MOTM June 2010
Functions Working In Tandem
For years I struggled with the thought that I had little or no use of my inferior function (Fe). I could recite many accounts where I based my decisions on other people. In part this was probably due to having little vested interests since I do not use Fi well. John Beebe presented his hierarchy of functions process to the world that has now become a consensus understanding of how the we use functions. Because I dominate with Ti does not mean I have no use of Fe. To the contrary I must have use of Fe, and Ni to balance my Ti and Se. No other functions will do this.
I have known INJs who claim to have no use of Se. I am always perplexed by this, and wonder how the hell did you just write your statement since writing and reading are prime examples of two things that call for processing with the external world. Te and Fe are decision-making processes and Ni and Si can only access our internal process. Ne and Se are the only functions that can be used to experience and actually process. To the contrary, we use certain functions in tandem not in opposition. Based on Beebe's work we can now appreciate that the true opposing functions are those that carry the same attitude (E/I) and perceiving/judging function, i.e, Te/Fe, Ti, Fi, Ni, Si. Below are Dario Nardi’s definitions as how the functions are used, from his book “8 Keys To Self-Leadership”:
We can be very tuned in to the surrounding environment, with anticipation of what’s coming next. We may constantly read our industry’s current news to be sure to catch the next wave of innovations. Or we can engage people in fun activities, drawing them out and helping them transform themselves. We might pull a shy person onto the dance floor, convinced that there is an inner dancer waiting to be released; that person experiences his or her potential firsthand. Or we might shape the current context to what we envision it can be, like a sculptor who can “see” the final statue within a chunk of marble and sculpts everything else away to get to it.
We might have a keen awareness of what has come before and link that knowledge to what might be. This might involve drawing upon a wealth of past experience and sifting through what is known to discover patterns; for example, researching the history of a place in great detail to solve a lingering mystery. We might use allegories from traditional fantasy to pass on important standards and values to the next generation, or read mystery novels as a way to relax from the daily grind of work. A little imagination, fantasy, or humor can lighten our daily routine or help make a long-term relationship more enjoyable. Seeing positive possibilities also reassures us when a situation is unstable.
We might interpret the meaning of a situation by relating it to images from the past. We see a pattern in the present moment, and in addition to imagining alternative scenarios we draw upon our memories of the past. This recollection enables us to explore many more situations at once. Similarly, an academic researcher might do extensive research and book study of those who have come before while exploring a theoretical problem. We might embrace the convenience of supportive institutions so that we can live more freely in a world of ideas. We might even dream up a novel way to do something and then establish it as a new tradition or reliable standard for society.
We might try out various tangible experiences and activities to catalyze realizations for growth. The more varied and undigested experiences one has, the more material there is for the unconscious to draw upon. We might look inward to envision how we can transform something, then gather data and take actions to realize that goal—to make real what is envisioned. For example, we might visualize how people will one day journey into space, and then take the actions necessary to design and build a spaceship to accomplish that goal. This might take many years of action, including activities to sustain the vision. Another tandem relationship involves engaging in a physical activity so that body, mind, and environment merge to become one, perhaps experiencing a great sense of calm or energy.
We might sequence and prioritize based on objective measures while following beliefs about what’s important. If there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything we want, we may select those things that matter most to us. Or perhaps, while trying to make a decision, we discover that the available evidence isn’t enough to convince us one way or another. Until we get more evidence, we go with what we believe to be true. Being in touch with what we believe in motivates us to use willpower and to follow a procedure or task through to completion. We might structure an organization or system to be as fair as possible, honoring individual identities.
We might draw on a nugget of reasoning or theoretical framework to make adjustments for the welfare of others or the good of the group. Applying principles of human behavior and applying leverage at key points can help us to manage divergent values, feelings, and opinions. We might nurture relationships with a network of respected peers while clarifying a framework, or disclose personal data to gain clarity and precision for a topic. Or we might feel passionate about the value of people everywhere learning to use a particular framework as a problem-solving tool to improve human relationships. We communicate this framework to others as a helpful gift.
We can connect with others by following guidelines about appropriate behavior. We may follow principles of fair play or the Golden Rule—a general framework for all our transactions with others. We might locate leverage points in a situation to help everyone get what they need in the most affirming and fair way possible, or leverage our range of social contacts to get help or to interact with someone we wouldn’t normally have access to. Or we might mediate a dispute between two parties: we observe from multiple angles to fully see every side and give a fair hearing as we fit their claims with a framework to arrive at a decision.
We can stay true to our beliefs by structuring our lives and standing firm with what’s important. We might decide against purchasing a particular product that harms the environment, and then arrange our lives or the organization we lead to make do without it. We might refer to evidence and empirical reasoning to support what we believe is true. Maybe we hold fast to the idea that all people bring useful gifts to society, then construct a sorter or a metric and gather data to demonstrate this value. Or we might use time-management and spatial organization skills to better follow through on important commitments and worthwhile projects.