Featured image by noizephotography on Flickr
Have you ever started a big home improvement project with your partner? In the beginning, it’s fabulous. You pick out colors. You choose furniture or accessories. You imagine how great it will all look when it’s over, how your lives will be better.
Then you start the work
Suddenly, you start squabbling over how the house is always a mess. Or who’s job it is to clean up after each round of effort. Or, if you are like my husband and I, about painting techniques.
It started innocently enough
We had decided on a plan – a lesson learned early in our ISTJ / ENFP relationship. ISTJ types live by plans. I’m an ENFP and break out in hives at the mere suggestion I create one.
He started edging with a brush. I started painting with the roller. Two seconds in, the first verbal shot was fired. “You’re going to want to put that down now.” Then the second, “Have you done much with a roller before?”
It didn’t matter what he said later, or that he patiently demonstrated proper paint rolling techniques until our 9 year old would have been able to do it. I was steamed. I was doing fine, thank you very much. It’s my house, too. Just because I was using a different technique doesn’t mean it was wrong … Oh yeah, unless you’re an ISTJ.
ISTJ types find a best way to do something and stick with it
That’s a great strength in a lot of situations. When you want someone to turn chaos into order, an ISTJ is one of your best bets. They’ll come in, compare how things are now with the database of past solutions inside their heads, and come up with a plan for everything. Then they’ll execute that plan with determination.
ENFP types love to innovate and try new approaches
This can work wonders in a lot of situations. When you need a solution to a complex problem, especially a people problem, ENFP types excel. They’ll come in, see how things are done now and imagine how things could be in the future, and start on a strategy forward. Then they’ll do their best to involve and enroll everyone in the new way.
Neither of these strengths is a clear winner in the context of painting
And that’s what I realized once the reaction faded and logic kicked in. Part of the fun for me was to try a new technique and see how it worked. For him, it wasn’t fun. It was work, and there was a right way and a wrong way to accomplish it. Once I recognized how personality type played into our argument and stopped taking things personally, my ENFP preferences blended with his ISTJ ones beautifully and we finished our painting project in peace.
What small squabble is playing out right now in your life? How might type play into it? Better yet, how can type knowledge stop it? To find out more about type, take the personality type quiz and read more about your interaction style and temperament.