I have a friend who just got married. She is the only child in a small, nuclear family. After returning from her honeymoon, her biggest “complaint” is dealing with different personalities in her new home — a “joint family” setup of nine wonderfully unique individuals under one roof.
There’s an in-law that calls (with or without reason) at least 8 times a day; a distant aunt who believes it is her moral duty to offer her opinion on all matters concerning her “married life;” and a curiously quiet cousin who is somehow always around and doesn’t seem to mind the awkward silences.
Imagine being there — an unfamiliar face in a dynamic environment. It can be overwhelming and scary. This article isn’t a typical motivational piece on compromise, adapting and strategies to “fit in.” Instead, it’s about how you can use psychology to deal with new people.
The “Feelers” and the “Thinkers”
The reputed C. G. Jung proposed the widely popular personality test conducted by Myers-Briggs. One of the distinguishing characteristics is that all personalities are dominated by one of these two types:
- Feelers: Decisions are based on relationships
- Thinkers: Decisions are based on logic
How it applies: When in an argument or a discussion, people will display one of the two characteristics. The key is to show empathy and be sensitive towards the “feelers” while focusing on your logic and talking points with the thinkers.
The Four “Ps”
Don’t treat people the way you feel you should be treated — but the way they need to be treated. The “Four Ps” theory — where this piece learns from — divides people into four main types: Playful, Powerful, Precise and Peaceful.
- Playful people are energetic extroverts who act instinctively: They need attention, affection and approval.
- Powerful people are decisive, need control, and intrinsically motivated: They need credit, loyalty and appreciation
- Precise people are detail-oriented, organized and hate making mistakes: They need space, quiet and sensitivity
- Peaceful people are diplomatic, avoid conflict and non easily excitable: They need respect, value and harmony
How it applies: Recognizing and understanding which of the Four Ps you are interacting with early in the relationship is important!
More Personality Types
There is an interesting read on 7 types of personalities thought I feel the name-calling to stereotype individuals isn’t the best strategy. However, some of the characteristics are spot on and worth a read. Here are 2 of them summarized:
- The Passive Aggressive folks are not direct and often defined as “devious.” When dealing with them, turn their attention to the issues instead of the personalities.
- Negative Neds/Nancies are the pessimistic ones who see the glass half-empty and are usually focused on the down sides. When dealing with them, it is important to stay positive and avoid arguments — stick to facts!
I hope that this article helps you start thinking about conflicts differently — as challenges that can be overcome by applying principles of psychology. As a discipline, psychology helps give you an extra edge in all walks of life — from investing to poker to management — and may help all you newly-weds too! For a more technical and in-depth look at how different personalities deal with challenges, this is a fantastic read — when the going gets tough, which personality types are the most likely to give up?