Are you feeling beaten down by communication patterns you’re unable to control? Would you like to know why you’re having personality clashes? Minimize communication clashes or avoidance? Experience growth and a deeper level of understanding? Get along far better as a couple? Implement changes that last over the long haul?
The key is knowing whether you and your communication partner are the same or opposite communicator types.
If you do not know your communicator type, you are not licensed to drive on the two-way communicator highway. Ignorance of communicator types is not bliss, but leads to blame, which leads to bad habits and resistance to change.
Can’t you and your partner be a combination of both instigator or empathizer types? No, you can’t. You are born one or the other. The more life experience you have, the more likely you are to have a mixed profile or pick up your opposite communicator type’s style.
Not all of these traits will prove true for you, but the majority will fall into a pattern consistent with that of one communicator type. If you’re feeling unsure, think back to a time when you were less able to disguise your personality type, such as during your childhood.
As you go through the exercise, place your name and your partner’s name beside the appropriate list.
Are you an empathizer type?
- Are your feelings easily hurt?
- When you’re in the driver’s seat, does your mood affect your output?
- Do you back off or skim over important issues, so as not to create hard feelings?
- Have you been told you are too “thin-skinned”?
- Are you too good for your own good?
- Do you feel you have trouble getting past the past?
- Are you surprised when coworkers or family members can’t “see the obvious”?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, you’re probably an E-type communicator. You have a bone to pick with I-types, who, from your vantage point, are too insensitive and coldly logical.
Are you an instigator-type communicator?
- Are your feelings difficult to hurt because you believe, “It’s nothing personal”?
- Are you able to put your mind over your mood?
- Can you be impatient or get mad a little too easily?
- Can you be pushy, or “over talk” and intimidate others with your debating skills?
- Have you been known to set the tone or mood in a family or work team?
- When you’re on a mission, can you be like a bull in a china shop?
- Are you surprised when coworkers or family members don’t read or use the map in front of their noses to get from here to there?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, you’re probably an I-type. You have a bone to pick with E-types, who you think are too sensitive and emotional. Now, I’m not saying your heart is as cold as stone. I’m just saying you trust your head over your heart, and you put your faith in logic.
If you’ve been arguing in your head that you are both — or can be both, depending on the situation — then chances are you are a full-blown Instigator communicator.
It takes two to tango and two to get untangled. Blaming your partner kills off seeds of change that need to take root in order to bloom. I-types, both male and female, often are selected as the relationship leader. This is not to forget that E-types have the solutions to vexing relationship problems — ideally, a couple shares leadership power equally. Thus, when E-solutions are implemented by I-leaders, change happens. Where does your relationship fit on the spectrum of willingness to change?
Remember: You can change yourself. You can’t change your partner. But you can together work to improve — or even save — your relationship.