from that(or that could be part of it), but about responding correctly to peoples tone of voice, why they would say some specific thing for you as a reply instead of something else, how their overall behavior changes when you say something to them and instead of apologizing that you brought it up, just talk about something else, since they dont want to talk about it etc etc.

    For example i saw this girl i know in the summer(friend of friends and we were hanging out in group). I saw her ex boyfriend few days before, they had broken up like month before(and i saw both first time at those times). She had a new boyfriend already(who wasnt around), so i thought it might not be wrong to mention that i saw her ex few days ago, so i mentioned it to her and could see that she didnt want to talk about him, even tho she didnt tell me that. So i decided not to talk about him and said something else that i was going to say about the time i saw him.

    Now some norm might say that dont talk about peoples ex boyfriends, but imo the norms are just bullshit, it could had very well been that she hadnt seen her ex in a while and was interested whats up with him, since they sort of slowly drifted apart and she already had a new boyfriend bla bla bla.

    Also its not just about using social feedback like this(where i saw she didnt want to talk about her ex) to guide you, but also about like building a map in your head about these things that happen around you and taking this same thing into consideration next time, but also keeping in mind that situations tend to change and might change quite a bit if you arent around often. But for example from now on ill try to keep away from topics that are connected to her ex, until/if she shows some signs of it being ok.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenebrousReflection View Post
    It has been pointed out to me that I have difficulties with adapting to some "social norms", and I'd like to work on improving that aspect of myself, but I don't even know if "social norms" is actually the right phrase or not, and I feel at a loss as to how to go about it. A paraphrase of the problem is that I don't "do the appropriate things at the appropriate time".

    It is natural for me to be concerned about the feelings of others and any decisions I make I do put a lot of thought into "how will this affect others", so I think I have at least some positive Fe traits in that regard, but desire to be better in social matters does not seem to equate to actual ability to do so and I'm not sure if its a type limitation, or if I'm going about things the wrong way, so at this point I'm open to ideas about how to improve my Fe/social abilities/awareness etc.

    I do try to be polite and courteous and say "please" and "thank you", but to me those are just niceties and sometimes I either get absent minded or distracted and forget to say those things when it would be appropriate to do so and that has resulted in hurt feelings (specifically of an ESFJ and an ISxJ), so I'd really like to find a way to condition myself or change my perspective or something so that doing those things for other people becomes more natural and automatic (when I am around those people, I make a conscious effort to be more alert and follow the protocols I think they expect, but it takes a lot of mental energy to do that which can cause other problems and its also not as sincere as I'd like it to be). I don't think its the change in behavior I find draining so much as the effort I need to put into being alert (Se) enough to recognize when I should say something, but thats just my theory.

    In the times where it has been pointed out to me that I hurt someone's feelings, it is nearly always what I didn't do (that they considered a "social norm" or "social expectation") that they thought everyone should be aware of. I don't know if "social norms" and "social expectations" equate to manners and etiquette or if they are something different - I did learn some manners as a child, but I also resisted learning (or abandoned on adulthood) the ones I could not see the purpose behind and that may be a factor here where I need to re-evaluate the manners I once perceived as pointless courtesies, but I'm not sure if I'm even evaluating the problem properly or not.

    Although I don't think it has caused many hurt feelings I am also conscious of the fact that saying "your welcome" when being thanked is a difficult/discomforting thing for me and I'm more likely to try to downplay being thanked or deflect thanks with by further explaining why I did what I did or said what I said that resulted in being thanked.

    I often feel like my values don't match those of Fe users (which I think is fairly common for Fi users), so even if I try to put myself in their shoes it does not work as well as I'd like because I just don't think like they do. The golden rule becomes very broken when doing for others what I'd want them to do for me is taken as rude or insensitive. I try to keep a mental catalog of other peoples values that are different from mine over time and it can help in some situations, but it often seems like that is not enough to really be empathic toward people that are very different from me.

    It does really bother me to know that I've unintentionally hurt the feelings of others through my flawed social abilities, so I'd really like to find ways to avoid repeating these mistakes, but as I mentioned, I feel at a loss as to how to go about improving that aspect of myself.

    (edit)
    After a bit more reflection on this, I think my problems can be further refined to gratitude and reciprocity being relativly low on my value scale (and very important to others) combined with ocasional absent mindedness...
    It sounds like you interact with people who care too much about insignificant things. It also sounds like you're letting it bother you so much that you're willing to change your attitude for them. I think it's important to have compassion for people, but you don't have to let them railroad you with their feelings in the process. We are messy. We all have flaws in the eyes of others. There will be more expectations even if you manage to fulfill some of the ones you feel guilty about breaking. Be true to yourself, not everything for everybody else.

  10. #10
    Senior Member TenebrousReflection's Avatar
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    Thanks,

    I think I'm already doing most of the things others have suggested here (and making a greater effort now to be more observant and look for learning opportunities). Based on all the responses I feel like I'm doing a better job of doing the things I should be than I thought I was. It may be the case that what triggered this is exceptional in regards to the expectations of the others involved, but those are people that are important to me (a very close friend is related to the two people i seem to have a habit of unintentionally hurting or offending), so if I can make minor changes to make interacting with them less uncomfortable, thats important enough to me to put some effort into, but just being more aware of the issue may be the most important change I needed, but I do find myself stressing over things like "did I remember to say please when I asked for ____", or "did I remember to say thanks (I had to edit that into this message because I forgot)", but I think thats part of trying to condition my automatic responses to include those things...
    (keys2cognition) Fi (47.6), Ne (36.8), Fe (36.8), Si (31.6), Ti (29.7), Ni (27.4), Te (17.2) Se (12.5) - subject to change - last updated 11JAN2012
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