I was stabbed in the chest. To understand what happened, I’d have to tell you how it all began.
We first met at a job orientation. He was one of the two conducting the orientation for a group of us newly hired employees. He looked like a real-life BFG, which I, as a child, would have been thrilled to see the book come to life. Intuition told me he was an ENFJ, which I was fascinated by as he’d then be the very first I’d have met. Typical of extroverts, he blabbered on during the orientation. And typical of me, I preferred efficiency and conciseness, and was somewhat impatient. I thought of different ways I could broach the topic of MBTI with him, but didn’t get an opportunity to that day.
Due to the nature of our job scope, we rarely see each other at work. It was some time after when we met a few times in passing, and one day he asked if we could leave together after work. So we talked — well, he talked more while I mainly listened. I casually mentioned something about personality and then he brought up the MBTI. That sparked my interest. I find out that he only knows about it very briefly, and he mentioned he’s an ENFP. That sparked my intrigue even further — to figure out if I was wrong and if he was right. He asked questions about my type and I gave him brief explanations. Then we parted ways.
The next time I spotted him at work, I went up to him — which isn’t something I’d do unless it’s someone I like — and shared with him excitedly that I had signed up for an MBTI training program. My level of excitement then plummeted as he brushed it off by stating that the MBTI wasn’t all that great, that it lacked substance, depth, and accuracy. That was Strike 1: to insult my knowledge and insinuate that what I learn and read about lacks depth and quality. My excitement turned into hurt, nervousness, confusion, and anxiety. Perhaps I was overreacting and being too sensitive. Maybe I misinterpreted his words. He suggested that I signed up for a different training program, one about personalities using colours. He told me that the theory was much better and I listened to him explain what it was as I genuinely wanted to learn. I made a mental note to look it up after (which I did) and then I asked if he had also heard about the Enneagram and that I was starting to read up on it. Then came Strike 2: with a look of pure disgust on his face, he asked if that had something to do with animals and the zodiac. Again, it’s insulting my intellect and dismissing my topics of interest.
I left feeling really bad and talked about this encounter with an INFJ, who encouraged me not to cut the relationship prematurely, to give it another chance. So the next time we met again some time later, I took the advice and we did the same: he asked, I agreed, and we left work together. But this time, we spent two hours talking. I asked him questions in an effort to figure out what his type really was, and from his responses, he did seem to be more like an ENFP. He asked me questions as well to find out more about my type. At some point in the middle of our conversation, there was a Strike 3: he asked if I appreciated and felt any emotional reactions to art and things like a sunset because he feels strongly about such and cannot stand it when others try to break it down logically and analyse its beauty. I told him that even though he was a Feeling type, it didn’t mean that he doesn’t have a brain, so likewise, I have a heart too and I feel things deeply. To insinuate that I have no emotions and that I have no appreciation for the arts are grave errors, especially when I had explained so much about myself to him.
Second-guessing myself once more, I continued conversing with him that night, thinking that I was just being over-sensitive. He asked more questions and I shared more things with him, revealing more of myself to him which, again, isn’t something I do with just anyone. Then comes the shattering moment: he asked how I find the work, and I said that I loved it (and I genuinely still do), but that my dream job was something else. He rolled his eyes and asked what I was doing there then, whether I was just there for the money. I felt as though a part of me shattered like glass. Money, to me, is meaningless. I do not care for money. I find intrinsic value in my work. That I’m learning, and helping others, and nurturing the intellect. I didn’t feel like he was worthy of the explanation and closed the door on him as a mode of self-protection and self-preservation. I spoke to the INFJ again as well as an ENFP about this incident and they both understood where I was coming from very well. The INFJ intuitively made the motion of a knife stabbing through the heart even before I expounded on how I felt, which was a nice touch.
Months passed and I barely saw him at work until recently. I was talking animatedly with a co-worker when he appeared, surprised to see me after so long, and invited me to head out for a meal at once. I hesitated and asked what it was he wanted to talk about. I suppose he noticed my hesitation and lack of enthusiasm, and switched to asking if he could see me privately instead to go over a few things about work. I acquiesced and followed him into a meeting room, which was where the stabbing happened:
He first questioned if I was upset with him. I asked why he’d think I would be. He explained that my last couple of email responses to him had been curt, and accused me of giving mixed signals. Now, I’ll need to explain this statement further before I move on to what he did next. I had responded directly to his last couple of emails with my standard “Noted, thanks” response. It’s how I respond to all colleagues since emails are frequent unless I have issues to clarify with them. I do not deem that rude. I see that as a standard, neutral response. In fact, I had previously sent him a couple of reports via email, each with a paragraph-long text informing him about what the reports were for, to which he never acknowledged. That, to me, is even ruder. Granted, his emails included social niceties (which mine were void of) but I find that to be fake and a waste of time. Must I elucidate how I’ve been and what I’m up to in every email response regarding work? Especially to a person I do not like? That goes against my personal values of being honest and genuine and not lying. I am the sort to leave emotional issues aside when it comes to work and I maintain objectivity and professionalism with colleagues I do not get along with. So implying that I was reacting in a passive-aggressive way already irked me.
But back in the meeting room, he carried on by elaborating that my previous emails to him had been better (even though they hadn’t contained any niceties but merely more words), and he had the nerve to lecture me on the proper way of responding to emails as though I were an ignorant child. He made an emphasis on my current age (which he had somehow found out that I had aged up since the last time we spoke, and this irked me not just because he’s finding out about my personal information behind my back but he had the gall to rub it in my face as well) and described how the corporate world is to me, that when I join it next time, I’d have to change my ways to better fit in and thrive. As I sat there taking it all in, my muscles began to tremble and twitch. ‘How stupid does he think I am?’ What he was enumerating were so elementary. They were things that were already apparent to me, and have been so for a long time. It was such a bore listening to. My mind wandered to one of his emails updating me on the company’s new procedures, where he stated that my “smarts” would be able to understand the attached documents without him having to go into detail about them. This just showed his true perception of my level of intellect. My mind traced back to another instance during our two-hour long conversation whereby he assumed I was reluctant to change — that I stuck to old-fashioned methods of working just because I stated that he was better than I was at the newer methods and I did not boast about using the newer methods like he did — and he went on to educate me on updating my work habits. When he noticed me using the newer methods at work one day, his compliment was like a backhanded slap because it was as though he saw it as my first time implementing this new method due to his advice.
When he finished lecturing me on how to adequately reply to emails, I responded: “1) Sorry I offended you. It wasn’t my intention [to which he shook his head and denied it]. 2) Do you think that I’m unaware of all this?” I shook my head in disappointment at his response. I informed him that I was already aware of everything he mentioned — everything. “And you don’t want to change?” he asked. I echoed a resounding ‘No’ to him, much to his surprise and puzzlement. The twitches crept up to my facial muscles. My insides were bubbling. I felt like I was about to burst. ‘How could he lack such an understanding of me? How wrong could he be in his assumptions of me? How could I have been so wrong in my judgement of him? How unaccepting could he be?’ Asking me to change is akin to asking me to defy my values, to go against what I believe in, to be ungenuine and disingenuous — things that I abhor.
He proceeded to run through a list of the newly implemented standard operations he’d written on the glass panel. I’d already done a quick run through of the list when I stepped into the room, and they were so simple and basic — things that I’d already been doing at work, things that I valued, things that I took pride in. My impatience set in. I diverted to my neutral facial expression — I found no worth in expending energy on keeping a smile, especially when it was not genuine. It unsettled him. I mainly nodded my head. It took him by surprise that I understood things so quickly, many times before he could even finish his sentence. It was a bore listening to him, and as usual, he was verbose with his explanations. He included additional details about how I conducted my work, as though smugly showing that he’d been talking to others and finding out more information about me. He inquired whether I could tackle simple problems when they occurred had I not prepared for them. I took this as another insult. How little he seemed to know about and comprehend me. He seemed to think that reading up on the INTJ type on Wikipedia was sufficient to understand all that I am. The impromptu meeting ended with another backhanded compliment that not everyone was as hardworking as I am in doing preparatory work and that others preferred to improvise on the job.
I’m still unclear about his type, but whatever it is, it is clear that we do not get along. I’m also still uncertain whether it’s just hypersensitivity and an overreaction. And by the way, our relationship is completely platonic if you’re wondering otherwise.