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T vs F in conflict: Two different languages, dialogue of the deaf
14 May 2010

by Antonio P.

Note: This article is not produced by a psychologist and is based on the analysis of a small sample of individuals. The following text is open to debate and is mainly to be used as hint.

Introduction

As soon as a context or a situation involve more than one individual, the concept of conflict, the commands and mechanisms of conflict solving automatically become "must be taken in account" items. Two or more people having to interact are subject to conflict, given a certain past time. The higher the interest generated by the link between two individuals is, the bigger are the chances to have them involved into conflicts. People fight usually over values, opinions, interests, position... Sure, the chances to have conflict generated between two individuals and particularly the frequency of these conflicts also depend on the nature of these individual. There we are, focusing on psychological type theories which provide the world with priceless understanding of people's mind and motivations, also inter type compatibility. Profile descriptions often contains even values shared by people of a certain type, but still lots of values are strictly personal as based on culture, sub culture, education, profession... making inter type compatibility theories solely incapable to lead to the perfect world of zero conflicts. Any functions pair E-I, S-N, T-F, J-P, when opposed can be equally a source of repetitive conflicts. In the vein of considering personality best match theories, this article will focus on the function scale which is precisely used by individuals to manage conflicts: The Thinking-Feeling scale. More precisely focusing on the case when they are opposed... Ladies and Gentlemen, Thinking and feeling are nothing but two different human languages, transforming communication within conflict into a race in a quicksand, A REAL DIALOGUE OF THE DEAF.

Do you speak "True-false" or "Nice-mean"?

In conflict context, The Thinking-Feeling scale will be the one used by the individual to evaluate the "pawn moves" (actions, arguments, speech, mimics...) operated by their interlocutor during the confrontation. The individual affects a binary value to the pawn move in order to consequently decide of their own pawn move.

Whatever is said, done, suggested to a Thinking individual is evaluated by him/her as true or false, right or wrong, accurate or inaccurate. This is the True-false language, the language of logic: "A good thing" to the Thinking individual is something that is to him/her true or right or accurate... "A bad thing" is something that is false, wrong, inaccurate... Whatever it is, whatever they may show on surface, Thinking individuals accept and will manage their way not to go against something they evaluated as "True". Sure this have to be reviewed a lot according to the Thinking guinea pigs, because every Thinker still possess a certain Feeling dosage in their personality... we are analyzing here "the perfect Thinking individual" in order to theorize properly. The Thinking individual will cut out the emotional content of the pawn move of their interlocutor and decide of their reactions only based on their acceptance of their interlocutor's pawn move as true or false. Understand that in the conflict everybody react by accepting what is evaluated by them as good by rejecting what is evaluated by them as bad. The thinking individual will not accept any action or speech they perceive as wrong or false or inaccurate.

What do true or false mean for a Feeling individual? hardly nothing: it is like two foreign words that have no translation in their language, it is simply non-existing. OKokok... I need to precise it again, we are analyzing now only "the perfect Feeling individual" for the purpose of the theory. Whatever is said, done, suggested to the Feeling individual is evaluated by him/her as nice or mean, welcoming or hostile, happy or mad or sad... and so. Within exchanges in a conflict, the Feeling individual will cut out the logical content of the pawn move of their interlocutor and decide of their reactions only based on their acceptance of their interlocutor's pawn move as nice or mean.

We understand here that "A good thing" to the Feeling individual is something that is nice, happy, welcoming and "A bad thing" is something mean, mad, sad, hostile... Whatever they may show on surface, the Feeling individuals, will accept and manage their way not to go against anything they evaluated as nice.

O-ooo it seems that everybody is not on the same page here...

Clash, clash again and conflict escalating

Now, if there is a little divergence of opinions, of values, of point of views, how these two individuals respectively "T" and "F" communicate with each other to clarify the issue? I think that both of them will feel like watching a new music videoclip with the TV sound muted... (okokok was that last one necessary?) In fact, very often, the first approach of the individual having to expose an interpersonal issue (let's call it the plaintiff) is devoid of hostility. Negative tensions will be created and will increase as soon as one will feel that their issue is not understood/addressed adequately by their "responsible of this" interlocutor (who we call the defendant). The communication rapidly evolve into a clash as much as "you don't answer anything that have something to see with what I say, like you are not listening to me". Let's take the time to detail how negative tensions may generate out of nowhere in both figure cases:

Figure case A)
A Thinking individual who have a divergence to bring to a Feeling individual may start by starting to calmly exposing, with a neutral tone of voice his point of view and the rationale based on what he disagree with his Feeling interlocutor actions, says or opinions. Chances are that the Thinking individual do not even happen to finish exposing the issue as yet his dynamic of criticizing and certain words showing disapproval (even not insulting or denigrating words) of his speech will make his Feeling interlocutor needing to interrupt, to go defensive, with the goal to pull out approval from the Thinking-typed plaintiff's speech. Even when most of the time, this first reaction of the Feeling defendant will be calm, the overall atmosphere will not remain accordingly. The so far calm Thinking plaintiff have been interrupted without having even being allowed to tell what was his problem, for "something completely irrelevant, absurd", understand by this that the Feeling defendant interrupted the speech to argue the first "hostile" word he heard. Sure the Feeling defendant understood that he was approached to face a divergence and was willing to cooperate, but the problem is that, IN HIS LANGUAGE, the thing that is going wrong is to be found in negative words, actions, mimics of the plaintiff toward him. As the Thinking plaintiff don't pay attention at all to these and initiated his complaint speech wanting to be able to expose all the facts and having them analyzed, counter analyzed (what's in all this is true, what is false, that is right, what is wrong)... he definitely feel not listened AND IN FACT IS NOT LISTENED by the Feeling defendant.

Figure case B)
Let's reverse the roles, same results: Now we have a Feeling individual who is bringing his issue to a Thinking defendant. Same as in Case A, The expose of the case starts calmly. The Feeling plaintiff will bring as complaint any situation which made him feel bad. As he describes his feelings to the defendant, the Feeling Plaintiff gets interrupted by his interlocutor for "something irrelevant and showing insensitivity". Understand by this that the Thinking defendant interrupted the speech to argue the first "unfair fact distortion" he noticed. Even when let's say this intervention is proceeded by the defendant calmly and with pure intention to cooperate in solving the divergence, the Feeling plaintiff feel not listened. IN FACT HE IS NOT LISTENED by the Thinking defendant as the feeling plaintiff is not in a dynamic to make an historical report but just to have his feelings understood and reassured. The Thinking defendant is reading it completely upside-down as IN HIS LANGUAGE the thing that is going wrong is to be found in an unfair or illegitimate thing he did, a false thing he said, claimed in the plaintiff speech.

Do I need to explain what comes after? It's not a T and F matter anymore: it's at human level. If you feel not listened, you stop talking the same way, you lose patience and it's time to force your point by any means that's it. On one case you have this plaintiff Thinker talking to "this absurd, irrational character" and on the other case you have a Feeling plaintiff talking to this "mean, insensitive tin person"... Whoever you are, it's bad emotions time: Screaming, speech oriented to hurt more than to cooperate, tactics to intimidate and so... everybody screaming in their own language sounding like nonsense... and it's like a cycle: the more you feel not listened, the more you scream. The more you scream, the more you are not listened first, because you're screaming, then because still they won't get your language; then you get screamed back with an irrelevant reply which make you feel more that you are not listened and you scream more...

Note that, it's not all the time it would degenerate exactly like this: Not every types are inclined into screaming, some may go quiet and just redraw when facing screaming. Some pairs of opponents themselves may carry out a conflict without verbal fighting or direct confrontation... but still whatever happened after the initial contact, it's a dialog of the deaf and the conflict is not over at all. Even in many cases nobody would not be interrupted in their speech. Understand that the frustration is not generated by the interruption of the speech itself, but by the perceived irrelevance of the reply which justified this interruption. I just chose this form of conflict escalating (screaming at each other) because it's a good caricature to illustrate the mechanism. This article is not the complete scientific lecture on the matter (this would require a book and deeper considerations) but have a narrowed purpose: To be a guidance for close people (friends, family, mates) who are chronically facing communication problems despite their good faith. If you need understand how it escalates to you fighting at the bar or screaming at your colleagues in the office, there's enough sanctions out there to help you take the time to develop your own theory.

As soon as the communication reach the stage of clash, generally it goes clashing over and over, reply by reply in escalating the negative tension, until the argument reach its breaking point. By 'breaking point" here, I mean any sudden decision, interruption from the exterior that will make the escalating argumentation stop suddenly without having the issue solved. In our present caricature of the mechanism, it would be for example, one of the two involved individual being the first to assume openly the fact that he is not willing to listen to the other, by openly walk away, or any intervention by a third party that force the two protagonists to drop the argumentation, or again any sudden event of a superior importance instantly catching everybody's attention. Anyways, in the "close relationship" case we are using in this article, reaching the breaking point of an escalating argumentation doesn't mean in nothing that the conflict is over. Au contraire it simply represents a temporary retreat of both parties in the intent to better prepare the continuation of the warfare.

Peace treaty and post clash dialog

The warfare between a Thinking individual and a Feeling individual is rarely perceptible as a continuum. It is a frequent case to be observing instead, an going "up and down" warfare: "up" when the conflict is taking the form of a punctual battle (argumentation) going escalating until reaching the argumentation's breaking point, and "down" when some time after the battle a peace treaty is signed... before the occurrence of the next identical battle...

... A peace treaty after having an escalating argumentation like this? Yes. A peace treaty occurs generally in a warfare when one of the parties feels an imminent defeat and decide to propose to the enemy to cease fire in order to "save as much as possible before it's too late". Usually, the potential winning enemy accept the peace proposal under conditions they impose due to the power of negotiation this mechanism brings to them. So why occurs a peace treaty in the context of a Thinking individual facing a Feeling individual within a conflict? Because in the dynamic of escalating in perfect continuum a conflict, these two individuals are not equally gifted by nature. One of the individuals will rapidly emerge as the post argumentation sulk winner... THE THINKING INDIVIDUAL WINS!

What is so surprising with that statement, when we previously discussed about the two different languages spoken by Thinking and Feeling individuals? If it's equally OK for both individual to a) first pick and contest anything that sounded bad to their language during the initial exchange, b) then to react badly as soon as they would feel not listened by their interlocutor, c) and at last to escalate the "dialog of the deaf" until reaching a breaking point, where both of them under the influence of very negative emotions, would express their intention not to communicate anymore, the Thinking individual will reveal himself as the best one capable of keeping this last commitment: Remember that in the Thinking individual language, "being bad", "being a bad person" means and only means being inaccurate, talking or doing the false, not standing by the "truth". Feeling aspects of strategies or actions are not his concerns. As soon as the Thinking individual was defending within the badly degenerated exchange, something he perceived as being the truth, something right, after reaching the breaking point of the argumentation, to his perception, he did nothing "bad", but his interlocutor/opponent did so much by "being so in denial of the truth": He still haven't being capable to clarify this aspect of the question with his interlocutor (they did not successfully ended up agreeing on what was true, what was false on the topic) and after clash, he still remain equally frustrated than when the exchange reached its breaking point. His mindset in theory (As soon as we are talking about "the perfect Thinking individual") cannot ever change until a rational discussion is conducted on the controversial topic, establishing at a satisfactory level "the truth", the right, the accurate for both parties... the if the Thinking individual would resume dialog later, his motivations and interest to do so are ONLY IN THE SAME DYNAMIC OF COMPARING DIVERGENT ARGUMENTS IN ORDER CLARIFY THE TRUTH AT LAST. This is the Thinking individual language, the way he speaks and listens to the world... Like any human language, there's not better language than others, but when two people are incapable to speak a same language, we can dare talk about communications sessions that are better than others.

Unfortunately in this episode of the overall warfare, there is an extra aspect that will make a big difference to the Feeling individual: Remember that in the Feeling individual language, "being bad", "being a bad person" means and only means being "mean", nourishing and condoning negative tensions between individuals, participating in making other people feel bad... Logical aspects of strategies of actions are not really his concerns. Even if the Feeling individual would have, as a human self-defense reflex, go mean, negative (like the Thinking individual did) in the previous badly degenerated exchange, it doesn't mean that he will find this behavior of his 100% acceptable at the first opportunity he will have to recapitulate. Also an extra aspect that makes a big difference: The exchange process itself WENT REALLY MEAN LAST TIME! by having both interlocutors going so mad at each other. The Feeling individual will keep a very bad after taste of the exchange itself regardless of its logical contents. He feels guilty after clash having not be capable of making the exchange going nice and pleasant for both parties and is willing to do further attempts to have it going that way. His mindset in theory cannot ever change until a positively tense communication happens on the controversial topic, with an mutual feeling of stress-free and happiness for both parties. This is the Feeling individual language, the way he speaks and listens to the world.

As the Thinking individual, by his language, is not concerned by the negative tension that surrounded the badly degenerated exchange, but only by pursuing its logical content, and the Feeling individual, by his language, is terribly concerned by restoring a positive atmosphere around the exchange with his Thinking interlocutor, he often will be the first to attempt to reopen the communication channel with this latter. Such proposal will follow the same pattern of a peace treaty process, considering the tense context: The Thinking individual will be then automatically in power position to impose his conditions to his interlocutor, which will be to have the exchange going on in his logical language. The Thinking individual may be in some cases, the one reopening the dialog, but still to follow-up with the exchange using his own logical language (reviewing a not enough detailed argument, adding a new argument...). As he is mainly pursuing a punctual goal of only having a peaceful exchange with the Thinking individual, the Feeling individual will accept this condition in order to achieve his goal. This means in practice that the Thinking individual will be let saying hardly whatever he wishes to say on the controversial topic by the Feeling individual who is more letting him speak for the sake of having a peaceful exchange with his interlocutor, than actually being listening to the Thinking individual rationales. The Feeling individual might lightly intervene only when invited to do so by his interlocutor, before eventually changing the topic to a non controversial one. This last accomplishment will be to the Feeling individual's eye, the ultimate sign that his goal have been reached. The "down" (calm) stage of the warfare will most of the time occur as both parties may most likely come out satisfied of this new exchange: The thinking individual will feel at last listened as have been given the opportunity to detail his arguments, rationales... He will have the illusion of being adequately answered and having reach an agreement over what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong (actually practically consisting on his sole point of view). "He at last achieved to obtain some logic from this irrational character". On his side, the Feeling individual have achieved his goal of obtaining a nice exchange with "this machine-human character"...

...What a happy ending: Pure illusion! This is the reason why this phase of the conflict is to be considered simply as a "down" (temporary calm) phase which will leave the place to a new "up" (temporary hot) phase as soon as the controversial topic is discussed again in the future. At that time both parties will realize that no progress at all have been made on the topic, nor on the communication process itself as the respective points of view did not change at all. How and why the peace treaty would have been signed then one phase earlier? Because, by a very ironical mystery of nature, the two interlocutors would agree with a situation basically consisting on fooling each other and letting oneself being fooled. Both interlocutors would again resume the exchanges with he firm intention to speak their own language, and differently from in the previous "up" phase, they spoke it only partly, which gave each other the satisfaction and illusion of having communicated successfully. The so-believed working deal consisted in fact of having on one side, the Thinking individual speaking "Thinking" by having everybody going all logical on the surface look of the exchanges and speaking partly "Feeling" by remaining calm and peaceful all along. On the other side, the Feeling individual accepted to follow the Thinking individual in managing an appearance of speaking "Thinking" during the exchanges while focusing in fact on speaking "Feeling" with pushing a peaceful atmosphere all along the communication. Be sure that, if for any reason, one of the languages happened to be denied during such exchange i.e. Thinking individual going too mean or Feeling individual rejecting logical demonstrations we would assist to a "peace treaty breakup" with a resume of hostilities, like in any conventional war. Such so-perceived successful communication in fact have been sterile and remained a pure deaf dialog at the end of which somehow, the Feeling individual temporarily wins by trapping his fellow Thinking interlocutor.

As soon as the same causes and/or clues will prove in the day to day life that the controversial issue remains intact, a new attempts to exchange will be engaged again, but this time having both the interlocutors purely speaking their own language by natural reflex, leading to a new clash. This is the awful deadly loop of Thinking-Feeling conflict solving dialogue of the deaf.

Great! now how to avoid that?

Now that we spent so much time theorizing how complicated it is for two people even when in good faith to solve the smallest conflict, how they don't actually talk to each other, this article would be useless if it not give some solution hints: The following are not the complete list of everything could be done on the matter and not perfect solutions, but to answer the question "what to do to prevent or stop the warfare?", " What should such so different but so in good faith individuals do to improve their conflict solving process?"...

... it might be helpful to take a look at these options:

a) You could learn another language:
Have in mind that if one is stereotyped as Thinking or Feeling, it's just because this is their dominant function. Everybody still have a certain dosage of the opposite. Trying to develop or practice one's repressed function would be a good solution in a Thinking-Feeling couple to meet each other half way. Hummm... as soon I have good reasons to think that people's preferences on normal conditions cannot change (see my upcoming article "why we are what we are") I'm not sure that actually learning the opposite language is possible. Still everybody can achieve conflict solving improvements by simply developing a speech practice i.e Thinking individuals learn to use more of the vocabulary to describe feelings and Feeling individuals paying more attention to the fact that "feeling it unfair and/or illegitimate" is in fact the feeling that hurts a Thinking individual, but which is the ONLY feeling that Feeling individuals don't perceive.

b) Delegate the conflict settlement to a third party:
If a couple could find an arbitrator: this older respected individual or this good and trusted friend to bring the conflict topic to and accept their judgment as final, that would be great! but such a fool idea... Be sure that a Feeling arbitrator, as wise and in good faith as they could be will understand better the Feeling party involve in the conflict and a Thinking arbitrator would understand mainly the Thinking individual's position... It is better then to survey the judgment: Look for what the people say on the topic. Today, you just need to drop your issue on an internet forum and there you go... within hours, you will have a not that bad picture of what all these people out there who don't know you (your conflict privacy is safe) think about what's good, what's bad on the topic. You may also survey friends... basic condition: make sure you expose the topic objectively... if you're in good term enough with your opponent to write it on the forum together, that would be the best... Now how would be the capacity of the one who will lose to admit defeat based on a survey that have a some high odds to be biased? Ouch!

c) Try to become the perfect balanced person (if you can):
Who can prove that Thinking is a better preference than Feeling and vice-versa? Nonsense, as everybody knows that all the preferences have equal strengths and weaknesses. The ideal would be to be capable of using all the eight preferences ONLY in context where they would be at their best. Now, for whom who have ears to listen, understanding to understand, I'm going to describe how Thinking and Feeling work their best:
When the context is relax, no bad ambient vibes and in happy situations FEELING TYPE IS THE BEST WAY OF BEING: Yes, I said it! If everybody around is happy, everything is fine, NOBODY needs your cold calculations, nobody needs to calculate for rain when it's sunny, who needs your so bright logic when sitting sbehind some bottles in the bar?... in these situations, the most you can just "let it flow" show that good mood, express that happiness, you will make it contagious and will have everybody (let's say they are doing the same) contribute to make it grow exponential in the air. From just relax you will go happy and from happy you will go happier. Ever wonder why you happen to discuss so badly all the time with your Feeling mate while sex is still always good? There you got your answer: Your Thinking is useless when everything goes well...

But In conflict situations, divergence of opinions, divergence of values, necessity to allocate too few among too many... THE IDEAL IS FOR EVERYBODY TO GO THINKING TYPE! O-ooo... Did I just say that Thinking function IS THE BEST function for conflict solving... IN A CONFLICT SOLVING ARTICLE??? How objective was that? Unfortunately Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the sad truth... Feeling function unfortunately is not made to address divergences, conflicts adequately... Thinking is. The Thinking mechanism advocates the pursuit of "one fixed rule for everybody" in a given case, looking objectively at facts and arguments and put things at their places. This is a more stable system to rely on. Feeling mechanisms advocates mainly taking in account how people feel, what they would claim for themselves just for the sake of claiming it... yes, feelings are unpredictable, uncontrollable, inexplicable... it is most of the time impossible to generate fairness from such a system, because it leaves the door more open to manipulations than Thinking system. Let's be objective and take a look at our Justice system, The above-human system devoted to conflict solving... It works as a PERFECTLY THINKING TYPE MACHINE. The facts, the demonstration, the arguments, the evidences, the law, the law, and the law... and the law... If it was about letting the defendant go free just because they start crying in the court with bitter regrets... our society would be chaotic... and no, no need for debating, the justice system do not value nor is to take in account feelings... whatever you may have seen or perceived in some cases showing this, is to be considered as of it's actors flaws. The system value only the law, the rule and anybody who is in logic phase with the rule wins.... Anyways I'm not saying that all Thinking people are great and fair in conflict solving... I was idealizing here "the perfect Thinking individual". Thinking people just have this natural predisposition to at least acknowledge for themselves the truth, accept what is explained and demonstrated against what they just would like, bend under the hit of a rule they accepted before hand... but it takes other qualities to use your Thinking side successfully in conflict solving, such as wisdom and intelligence to understand what's actually right, what's actually wrong (so you know what to accept or not accept, what to impose or not to impose), good faith to accept it clearly in front of your opponent (yes Thinking individuals when under pressure tend to stand on their initial position even when they got proven and perfectly understood that it's "wrong"... as feelings always end up taking over under pressure).

Conclusion

I will not stress enough that this article uses a gross caricature of two individual going through a conflict: It is not true that two individuals (even a Thinking vs. a Feeling one) have to experience verbal clashes when meeting their divergent opinions. Some individuals of certain types may just withdraw while facing verbal aggression. It is also not rare to simply have a victim-oppressor relationship between a Thinking and Feeling individuals when in conflict, or a "cold war" (not obvious verbal or physical aggression, but psychological games, each other's interests sabotage game...). In a conflict, one might always win right away, without having to go "up" and "down" because of the power they exercise on their opponent... It would have taken a far longer article to cover all the possibilities... Anyways The target of this article was couples of Thinking and Feeling individuals involved into a close relationship (partners, good friends, family...) who are in good faith looking to understand each other and solve conflicts to the best for everybody. In such context, after a while experiencing conflicts on the same topic and due to the familiarity between the individuals, nerves can become tense from time to time and turn conflict solving exchanges to verbal hostilities. Still using a focused caricature, this article was capable of establishing the "two different languages" and "dialog of the deaf" theories which are applicable to any Thinking vs. Feeling individuals conflict solving situation. Based on this, this article ended up proposing three possible ways to try to improve the Thinking-Feeling interlocutors dialog, theorizing on the move, what "the perfect balanced T-F scale typed individual" would be. This will be my last theory in this article exposing my views of the Thinking-Feeling function of psychology, but as "we just are what we are" any of these options will require a lot of self transcendence to be effective. I personally started to practice the last option for years now with some improvements. Bottom line this option says that:
If you could be the most genuine person when everything and everybody around you is positive, express, let explode your happy feelings when everyone is happy around you and
If you can be objective, impartial even when you're one of the parties, ready to bend under the rules of wisdom and demand everybody to do so... then (as Rudyard Kipling said):

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!"

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