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  1. #1
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Default Types which remain on topic

    Which types are more inclined to remain on topic, either in threads or in person, and which are instead liable to begin to mirror who they are talking with, deviously seek to manipulate and exploit interactions with the topic as a ruse or cover, and which are liable to forget the topic entirely, repeatedly and require to be brought back to it in order to reach a conclusion, make a decisions and summarise discussion?

    I've been thinking about this in real life a lot lately, I know a lot of people who consistently get off topic, it makes for poor comprehension of discussion, purposeless discussion or interaction (so far as the actual topic is involved as opposed to scheming or socialising) and yet a lot of the people I am thinking of believe they are good material for management, have a very well developed sense of deserving promotion and, at least, a mild contempt for others. This isnt restricted to any one field either, the people I know are IT, social service, estate agents, even some cinema attendents.

    I'm beginning to believe this is type related. Or at the very least personality or character related.

  2. #2
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    ENFP is certainly one of the primary "off topic" types.

    However, I'd like to point out that generally we do it because we feel that the subject we are deviating into is related to the topic at hand, and enriches global understanding, not because we seek to manipulate or exploit (as Ps we don't tend to have much of an agenda when communicating), nor because we are completely airheaded. I think there is also an inherent assumption that we are retaining the initial topic in the greater context of the conversation - it is not "lost" and will be returned to once pertinent additions are made. Take a look at any particularly long ENFP discussion - it will start, deviate, "loop" back to the original topic, deviate, loop, deviate, and so on. Each time the original topic is returned to, it is "richer" having gained the additional perspective from each deviation.

    So while I understand aggravation with people who cannot stay on topic when it is necessary for an efficient decision to be reached, I think you're coming at this from a very ENTJ point of view, as changing topic is not necessarily manipulative or pointless. I suspect it is mostly just a manifestation of differing priorities during communication. It can be, and most often probably is, reasonable and benevolent - or at the very least unintentional.

    Additionally, it is notable that what you see as on topic may be more restrictive than what others see as on topic. For example, in the context of management, some managerial types tend to be very good at the logistics of management, but will be less aware of people factors. My own head manager gets frustrated when lower management raises personal issues "unrelated" to productivity, but later will come and question us as to why something isn't going according to plan. Well - we already tried to tell him. As for feelings of entitlement for a promotion - I think that is a separate issue all together.

    That all said, I have an ENFP coworker who inserts personal details into unrelated group conversation (discussion on holiday plans - "so my workout is going really well lately!") to an extent that it has become a running joke in our department.

  3. #3
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    I don't know about types. People tend to comment on my ability to "bring it back". That does not mean a harsh rigidity for topic boundaries, more like a listening skill that is able to hear out the author or speaker and also make connections and integrate many disparate points into commentary related to the origin of the discussion.
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  4. #4
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    INFJs probably. Longwinded and on topic they usually are i've noticed. Also they tend to relate personal experiences intuitively understood and analysed than comment.

    And sjs. I seldom see them go crazy off topic.

  5. #5
    Entertaining Cracker five sounds's Avatar
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    My INTJ stays on topic well. He does tend to take long pauses, maybe even being silent on a topic and allowing the conversation to go elsewhere for a while as he continues to think about the original conversation. This is different from switching topics, because to him, he never left the first one, but discussion often includes periods of thought. I've learned to deal with these silent periods much better than I used to. I do occasionally ask him to let me know he's still thinking about it.

    Also, word up to skylights. I used to be really aware that I might come off as flighty to others. That really bugged me since I know that all the different directions I can go in are the product of my active and intuitive mind. I do sometimes even bring my INTJ back to a topic if he's gone silent or changed the subject because he wasn't coming up with a good response. I'm not one to let issues go unresolved, and I think I help us talk things out that might not have the perfect answer he's waiting for.
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  6. #6
    filling some space UnitOfPopulation's Avatar
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    My INTJ-INTP wife has tendencies to remain on topic which are not always that strong. Usually, they are.
    An ENFJ friend of mine likes to discard topics after quick use, though there's some persistance, altough it's weak.
    Another INTJ friend of mine is very persistant to topics, although with ability to change them.
    An xNFx friend of mine has a nice combination of persistence and changing the topic which I like a lot.
    I think I maintain a combination of persistent and changing topics at most times. I Keep some topics on for a long time, but not all the time. I get back to them. There's many rare topics, but there's more persistent topics.

  7. #7
    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    It depends on how important the topic is. If we are resolving a conflict, we are sure as heck going to remain on topic. If the other person tries to stray off the topic, I will even make a direct request to come back to the topic.

    Most of the time, I find myself bringing in additional threads that may seem unrelated to the topic, but if you give me time I'm going to link it to the topic to support a view or offer a different angle on the thing.

    If we are not talking about anything in particularly serious, then off-topic away!

    In short, I think it depends on the purpose of that interaction. If it's to get some decision or agreement out of it, then I'm more inclined to stay on topic. If it's more 'get to know you' and 'share your ideas', then it's best just to let the conversation flow.
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