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  1. #1
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    Default ISTJs: What are your interpersonal skills at work?

    Hello everyone,

    I am new around here and this is actually my first post. I used to peruse the forum anonymously until today when I decided to make a dive and ask a question.

    I am a female ISTJ in my early 30s who has had her share of troubles when it comes to interpersonal office relationships. I have always viewed work for what it is: WORK. I don't go there to make new friends; I already have all the friends I need.

    The way I see things is that I am hired to do a job and that's what I intend to do. I am not interested:
    - in talking about my private life: it's personal and it should remain like that way
    - in adding my 2 cents to the office gossip: what's the point of that, anyway?
    - in pretending to be interested in the personal life of my coworkers: you're colleagues and not my friends
    - in necessarily becoming friends with my coworkers: you don't have to be chummy with someone to accomplish great things
    - in flattering egos: if you feel insecure, go see a therapist or sue your parents. Please, do not expect me to put up with your insecurities, I wasn't hired for that.

    I have had experienced moral harassment from my bosses, my colleagues because I don't play office politics. I am polite, I like to help people, I am a firm believer of the golden rule but it seems that it is never enough because I don't have the flock mentality. I really don't understand why some offices are crowded with people who are more concerned by how beautiful you'd find their dresses or new Iphones instead of how great you think they did on the last project. It's work and not a lick-your-longtime-wounded-ego hospital.

    I've even come to dread the interpersonal skills question during job interviews since I hate pretending that my main goal in life and to look for a job is to become friends with my coworkers. It seems irrelevant to me.

    I would like to know if this is only me (maybe I am a cold-hearted person after all) or have other ISTJs here experienced the same critics? How did you deal with the situation?

    Thanks in advance for your contribution.

  2. #2
    Senior Member LeafAndSky's Avatar
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    Hello, Havah.

    I'm not ISTJ but was browsing and saw your post. Welcome to Type C. I too had a relating-to-people question that prompted me to finally post here, although it was regarding a different type of situation.

    You wrote, "The way I see things is that I am hired to do a job and that's what I intend to do." Sounds good. Perhaps consider: part of doing a job might be making sure that interpersonal relationships go smoothly, so that people feel secure around you, like allies.

    If, after considering, you think that there's some merit to that thought, then . . . be practical. Do what it takes.

    It looks like you (like many people), may find it distasteful, or think it a waste of time, to spend time on small talk. Obviously, many of your co-workers don't feel that way. If you give the impression that you think they're wrong or silly or shallow for that, they'll feel alienated and you'll make yourself less effective at your work.

    However, you're not going to easily do what you hate doing. Few people would. Could you somehow make the distasteful be less so? For instance, it might help to view those 'unnecessary' interactions as information exchanges. Could you find ways to appreciate or compliment people that gain you useful information? iPhone features? Good places to eat or shop? Information about your workplace?

    Going to lunch with individuals or groups will change the situation a whole lot, if you're not already doing that. It might seem like just more work, at first, or an invasion of your personal time. But at lunch, you can find about about co-workers' lives or their views of their work, and they yours, in whatever manner you'd like to share. It smooths relationships like everything. You don't have to share much, on your part -- people often would rather be listened to, anyway. And you can learn so much. People surprise me all the time with the depth of their thinking, or how they've coped with personal challenges, or their career background. I have more tools and fixes at my disposal because of discussing a wide range of subjects with a wide range of people.

    When I asked my question here, when I first posted, I got some good insights. They helped. I hope you get some good insights too.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeafAndSky View Post
    Hello, Havah.

    I'm not ISTJ but was browsing and saw your post. Welcome to Type C. I too had a relating-to-people question that prompted me to finally post here, although it was regarding a different type of situation.
    Thanks for stopping by and answering my (lengthy comment, sorry) question

    Quote Originally Posted by LeafAndSky View Post
    You wrote, "The way I see things is that I am hired to do a job and that's what I intend to do." Sounds good. Perhaps consider: part of doing a job might be making sure that interpersonal relationships go smoothly, so that people feel secure around you, like allies.
    Seriously, I really don't understand why people feel secure around the others just because those smile at them. I guess serial killers do the same to lure their victims My point is that ppl shouldn't judge a book by its cover and if they need to be smiled at to feel confident around somebody, then they have issues they should take care of and not expect their coworkers to deal with.

    I am a quiet, (proud to be) introverted person who is polite and affable with ppl. However, it seems it's never enough because (fake) friendships are expected when it shouldn't be the case. I don't do phony relationships and I certainly don't do small talks like you guessed. Actually, my threshold for small talks is very low and if you see me doing it, it's because I've decided that day that it was a necessary nuisance.



    Quote Originally Posted by LeafAndSky View Post
    It looks like you (like many people), may find it distasteful, or think it a waste of time, to spend time on small talk. Obviously, many of your co-workers don't feel that way. If you give the impression that you think they're wrong or silly or shallow for that, they'll feel alienated and you'll make yourself less effective at your work.
    You wrote it: "give the impression"... The other thing that drives me crazy is me not caring at all about what people do, is perceived by them as me thinking that they're shallow or stupid. The truth is I just don't care . Ppl have the right to do what they want, what they please and it's normal: we're all different. So should I justifiy myself or abide by social rules I find unnecessary to please the rest of the flock? I really think that people are trying to force me to do things. It angers me because I would never force somebody to see eye to eye with me.


    Quote Originally Posted by LeafAndSky View Post
    However, you're not going to easily do what you hate doing. Few people would. Could you somehow make the distasteful be less so? For instance, it might help to view those 'unnecessary' interactions as information exchanges. Could you find ways to appreciate or compliment people that gain you useful information? iPhone features? Good places to eat or shop? Information about your workplace?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeafAndSky View Post
    Going to lunch with individuals or groups will change the situation a whole lot, if you're not already doing that. It might seem like just more work, at first, or an invasion of your personal time. But at lunch, you can find about about co-workers' lives or their views of their work, and they yours, in whatever manner you'd like to share. It smooths relationships like everything. You don't have to share much, on your part -- people often would rather be listened to, anyway.
    Seriously, I have sometimes tried to subject myself to those small conversations at the coffee machine and it was more like a psychological torture for me.

    Like you said, "ppl often would rather be listened to" (instead of consulting a therapist), and since I am all in favor of not judging and not being judged, coworkers pour their hearts out to me. I am serious and this is also part of the reason I am not really interested in chatting with a lot of people at work. I hate when non-friends load their problems on me because most of the time, you can see that the person was just in search of an outlet. It's like: "You load somewhere, unload to Havah, go on with your little life and the day after, repeat it again." Not only you're wasting my time but actually you're using me and calling it "office interpersonal relationships".


    Anyway, I'll ponder what you wrote. Thanks for your input.

  4. #4
    Senior Member LeafAndSky's Avatar
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    A nice reply. Informative and 'real'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Havah View Post

    My point is that ppl shouldn't

    they should
    My sons and my ex see it that way also. I'm the only one who likes -- needs -- caring, intimacy, and personalized interaction (I'm like your coworkers). According to my sons and ex, I "shouldn't" feel what I do, or be how I am. Notice I said "ex." My point is that lack of give and take does affect relationships negatively.

    So . . . they're not like me, and I'm not like them. Where can we meet in the middle? [What, we can't? It has to be all your way?] <------ Not effective (when either side takes such a stance, the chatty and 'personal' people, or the businesslike and 'impersonal' people).

    If talking about possibly altering your behavior somewhat at your workplace is frustrating, I get that. Read on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Havah View Post
    I am a quiet, (proud to be) introverted person who is polite and affable with ppl. However, it seems it's never enough because (fake) friendships are expected when it shouldn't be the case. I don't do phony relationships and I certainly don't do small talks like you guessed. Actually, my threshold for small talks is very low and if you see me doing it, it's because I've decided that day that it was a necessary nuisance.
    Yes, I've heard that before, that doing what seems to be socially expected feels fake or phony. I'm not sure how to get past that in order to meet in the middle, if you should decide that's what you want to pursue at work.

    All I can think of is to see small talk as information exchange, as I said previously. Or perhaps get clinical/scientific and look at what's going on as comparable to wolf packs and primate groups, and you need to be an effective wolf or ape.

    Perhaps some others here have ideas. It doesn't sound like it's possible for you to work in an environment where the personality types are less mixed (something like a laboratory?).

    Quote Originally Posted by Havah View Post
    You wrote it: "give the impression"... The other thing that drives me crazy is me not caring at all about what people do, is perceived by them as me thinking that they're shallow or stupid. The truth is I just don't care . Ppl have the right to do what they want, what they please and it's normal: we're all different. So should I justifiy myself or abide by social rules I find unnecessary to please the rest of the flock? I really think that people are trying to force me to do things. It angers me because I would never force somebody to see eye to eye with me.

    Seriously, I have sometimes tried to subject myself to those small conversations at the coffee machine and it was more like a psychological torture for me.

    Like you said, "ppl often would rather be listened to" (instead of consulting a therapist), and since I am all in favor of not judging and not being judged, coworkers pour their hearts out to me. I am serious and this is also part of the reason I am not really interested in chatting with a lot of people at work. I hate when non-friends load their problems on me because most of the time, you can see that the person was just in search of an outlet. It's like: "You load somewhere, unload to Havah, go on with your little life and the day after, repeat it again." Not only you're wasting my time but actually you're using me and calling it "office interpersonal relationships".
    We're so different. One of the most fulfilling things in my life is being able to provide space for people to feel really heard, to a depth that maybe they're seldom heard, so that they may be able to start to relax about what's going on and have an opportunity to work through a problem and move on.

    If I were expected to NOT do that in a job, I would find that to be a challenge comparable to what you're experiencing at your workplace, and I would feel phony, as you say, and "forced to do things." So I do get where you're coming from: self-expression and your best, most efficient and effective 'you'. Not to be expected to be something you're not. For instance, I have a part-time two-month job coming up, and it involves a whole lot of people interaction, which suits me. Yet I won't know, until the four-day training, how much (if at all) I'll be able to express caring and get personal. If I'm expected to turn that off, it'll be a challenge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Havah View Post
    Anyway, I'll ponder what you wrote. Thanks for your input.
    You're welcome, and good luck. I respect your dedication to your work. I'm sure you're extremely good at what you do.

    I wouldn't think you'd need to mirror the small talk crowd totally. Keep some boundaries, no need to be someone's ongoing therapist. Find ways to keep conversations shorter but still have the interaction perceived by others as caring or understanding. Find ways to signal that you need to work now, without offending. There may be some who are troublesome in their neediness -- there are always people like that to deal with. But most people, I would think, would respect your skill and dedication to the work at hand, and not feel that you have to be exactly like them as far as their affinity for being social during work.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Gerbah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Havah View Post
    I would like to know if this is only me (maybe I am a cold-hearted person after all) or have other ISTJs here experienced the same critics? How did you deal with the situation?
    Hello fellow ISTJ

    I think a factor also is what the majority of the group is like and if you fit in with that or not. If the majority is really very, very different from you and there is very little to connect upon, it can be hard to go along with that.

    I currently freelance independently but have worked in offices in the past. I think it is prudent to be careful about what you share about yourself personally while at work, but in my experience, when there is sincere support and personal interest and respect among team members, work is a much more pleasurable place to be. It doesn't necessarily have to be really deep and serious “friendship”, but when there is a feeling of a real bond and personal interest, work is much more tolerable. When the atmosphere is really cold, I find it's more stressful. But fake small talk is stressful too.

    In my freelance work, I do try to be emotionally relaxed with my clients. Not necessarily really personal, but I try to communicate with them as people. I find that not only is it less stressful to have that relaxed feeling but that it also promotes a positive response from clients. They are more comfortable working with me and there is more trust. This is good for networking. I've gotten work and new clients from people recommending me forward to others. They are less likely to do that if they don't feel they like you much.
    the shoheen ho of the wind of the west and the lulla lo of the soft sea billow - Alfred Graves

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeafAndSky View Post
    A nice reply. Informative and 'real'.



    My sons and my ex see it that way also. I'm the only one who likes -- needs -- caring, intimacy, and personalized interaction (I'm like your coworkers). According to my sons and ex, I "shouldn't" feel what I do, or be how I am. Notice I said "ex." My point is that lack of give and take does affect relationships negatively.

    So . . . they're not like me, and I'm not like them. Where can we meet in the middle? [What, we can't? It has to be all your way?] <------ Not effective (when either side takes such a stance, the chatty and 'personal' people, or the businesslike and 'impersonal' people).

    If talking about possibly altering your behavior somewhat at your workplace is frustrating, I get that. Read on.

    I am a lazy person who doesn't like things which are complicated. Even in my personal life, I minimize the risks of butting heads on this kind of things: "Me, Havah, not very talkative with people (however very chatty with loved ones); You, hope you same as me, otherwise good luck in life"


    I think that life is short so why wasting your time with someone who is very different from you, when you can use that time and have fun with someone who is on the same wavelength as you? I've learnt that they're ppl different from me or who may be, on the other hand, on the same wavelength as me, so I stick with the last ones. I don't doubt the first ones are beautiful creatures somehow worth knowing in depth. However, I know myself very well to know that we won't get along so let's stick to the minimum. That's the way I roll at work.

    Ppl who meet me can quickly infer that I am an uncompromising person. Even when I decide to make an effort of being sociable, ppl can guess that it's affected. Trust me, I suck at faking interest and enthusiam, even drunk!

    Work is just what it is to me: WORK. My real life starts after work with my loved ones. There the only ones I wanna give all of my affection and attention and love and smile and caring and time (just being silly)

    Take care

    PS: I am gonna try to apply some of the advice you gave me. I'll take my , see it as an opportunity of dying less ignorant that I might be and I keep you posted

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerbah View Post
    Hello fellow ISTJ

    I think a factor also is what the majority of the group is like and if you fit in with that or not. If the majority is really very, very different from you and there is very little to connect upon, it can be hard to go along with that.

    I currently freelance independently but have worked in offices in the past. I think it is prudent to be careful about what you share about yourself personally while at work, but in my experience, when there is sincere support and personal interest and respect among team members, work is a much more pleasurable place to be. It doesn't necessarily have to be really deep and serious “friendship”, but when there is a feeling of a real bond and personal interest, work is much more tolerable. When the atmosphere is really cold, I find it's more stressful. But fake small talk is stressful too.

    In my freelance work, I do try to be emotionally relaxed with my clients. Not necessarily really personal, but I try to communicate with them as people. I find that not only is it less stressful to have that relaxed feeling but that it also promotes a positive response from clients. They are more comfortable working with me and there is more trust. This is good for networking. I've gotten work and new clients from people recommending me forward to others. They are less likely to do that if they don't feel they like you much.
    I second everything you wrote and actually, because of some bad work experiences, I have started working in freelance too. The difference is that you aren't confined 24/7 in a closed space, with ppl who think that working together necessarily creates a certain type of bonding. I have no problem with my clients: they like my professionalism.

    I have some coworkers who have become my friends and it happened because they weren't ones to judge by the number of smiles you gave them per day. We bonded over respecting each other's spaces, respecting each other's work ethics and then we discovered that we loved the same kind of movies or music. It was work first and then fun. It wasn't: "you acknowledged my existence so you must be friendly."

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    Senior Member Gerbah's Avatar
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    I know what you mean. I know someone who has similar problems at work that they assume that any newcomer will automatically join in with their activities and join in the gossip, etc. but it's very superficial. Some people higher up act really chummy with those below but they aren't chums really, so it's all kind of weird but they seem to need that kind of "friendly" recognition.

    Good luck with freelancing
    the shoheen ho of the wind of the west and the lulla lo of the soft sea billow - Alfred Graves

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerbah View Post
    I know what you mean. I know someone who has similar problems at work that they assume that any newcomer will automatically join in with their activities and join in the gossip, etc. but it's very superficial. Some people higher up act really chummy with those below but they aren't chums really, so it's all kind of weird but they seem to need that kind of "friendly" recognition.

    Good luck with freelancing
    Thanks

  10. #10
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    While I disagree with the tone of your viewpoint, I can respect that it may be necessary to conduct yourself that way if your environment is prone to be cold, competitive, and untrustworthy.

    I have great interpersonal skills at work, because for the most part work is a place where there's less emphasis on the emotional aspect- meaning that it's at a level that I am comfortable dealing with. But I've also been fortunate to be with coworkers who were pretty cool and made it an overall enjoyable work experience.


    I made a female coworker cry before. That was wierd.

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