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Empathising and Advising

Journal Entry: Mon Sep 17, 2012, 6:44 AM
  • Mood: Lonely
  • Reading: <i>Quiet: The Power of Introverts</i> - Susan Cain
  • Playing: Miasmon
The Myers-Briggs system thing roughly divides people into either 'Thinkers' or 'Feelers'; it's the third letter in the clunky, unmemorable four-letter codes that it assigns to personality types.
I'm INFJ; the F means that I'm a Feeler. Learning this recently has shed a great deal of light on the way that I approach and react to certain situations!

One of the big differences between Thinkers and Feelers is how they handle 'problems'... Even how they see them.

Feelers, generally speaking, tend to speak openly about their emotions, and to offer empathy and support to others who are doing the same. They "verbally process" information, and need to speak about it to 'get it off their chest'. They are not seeking 'solutions' when they do this, as 'venting' in itself is cathartic.

Thinkers, on the other hand, tend to see problems as puzzles to solve. They speak about their own when they want direct help, suggested solutions, and this is how they respond to others expressing their problems, too; they offer suggestions and advice and try to 'fix' the situation, rather than offering an "I know how that is!" kind of reply, which they see as 'unproductive' or 'useless'.

Generally, Feelers work on emotion and aren't necessarily always rational, doing what they *feel* best about rather than what might 'logically' be the best course of action, while Thinkers consider emotions to be something that gets in the way of reason and truth. Generally. None of these things are ever clear-cut, of course, and everyone has their own nuances!

Most women are Feelers, while most men are Thinkers.

I was looking on some personality type forum thing the other day, and saw a thread called "You know you're a feeler when...", where people posted things that finished off that sentence. One of them said this:

"When you have to explain to your T friends over and over that people who are venting or verbally processing do not need or want solutions from you, instead they want you to empathize with them."

I often wish that I could communicate this myself! I've certainly tried before. Feelers like myself want to hear "I know how that is" kinds of empathising when we're rambling about our feelings, rather than cold, logical solutions to the problems we're talking about (which are usually easily solved by ourselves anyway, but venting emotionally about them feels 'necessary' regardless).

What do you make of this? Have you ever been on either side of this? Where you vent emotionally and get 'suggestions' you didn't really want, or maybe you speak about your problems but get frustrated when people offer 'useless' empathy rather than solid, practical solutions?

I do find it interesting that individuals' minds can function so differently from others', though a shame, too, when we're on different wavelengths and it causes clashes...

Oh, and just to be clear, we all are capable of emotion and thinking... Being a Feeler or Thinker doesn't make you incapable of the other. They merely suggest strengths, or priorities; emotion is *more* of a driving force to a Feeler, but Thinkers are most certainly emotional too, in their own ways. It's sort of like how an Attack-oriented Pokemon with low Special Attack may be *able* to use moves like, say, Flamethrower, but it's not going to be their main approach to battles! Or something. o_O
There are also the concepts of 'introverted feeling/thinking' and 'extroverted feeling/thinking', and, well, I suppose that's all beyond the scope of this journal entry!

(Also, I've finally updated my journal CSS! I'll likely tweak it over the next few days...)

Are you sensitive and introverted? SensitiveIntroverts may help you find similar minds!
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Maniafig Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012
Although I didn't set any MBTI since I wasn't so sure about the N/S and F/P parts [It'd seem you'd need all three other letters to actually decide on the fourth, I still don't fully grasp the system for that. I did go with ISFJ, but I wasn't fully sure about it...], I was quite sure I fit in the F section.

Somehow, I don't feel like I have much experience with talking about problems, or maybe I just remember them less, but at least I do remember several instances of chatting [Or complaining] about X, and I always find it very relieving when people agree with me on X, and also relieving when others are relieved, yes. o.o
There's probably also the way I do post in the Mod HQ, where I probably very obviously sway more for what I feel about the matter and go by my instincts a lot, although I also do contemplate matters and come up with reasoning and such, we are after all just more of one aspect than the other, it's not like you can be fully F/T [It puts me off when people would try to be all T/F though... But I hardly see any people loudly promote being very F, while it's quite common for the T side of things]

On the other hand, I can't remember much experience with giving advice or suggestions like with the more Feely approach, so, uh, yeah.
I am a bit put off by people who totally abhor and dismiss emotions though, or who try to fully live by solely logic and reason... It's so foreign to me!
It's the same when they say they hate some system for having subjectivity, or who get annoyed when people get emotional during serious discussion. Eep. D:

I don't quite remember much instances of getting unwanted advice though, maybe because I hardly tend to talk about my problems, but that's probably more because they are mostly minor and I don't feel like interrupting things about it. OR MAYBE I NEVER HAD ANY FRIENDS THANKS FOR REMINDING ME D:<
Still, I can see why you'd get annoyed by it, I would be highly annoyed in your position too! I know that's just who they are, but that doesn't make it less annoying when they keep doing it or even insisting they're right in doing so, when they could also choose to try and empathize, or if it's too foreign, do nothing...

Also, I 'm not sure whether 'most' would fit, since the most imbalanced T:F ratios I've seen are 1:2 for women and 2:1 for men. Then again, those things are so wildly inaccurate and vary so wildly, it's hard to tell what would be the most appropriate term. o.o

I was kinda curious, so I did a little test on 'the other site', apparently, 63% are T, and 37% are F. [251 and 142 respectively]
Of Feelers, 77% was male, and 23% was female. For Thinkers, it was 92% and 8% O.o
Of men, 32% are Feeling, and 68% are Thinking, and of women, 62% was Feeling and 38% was Thinking...
Huh, well, funny how those ratios are similar, but reversed. I was expecting, maybe, bigger divides, but it does interest me to see these values! Of course, only people with MBTI were taken into account... [Yay, I'm applying what I learned about statistics, woohoo.]

Uh, yeah, that's all, I think, this apperently took more time to write than I intended! I see you added Susan Cain to your Reading tag, and are playing Miasmon, yay!!
Pseudolonewolf Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I very much dislike those sorts of people who hate emotions, say that they and everyone else should live by 'logic' and 'reason', get annoyed when people get 'emotional' and consider that some kind of 'weakness', etc... For years I've noticed people online who hate text emoticons and consider them 'childish'; it's only recently that I've realised that those people are probably T types! I don't use many emoticons myself, but I've never *hated* them...

I'd very much like it if people who have clearly seen that their way of 'helping' hurts me would do nothing instead... But they keep trying the same approach over and over anyway! Sigh!

It's interesting to hear such large numbers for the Feelers of Fig Hunter; I certainly don't *notice* them very much. I wonder how many of them don't post, for fear of judgement or because they don't really fit in? And it's interesting that the F/T ratios for each gender fit so well with the results that surveys and experiments and stuff report, too... I would have expected more female Thinkers there, and was worried that the general atmosphere of the site was too Thinky, but maybe it's not? But then why are most posters Thinkers...? I wonder. Maybe they're not, and I just *notice* them more. Hmm.
Maniafig Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012
They annoy me too, probably plenty of others too! I actually read that going by intuition and not deeply using reason over a matter isn't as illogical as it's made out to be, since intuition is apparently subconsciously formed by taking former similar experiences and combining them! Of course it's not infallible, but it's not like it's random and such.

And people looking down on emoticons for being childish being T does make sense. Of course, when someone just randomly spams them it is childish, but aside from that I think they're quite useful tools for getting across a tone of a message in typed text. I guess that should be obvious seeing how much I use them, yes!! [Emoticons here]

Hmm, I do wonder whether they are less active in general? Of course, you'd likely notice people who rub you the wrong way more in general, but aside from that, it does seem that most F types aren't the posty-forum type... It would seem that there's much more forum-active T people. It might be because of the nature of topics, or the forum in general... I hardly ever feel a desire to post, since most topics are either these serious debates that already have gotten so many answer, or the threads are too random, or there's just nothing I can say about the topic.

Maybe the big amount of T-types, the judgement FLIGS system and such deter? It could be that people don't want their orbs to go down too. [Uh, I'm not sure why we sill have orbs... o.o']
Pseudolonewolf Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes... All these reasons are making me really want to remake Fig Hunter and completely rethink all the 'judgement' stuff (orbs, FLIGS, blurbs, etc), which I may actually start doing at some point in the coming weeks. I wonder how many complaints I'd get from people (like pretentious T 13-year-old boys who like to show off how clever they are by talking about Quantum Philosophy) who like things they way they are, though.

I'd very much like an environment for my home online which is less... toxic to the people I'm actually interested in hearing from and enjoyable for those I can no longer stand...
blayrd Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
As a more feeling-type with a number of high T friends, this can actually lead to some amusing scenarios where I'm trying to rant just to get some happening off my chest (being fine, really) and said scenarios get analyzed for potential fixes. But for closer friends it's come to be a given that we're always looking out for each others' well-being in the end so it's quite natural to interpret such as an "I care for you" and... well, otherwise really not quite pay it any mind xD I also appreciate the consequent different perspectives on issues, even if not immediately applicable.

I suppose whether I offer empathy or solutions really depends if it's appropriate to the problem, though. If something's out of my scope of ability I'm not gonna try and wing up a suggestion, but if it seems helpful or the other person hasn't thought of some method or other I'd certainly offer that up for consideration.
Pseudolonewolf Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Lucky for you that it's friends that give you the fixes and suggestions that you're not necessarily looking for, so you're able to maybe have a laugh about it, or at least feel understanding and appreciation...!

I say you're 'lucky', because I've mainly encountered such things from complete strangers on the internet, which is more emotionally frustrating because I don't have any existing friendship with them that 'makes it better', so to speak. It seems the vast majority of the members of my own websites are T types (shown by stats, as people can choose their type on their profile), and I've tried to vent about my feelings there before... which led to dozens or hundreds of people who don't know me at all offering 'suggestions' that couldn't possibly work, when I wasn't even looking for help. Without any empathising. Not exactly emotionally satisfying, that, in great quantities!

I didn't understand it until I discovered the Myers-Briggs stuff recently, but now that I know about that, it's easier to handle because I know they mean well, but just have a different approach than I would.
blayrd Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Blergh, yeah, I can see how that'd be pretty painful, especially if including the variety of "recommendation" that comes in the judgmental or my-way-is-right sort that is oft prevalent online!

Actually, now that you mention it, there might be a bit of a quality/quantity difference here too. Similar to what Wanderer mentioned above, I suspect even proper empathy in large doses might tend to have the effect of trivializing each sentiment, while crowdsourcing for suggestions does give you more potential solutions. Or maybe that's just my introvert side contributing to skewed perspective, ha.

Hm, now that you understand it better - would you still vent on your website, knowing the likely majority outcome? Just curious, 'cause if I had a user base like that, I probably wouldn't throw myself out to what would (to my perception, at least) likely be a sea of negativity!
Pseudolonewolf Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hmm, I think I got a few 'empathy' sorts of comments on whatever I wrote, but they were often throwaway sorts of things, like "get well soon!" or "I hope things are okay!", which I didn't *dislike* or anything, but often they were somewhat frustrating or 'hollow' because they weren't what I was after either... I suppose people relating similar experiences of their own to mine is something I like more, because it shows they actually understand where I'm coming from and it's not as, uh, patronising, but maybe I say that because I got so few comments like that and so many of the others.

It would make sense to think that a large selection of suggestions - asked for or not - would include at least some things of use, but for me, at least, it didn't really work like that! I think I got rather resistant to the very idea of suggestions and advice in general after receiving so many bad ones, such that I tended to ignore even the better ones...
Sort of like if you have to eat a hundred rotten apples, then someone offers you a nice, juicy ripe one; you probably wouldn't eat it just because you're so sick of apples! Or because you're dead from eating rotten apples. You know.

I'm not going to be venting my feelings at my website after what I've learned, no! o_O
I've found other places to do that now.
I did actually try writing about the F/T distinction there to explain why I prefer a certain kind of feedback, hoping that I could maybe get it if I specified what I wanted, but it just led to a lot of T people essentially arguing with me, picking apart the 'argument' that I wasn't even trying to make, and generally telling me I should 'get over myself' or 'toughen up' and lovely useful helpful stuff like that. So I won't be trying that again, either!
blayrd Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Mrr, I'd classify those under generally positive wellwishery, which is always nice but in more of a neutral sort of way. What you described as your preference is pretty much more of what empathy is by definition, innit! Most folk probably have a desire to feel not-alone on some or several levels, and common experience is one helpful remedy.

Ah, yeah, of course! I was intending that to be in reference to T-types or folks actually looking for suggestions. In hindsight, though, it really depends... y'know, I can't actually remember a particular incident where I wanted to ask anyone for suggestions, but if I actually really wanted advice on something important I'd probably just go in person to an expert whom I knew would give a valued opinion and not just inquire of everyone. Death by apples sounds like a horrid way to go, though ;_; Now I'm having a strange mental image of you hunkering down in a cottage somewhere being hounded by hundreds of wizened old crones with poisoned apples in their wicker-baskets who're knocking persistently at its door, um. Right.

Yay, 'tis good to hear you've found other venues to vent then, hope that's been working out well! And... meh, I guess there're a lot of things that don't work even when one asks nicely. Plus the more people there are the more potential dissenters, in your case. Ah well.
Pseudolonewolf Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"Empathy" is basically an obsession of mine these days; the general concept, it as a value, etc... so it seems sort of embarrassing that I said something that suggested that I thought generic well-wishing fell into that category, when it doesn't...! o_O

Something I've said in my 'please stop giving me advice' posts on my site (as there have been multiple, unfortunately, which always seem to turn into several people giving me advice about not wanting advice) is that if I wanted advice, I'd ask for it... (Some of the arguments go like "by mentioning your problems, you *were* asking for advice"... Sigh!)
I can't think of any examples of where I'd ever *want* to ask The Internet for advice on anything, but if I did need help, I - like you - would probably ask someone who actually knew what they were talking about! And not 14-year-old boys who speak as if they are wise sages with the perfect solution.

Hmm, I wonder if the sorts of people who give advice to strangers online take advice from strangers online, too...
blayrd Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Heh, that's alright, we were sort of talking about it in contrast with advice-giving anyway!

I... guess some people really like giving advice? Which always strikes me as odd since I'd usually be more hesitant and intimidated by potential reaction, if not other disagreeing people, especially if it were on a relatively public platform. Them fourteen-year-old lads better wait 'til they're taking advanced chemistry before they try and make perfect solutions :|

They might! At least some do, I guess. It's another baffling sort of thing when people ask forumfolk at large to help with a decision and then actually make it apparently based on what the crowd's said - where by baffling/odd I mean on an empathetic and not rational level, 'course.
x-Wanderer-x Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012
This is a very interesting entry to read. As a T person, I could immediately relate to lines such as 'they offer suggestions and advice and try to 'fix' the situation, rather than offering an "I know how that is!" kind of reply, which they see as 'unproductive' or 'useless'.' Indeed, although when people empathize with me about my problems, I am not ungrateful and I respect that they are just trying to make me feel better, the words feel empty and shallow, since currently there is a problem in my life, and knowing that other people have had the problem doesn't change the fact that I am suffering; it doesn't help me to actually alleviate my situation or take my pain away.

When I (rarely) vent about my problems, I do it because I am in need of help, rather than emotional support. Obviously, emotional support is lovely, and it wouldn't be rejected or unappreciated, but as I said, it just seems like people are trying to cheer me up with kind sentiments rather than helping me out of my issues. Also, emotional support seems so... artificial... a lot of the time, like the lines have just been read from a guidebook. I think that's partly why they seem to empty, if that makes any sense?

I suppose I'm really just confirming what is already in the blog, so maybe I'll just stop here. But yes, I think you've represented my stance extremely fairly.
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