“My definition of a friend is somebody who adores you even though they know the things you’re most ashamed of.”
Can understanding personality types make your friendships better? We think so, and we’ll explain why. This is important because friendships are weirdly important.
Work is stressful. Dating
can be is stressful. Families are fulfilling but often demanding. No matter what our personality type is, we turn to friends when we want to relax and have fun. (Yes, even Introverts have friends.) With all the stresses of life, the healing value of shared laughter is incalculable.
Friendship also brings a critical sense of belonging to our lives – good friends like us for being ourselves, and that feels wonderful. When friends truly appreciate each other, something magical happens: happiness comes from nowhere, costing nothing.
But as fallible beings, we don’t always act our best – or see things the same way. New friends might misinterpret each other, and even old ones may disagree. How we handle such differences can make or break a friendship. Mutual understanding is needed for people to be in harmony.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a solid, research-based system to help us understand our friends’ personalities (and our own) better?
Oh, riiight. We’ve got you covered.
How Can Personality Typing Make Friendships Better?
When friends understand their personality tendencies, it fosters a kind of clarity that helps them get along better together.
We don’t always see or express ourselves accurately. Sometimes, a person who knows us well can offer some balance to our perspective. Two friends sharing such awareness with each other can create more of what they like in their friendship and less of what they don’t. This leads to a lot more fulfillment – and fun.
But it requires understanding how our friends think and feel, and personality type theory is a fantastic way to gain that insight, so… There you go.
What Makes a Good Friendship?
A perfectly normal way for any personality type to form a friendship is building on what they have in common. This often happens without conscious thought or effort. Opinions, hobbies, life experiences – almost anything can naturally bring friends together.
But friendships formed around commonalities are often limited to (or by) those elements. Ultimately, people are all unique, and when their differences – including personality traits – surface, it can test a friendship.
Navigating those moments isn’t as easy as the rest of the friendship. Instead of standing together on common ground, it can feel like you’re drifting apart in a stormy sea. But like a life raft, friendship doesn’t depend on common ground; it works by offering room for different people to coexist – and seek sunny shores together.
The good news is, those differences can also have some grand benefits.
Common ground only lets you walk so far together, but introducing each other to new territory can be a wonderful, ongoing journey. When understanding flourishes between two friends, they might evolve beyond their own way of being, inspired by each other’s worthy – yet different – examples.
What Might Improving Friendships with Personality Type Theory Look Like?
Let’s consider an example scenario, using two characters:
Prudence: As a Logistician (ISTJ), Prudence focuses on practical precision. She likes things consistent and predictable and is prone to being blunt in her speech.
Faith: As a Mediator (INFP), Faith is imaginative and excited by the impractical. She’s deeply concerned with being nice and is sensitive when other people aren’t.
These two friends love skating together – that common interest is how they met and what their friendship is built on.
But Prudence gets stressed by Faith’s frequent lateness and indecisiveness, and she has little problem saying so. Faith doesn’t appreciate it when Prudence gets intense about schedules or speaks critically – but she’s reluctant to say so.
Mediators love exploring undefined paths. Logisticians love defining the paths they explore. And while Logisticians usually see little point in sugarcoating the facts of a situation, Mediators usually prefer sharing in sweet vibes more than sharp truths.
Prudence and Faith might see each other’s personality differences as deficiencies, because their individual ways of being are what they know best. They may have a hard time respecting each other’s styles.
But personality type theory could help them understand the legitimate differences in how their minds work. It’s natural that Prudence’s happiness is boosted by sticking to a solid plan, and Faith’s, by freely deciding in the moment. They pursue common goals with different, equally valid styles based on personality traits.
Prudence and Faith’s friendship doesn’t depend on their being similar, but on how they approach their differences.
For example, knowing that as a Mediator, Faith loves following her sudden inspiration, Prudence might try to go with the flow a little more often. And knowing that a sense of structure and certainty really helps a Logistician like Prudence have fun, Faith might stick to the plan some of the time.
However these friends cater to each other’s needs, merely caring enough to try to understand them can itself be the foundation of a great friendship. Personality type theory makes building that foundation much easier.
It’s Often Just a Matter of Improving Communication
People of different personality types don’t always mean the same thing when they say the same thing. In a friendship, knowing these differences can really help communication and keep expectations in tune with reality.
If Stan, a Turbulent Architect (INTJ-T), says, “I really want to go camping,” it may mean that he’s excited about the idea of camping – Architects love to talk about possibilities. But if his friend Victor, an Assertive Entrepreneur (ESTP-A), agrees, he’s likely to do it – Entrepreneurs love to dive into things.
Victor, for instance, might whip out his phone and start looking at campsite availability on the spot. Stan might say, “Woah, I meant at some point, not right now.” Neither friend is wrong, but they weren’t exactly on the same page about what “wanting to go camping” meant. Victor could feel disappointed, Stan could feel pressured, and neither would enjoy that.
But if both friends were aware of each other’s personality type tendencies when communicating, things might go a bit better.
Victor could say, “We’ve talked about camping, so why not do it? I know it’s a bit sudden, but how about this weekend, if I make all the arrangements so it’s easy?”
To which Stan might respond, “Well… Okay, I can try to keep up with you.” Or, “That sounds great, but honestly, I need some time to prepare and plan things out. Will your enthusiasm hold until next weekend?”
If it’s the first response, Victor could reward Stan’s uncharacteristic spontaneity – and if it’s the latter, Stan could likewise reward Victor for practicing patience. Fun grows when friends communicate with each other’s personality traits in mind and are willing to adjust a little.
And what if Victor gets the last-minute idea to invite those cool skater girls along? Well, at least Prudence and Stan can grumble-bond in front of the campfire over their mutual opinion on sudden change, right?
So, How Can You Improve Friendships Using Personality Typing?
Examples are fine, but what about you and your friends? People might not think of putting conscious effort into a relationship with a friend the way they might with, say, a romantic partner.
But why not?
Many friendships outlast romantic relationships. Good friendships prop you up when everything else seems to be dragging you down, and true friends might be the most valuable people you’ll ever have in your life.
So, isn’t it reasonable that addressing any miscommunications, frustrations, or personality differences with a friend is an important investment in your happiness?
It doesn’t have to be weird – you don’t need to search your soul or belabor your time together. Friendship should be a lighthearted thing, and can be improved with a light touch too. Try a basic approach:
- Get your friend to take our world-famous free personality test and send you their test results, including the percentile scores for each trait.
- Read our free descriptions of their personality type. Think about how your friend expresses their personality traits. How do they compare to their type description?
- Note any insights you discover about your friend. How is their personality unique? How does it differ from yours?
- Use this awareness to adjust how you treat and talk to your friend. Try to respect their needs – and explain yours, as well.
Putting things in personality trait terms can make them clearer – and make friendships easier. And, it might be a bit unusual, but if the friendship is well-established and you both really want to dive in, you can take the exercise further:
- Your friend can complete steps 1–3 regarding your personality type.
- Talk together about your respective personality traits. What’s it like in each other’s shoes? How do you each feel about your differences?
- Discuss your communication styles. How do they differ? How might the two of you communicate better?
It’s amazing how friends can enlighten each other just by talking kindly and honestly. If you try any of those exercise steps, we’d seriously love to hear about it in the comments below! (And if you’re really feeling it, you could always send your friend a little gift.)
Understanding personality trait differences brings friends closer together, whether such exploration is individual or shared. It’s the language of who people are, perfect for a conversation between friends – or just to explain each other’s quirks.
When the perspective changes from, “You do x, I do y, and one is better,” to, “Different things naturally appeal to each of us,” it’s easier for friends to appreciate each other as they are. Understanding personality traits may even prevent issues by revealing where conflicts may arise before they do. Pretty cool, huh?
Most of all, simply understanding each person’s uniqueness helps us treat our friends how they want to be treated and know how to encourage the same in return – and that makes time spent together even more wonderful.
- If you’re an Introvert who feels socially challenged, we offer advice on how to make friends, just for you.
- On the other hand, if you’ve encountered someone who seems like a “lone wolf,” understanding the social habits of Confident Individualists might help you connect.
- Of course, the art of conversation is always a great way to make new friends, or have fun with your old friends.
- And a real-life look at how two socially challenged personality types try to foster friendship in their own lives can be informative.
- Finally, if you’d like a little extra insight into a more mysterious friend, the Friendships Type Guesser tool in our Academy may be just what you need.