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Discussion Starter #1
I normally find it easy, even pleasant, to work with ISTJ's. You guys as a type seem to have good heads on your shoulders, as well as an inner strength which is different from my own, nonetheless honorable. Interestingly, most of the most significant ISTJ's in my life are women, including my mom, my sister, my mentor, and a good friend and colleague, all of whom I think are excellent people. We don't always understand each other, but we generally can at least respect each other and cooperate effectively.

I'm the student council president at my college this year, with an ISTJ acting as my treasurer. He shows all the classic signs of the type: a reserved, professional demeanor; skill in handling practical details; a succinct, uncomplicated way of speaking, etc. He had actually held the same position last year with a different president. I was expecting our relationship to be mutually respectful and reliable. As long as I could explain my whacked-out ideas with good rationale, and he could make clear his own requirements and standards to me, I didn't expect weird problems.

What I've found, though, is that he has a bit of a melodramatic streak, and a lot less personal maturity than I'd expected. He took immediate offence to something I said to him about a week ago, regarding an issue which affects his commitment to our work together. Because of my impression of his character, I didn't think that what I was saying was insensitive - that is, I thought he would be able to handle it. He didn't communicate his hurt to me right away, but instead bitched to other council members about it behind my back.

It wasn't until two days ago that he personally approached me. Normally when people see me actively giving them my attention, they will soften their tone and feel freer to speak without defensiveness. What I got instead was a non-stop, rapid-fire attack. He didn't let me get a word in edgewise, he didn't buy my apology, and he didn't work with me on my suggestions for solutions. It seemed more about hostility than accountability. I'm normally someone who can take criticism well, but I walked away from that encounter numb and demoralized.

You have to understand, I have never had a previous conflict with this guy, so this seemed to come from nowhere. He's the last person I had expected to cause me the first bit of trouble in this role. I honestly feel a bit betrayed by his behaviour, and my professional and personal trust in him is quite damaged.

Can anyone explain this behaviour to me? I think my guess of his type is accurate, but it seems so bizarre that an ISTJ should act this way.
 

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What did you say exactly? What exactly did he say to you? Were there other people around who could hear? I can't explain the behavior with no details.

Do you remember everything he said during his attack?

It sounds like you made him think you doubted his integrity or reliability in some way but I can't be certain due to the fact I don't know what was said. I do know that constant corrections especially in front of others who may be depending on them can be irritating to a ISTJ but I have no clue if you did that or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
What did you say exactly? What exactly did he say to you? Were there other people around who could hear? I can't explain the behavior with no details.

Do you remember everything he said during his attack?

It sounds like you made him think you doubted his integrity or reliability in some way but I can't be certain due to the fact I don't know what was said. I do know that constant corrections especially in front of others who may be depending on them can be irritating to a ISTJ but I have no clue if you did that or not.
Both conversations were private. Only in very combative circumstances would I think of calling someone out in front of colleagues.

I can't tell you much of what he said in the latter one. It was pretty fast and intense, as well as tied to a specific situation. He expressed feelings of alienation and being taken for granted, and warned that I was demotivating my team. None of what he said was invalid, I suppose, but it seemed sort of disconnected from reality. He percieved a greater group dissatisfaction than is actually present. Really, it's him and one other person, and they feed into each other.

Essentially, the issue I raised with him in the first instance was that he has taken on two significant formal leadership roles on campus, which is actually not usually allowed, as a matter of policy. I questioned whether the exception had been a wise choice. My evidence was that he had been absent for the training week for the role he's filling alongside me, thereby excluding himself from a shared experience and a shared identity with the group. It doesn't affect his tasks directly, but it does mean that he was not privy to specific conversations which shape our collective goals, and he didn't hear my share my own vision and philosophy for our community.

This adds up to a compromised working relationship, where he is not part of the group personality, and specifically he and I have no basis for a friendship, or even a partnership beyond what the book says we have. The elements which were lost (a shared identity/vision/philosophy) are very important to me, and the effects are already felt. The fact that he's been gossiping about me shows how little unity I have with him.

I can say there have not been constant corrections. This was literally the first instance of conflict or criticism we've had, and I have not called him out on anything else, certainly not publicly.
 

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Let me see if I have this straight, you questioned his commitment because he missed the training week, (which he had likely done the previous year because he held the same position, with the exception of your input), due to some other commitment he had. It this accurate?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Let me see if I have this straight, you questioned his commitment because he missed the training week, (which he had likely done the previous year because he held the same position, with the exception of your input), due to some other commitment he had. It this accurate?
It's accurate, but the topic of the conversation wasn't his commitment, at least not on my end. I had hoped to find ways to ensure that he actually would be included in the group vibe. I don't even think that he's not internally committed. I just can't ignore the fact that he wasn't there, and there are natural repercussions from that which I wanted to deal with.
 

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What I've found, though, is that he has a bit of a melodramatic streak, and a lot less personal maturity than I'd expected. He took immediate offence to something I said to him about a week ago, regarding an issue which affects his commitment to our work together. Because of my impression of his character, I didn't think that what I was saying was insensitive - that is, I thought he would be able to handle it. He didn't communicate his hurt to me right away, but instead bitched to other council members about it behind my back.
It's accurate, but the topic of the conversation wasn't his commitment, at least not on my end. I had hoped to find ways to ensure that he actually would be included in the group vibe. I don't even think that he's not internally committed. I just can't ignore the fact that he wasn't there, and there are natural repercussions from that which I wanted to deal with.
This sounds conflicted and is confusing to me.

If you insinuated that you had doubts about his level of commitment at this early stage of the relationship ... yeah, it's going to be a long year if you can't get this patched up.

Our commitment is at the heart of who we are. If someone tells me that I lack commitment without taking the time to ask and see what might be going on in my life that prevented me from attending the training ... it's not going to end pretty. In that situation, if I could walk away, I would, but failing that, I'll build a consensus in the group. I'm assuming that you are new to this group and you have a few members who aren't newbies, or who know each other fairly well.

IOW, patch this up or you could end up with factions fighting each other within your council all. year. long.
 

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It's accurate, but the topic of the conversation wasn't his commitment, at least not on my end. I had hoped to find ways to ensure that he actually would be included in the group vibe. I don't even think that he's not internally committed. I just can't ignore the fact that he wasn't there, and there are natural repercussions from that which I wanted to deal with.
I was very involved with student government (both my rez council and SGA) when I was in university so I have a fairly good idea what is involved in general, although there would be constitutional differences I suspect. I understand that time before other people arrive is beneficial for many reasons, much in the same way I understand that sh*t happens and some times there are scheduling conflicts. Both are equally valid, but sh*t happens is a trump card, so the best course of action would have to be to attempt to recover and find an alternative route to form cohesion.

Now you approached this person and confronted them about the issue basically saying:
the issue I raised with him in the first instance was that he has taken on two significant formal leadership roles on campus, which is actually not usually allowed, as a matter of policy. I questioned whether the exception had been a wise choice. My evidence was that he had been absent for the training week for the role he's filling alongside me, thereby excluding himself from a shared experience and a shared identity with the group. It doesn't affect his tasks directly, but it does mean that he was not privy to specific conversations which shape our collective goals, and he didn't hear my share my own vision and philosophy for our community.
Honestly, I mean no insult here, but if you used the above evidence I daresay that he interpreted it as "you hurt my feelings", because in his view the most important part is that missing the training will not impair his ability to fulfill his duty, because the rest of it can be made up for. I suspect given that he has experience and is aware of what was missed, (and that includes all the things you mentioned) he very likely views your reaction to his absence as "melodramatic" and possibly mildly ego driven, so he stewed for a bit and planned what he was going say word for word, which is why it was so hurried and furious.
 

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I am curious to know what he said that made you feel demoralized or discouraged. Maybe you could have waited and got to know him better before you brought up potentially sticky topics. He obviously thinks you are a trouble maker and you feel like he is being a uncivilized caveman. We have conflict that needs to be patched up as Niss said or you might be in for trouble.

Do you know why he couldn't be there? Did you ask him by saying,"I missed you at the meeting. How come you couldn't be there?" or did you say,"I noticed you were not at the meeting. Shame on you. This is a terrible way to start off." It is possible your body language and demeanor cued him in to your true feelings of being displeased with him and this made him feel threatened. He went to the other members because you made him sense that he was being threatened in some way so his trusted friends were a safe place for him to vent. Who ratted on him? I am curious to know that. You might want to keep a eye on that person.

What did you say because I'm guessing different ways you could ask the same question and get different responses.

What was his answer?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I am curious to know what he said that made you feel demoralized or discouraged. Maybe you could have waited and got to know him better before you brought up potentially sticky topics. He obviously thinks you are a trouble maker and you feel like he is being a uncivilized caveman. We have conflict that needs to be patched up as Niss said or you might be in for trouble.
It wasn't exactly the content of the conversation -- the words he said -- but rather his demeanor and overall presentation. Had he made his feelings known in writing rather than in person, I wouldn't have been nearly as bothered. It makes sense that he would have sat on it for a while, to think of what to say, but it really did come out rather furiously and unexpectedly. A lot of aggressive emotion came across (albeit in a controlled, understated way), and since he caught me with my guard down, it shook me up.

However, I've come to some realizations, thanks in part to the insights given here, about how I've come across to him, and I think I know of a good way to begin to relate to him better.

Do you know why he couldn't be there? Did you ask him by saying,"I missed you at the meeting. How come you couldn't be there?" or did you say,"I noticed you were not at the meeting. Shame on you. This is a terrible way to start off." It is possible your body language and demeanor cued him in to your true feelings of being displeased with him and this made him feel threatened. He went to the other members because you made him sense that he was being threatened in some way so his trusted friends were a safe place for him to vent. Who ratted on him? I am curious to know that. You might want to keep a eye on that person.
His reason for absence had already been discussed: he was focusing his time during training into another official student leadership role. He actually had to get the approval of a dean to take on both roles, and consciously decided not to divide his training time. Essentially, I got the short end of the stick with him, when normally, by a matter of policy, there would only be one end. It's also worth noting that he's trained for both roles -- he didn't need to be present more for one role than the other, so there was a clear choice of one over the other.

The first conversation was actually an attempt to catch him up on what he had missed. I made my comment because I found it very difficult to explain the intangible side of the work we had done. I had focused not on the policies and plans (because those are plain to see in writing), but on perceptions and ways of thinking. He missed those important conversations in which consensus was built, and I couldn't simply catch him up on something so intangible.

Edit: My one big mistake in that instance was multitasking. I talked to him as I folded laundry in my dorm. I couldn't seen his reactions well, though in general he's not one to visibly react.

Regarding the gossip, you might be right. I've similarly confided in that person, in a somewhat guarded way, but I wonder if too much of our impressions of each other come filtered through other people's perceptions.
 

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Did you hold an office in this association last year? If you were not involved in an official capacity prior to being elected president, he may be viewing this as “this Johnny-come-lately is implying that I don’t know what’s involved in my position, as if *he* would know!”

I know you didn’t intend the impression that he got, and I sympathize with you.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Did you hold an office in this association last year? If you were not involved in an official capacity prior to being elected president, he may be viewing this as “this Johnny-come-lately is implying that I don’t know what’s involved in my position, as if *he* would know!”

I know you didn’t intend the impression that he got, and I sympathize with you.
This seems very possible, actually. I didn't hold a seat on the council last year, and he doesn't know me well from any other contexts.

I'm working with other ISTJ's who do know me, and who can accept me as someone who knows what he's doing, so I'm certain that this isn't just a type thing. I think part of this issue is that, to him, my competency and character are not proven. He can accept me as an "ideas guy," but he hasn't seen me in action (another thing he missed in the training week).

Anyway, I appreciate the insights. You guys have been nothing but helpful.
 

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@dingo
I was wondering, when you aired your grievance with him concerning his absence and possible inability to commit the required time and attention to the treasurers position, did you provide a solution? Or was that conversation left open ended?
 

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I was wondering, when you aired your grievance with him concerning his absence and possible inability to commit the required time and attention to the treasurers position, did you provide a solution? Or was that conversation left open ended?
I didn't focus on the time aspect, though he may have in his own head. My solution to the issue I raised, which was that he hadn't found his place in the group dynamic, was simply to work on it over time. There aren't shortcuts to building relationships.
 

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I didn't focus on the time aspect, though he may have in his own head. My solution to the issue I raised, which was that he hadn't found his place in the group dynamic, was simply to work on it over time.
Okay, that makes sense. It wasn't a helpful "constructive" criticism of his practical skills or possible non personal conflicts, but rather it was, or would likely be seen by him as "you don't fit in: fix it"; likely this is something he has heard many, many times before.

There aren't shortcuts to building relationships.
Now if there were statements like the above, this could be what set off his "bullshit" detector and be why he didn't buy your apology. If the lack of unity issue was the result of the missed opportunity that the others had during the missed week, well frankly a week may not really seem like enough time to build a relationship in his view: that could seem like a "shortcut to building a relationship", after all it is only a week and ISTJs tend to form relationships very slowly and tentatively. Basically, he may have detected a logical inconsistency in your issue as he perceived it, and what you were saying to him. Now, I can only comment on what is written here, and I am not sure if the words you used here are the same, but he would very likely have picked up on any such inconsistency if any were present.
 

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It may be that since he was there last year and did that same job, he feels that *he* has nothing to prove. Someone new comes in, and instead of trying to fit in with the (to the ISTJ) existing structure/dynamic, declares "this is what it is, and you need to get on board". The ISTJ may think "He's treating *me* as the newbie!" Now, intellectually, we understand that different leaders have different styles, and the team needs to adapt to each new leader, and that's fine. But what I'm reading here is that the ISTJ interprets that this new leader, who is the new kid on the block, is treating the veteran as if *he's* the untested rookie. So the ISTJ here is failing to understand the difference between (1) re-forming a new team under a new situation and (2) absorbing new folks into an ongoing dynamic. In his defense, I'll say that at his age (college), I failed to understand the difference either. Hopefully he can get over it. He will probably do his job well and do what's good for the team; he just won't like you personally very much. Be OK with it.
 

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It may be that since he was there last year and did that same job, he feels that *he* has nothing to prove. Someone new comes in, and instead of trying to fit in with the (to the ISTJ) existing structure/dynamic, declares "this is what it is, and you need to get on board". The ISTJ may think "He's treating *me* as the newbie!"
The fact that he is experienced is definitely a factor; specifically he knows exactly what his job entails, and now he has had a new demand or expectation placed on him by a random that he may or may not have chosen to associate with. (This type of expectation has been placed on all at one time or another). Most importantly it's a new social expectation that he may not be convinced of, or just puts a much lower value on the requirement given his position as treasurer.
Now, intellectually, we understand that different leaders have different styles, and the team needs to adapt to each new leader, and that's fine.
I believe that on a constitutional council it is the leaders responsibility to lead and find new ways to adapt in order to find cohesion; after all it is their job to lead, not to demand respect and loyalty. Each member of an elected council has a mandate to be there and as such has a responsibility to those they represent and govern. Anybody can lead by simply forcing their own concepts and trying to demand cohesion but a good leader can bring two sides together and find cohesion ie diplomacy. Only in this manner can a large number of students truly feel represented and connected to their council, after all even those who didn't vote for the victors deserve representation as well.
 

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He took immediate offence to something I said to him about a week ago, regarding an issue which affects his commitment to our work together.

I think bringing up "commitment" in general is a rather dicey subject. I don't know what was said exactly, but in the OP this word "commitment" was used and a red flag went up. I would personally hate if someone questioned my commitment level, unless I initially expressed some doubt about it beforehand. That would certainly irritate and/or disturb me.
 

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The first conversation was actually an attempt to catch him up on what he had missed. I made my comment because I found it very difficult to explain the intangible side of the work we had done. I had focused not on the policies and plans (because those are plain to see in writing), but on perceptions and ways of thinking. He missed those important conversations in which consensus was built, and I couldn't simply catch him up on something so intangible.
My solution to the issue I raised, which was that he hadn't found his place in the group dynamic, was simply to work on it over time. There aren't shortcuts to building relationships.
Intangible, airy fairy ideas and non-concrete solutions. Two things ISTJs generally don't take to readily.

More specifically to this situation, if I were in that person's position and you told me there was important group cohesion building I'd missed out on...well, I can intellectually appreciate it as a valid concern but I personally don't believe a week would be very critical. So my next thought would be: well, I guess I did choose that other leadership role over this one, sorry I wasn't around, but what am I supposed to do about the missed group bonding now? It is at this point that, if I'm in one of my worse moods, I'd feel that you were questioning my commitment and/or my ability to serve my role. i.e. I'm not commited to this council or I'm overcommited, which implies that I misgauged my own capacity, which implies you don't believe in me...?

If you were then to tell/ask/suggest that I work on group cohesion "over time", not only is it a non-solution, I'd think it's something that should already be happening by default. I would then be left wondering what the whole point of the conversation was. And when an Ne-inferior wonders...

Oh, and I do actually (as opposed to hypothetically) think you were being too calculative about group dynamics.
 
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