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Friendships that transcend graduation: What “type” of friend are you?

Friendships that transcend graduation: What “type” of friend are you?

By Jim Larkin and Jack Powers

As college typically occurs at a formative age and provides a unique life experience, many long-lasting friendships are forged during this period. However, don’t take for granted that you’ll maintain lifelong friendships with college mates — those relationships may evaporate if uncultivated, just like information committed to short-term memory while cramming from a test.

Understanding personality type can help you form stronger friendships. We connect with people for numerous reasons — shared interests, mutual living space, overlapping social circles, similar life trajectories, cultural commonalities — and they frequently have very different type preferences. If we understand them, we can avoid pitfalls that drive wedges between us.

Does your “spur of the moment” nature drive your planful friend crazy?

Do you fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to entertainment? If so, this may stem from an MBTI preference for Intuition (N) and Perceiving (P). If you have a friend who feels otherwise, you may be tempted to assume that they’re being rigid. But if they like to plan activities in advance, it’s likely that they’re expressing a preference for Sensing (S) and Judging (J), and their need for a structured social calendar is just as valid and real for them as your desire for flexibility is to you.

If you’re an NP, keep in mind that dropping in on an SJ friend and asking them to crash a party could be irritating and disruptive to their scheduled activities. You can engage better with them by offering some kind of advanced suggestion for an activity. Likewise, if you’re an SJ you may need to flex a little and occasionally be open to spur-of-the-moment activities, and understand that your NP friend isn’t being inconsiderate.

How to party like an Introvert

The Introversion (I)/Extraversion (E) dichotomy can be a source of frustration between friends, if one draws energy from social interaction (E) while the other must expend energy during social interaction (I). However, if friends can identify these preferences in one another, they can accommodate each other’s styles.

If you’re an Extravert, joining in on a social event or activity may come naturally, and it may appear that a friend who is reluctant to “jump in” is being unnecessarily reserved. However, it may be that all they need is to feel that they have somehow been “invited” — if your urgings aren’t enough to get them out, consider having someone else second your invitation, so that they don’t feel like they’re tagging along. On the flip side, if you’re an Introvert, consider putting a little faith in your Extraverted friend and trusting that if they’ve invited you, you’re welcome there by the group.


“Think” twice before cancelling just ‘cause you “Feel” like it

It’s no secret that cancelled plans can create bad feelings. However, what many don’t know is that a cancellation can mean something totally different to someone who prefers Thinking (T) than to a Feeling (F) type. T’s may cancel plans for largely practical reasons. If you’re not feeling well or have a scheduling conflict, you don’t feel bad for changing plans at the last minute, and you’re likely understanding if a friend cancels for similar reasons. If you’re an F, a cancellation may have more emotional impact — you may take it as a personal slight, and may also assume that you cancel on someone they’ll take it as a slight too.

So, for those preferring Thinking, keep in mind that your Feeling friend may read much more into your cancellation than you intend. If at all possible, don’t cancel, and if you must, be sure to follow up with a conciliatory effort. Likewise, if you prefer Feeling try not to be offended when your Thinking friend has to change plans, and remember that they’re viewing the situation from a more practically-focused lens.

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