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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm new here, but am so amazed at how I fin so much of myself in so many of the ISTJ posts here. I was wondering whether any of you have experience with conflicts with ESFJ people and how to avoid them.

As an ISTJ, I prefer to do things by myself, in my own particular perfectionist way. I have never had remarks on the work I do: I work long hours, am very organized and make sure everything is taken care of. However, some time ago I was called into a meeting with my boss and found my ESFJ colleague there as well. I was told she felt like I was treating her badly: wasn't interested in her and did not involve her in anything. At the time I was absolutely gobsmacked, because on top of that my boss told me I should be happy my colleague told me about her issues since I would be able "to work on my personality". I felt like this was a personal attack and it had nothing to do with my professional performance. Ever since I have closed up even more on my colleague.
Some time after that she was appointed team leader: no-one saw it coming, but she is now checking up on everything, has to approve our holidays, etc. Ever since, I have closed up on her even more.

In the personality description I have read that ESFJs really need approval from others: I have to admit that I often find myself annoyed with her annoying chatter about Tupperware parties etc and cannot make the effort to show interest in her. I have also noticed that they can be quite manipulative...

How do I tackle this?
 

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MOTM May 2011
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So far, it sounds like you are very quiet and reserved, and are not prone to giving co-workers much feedback and insight to what you are thinking. It also sounds like that you disapprove of idle chit-chat at work, and are very task oriented. Soooo...welcome to ISTJdom.:crazy:

You have tried withdrawing from the people and the situation, as much as you can and still remain gainfully employed. This is a defense mechanism and is likely to be misunderstood by the people that surround you. Withdraw enough, and you will seem aloof, cold, indifferent, and uncaring, to those around you. Inside, you will feel fear and bitter, dreading the idea of going to work because you have those people to deal with. We can see at this point that your current method of coping is not a good one.

What if you tried the opposite? What if you took the boss's words to heart and worked on your end of the problem--your personality? We know that you can't change her, him, or any other person...except you. Don't look at tupperware parties as idle chit chat, but look at them as the vehicle...the means to an end. You want to integrate yourself into the office politics (well, you may not want to at this point, but that is really what you are asking), so show a bit of interest in what the others are interested in. They talk tupperware--learn something about tupperware and go to a party or two. Buy something small. They are interested in sports? Learn about sports and attend a game or two with your co-workers.

As an ISTJ, you are too compartmentalized. You view co-workers as people that you work with and that never should your paths cross outside of that context. The others view work as a necessary evil and want to get the most enjoyment out of work by connecting with other people. If you want to advance in your career, you will need to loosen up and try to enjoy the company of the others for them just being them.

In a past life, when I worked in the corporate world, I over came inhibitions by getting my eye on the next position above mine. I found someone that I could see was really liked and was moving up, and I made every effort to emulate them in dress and attitude. This will automatically draw you out of your shell because you are no longer focused on your immediate world, but are focused on the bigger picture. View your job through the lens of what is better for the company. And what is best for the company is that Val needs to grow and that Val comes to the realization that growth involves change and it is never easy or without pain.

Realistically, this situation is normally reversed. It is the other personality types that are crying the blues because the ISTJ in their office was promoted because of their diligence and hard work. Apply yourself and make sure the next promotion is yours.

Good Luck,
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Niss, but I may not have been clear in my first post: I have been promoted in July as well. I do a completely different job to hers now and am no longer in the team. She has taken over my job and is, at the same time, team leader. Fact is that, if she wants to take up holidays, etc she does not have a back-up and I always turn out be the one that needs to take over for a couple of days, on top of my actual job.

I feel this is taking advantage: some time ago I treated her badly because I wasn't interested in the Tupperware chit-chat, but now I'm suddenly good enough to be taking over her work. She still does not seem to get the fact that I don't like her coming to my desk to small-talk on babies, etc etc. Plus, she never asks me directly to take over from her: she goes via the manager and I find out afterwards when the decision's already been made.

I know I should be more open to it, but I feel it is such a waste of time: I come to work to work, not to be spending my time with drinking coffee and having a chat. Especially not about Tupperware, etc. It annoys me that they seem to think it normal that I take over her work: when it does happen, I always find that she has left piles of unfinished orders, complaints, etc leaving me a small post-it that she's very sorry, but she was very busy.

I find ESFJs very tiring people who seem to be needing attention all day every day and become quite catty and even manipulative when you don't approve of them. The strange thing is that other people don't seem to be noticing that and even think she's a great co-worker.

I've also seen a post in which a lot of ISTJs admit they hold grudges (and for a very long time :happy:). I am definitely like that: it's not an admirable trait, but I would be damned if I every have a chat about Tupperware parties to that ESFJ! :crazy:
 

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MOTM May 2011
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Yeah, this second post is a very different scenario than what I understood from your first post.

In the first post you said that "she had to approve your holidays" which is the role of a supervisor or HR. In the second post it sounds like you jobs are separate, yet similar enough in scope that one of you can cover for the other.

If she is covering for your holidays as you are covering for her holidays, then I'd say it is equitable. Maybe you don't like her style and that she leaves unfinished work for you to do, but you can't expect everyone to act like you do.

Considering the first and second posts, I'd guess that you just don't like the lady--a personality clash, if you will. Maybe she is a bit unhealthy, but it sounds like you aren't really up to giving her a fair shake, either. Since you can't really change her, about the only person you can work on is yourself. You might be surprised how the dynamic of the relationship will change if one person in the conflict will start acting in a safer manner.

There are several ways to handle various aspects of this dynamic, but I would personally suggest that you become a little more open to chit chat, babies, tupperware, etc. I would also suggest that you quit allowing her to rub you the wrong way. Obviously, the boss likes her, so you aren't going to win in a power struggle. Be nice. Find something to like about her. Let that inner knot of tension melt and relax--this is bugging you too much. Work on yourself and your understanding of office politics, remembering that you are the only person that you can change. You do these things and she will change, too. It's human nature.

ESFJs can be wonderful people and great co-workers. Crossed, they can be quite manipulative. Don't base your understanding of this type on this one relationship.

HTH
 
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