They just get you.
There are certain men and women with personality types that put them in a category we like to call “shoe people.”
No, they’re not necessarily similar to footwear fabulous Carrie Bradshaw. These are people who possess personality traits, characteristics and people skills that translate into the capacity for understanding what it’s like to metaphorically walk in someone else’s shoes — the people who are the most capable of feeling empathy for others.
What is empathy?
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of empathy is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner … [as well as] the capacity for this”
These empathetic beings are those people you know who have magically touched your soul before you even realized what was happening. They possess the ability to share in your experiences and imagine what it’s like to be your particular situation, even if they never have been and never possible might be in the future.
To help you identify people who understand the meaning of empathy, here are 5 personality types and traits of men and women who know how to be empathetic.
1. The ‘Heart-ist’ Personality Type
As explained by CPP, exclusive publishers of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®), people gravitate toward natural preferences in four distinct areas of personality:
Photo credit: CPP
- Extroversion (E) vs Introversion: “How do you direct and receive energy — by focusing on the outside world, interacting with people and taking action, or by focusing on your inner world and reflecting on ideas, memories, and experiences?”
- Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N): “How do you take in information — by focusing on what you perceive using your five senses or by seeing the big picture and looking for relationships and patterns?”
- Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F): “How do you decide and come to conclusions — by logically analyzing the situation or by considering what’s important to the people involved?”
- Judging vs Perceiving: “How do you approach the outside world — in a planned, orderly way or a more flexible, spontaneous way?”
These areas of preference sort into 16 total types, each with four dichotomies, or pairings.
The core or “heart” of each of personality type is where you can learn more about extent to which they tend to be empathic.
People with SF (Sensing and Feeling) at the heart of their Myers-Briggs type possess traits such as warmth, friendliness, helpfulness, and affinity for being in service to others.
People with NF (Intuition and Feeling) at the heart of their Myers-Briggs type also tend to be warm, enthusiastic, and insightful, with a keen understanding of how to communicate effectively with a variety of people.
These heart-centric types are always there for you with a smile when you need them, a non-verbal invitation to trust in them as an empathetic, good-hearted listener.
2. The ‘Other-Centric’ Personality Type
When you’re with a high-empathy person, no matter what, they wait to share their news after you’ve completely finished sharing your own.
While you chronicle your worst day ever — a speeding ticket, the spilled coffee on your pants, and that painful broken nail — your empathic listener shakes their head at just the right moments, murmurs something like, “I’m so sorry”, and reaches out to touch your hand. Only after you’ve finished your rant and circled back through your thoughts to see if you forgot any of the terrible things you went through, you remember to casually ask your friend how they are … and learn that this friend who’s been listening so patiently had to put down their beloved dog that same morning.
Yeah, that’s pretty much how an other-oriented person behaves. They always go last.
3. The ‘Golden Retriever’ Personality Type
Loyal and trustworthy, the most empathetic person in your life is your wingman, your back up, and your bestie — no matter what.
Even if you project negative energy toward this person, they will still be there. Their well-developed sense of empathy allows them to beyond the bad stuff you’re currently dishing out.
They overlook your flaws and shortcomings, only to focus on your amazing strengths and unending potential.
4. The ‘Bridge’ Personality Type
This personality type is just as golden as the Golden Retriever, only they actually talk.
Able to see compromise and win-win solutions in a moment, this empathetic being serves as a mediator, softly coming to terms with even the fiercest of divergent opinions. The bridge can see what two others cannot: opportunities for a solution.
Sometimes, however, when people get too close to a situation, their capacity for empathy decreases.
According to Adam Waytz, associate professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, “This often happens in deal making, when parties with different positions on an issue get stuck because they’re obsessed with the gap between them.”
While you might be with a naturally empathetic person, be conscious of sending them into empathy burnout by over-taxing them with your challenges.
With poise and finesse, the mediator pauses to understand both positions, clarifies them, and create viable options with positive effects for both sides, while gracefully avoiding the fray.
5. The ‘Cheerleader’ Personality Type
This empathetic personality type has figurative pompoms shaking with optimistic joy in every sentence and action. They are excited by life’s possibilities and feel energized when they make you look your best, sometimes even at a cost to themselves.
They are enthusiastic about goals, especially yours, and will support you as you work to reach them. They see themselves as a supporter on the sidelines of your field of dreams.
Every time you accomplish something new, this empathy-motivated pompom waver jumps up and down, because they are on your team.
Overall, people with any of the five personality types detailed above embrace compassion and empathize with others easily.
They are reliable and can always be counted on to be there for you.
But while it may appear these empathetic people offer an endless well of compassion and understanding, please don’t take advantage of their good spirits.
Rather, see if you can find some empathy in yourself and fill up their “goodwill meter” for them.
Poppy and Geoff Spencer, M.S., CPC, are certified counselors, nationally syndicated writers, relationship and parenting experts certified in Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality typing who’ve appeared on NBC, ABC, CBS, Bustle, and PopSugar. They are also “Millennial Translators,” speakers, authors of a #1 Bestseller, One Billion Seconds: There’s Still time to Discover Love, and podcast hosts. As a husband and wife team, their passionate about helping people identify and address communication barriers
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