Be Careful Not Only What You Ask *For*, But Also What You *Ask*
‘Speak the truth, in humble, gentle love, only what is helpful for building others up’
I am seriously asking, for anyone that follows or reads Men Building Bridges, or perhaps knows or is acquainted with me: ‘What do you perceive that my strengths are?’. In working on some projects, I’m including others’ honest assessments of my strengths. Please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org, DM @mbuildingbridge on twitter, comment below, or send a message to Guy Bridges on Facebook. NOTE: Serious, honest replies only. Better yet, let others know what their strengths are. More than likely, they already know what their failings are and need to be encouraged. If someone isn’t aware of their failings, be very careful in thinking it’s up to you to tell them. No one died suddenly elevating you to a personhood of the Trinity. Even if asked, no one is really prepared to have that question answered. Be fully prepared to acknowledge your own failures, it’s a good place to start. Build a Bridge and in doing so, build someone up.
Each of us has character strengths as gifted us, based on our personalities and experiences. Strength is made perfect in our weakness. I challenge you to ask those around you, you may just be surprised AND encouraged. And now, for something completely different: a few random thoughts from my journal, based on what I’m currently working on, (For those who aren’t familiar with the MBTI assessment, it basically assesses how we relate to each other and other personality types. An INFJ is one of those types or preference in how we relate to others. It is hardwired into us and doesn’t change. Don’t be afraid to search or dig a little deeper. I do know what I am asking).
I once shared in an interview: ‘I’ve been underestimated all of my life – physically, personally, and professionally. I like it that way.’. I got the position. It was a risk, especially as an INFJ, but was honest, and, ultimately, respected by the interviewer – however much to their later chagrin.
I have noticed as I’ve gotten older, as an INFJ, other MBTI personality types I’ve come in contact with, have been surprised to learn, first-hand, just how well INFJ’s inuit/understand others, and apply that understanding & reference in both professional & personal settings – once again, occasionally much to their chagrin.
Being an INFJ is not easy, and is a double-edged gift, even in the best of times. Another pattern has arisen that I’ve noticed now that I’m in middle age, which I’ve personally experienced by interacting with and observing other INFJ’s:
Given INFJs’ abilities to intuit & understand others, it is particularly ironic to discover that as undecipherable & inscrutable as INFJ’s are to others, INFJ’s can often be just as undecipherable & inscrutable to each other/other INFJ’s, that is.
Turning the ‘observer’ off, and turning ‘pattern recognition’ off is a difficult task for INFJ’s. It’s hardwired into us. It’s even more difficult to live with. Consider this: emotions, observations, and patterns all easily & quickly become apparent to us. The difficulty is when we may not have wanted to spot a particular emotion, or pattern, especially in someone else.
It’s even more difficult when others ask us for an honest appraisal. We often are aware of emotions, patterns & observations in others, before they themselves are aware of them.
When someone asks, ‘What do you think?’. A majority, in my experience, are primarily interested in seeking an affirmation of something they’ve already decided upon as opposed to listening to another’s honest assessment. The questioner is almost always not yet prepared for, or willing to listen, even though they are actively asking for my thoughts.
The trick is timing & eloquence – either, not easily learned. Being aware of *if* & *when* the questioner is ready to listen is a function of experience and still fraught with risk, especially for INFJ’s. The rewards of being open, are often, too painful. I do hope I’ve gotten better with age & time.
An old friend of mine, a former boss, still laughs and shakes his head when he remembers a hand-written sign I kept placed on my desk many years ago:
‘If you’d rather *NOT* prefer to receive an honest answer, *PLEASE*, kindly refrain from asking.’
#thought, #question, #observation
We often “… come to wisdom through failure. We get very little wisdom from success, you know.” – William Saroyan
Gaining wisdom experientially through failure, (aka: the hard way), as time passes, is sometimes the only way we learn. It’s often the basis for honoring those older than us: They’ve often earned their wisdom experientially through failure & practice. #listen, #learn, #wisdom
“‘Our worst critics, in opposing us, often, strengthen & narrow our focus. In doing so, they inadvertently help to forge the creation of what they oppose. This turns what was meant for spite and/or evil into good. Create a little good today, don’t dump your critics, embrace them and sharpen your focus.’ #monday” – Me
“Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.” John Jakes via @amysorrells