Practicing Opposites

We’re not limited to the skills that come naturally to us as INFJs.  Although we prefer Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling and Judging, we can also sharpen our skills in Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving.   By practicing these “opposite” characteristics, we can expand our ability to function outside of our comfort zone when necessary.

I’ve listed some techniques to try, please add your ideas in the comments section.

To Practice Extraversion:

  • Join and participate in a social or professional group or club (find a group where the size and frequency of meetings won’t overwhelm you).
  • Have lunch with one new social or business contact per week to increase your networking circle and to add breadth to your relationships.
  • If you think someone can help you formulate a plan or move it into action, ask him or her for assistance, even if you prefer going it alone.
  • Solicit another’s input; open up with at least one other trusted person and share what you’re thinking.
    At your workplace, make a practice of getting away from your desk, even if only briefly. Keep your office door open at times, and connect with co-workers. If you don’t work, or work from home, get out of the house at least once a day and connect as much as possible with the people you meet when you’re out.

To Practice Sensing:

  • Take stock with your five senses periodically. What do you see, hear, smell, taste and touch? What does the air feel like, what do you see around you?
  • When going someplace new, pay attention to the route, landmarks, and what your destination looks like. Note where you park your car and what entrance you use.
  • Stay in the present-what is actually happening right now?
  • Focus on what you truly experience and what it means vs. what you make up or infer about it. Take a situation purely at face value without adding any interpretation or “story” to it.
  • Practice relaying direct, specific facts.
  • Tell a story in more depth than you typically would, including precise, exact and accurate details.
  • Periodically do a mental scan of people in your life – what’s going on with my daughter? spouse? co-worker?
  • Increase your connection with the world by consistently listening to the news or reading a news paper or news magazine. Focus on staying informed about key local and world events.

To Practice Thinking:

  • Practice giving simple, direct, to-the-point feedback to others. When feedback comes your way, don’t take it personally; use what’s helpful and ignore the rest.
  • Ask yourself if-then and cause-effect questions such as, “If I say ‘yes’ to this, then what do I need to give up?” “What are the effects that result from these actions?”
  • Make a decision using an objective framework. List pros and cons, but don’t include any with emotional content (except for what’s in line with your personal values). Make a decision based on an analysis of the pros and cons.
  • After making a decision using an objective framework, take a tough¬ minded stance and hold firm. Use the information from your analysis to support your position.
  • When you believe that something you’ve said or done has hurt someone’s feelings, check in with them to see if your perception is correct.

To Practice Perceiving:

  • Schedule one day per month to go with the flow. Note what turns up that adds value to the day.
  • Allow a reasonable period of time to elapse (a few hours or a day) before finalizing a decision. Use the extra time to gather more information or probe for additional insights.
  • In solving a problem, think of several options besides the one you think is correct. Make a list of the pros and cons of each option and its impact on people. Challenge your original selection.
  • Monitor yourself for a day and see what happens when you allow yourself to be interrupted. Evaluate your tolerance for delays, ambiguities, and unforeseen changes.
  • Don’t answer e-mails or voice mails immediately, wait as long as practical before replying.
  • If people want your opinion, try remaining neutral. Give several alternatives and let them decide for themselves.
  • Go on an outing with no plans or schedules. Let others make all the decisions and focus on relaxing and enjoying what occurs.

3 thoughts on “Practicing Opposites

  1. Exactly what’s I have been searching for!!!!!! Thanks!

    I want to develop my inferior functions since lately I would benefit from being more “thinking/logical”.

  2. I hadn’t heard of the test until I read your blog. I decided to take it and lo and blheod, I’m a ISFJ (Introverted,Sensing, Feeling, Judging). Unfortunately, being introverted scored the highest percentage, a whopping 78%. I know for a fact that I communicate better in emails or letters than I am talking to people, so it was of no real surprise when I got the score. Of course I would like to be able to communicate with others more easily, but at the same time, I do enjoy my solitude at times as I am a thinker and do ponder a lot of things, anything from what is happening in the world to my personal relationships with others. I often half expect that I will be a recluse in my old age. Being a thinker though, does have its drawbacks. I am an over thinker. When it comes to being presented with a particular situation, I never really know when to stop thinking. I always try to analyze a situation, come to a conclusion on what the outcome is going to be (whether it be right or wrong, more often than not it is wrong) then can become extremely disheartened thinking that nothing can be done to fix it (even if nothing has actually really happened yet) so I do or say nothing and just let the feeling and anxiety overwhelm me. I think it my own warped idea of protecting myself from being hurt by others. At least if the worst is to happen, I can say to myself, well I kind of thought that this would happen and pick myself up again, but then the cycle starts again. I don’t know if I will ever change my way of thinking, but if I do, it may not be any time soon. It’s funny, I used to be such an optimist, but at some point I think I have gone from optimist to a pessimistic optimist. Does that make any sense? Nah, I didn’t think so either

  3. Will try the last one… been traveling for the year and I have regular meltdowns when organising where to go next and how to get there! I hate group travel because I like to do my own thing.

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