It’s no secret that Influencing (I) style people love to communicate and connect. Words seem to flow naturally and in abundance. They can be inspirational, motivating, edifying, and exceptionally entertaining. When tensions rise, they’re often the first to break the silence, crack a joke, and lighten the mood, which is great when appropriate and timely.
But there’s a challenge that many I styles struggle with, and that’s knowing when to say less or even nothing at all when someone is in need of support. Sometimes people need a different vibe when they’re wrestling with tough emotions. And, that’s okay!
I styles just tuning in are probably thinking, “Wait, doesn’t that seem contradictory? Someone needs support, and you want me to say nothing?” Well, sometimes, yes! That is precisely what this is about—increasing your awareness during times of crisis or heightened emotion and knowing when it’s important to say less and listen more.
Words of encouragement can often be misconstrued by others who may not need or want to hear them. They can quickly turn into “toxic positivity.”
This doesn’t mean you’re a toxic person. A very artistic and relatable POPSUGAR video colorfully explains why “toxic positivity” can be harmful in some circumstances and with some people. It features several TikTok creators who break down the basics of when and why platitudes and misguided sympathy can, over time, shift from a moment of support to a breakdown in relationships.
I styles, please note this is not an attack on the very essence of your natural ability to connect. It is a critical connection tactic you can draw on when you meet someone going through a rough patch or even experiencing long-term challenges. It is an empathetic approach to supporting others in the most helpful way to them. Everyone needs empathy, and sometimes it looks a little different from one personality to the next.
D Styles Need Empathy, Too
Remember the “less is more” approach discussed in an earlier blog? Here is where this approach can be your friend while you’re attempting to be a friend. D styles who may be struggling with a personal challenge are likely not advertising to the masses. D’s are the type of friends who often choose close, personal relationships with a very small circle of trusted agents. They have feelings and are very thoughtful and introspective, but you’re likely not going to tap into those thoughts unless you’ve been fully vetted as trustworthy. D’s fear being taken advantage of, and that includes from an emotional standpoint as well. If you are in the inner circle, take the listen first approach. If conversation is welcomed, being an objective and candid sounding board will be appreciated. Sometimes discharging pent-up emotions is just what the D style needs to reset.
Showing Empathy to S Styles
When connecting with others, I and S Styles are two peas in a pod. Both are people-oriented and embrace connecting on a personal level with others. But, sometimes, that pod can get a bit overcrowded and emotionally overwhelming for an S, especially when faced with tough challenges or conflict. There’s a delicate balance to strike for I styles attempting to show support and empathize with S’s. Remember the platitude reference from the TikTok’ers in the video? Too many of those hurled at an S in crisis can drive self-doubt and insecurity. If it’s raining, they want to feel the rain, not hear how beautiful rainbows are after the storm. They may begin to believe you can’t or don’t want to see the rain, leading them to avoid talking to you altogether. When S styles start avoiding people, this is a critical indication that perhaps they don’t feel safe sharing thoughts or feelings. Proceed with caution and with fewer people and words. One-on-one conversations in a private setting can feel less threatening when an S needs to vent or share personal thoughts and feelings.
Showing Empathy to C Styles
You know the saying, “opposites attract?” This couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to I and C behavioral styles. By nature, they are opposite in their preferred communication styles, work preferences, and even relationship preferences. But, even opposites can still be supportive and show empathy despite their differences. Understanding how others prefer to communicate can be a powerful relationship builder. With C styles, sharing thoughts and feelings verbally may be a rare occurrence unless, like the D style, you’re in their “circle of trust.” There’s a perfect alternative to tunneling into the C’s world that can be useful for the I style if they take the time to slow things down. Here’s a mantra to remember for showing empathy to the C style: when in doubt, type it out. It’s not that they can’t communicate. They simply may prefer to articulate exactly what they want you to understand by writing or typing it out, whether by email, letter, or even a direct message. This is where the “say nothing” reference comes into play. It’s a win-win. They invite you into their world, and you learn what they’re going through and gain a deeper understanding of their challenges from their perspective, thus, building connection and empathy.
In a world where people need connection and empathy, the I style has a substantial behavioral advantage and a critical role in bridging and building positive relationships. Keep shining, laughing, and dropping those cheesy jokes when the situation is devoid of laughter and connection. Just be sure to keep space available for those moments when different vibes are looking for a safe place to land. Remember, you’re not toxic as long as “all vibes are welcome.”