One of the best applications of Myers Briggs is understanding the communication difficulties that arise as a result of different 'preferences' communicating. As I wrote in my last post, if people have strong preferences, they are more likely to have 'blind spots' and it is these that can cause difficulties in communication.
I will take each spectrum one at a time and talk in terms of the difficulties that sometimes arise when an extreme version of one end of the spectrum converses with the opposite extremity.
EXTRAVERTS and INTROVERTS
The greatest difficulties in communication can arise in this spectrum. Extraverts can annoy everyone, even other extraverts because everything is just pumped out with no filtering process - from brain to mouth in 0.000003 seconds! Extraverts speak expressively (they often make gestures and wave their arms around a lot) and are prone to repeating themselves (usually to really emphasise a point) much to the irritation of the introvert that is sitting there thinking, 'you've said that already'. Extraverts will talk over each other - really needing to put their idea in the pot - however formed or unformed it is. Introverts are not without their own difficulties though. An extreme introvert will need to reflect upon an idea for a while before sharing it - which is beyond an extravert's comprehension. Introverts tend to pause before they speak (I call it the 'introvert pause'), seem slow to develop ideas and are therefore often underestimated. Extreme introverts can believe they have shared something when they have not, as the centre of their world is internal and they cannot remember what they have actually 'delivered' into the external world. An extreme introvert that I know will take another person's idea into his internal world, reflect on it for some time and then share it externally as if it was his own idea - because the external source the idea originally came from did not really register.
Another difficulty that can arise is due to introverts assuming extraverts have processed what they say as much as they do (before delivering into the external world). Because an extravert thinks aloud - as their ideas are forming - they tend to share the whole process of mulling something over. Introverts can therefore sometimes take these 'on the way to the conclusion' vocalisations as the final decision. So you can often hear an introvert say, but you said...' and the extravert will reply, 'oh yes, but that wasn't my final decision'.
If introverts and extraverts are separated to discuss and list something, for example 'list what is needed for a quality meeting.' you can readily witness the differences. The extraverts will actually move more while they discuss, they will talk more, talk over each other and their list will be a long, eclectic and diverse mix of not overly considered criteria. The introverts on the other hand will talk one at a time, listen intently and the list they produce will be a shorter but well considered one.
SENSORS and INTUITIVES
Sensors like communication to be literal, sequential, practical and not abstract. Intuitives are very happy with the opposite. An extreme intuitive will seem 'away with the fairies' to the extreme sensor. The sensors keep things 'real' but the intuitives can make huge connective abstract leaps that leave the sensors behind. An extreme sensor will also embellish descriptions with too much detail for the extreme intuitive. Intuitives want the concept, the general gist and not the all the details that the sensors enjoy. Intuitives start with the concept and then can fill in the details they see as necessary, sensors build up the details into the concept (and can therefore sometimes not arrive at the right place - not the place the intuitives 'saw' at the beginning).
In any task, both sensors and intuitives play an important role and can complement each other. The intuitives strengths are mapping out the aim, the 'point' of anything and any other big picture considerations (the 'why?'). The sensor's strengths lie in sorting the details (the 'what', 'when' and 'how'). However, if people are unaware of the individual's strengths in a group, everyone tackles a projects from a different starting point. An example of this was when I was planning a training day. I HAD to start with, 'what are we trying to achieve?' and 'what messages do we need people to receive?' whereas my sensing colleague asked, 'what time will tea and coffee start being served?'
I once read that the saying, those that can, do and those that can't teach - was a sensor's snipe at an intuitive. That sounds about right! Pure academia favours intuitives.
THINKERS and FEELERS
These two can sometimes have a terrible time with each other! Feelers are tuned into the emotional undertones of any situation, whereas a thinker's first port of call is the logic in any situation. So to a feeler, a thinker can seem brutal. An extreme thinker can speak his or her mind as what they say just makes sense and has no awareness that what they are saying might upset someone. Feelers, by comparison can be so tuned into the 'people' element of a situation that they avoid making decisions through trying to accommodate everyone and can come across as wishy-washy.
A very 'thinkery' headteacher once gave me an illustration of thinkers and feelers struggling to understand each other. He said, 'I had a shortage of staff so I asked a person who used to work in my school if they could return to work. I knew this decision wasn't popular with the rest of the staff as they told me.' Apparently this person had caused some problems among the staff but she was a good teacher, she lived locally and she was available. The decision simply made sense to this headteacher. He was very surprised at how much distress this re-appointment caused.
Another way of thinking about the differences between thinkers and feelers is that feelers are more likely to make decisions made on a 'gut reaction'. They make an evaluative judgement e.g. I prefer that to this. Whereas thinkers are more likely to work out the logical pros and cons of any decision. Also, feelers tend to be fully and emotionally involved in any decision whereas thinkers are better portrayed as impartial onlookers throwing points into the decision arena.
I will describe a disastrous thinker/feeler interaction I have witnessed more than once....
The thinker states something that makes logical sense to him/her. However, what the thinker states has overlooked the impact their suggestion might have on the feeler. The feeler is 'wounded' and takes offence and makes this offence known. The thinker cannot see the logic in what the feeler said and does not take their offence seriously because it's not logical. The feeler gets upset by the thinker's response and starts to speak even more emotively (and perhaps irrationally) and the thinker starts to think less of the feeler because they are making even less sense. Both end up upset (more likely to be the feeler) or angry (more likely to be the thinker) by the others' inability to see their point of view which makes absolute sense to the person that owns it.
In other words feelers are more likely to take things personally and once they are on the defensive because of upset, they are likely to make less and less sense to a thinker!
JUDGERS and PERCEIVERS
Judgers like closure, like things sorted, planned and done and dusted. Perceivers try to keep things open ended and avoid closure. So a judger can seem pushy to a perceiver and a perceiver can seem vague and erratic to a judger. A strong judger will also be decisive in their opinions and seem forceful to the perceiver who will be thinking, 'how can you be so certain?' To a question, a judger will tend to give a definite answer but a perceiver will tend to answer with another question - wanting to take in more data before they commit to a final judgement.
For example, 'did you like that film?'
Perceiver: I don't know, what did you think of it?
In meetings judgers and perceivers are obvious - not least by the way their bits of paper are sitting in front of them! The judgers have their possessions neatly placed but the perceiver's stuff is usually scattered randomly all over the place. Also, the judger is the one making decisions about how work needs to be taken forward but the perceiver still wants to explore further possibilites before they decide upon future action. Judgers will pin things down to time scales, perceivers can leave a meeting having failed to even consider such things. Extreme perceivers are always poised for that extra bit of information that could arrive at any moment and make the whole scenario need a re-think! Extreme judgers, however, gun for the clarity of closure and once the decision is made, do not want to visit it again - even if they learn something new about the situation.
Again these two types can complement each other. Perceivers are flexible and happy to explore all possibilities so they are good for the start of exploring a development but once everything has been considered, the judger is better at pinning it all down. Also, coping with a 'spanner in the works' is the domain of the perceiver. A strong judger will be unsettled if something does not go to plan, the perceiver is usually happy with the distraction!
I realise I could write so much more about this! Hopefully that is a tasty snippet.