Vanessa, MBTIonline Contributing Writer
Last year, my six-year-old son used part of his allowance to buy his three-year-old sister a bag of chips as a surprise.
“Close your eyes!” he said when we got home. He could barely contain his excitement. She squinted her eyes shut and reached out her hands. When she opened her eyes and saw the blue bag, her brow furrowed.
“I don’t want chips! I wish you got me a toy!” she yelled.
My son immediately burst into tears and ran to his room. While my husband talked to my daughter, I walked into my son’s room. I was heartbroken for him. I explained that not everyone is going to appreciate his kindness. But even so, it’s important to show people you care. (In case you’re wondering, my daughter has learned to be much more gracious since then.)
The whole situation got me thinking. How many times have you expected someone to show you appreciation in a certain way? And how many times have you been disappointed by how they actually showed it (or didn’t)? The spat between my kids isn’t a perfect example, but it points to the nuances in how different personality types offer appreciation to others.
The third letter of your personality type indicates how you make decisions
After you take the official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI), you learn your four-letter personality type. The third letter in your type (either “T” or “F”) describes how you prefer to make decisions – and thus how/if you decide to show appreciation.
Someone with a “T” (for Thinking) tends to focus on objective principles and logic when making a decision. These types may have a harder time expressing appreciation. And someone with an “F” (for Feeling) mainly focuses on subjective ideals and the people involved. Feeling types are more likely to show outward expressions of gratitude, but not always.
Sidenote: having a preference for Feeling doesn’t mean you’re an emotional person.
Everyone experiences emotions about the decisions they make. A Feeling-oriented person can learn to make decisions using the Thinking function – and vice versa. More on Thinking/Feeling can be found here.
Since showing gratitude and appreciation can sometimes be tricky for Thinking types, let’s start there.
Here’s How “Thinking” Personality Types Can Show Appreciation for Others
INTJ personality types are naturally independent. This means you may not remember that others may need you to show how much you appreciate them. One suggestion: make actual appointments every month for intentional gratitude (i.e., call a friend to say thanks, take someone to lunch, etc.)
INTP personality types are experts at evaluating the pros and cons of any situation. Because you’re usually in analysis mode, it’s easy to gloss over displays of appreciation. Tip: make a “gratitude check” part of your regular analyses. That way you know when to stop and outwardly express thanks to others.
ISTJ personality types take a “bottom line” approach to life. You like to get straight to the point, so you may not stop to show people you appreciate them. Tip: consider the facts. People simply need to feel appreciated to thrive and grow. Can’t get any more bottom line than that.
ISTP personality types are practical and hands-on. In your mind, completing tasks or fixing things is the way you show appreciation. But your efforts don’t always communicate gratitude. Tip: people sometimes need to spend quality time with you or hear a heartfelt “thank you” to feel appreciated.
ENTJ personality types value competence. You probably have some people in your life who you rely on (and expect more out of) because you view them as competent. Tip: start with them. Add reminders to your calendar and make it a point to thank them for all they do.
ENTP personality types like to be surrounded by innovative people. Because your sights are set on potential improvements and changes, you may miss opportunities to show gratitude. Tip: remember that innovation and excitement are more likely to occur when people feel seen and appreciated.
ESTJ personality types have a “get it done” mindset. To you, a completed task is the reward, and you don’t tend to waste time with celebrations or expressions of gratitude. Tip: think of showing sincere gratitude as a task to complete. Others may lose steam if they’re not recognized for their hard work.
ESTP personality types like to do fun, unexpected things for others. While impromptu activities are one way to show appreciation, they can sometimes be disruptive – especially to someone who doesn’t like surprises. Tip: sometimes a simple and sincere “thank you” is all a person needs.
Here’s How “Feeling” Personality Types Can Show Appreciation for Others
INFJ personality types love to celebrate when others achieve long-term wins – especially the ones related to personal development. But this means you don’t always acknowledge the little, day-to-day stuff. Tip: the big wins can’t happen without the little wins. Make it a point to acknowledge those too.
INFP personality types easily and freely express gratitude to others. But there’s a catch. You may sometimes show more appreciation because you subconsciously wish others did the same in return. Tip: learn to neutralize your expectations. You won’t always get thanked for being helpful – and that’s okay.
ISFJ personality types are masters of tradition and celebration. You make others feel special and appreciated on birthdays or holidays. But it can hurt when they don’t put in as much effort for you. Tip: communicate your needs, but try not to take it personally if people don’t fulfill your high expectations.
ISFP personality types are incredibly considerate. You express gratitude through thoughtful gifts or actions. Because you like to show appreciation through behind-the-scenes support, it may go unnoticed. Tip: even if people don’t reciprocate gratitude the way you expect, your actions are still meaningful.
ENFJ personality types are generous with gratitude. Your encouraging, extraverted nature means you like to publicly acknowledge a person to show you appreciate them. Tip: remember not everyone is comfortable with public recognition. Try to be respectful of others’ preferences and boundaries.
ENFP personality types are enthusiastic and endearing. You probably love to shower people with sincere appreciation and attention, but this can sometimes overwhelm the more private people in your life. Tip: make it a point to offer subdued expressions of gratitude every once in a while.
ESFJ personality types favor tradition and outward displays of appreciation. You plan events down to the last detail so others feel special. But they often feel the weight of your expectations and meticulous planning. Tip: sometimes the best way to show appreciation is to let others (and yourself) relax.
ESFP personality types enjoy spontaneity and practicality. You like to show appreciation through surprise, hands-on activities. This may rub others the wrong way if they don’t value spontaneity as much as you do. Tip: sometimes the most practical gift you can give is a word of private, sincere gratitude.
Expand your self-awareness to improve the way you express gratitude
We all communicate and expect gratitude in different ways, which can make or break some of your personal and professional relationships. Fortunately, all it takes is a little self-awareness to improve the way you show or receive appreciation. To get started, take the MTBI assessment today. And hey, thanks so much for reading this blog.
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