How can you improve family relationships by understanding personality type? Well, the important word here is “understanding.” We all want, even need, to be understood. And with understanding comes acceptance. So many problems can be caused by failure to communicate effectively and misreading each other.
When we have a better understanding of each others’ personality types, we’re more likely to make sense of our family members’ words, actions and motivations, and less likely to take or give offense.
Here are six ways to help you improve family relationships using the power of personality type.
1. See actions in context
If we learn the personality type of each family member and what that means in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, communication style, and how they’re likely to think, feel, and act in various situations, it can make us less likely to be hurt, offended, or baffled if they approach things differently than we expect.
It also helps us know how to talk to each other in ways that can minimize conflict, foster mutual understanding, and lead to better outcomes.
Instead of, for instance, lamenting that “family member X is doing Y again,” we can now understand that family member X is doing Y because they’re an ENTJ type or an ISFP, and that’s okay, because that’s just part of the wonderful person they are. Suddenly they make sense in their context instead of baffling us when viewed from just our own.
2. Take the sting out of differences
If family members can understand each others’ personality traits, strengths, weaknesses, and needs, they are less likely to take differences in personality or communication style personally, as if they were a rejection of their differently typed relatives. It will also help them each to understand where the other is coming from, and what they need from us.
For example, Extraverted family members will be less likely to feel rejected when their Introverted family members pull away for some necessary time alone. Feeling types will be more able to understand that the Thinking types among them aren’t cold and unfeeling, they’re just really motivated by data. And Perceivers can feel more appreciation for – and from – their more decisive Judging relations.
If we come to understand that different is just different, not better, worse, or opposed to us, we will be more likely to make room for differences, and even learn to appreciate those differences and the variety they bring, instead of feeling offended or hurt by them.
3. Explain by saying, “my (insert personality type) made me do it”
Whether an explanation, a plea for understanding, or simply a way of starting a conversation, calling on personality type can help your other family members to see that you aren’t trying to be difficult or cause trouble. You’re just being yourself and acting naturally according to your unique traits.
Understanding of that fact alone may be enough, or you may still need to make changes in how you communicate with each other. Either way, acknowledging that personality type has a deep effect on how we think, act, and respond to various situations can help each of us to be understood and understandable.
Instead of being defensive or accusatory (or even using personality type as an excuse not to consider each others’ needs), we just remind each other who we are as a basis to begin a conversation, find a solution, or diffuse an emotion.
4. Acquire a common language
If every family member learns about personality type and knows each other’s type and some of what it means, it allows them to talk about their differences in a way that makes sense to everyone and that can lead to solutions and make way for peace.
It allows you to work together toward common goals, each making use of your personal strengths and making allowances for everyone’s unique needs.
Communication is so much easier if you’re all using the same vocabulary and leaves much less room for misunderstandings. It also helps further the conversation so you can all learn from – and about – each other in ways that no longer feel threatening, because you’re speaking the same language.
5. Foster respect and acceptance
If you begin to understand each others’ types, you can also understand that there’s nothing wrong with having differences. In fact, the differences can be beneficial when each personality type handles things according to their own strengths. This makes the whole family stronger because they have a greater collection of abilities between them.
Rather than trying to change each other, each member can learn to embrace the other types as valued additions to the collective resources of the family. Then you can begin to appreciate the unique contributions each of you make to the family, based partly on your different personality types.
To oversimplify, if one member is short and the other is tall, the tall one takes an item off a shelf that the short one can’t reach, then asks the short one to tell them what’s on the lower shelf. It can be similar with personality type. You do you, I’ll do me, with no more judgment (or expectation of fundamental change) than we would feel based on differences in height.
6. Learn from each other
Since each personality type comes with certain strengths and inclinations, some of which are the opposite of those of other types, a family with several personality types can learn from and benefit from the collaborative use of all those respective strengths, while also learning to accommodate those with different needs.
Different personality types also tend to have different ways of approaching problems and seeing the world, so each member can benefit from this increased perspective. This can help in our interactions with each other, and equip us with knowledge we can use when we go out into the world and meet with people of other personality types.
The family unit is often a training ground for learning life skills, including how to deal with other people. If we use the family for learning about personality type it can only help us when we encounter a range of personality types in the wider world.
When a family shares the common language of personality type, they can better accept each others’ differences, even when they seem baffling, and increase the health of the family unit by making good use of the traits and strengths of each member.
They can also minimize judgment, arguments, and misunderstanding because they know what to expect from each other based partly on their personality type.
Many families are less like a group of nearly identical entities, such as a patch of daisies, and more like a beautiful bouquet of flowers in different colors, shapes and sizes which, while beautiful on their own, can be even more stunning in combination.
Understanding personality type can help improve family relationships by helping us to see that we’re not in competition with each other, nor is one type better than the other. Instead, the whole unit is better for all its variety.
Not sure how to get started? Have your family members take our free TypeFinder test here.