Sunday, March 1, 2015

How to Talk to a Sensor

First things first. I would like to wish two of my favorite SPs, Jensen Ackles and Justin Bieber, a happy birthday. And apologies to Jensen Ackles for putting him in a sentence with Justin Bieber, twice.

How to talk to a Sensor. Or more specifically an ESFP. This may or may not apply to other Sensor types, I don't claim to speak for them. Contrary to popular opinion we aren't all basically the same.

Since I've been into MBTI, the more I interact with different types the more I realize there really, really is a fundamental communication difference between Sensors and Intuitives. I'd venture to say it makes up at least 50% of the so-called communication issues in relationships. There are some problems between Se and Si and Ne and Ni as well, but not on the same level. I'm gonna do my best to clear this up and tell you N types what you're doing wrong. Hint, it's not just us being dumb.

(Edit: I should probably add that most of these communication problems are with NFs. NTs seem to better understand that we operate on different levels. Usually.)

Sensing vs. Intuition

Yeah here we go again. I've made a post on this before and most of the important stuff is there. But this time I'm gonna focus on the communication differences going on here.

Essentially it's this. Sensors and Intuitives have completely different priorities. As I said, they see reality on a fundamentally different level than each other. Both sides tend to default to seeing the other method of perception as stupid, even if they don't outright say it. Yes, don't think Sensors can't pick up on your condescending Intuitive tone. It's literally what we do - hear.

Intuitives don't see reality as it currently exists, as being important. What it all "means" is what "really" matters. Since their Sensing function is low, most will tell you they see and operate in reality just as functionally as Sensors do. This is because they've never experienced what it's like to truly be immersed in their environment. They believe seeing the underlying "truth" of what's happening in their environment is the reality.

Sensors (obviously) don't. Sensors trust what they see, what they experience, what's been proven. All that theoretical stuff doesn't mean shit if it doesn't help us get ahead so we don't care to hear about it.

The Problem

The problem comes in when Intuitive types try to force their perspective onto Sensors. I cannot tell you how many times I've entered into a benign conversation with an N type only to have them pull some completely twisted abstract shit out of it that was absolutely not what I said.

Don't fucking do this. Seriously.

We are straightforward people. If we are talking about cars, we are actually... wait for it... talking about cars. We are not talking about how all of society has become reliant on a gasoline-dependent vehicle and it has torn us apart as a community, and we aren't secretly jonesing to talk about it either. If we want to take the conversation there, we will. Most of the time though, we just want to fucking talk about cars.

And I do love talking about cars...

Intuitive types are not satisfied with this. They do not experience reality in its concrete form, or rather they do in a very, very watered down manner. They can't relate. So what they do is try to extract meaning from the literal words Sensors say and attach an ideal (NF) or concept (NT) to them where there was none. Ne types will make mental leaps based on assumptions that you are following the same thought processes as them. And I'm gonna be real blunt here: you put words in our mouth. Yes you do. It's how your mind works, so it's not completely your fault, but you need to recognize that you're doing it so you can stop.

Ni types on the other hand will assume you have the same overall perspective of reality as they do and get taken aback when something you say challenges it. They won't explicitly say they're offended. What they will do is use this warped Socratic Method where they keep asking you leading questions until they get you to agree with them. Actually Ne types do this too. And when Sensors shut that shit down and refuse to engage, they defend themselves on the internetz by calling us close-minded idiots. Looking at you INTJ.

The Solution

The solution to this is to realize we don't care. It's as simple as that.

We don't care why mankind created words and what purpose they actually serve and how we should interpret them and no. We don't care. Go on and figure out the meaning of life if you want. Unless we can usefully apply it to our current situation, it does. Not. Matter. We don't think about stuff for the sake of thinking. We are people of action.

But if I know one thing about Intuitives it's that they need to know why. Why don't you care? There must be some deep psyche hurt, surely some emotional avoidance causing you to react this way. Or do you just not like using your brain? No. We don't connect with people on a verbal level as much as we do on a physical level. We connect through experiences. Words are secondary to experiences, they're just there to serve experiences. For Intuitives it's the other way around.

Here comes the part where the Intuitives reading say, "How come we have to accommodate you in the conversation? Why don't you accommodate us?" Good question. Personally I am okay with taking a dip in the "theory" pool. But what usually happens when I concede to that is that becomes the entire focus of the conversation. Intuitives will naturally always try to steer the conversation in the abstract direction, and Sensors will respond by bringing it back to reality. The further your ideas are from reality, the more annoyed we get and the more we feel like we're wasting our time. And when we get tired of the conversation, we bow out, whereas Intuitives just push further (see above).

Anyway, to answer that question, I guess it just comes down to how much you care about getting along with the person. Me, I don't choose to surround myself with people who can only theorize about everything. I can't relate to those people and they don't really have a place in my life so I don't make an effort to accommodate them. Sensors operate in the present, so for the most part, we don't spend time with people we don't care for if we don't have to. The only exception to that possibly being SFJs.

Lemme just say, I never purposely avoid people once I've determined they are a certain type. I genuinely like people and I like being around them so I couldn't do that if I tried. But I still make a note of patterns. I use MBTI to figure out why I just plain don't get along with certain people, and whether or not it would be worthwhile to fix it. I get along best with SPs. We're usually on the same page, and they add more to my life than any other type. Realistically, unless the person is really special, chances are if they aren't SP it's not worth the effort. We're just gonna keep clashing.

Not everyone's gonna get along. That's how it is. If you don't get along with Sensors, then avoid them (good luck with that). But for chrissakes stop bitching and moaning about how stubborn we are just because we see things differently. You're only making yourself look like an ignorant dumbass.


  1. I can see how someone could take this personally, but also don't see any intention to offend. And it's so blunt and to the point! Thanks god! Also, the Nx quotes are spot on. At least for the ENFPs I know. I love them, but this drives me nuts! I don't have emotional trauma from childhood, or dislike something for the association with death at an early age or some weird shit. If I'm restless and not listening, I'm just bored and uninterested.

  2. I see. and I see how you didn't really take the Ns perspective in consideration to be fair. Just really for the Sensors, but whatever. I'm surprised that you didn't prove me wrong in that point. And I'm surprised at your lack of unpredictability that it actually feels weird.
    On another note, interesting. So this is how some Sensors bitch about Ns. Yep, interesting.
    And yeah, thanks (/s, just in case you take it too literally) cause we need all the luck we can get to avoid Sensors seeing as you make up the majority of the population

  3. ISTP married to an INTP.
    As we walked last night to a local bar, we discussed this in a way. I enjoy philosophical discussion and listening to his theories but sometimes I just wanna bang. It's been 6 hours, we've talked about black holes and the statistical interpretation of birth control methods and how weather patterns are presented now can we place have sex?