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  1. #1
    Senior Member SpottingTrains's Avatar
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    Default ENFJ and Interaction

    I'm trying to decide how to explain this so it actually has a chance to make sense...

    I feel like every interaction I have takes place on multiple levels:

    The most basic being just the words that are spoken along with tone and shifts in voice.

    Following that is the impression that I get of them through the first level. This impression will be the guiding force that I use to decide how I react.

    Now basically I see all of these options of what I could say to them.. but attached to each of them are not only their reactions to what I could say but also how their view of me will change. It's like having a mirror held up to your face that you present and whenever your talking you get to see the changes instantly.

    Now imagine this in a social setting with multiple people and all of these strands flowing into you. Each one trying to take in as much as possible. You feel like you have multiple mirrors and as you speak a new face is presented to each individual depending on their values, mood and every other factor that you could think of. The worst part is you can see all of these mirrors surrounding you and the changes that happen instantly whenever you speak.

    In the past this has lead to paralysis in a social setting. Knowing that whatever you say will cause a change in perception- good or bad. Just this complete awareness can be so overwhelming and its taken me quite awhile to get a handle on it.

    Many will say that you should just be yourself, ignore the opinions of others but this is me. This is who I am and how I interact. To be myself is to be like this. Lately I've just been trying to block initial selection of what I should say and just spurt out whatever comes to mind but I still see the after effect of what I've said.

    Sorry if this was confusing, I was just curious I guess and needed it to get it on a paper-ish substance.
    "That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can."

  2. #2
    Senior Member Lookin4theBestNU's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this ST I completely identify with it. It sounds as though you are describing Fe in combination with Ni. It can be hard to assign words to these things but you did a nice job . The twist for me is that this awareness makes me wonder how/if others are viewing the situation in the same exact light. Instead of really seeking another persons opinion of me though I am seeking their level of genuineness/honesty. I can't say that I'm oblivious to anothers approval or dislike of me. I like to have a good time and warm feelings with others. I am OK if I don't have it too. As I've gotten older one of the biggest chains I cut was the NEED of this approval.

    Lately I've just been trying to block initial selection of what I should say and just spurt out whatever comes to mind but I still see the after effect of what I've said.
    Yes I tried this very same thing when I was young but it never really worked out for me. As you said you are going to have an impact either way. I enjoy maximizing on my communication so choosing my words carefully to get the desired result is of utmost importance whether or not the situation is positive or negative. I would say it is almost purely an efficiency driven process. People who speak of Fe really don't seem to have a clue most of the time assuming its some arbitrary manner in which we operate. Try explaining how it works with ENFJs especially though and you end up getting battered with ignorance unfortunately.

    Sorry if this was confusing, I was just curious I guess and needed it to get it on a paper-ish substance.
    You weren't confusing at all! Thanks for posting this it was nice.
    "At points of clarity, I realize that my life on earth is meaningless, and that I am merely a pawn in a bigger game. A game I cannot possibly understand or have control of. Thankfully, before depression sets in, I drift back into my cloudy, bewildered daily routine." **Joel Patrick Warneke**

  3. #3
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpottingTrains View Post
    I'm trying to decide how to explain this so it actually has a chance to make sense...

    I feel like every interaction I have takes place on multiple levels:

    The most basic being just the words that are spoken along with tone and shifts in voice.

    Following that is the impression that I get of them through the first level. This impression will be the guiding force that I use to decide how I react.

    Now basically I see all of these options of what I could say to them.. but attached to each of them are not only their reactions to what I could say but also how their view of me will change. It's like having a mirror held up to your face that you present and whenever your talking you get to see the changes instantly.

    Now imagine this in a social setting with multiple people and all of these strands flowing into you. Each one trying to take in as much as possible. You feel like you have multiple mirrors and as you speak a new face is presented to each individual depending on their values, mood and every other factor that you could think of. The worst part is you can see all of these mirrors surrounding you and the changes that happen instantly whenever you speak.

    In the past this has lead to paralysis in a social setting. Knowing that whatever you say will cause a change in perception- good or bad. Just this complete awareness can be so overwhelming and its taken me quite awhile to get a handle on it.

    Many will say that you should just be yourself, ignore the opinions of others but this is me. This is who I am and how I interact. To be myself is to be like this. Lately I've just been trying to block initial selection of what I should say and just spurt out whatever comes to mind but I still see the after effect of what I've said.

    Sorry if this was confusing, I was just curious I guess and needed it to get it on a paper-ish substance.
    No it's not confusing, I get you. I bolded the parts I really agree with. I'm at this exact same point and it's very weird for me to be self-aware of what I'm doing in this way, I feel like its unnatural and it makes me feel awkward in myself and with other people. I'm also at the point of giving a fuck/not giving a fuck so I will alternately plunge straight ahead without care of my perception and pick my way through rain drops. What I have tried to cultivate is being smooth about it so hopefully it doesn't show.

    So I'm going to give a very long winded-example of this and tell me if it's similar or anything. I'm not asking for people to agree with me, I'm just showing how this plays out in my head.

    "So how's your mother doing?"

    I get asked this question every other day. I suppose that many people on my floor at work know that my mother is sick. I was gone for three weeks earlier this year and was on a three day/week schedule for six weeks. I'm pretty outgoing at work and people comment they haven't seen me in awhile. I know most ask out of concern, not that this is keeping them up at night, but when they see me they remember and ask and I get it. Up until a few months ago, I would be one of those people asking if I knew a coworker I came into regular contact with had a very sick family member.

    This spring I began to absolutely hate people asking me about my mother. I knew that either my boss (unlikely...she sits in her office all day) or my directors (highly likely) told people what was wrong with her. I've gotten some details of my mother's health repeated back to me that I know didn't come from my mouth. I had to send them an email asking to please keep my personal information confidential which I can't believe I had to explicitly say to them and I wrestled with that for weeks.

    It feels so invasive...people look at me expectantly waiting for me to spill on them and the perception problem (and maybe I'm imagining this who knows?) is that when I don't spill for them it creates a tension in our relationship. This is an aspect of Fe I don't really like and I notice this has come from a lot of FJs at my job. It ties your hands in a way because you know how people will take it and I wonder would I be upset if they didn't ask, would I think they didn't care? Which way do I want it? Figuring that out helps me to know how to respond as well.

    This situation has totally caused me to question my "friendliness" and if I've led people on to having more depth than what I want. I've had to tell two people who yes, I've hung out with many times on the weekend and after work, gone shopping with, had really great conversations with, that I would consider friends in the broad sense of the definition that I don't want to talk about my mother with them. The moment when I just came right out with it, after I tried several times to politely dodge or change the subject over a period of months, I watched their faces fall and I knew things would just go south. I have nothing against them, they're great people, I like hanging out with them. But the relationship isn't like that. Believe it or not, I don't like to have friends just for a numbers game. When you can pinpoint no exact reason why you don't want your friendship with certain people to deepen you end up looking like the bitchy one, like someone extend a helping hand to you and you swatted it away. That causes me a sort of paralysis in dealing with people because it adds yet another fraught layer to relationships. Can I chill with the person and not have them think we're going to be BFFs? Why can't you just be satisfied with the relationship existing where it's at?

    I have the people that I want to talk to about my mother and how I feel and it feels gawky to have an understanding of why the other feels betrayed in some way, thinking one thing about the nature of our friendship and then I have to throw the curtain up about how it really is.

    And then it's maddening for me as well. Isn't it my prerogative who I reveal myself to? I have no obligation to spill my heart to people. I don't blame people because I consider myself a pretty open person, I don't have secrets to keep. So while I'll reveal something about myself that I think of as trivial, I'm realizing that other people may never say that in a group and it probably looks like I'm revealing really private stuff about myself. But when it's something I feel is truly personal, nothing I want to talk about except for a few select people, I feel like I've misled those who know what's going on but I haven't opened up to.

    It's awkward to watch people wait for the outpouring that never materializes. I remember I bumped into a coworker in the bathroom (Bathrooms are dangerous!) and she asked that dreaded question, and I said something like she's getting better, thanks for asking and smiled and said I'd see her later. I opened the door to leave thinking the conversation was over and she followed me out and restarted the conversation again. What you talked about kicked in: is she genuinely concerned, is she nosy, does she have something to share/advice but wants me to "invite" it before she just gives it, does she want to comfort me, why did she continue a conversation I obviously ended, how can I get out of this conversation gracefully with no hard feelings and communicate I appreciate her concern, how much of an artful dodger can I be without seeming dismissive? These thoughts fly through my mind within a matter of seconds.

    What I've found helpful is trying to figure out why I don't want to reveal myself to people who have shown themselves to be friendly and seem interested about me and not judge it against myself. Once again, I go back to it being my choice, I'm not obligated to expose myself just because I'm getting a push to. I have a boundary, but figuring out why the boundary is there works some of the kinks out in my mind. I don't really question the boundary, it's there, it's me, I do it and I have no problem with it because I've stayed out of a lot of drama because of it. Often I'm reacting to the person on some unconscious level and later on something happens for me to think, wow, it was a good thing you didn't go there with them.

    Eesh, my fingers hurt.
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  4. #4
    Senior Member SpottingTrains's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies Lookin and Proteanmix.

    @Lookin

    I also wonder about how people are viewing a situation. I actually believe that's one of the biggest things that I use to determine who I want to be friends with. I don't think my Fe could handle being with someone who reacts positively to the things I dislike or vice versa (though this is mainly concerning moral dilemmas).

    Efficiency also plays a big part for me just in life overall. I really have a constant urge to be efficient all the time and maybe it all just comes down to efficiency like you said.

    I think I'm going to continue to choose my words carefully but also make an effort to put out views I have that may not necessarily mesh with everyone involved. I guess I just have to get used to the negative reactions of people more.

    @Proteanmix

    That was quite the example haha but I understand what you're trying to say. I think it's just another incarnation of what I was talking about tied in with personal affairs.

    It all comes back to the multiple choices that float through our minds and the reactions we can see. Whether it's maintaining social grace or revealing our deepest secrets we are confronted with the issue of trust and who deserves it.
    "That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can."

  5. #5
    The Black Knight Domino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpottingTrains View Post
    I'm trying to decide how to explain this so it actually has a chance to make sense...

    I feel like every interaction I have takes place on multiple levels:


    The most basic being just the words that are spoken along with tone and shifts in voice.

    Following that is the impression that I get of them through the first level. This impression will be the guiding force that I use to decide how I react.

    Now basically I see all of these options of what I could say to them.. but attached to each of them are not only their reactions to what I could say but also how their view of me will change. It's like having a mirror held up to your face that you present and whenever your talking you get to see the changes instantly.

    Now imagine this in a social setting with multiple people and all of these strands flowing into you. Each one trying to take in as much as possible. You feel like you have multiple mirrors and as you speak a new face is presented to each individual depending on their values, mood and every other factor that you could think of. The worst part is you can see all of these mirrors surrounding you and the changes that happen instantly whenever you speak.

    In the past this has lead to paralysis in a social setting. Knowing that whatever you say will cause a change in perception- good or bad. Just this complete awareness can be so overwhelming and its taken me quite awhile to get a handle on it.

    Many will say that you should just be yourself, ignore the opinions of others but this is me. This is who I am and how I interact. To be myself is to be like this. Lately I've just been trying to block initial selection of what I should say and just spurt out whatever comes to mind but I still see the after effect of what I've said.

    Sorry if this was confusing, I was just curious I guess and needed it to get it on a paper-ish substance.
    Wow. Well-said and yes, I relate. The "mirrors" are always deployed with me. It's something like a mind meld, which can be as exhausting and precarious as juggling chain saws.

    I've gotten better about reacting on instinct over time, and there *are* a few people I know (unusually close to me) that I can just react in the moment with, but most of the time I have that screen from the "Terminator" behind my eyes giving me the best/most appropriate option.

    Granted, I tend to pick some questionable response options sometimes, and wind up kicking myself for it. And this isn't to say that I'm disingenuous, or that I weigh everything I say, but I do weigh a lot of it because generally my intention is NOT to offend or put the other person on the defense (unless I'm trying to, which means I don't really like you and don't care WHAT you think or feel.)

    As an interesting aside: Last night, my sister and I were watching one of those 2AM news shows, and both anchors are Fe-primaries. She's an ESFJ, and he's an ENFJ. The more we watched him, the more we were struck by his "enfj-ness" - irreverent and vaguely cynical, but also very proper and concerned with "rightness". He treats his co-anchor like his sister sometimes, joking around and being silly, but also respectfully. I have to make a further study of him. Jaye says to me, "ENFJ men seem to have a natural level of gallantry, don't you think?" and I agreed. She also made a comment that really struck me. She said ENFJs are like a house with the first five feet inside being open and perhaps party central, but the space behind that five feet is off limits. I agree with her on that. I find my natural state of secrecy and privacy to be in stark contrast to my "first five feet".

  6. #6
    Senior Member TopherRed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpottingTrains View Post
    I'm trying to decide how to explain this so it actually has a chance to make sense...

    I feel like every interaction I have takes place on multiple levels:

    The most basic being just the words that are spoken along with tone and shifts in voice.

    Following that is the impression that I get of them through the first level. This impression will be the guiding force that I use to decide how I react.

    Now basically I see all of these options of what I could say to them.. but attached to each of them are not only their reactions to what I could say but also how their view of me will change. It's like having a mirror held up to your face that you present and whenever your talking you get to see the changes instantly.

    Now imagine this in a social setting with multiple people and all of these strands flowing into you. Each one trying to take in as much as possible. You feel like you have multiple mirrors and as you speak a new face is presented to each individual depending on their values, mood and every other factor that you could think of. The worst part is you can see all of these mirrors surrounding you and the changes that happen instantly whenever you speak.

    In the past this has lead to paralysis in a social setting. Knowing that whatever you say will cause a change in perception- good or bad. Just this complete awareness can be so overwhelming and its taken me quite awhile to get a handle on it.

    Many will say that you should just be yourself, ignore the opinions of others but this is me. This is who I am and how I interact. To be myself is to be like this. Lately I've just been trying to block initial selection of what I should say and just spurt out whatever comes to mind but I still see the after effect of what I've said.

    Sorry if this was confusing, I was just curious I guess and needed it to get it on a paper-ish substance.
    It's difficult. After years of saying whatever came to mind, I'm only now mature enough to allow the prespectives of others back into my life and my view of myself--it's painful sometimes, and exhausting, but when I do this, I grow in leaps and bounds.

    I read once that ENFJs are the most introverted of all the extraverted types; we should make time alone for ourselves to recoup the energy lost from all the "mirroring prospectives" we receive from people.

  7. #7
    Senior Member SpottingTrains's Avatar
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    Yes, as I get to know a person better and better there seems to be less and less options to choose concerning what to say. I think once you reach a certain level of trust or intimacy with a person you are only left with a singular thing to say each time instead of multiple options.

    generally my intention is NOT to offend or put the other person on the defense (unless I'm trying to, which means I don't really like you and don't care WHAT you think or feel.)
    If I feel if a person is being disrespectful towards someone close to me or the group I enter a quasi-douchebag mode where I really don't take your feelings or thoughts into consideration at all and just really cut into you. You really have to be a pretty big asshole to earn this special treatment though.
    "That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can."

  8. #8
    The Black Knight Domino's Avatar
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    Hello, Fuzz

    ENFJs are notoriously private. I never thought of myself that way (blinded by own like/need for people and interaction and taking THAT as a sign that I'm "open" which isn't accurate), but when I'm standing next to my ENFP twin, it's so obvious that I have a "this far and no further" while my sister's boundaries are way more amorphous.

    Yes, as I get to know a person better and better there seems to be less and less options to choose concerning what to say. I think once you reach a certain level of trust or intimacy with a person you are only left with a singular thing to say each time instead of multiple options.
    Agreed. You know them too well, too thoroughly to take more than one angle. It's a tailored approach, like a suit made by you that only fits THEM.

    If I feel if a person is being disrespectful towards someone close to me or the group I enter a quasi-douchebag mode where I really don't take your feelings or thoughts into consideration at all and just really cut into you. You really have to be a pretty big asshole to earn this special treatment though.
    Same here. I can put up with a lot of garbage with the thought that this person will 1) get a clue and knock it off, 2) go away, or 3) be given a clue by someone else.

    If not, esp if it has something to do with my inner circle (which I defend like a tiger), I go into "guillotine" mode and heads start rolling. In that way, I can appear quite like my ENTJ best friend for the same level of force and action, but I'm motivated by an inner sense of "avengence" if you will, rather than a Te-driven "you're ruining the system" prompt. I don't like it when a single hostile person tries to make emotional and therefore physical hostages of an entire group or entity. Even if I don't act, I view that sort of hijacking immediately and instinctively as something that must be stopped. I'm something like my ISTP shadow in the sense that once I've made up my mind, belaboring my decision will only make me crazy.

  9. #9
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpottingTrains View Post
    I think I'm going to continue to choose my words carefully but also make an effort to put out views I have that may not necessarily mesh with everyone involved. I guess I just have to get used to the negative reactions of people more.
    I have an ENFJ friend who is pretty decent at doing this, and another who often agrees with people to their face so as not to cause waves. The former just turns on the charm and teases the person when they disagree so as to make it more light-hearted. I think that produces a more positive result in the long run than giving the impression you agree when you don't (as that can come back to bite you in the butt when they discover the truth).
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

    INFP | 4w5 sp/sx | RLUEI - Primary Inquisitive | Tritype is tripe

  10. #10
    The Black Knight Domino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I have an ENFJ friend who is pretty decent at doing this, and another who often agrees with people to their face so as not to cause waves. The former just turns on the charm and teases the person when they disagree so as to make it more light-hearted. I think that produces a more positive result in the long run than giving the impression you agree when you don't (as that can come back to bite you in the butt when they discover the truth).
    In my case, I choose whichever option will defuse the situation the most effectively. If diplomacy is needed, that's the best and most efficient option. If fighting is necessary, I'm going to try to find a way to drop a piano on you instead of enter into open conflict and ruin my day because YOU can't act right.

    Example: One night I was out with my sister and a friend at an outdoor concert thrown by a mutual friend. The place was crawling with drunks and stoners, and it was raining. (Whee!) I met up with an ISTJ girl I knew from the garage, and she and I were standing around with a friend of hers when a bunch of drunk/high roughnecks he knew came over. One guy wound up all in my business and I'll skip the details, but I stood him off. You could cut the tension with a knife. He stood there and I stood there without breaking eye contact and I knew his intoxicated brain was trying to decide whether to be mad or not, so I made a coy joke about bad little boys being sent to the corner, and he instantly burst out laughing and *poof* the potential was discharged.

    ISTJ friend who was no stranger to having to fight her way out of a room either looked at me like "O.o" and said later that she had no idea how I managed to handle that punk and actually turn him in my favor. (She was ready to put 'em up if the guy made a go for me). I told her that I had never felt so instantly thrown into a situation where I was having to shift my stance second to second. Without thinking, I was locked on to his body language and face, and kept shifting every time he did. It took less than a minute, all told, but it was intense and shiftshiftshift. I think my Se about died from being flogged.

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