Have you ever felt deeply misunderstood in a conversation? As if the person you’re talking to doesn’t recognize what you’re feeling, and is unable to put themselves in your shoes? Well, that’s a common situation when you’re dealing with someone with lower emotional intelligence than you.
You see, under the Myers and Briggs personality system, Feelers and Thinkers have different approaches to communication. While those who lead with their Feeling function can demonstrate higher emotional intelligence (EQ), meaning they have the ability to use their emotions in positive ways to communicate and make themselves understood, Thinkers can have a lower EQ. This doesn’t mean Thinkers are cold-hearted people. What it means is that—contrary to their Feeling counterparts—Thinking types tend to approach conversations starting from the head, not the heart.
So, how can people with low and high EQ communicate more efficiently? If you’re struggling to express yourself when dealing with someone with lower emotional intelligence than you, we have a few tips that might help.
Listen, really listen
As a Feeler, you can use your empathic nature to listen attentively to what others are saying. This is a great strategy for dealing with people with low EQ, because they often don’t voice their feelings for fear of being misunderstood. It’s also important to remember this behavior doesn’t come from a bad place. Sometimes, Thinkers are completely oblivious to what you’re experiencing.
Often, all it takes to make them open up emotionally is to listen. So, instead of cutting them off when they’re telling a lengthy story, acknowledge that you’re paying attention with empathy and kindness. If you can demonstrate that you’re present and restrain yourself from judgment, not only will you leave the conversation feeling good about yourself, but you’ll also make them feel validated for their worth: a win-win situation!
Choose logic over emotion (and get straight to the point)
This is a tough one for those who lead with their Feeling function, but choosing logic over emotion can prevent countless misunderstandings. From a Feeler’s perspective, Thinkers may seem cold and insensitive, but you’ll have to keep in mind they’re highly rational and analytical people. That’s their way of approaching questions and problems: sensibly and quickly.
So, when you come across a friend, relative, or loved one who operates this way, don’t waste time waiting for them to pick up the emotional cues and nuances in a conversation—because they won’t. You may be thinking that your body language or your tone of voice says it all, but it’s actually quite difficult for someone with a lower EQ to grasp that.
The solution? Meet them halfway by being the most explicit and straightforward you can be. If you choose verbal over emotional dynamics, a Thinker is more likely to understand you and connect with the message you’re trying to convey.
Don’t take everything personally
I know, I know. You’re a Feeler, how can you not take things personally? Feeling types are generally highly critical of themselves and they can interpret any constructive feedback as a personal attack. As sensitive and emotional individuals, it’s hard for us not to read criticism as an offense.
Still, keep in mind that when you’re dealing with someone with a lower EQ, taking things personally won’t lead to great results. As a Feeler, you’ll either rush to closure too quickly—just to maintain peace—or feel judgmental towards the person who’s criticizing you.
The key to success is to keep a calming attitude. More often than not, someone with a low EQ is clueless about what you’re feeling. They probably don’t even realize they have offended you, so try to detach yourself from the situation. By being more assertive, you can conduct the conversation in the direction you want and then later, if you wish, let them know how their actions affected your feelings.
If things get heated, redirect the conversation back to the topic
When arguments get heated, people with lower EQ can have a tendency to shift the focus of the conversation to themselves, by assuming the role of the victim and putting the blame on others. Or, they may get hyper focused on one small aspect of the conversation and lay it on hard with the facts.
This behavior is not always intentional. It often comes from fear of judgment and rejection, or from previous traumatizing emotional experiences. In fact, people with lower EQ often can’t tell how their behavior might lead to a problem, so their first instinct is to blame others.
Feelers can have a hard time dealing with conflict too, struggling to separate themselves from the situation. Still, as someone with higher EQ, your role here is to redirect the conversation back to the topic. What were you two talking about in the first place? What is it that you really want to say? If you know the person, standing across from you is feeling victimized, focus on the cold, hard facts. This way you can avoid emotional outbursts, and keep the conversation alive.
The bottom line: it all comes down to collaboration
As a Feeler or a Thinker with mature EQ, you don’t have to change who you are to communicate with someone who leads exclusively with their Thinking function. The key to finding common ground is empathy and flexibility. The more willing you are to listen and understand a Thinker’s point of view, the more you’re showing them that they can trust you to open up about their feelings and be vulnerable. This can speak volumes to someone who restrains their emotions for fear of judgment, or being misunderstood.
As a Feeling type who is naturally empathetic and truly cares for others, you can show the other person that you understand their language and can adapt to their communication style. This helps someone with low EQ develop emotional awareness. It may require you to be a bit more pragmatic and straightforward than what you might be used to, but it also opens up the path for a stronger connection between you two.
When you leave space for collaboration, you’ll learn that together you complement each other. As a Feeler, you might need to be more practical and rational at times. And as a Thinker, you may need to let go of the fear of showing your emotional side. Ultimately, it's all about understanding what each part is going through and helping each other out by maintaining an open and honest relationship.