What INFP’s Need In A Shopping Experience: Somewhat Tongue In Cheek. Though Not Completely.
Serious Studies in Myers-Briggs Typology
They’re not thinking.
Why are they not thinking?
Because they are ESTJ’s, that’s why. (Oh, I know, they base their decisions on thinking, but HEAD thinking, not HEART thinking…)
They are in charge of sales (though never marketing.)
They are the sales guys on the floor, or even when not, they TRAIN the other sales guys, including, unfortunately, non-ESTJ’s.
The ESTJ’s plan big events for me and you, and training exercises that involve lots of interpersonal, group interaction. They are, metaphorically, and often literally, the Big Handshake Guy, with lots of big white teeth for you, the Man With a Plan, the guy in the commercial who says, as he points at the audience “I want to sell YOU a car now!”
Yeah, probably not.
Here’s the problem: Emotional Intelligence.
You gotta have it. You gotta be able to read an environment, a person, some non-verbals—I mean, come on. Sales guys are too often like the guy who only has a hammer in his tool kit, and goes around trying to drive screws, replace window panes, and greet his granny with a hammer. Not everybody wants that big extrovert, crush-your-hand-shake, and all that assumed permission for intimacy and interaction that comes with it.
If INFPs ran a store, we would have every customer first pick up a little tag to wear on their shirt, indicating their Myers-Briggs type. How great would THAT be, not only for us, but for the store! You would get exactly the kind of salesperson to fit your Myers-Briggs type. Man, whatever we were selling, we would sell like hotcakes.
When I walk into a store and an ESTJ struts up to me and says boldly “What can I help you find today, sir?!?”, all I can think of is “A store where you don’t work?”, or “A huge pit for you to fall into?” or worse.
Every word beyond “Hello” that I hear from Sales Guy is too many, and each word decreases by 2% the prospect of my buying anything from him. DO the math. At fifty words, there is not a chance in God’s holy hell I am buying anything from him now.
But if I were shopping in Santa Fe with my INFP sign on, the sales person would know exactly how to handle me. And that would be to silently hand me a business card that reads “INFP. Cool. I’ll be in Arizona if you need me. Here’s my cell number. No hurry. Bye.”
Then we’re both good. Once I am left alone, I have no problem calling him to ask “do you have this shirt in blue, 16-33?” Then, with my permission to interact, he can help me out. All good.
Do not ask me if I need a tie with that shirt—it jeopardizes the shirt sale.
It’s not that we do not LIKE to talk to other people at all. It is more like “Do you explicitly or energetically have my permission? Is this consensual conversation? Did I invite you into my energy field? If I have, and if it is, we can sit, the two of us, and talk all night. Even if you are a sales person. But if you do NOT have that permission, and are just assuming it is consensual, or will be once I realize how helpful and great you are, well, there ought to be a law…
Cross Cultural Observations on Sales Guys
The Indians are horrible sales guys. In the bazaar of Jaipur, they stick a little ceramic elephant about three inches from your nose and say “300 rupees only—best price.” When you say “No, thanks”, they follow you, taking “no” to mean “I guess we need to develop a longer term relationship over the next hour, and over the next seven city blocks in order to arrive at the deal we both know we want.”
“OK, 200 rupees, best price.”
This can go on forever, until you make it hugely clear that “I DO NOT WANT TO BUY AN ELEPHANT. PLEASE LEAVE.”
Followed by increasingly unskilled responses, such as “I WOULD NOT BUY THAT FREAKING ELEPHANT IF IT WERE THE LAST ELEPHANT ON EARTH AND I NEEDED ONE TO STAY ALIVE”, and then on to “Get The _____ out of here, you __________.”
At which point they have this “Why so touchy??” kind of response. The Indian ceramic elephant sales guys are not ultimately insensitive, but they are not emotionally or socially intelligent, either.
India is a challenge that way. But I do love it there. The people who are not selling you anything are great. I am going back for a month in December. No plans to buy an elephant, though I have no doubt I will have the opportunity.
…So anyway, it’s a shame. The INFPs are clearly the best arbiters of social and emotional intelligence, and we most certainly should run the world. I don’t think anybody has any question about that.
If we did, you would never again be asked “Did you leave some room for dessert?”
People would just respect each other, and make the respectful assumption that you know what you want, and if you don’t, you will ask, and there is no reason for them to intrude into your personal and energetic space to fulfill their own selfish needs, and that if they do, it is really a boundary issue, an intimacy we did not ask for, and do not want.
Let’s see. How could a non-INFP get it? OK, it might be like if I walked up to a stranger, and said “HEY, BUD (ESTJs like to call you “Bud”)—I am coming over to your house tonight for dinner—I just KNOW we will be great friends. What are we having anyway?!?”
Maybe like that?
Yeah, don’t do it, Bud.
President of Southwestern College and Inveterate INFP