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Case Study in Family Transition
During Reintegration
Maria, ESTJ

By Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh,
authors of Building Your Career Transition Strategy

 

Maria has preferences for ESTJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging). She has recently returned from a one-year deployment in Afghanistan with the Army Reserves. Maria has thrived in the Army environment, where she has risen to the rank of sergeant and is recognized as an established leader by her fellow soldiers. Even in high school, her basketball teammates affectionately gave her the nickname "Sarge" because of her take-charge, decisive manner in preparing the team for clutch games.

Maria's work overseas was simultaneously challenging, chaotic, and worthwhile. She is proud to have served; yet at the same time she had always looked forward to reuniting with her husband and two young daughters in order to restore a sense of order and stability to her life. Maria feels that her husband did a terrific job at caring for their children while she was away. She also is pleased that her sister stepped in to offer support and share in the caregiver role. But less than a month after her return home, Maria notices some resistance from her husband and sister toward some of her plans for the family.

In a follow-up meeting with her unit, Maria receives a copy of Building a Career Transition Strategy from the chaplain. Already somewhat familiar with personality type and the MBTI instrument from previous Army leadership training, Maria reads through the "Relating Type Preferences to the Reintegration Process" chart During the reintegration process, people who prefer Extraversion are more likely to

  • Require opportunities to talk about their experience
  • Explore options by acting them out
  • Seek support from and connection with a wide variety of people

Maria has been hanging out with members of her unit, enjoying the company of old friends, and networking with colleagues. She also is someone who prefers to do things in order to be able to really understand them or believe in their worth. Maria reflects that this active approach to relating, learning, and deciding - although comfortable for her - may be making her husband and sister feel overwhelmed. She had not considered that her talkative, energetic, decisive nature could be hampering the ability of others to get their point across. Next she decides to take a look at a description of her type, ESTJ, on pages 10-11 of the report. Two of the points under the heading "When Reconnecting and Relating to Others During Reintegration, ESTJs Typically..." really hit home with her:

  • Need to generate a plan that encompasses work and family goals to feel their life is in order
  • Want to fulfill a leadership role of some kind in order to feel actively reengaged with family, work, etc.

Maria is relieved to read that her desire for a comprehensive plan as well as her desire for a leadership role at home and at work are not unusual for someone with her preferences going through the reintegration process. It occurs to her that she can share this information with her family to help them understand her perspective. She believes that having a conversation about her drive to have a well-ordered plan and take-charge role may help her husband and sister see that her actions are not intended to irritate them but rather flow from her natural style. Maria especially hopes this conversation will reduce the likelihood that her actions since returning home are being misinterpreted. She does not want to be perceived as undervaluing the contribution her husband and sister made in caring for the children while she was away or as undermining the help they are giving her right now. Maria knows she could not have served without their help.

As Maria is planning her conversation with her husband and sister, she continues to study her type description. Two of the items under the "ESTJs' Do's and Don'ts to Regain Perspective" heading catch her attention:

  • Do try to see reintegration as an opportunity to deepen relationships - take time to invite significant others to share their feelings about how things are going
  • Don't expect people to decide as quickly or to be as eager as you are to get started on plans - exercise patience with the more measured pace of others

These suggestions remind her to use her naturally assertive style to encourage her husband and sister to voice their feelings about how things are at the moment, how they believe things have changed, and what their hopes are for the future. She also ponders how to ensure that both of them understand that while she is eager to resume an active role in making family decisions and plans now that she is back home, she wants to move ahead at a tempo that allows everyone involved to have a chance to feel heard before anything is finalized.

Finally, Maria looks to the gifts of Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Perceiving for approaches she might not naturally pursue. She thoughtfully reads through the material about these preferences in the "Relating Type Preferences to the Reintegration Process" chart on page 5 of the report. From the material, Maria realizes she could be more open to the suggestions of others. She also realizes that she can consider how well the suggestions others make fit with her values in addition to her usual process of assessing how logical they are. She recognizes that she has spent so much time focused on the bottom line and what is efficient, that she has not considered whether the strategies she has proposed are ones that "address relationship concerns" nor if they take into account "what might happen in the future." Maria also decides that she wants to share with her husband and sister what her service experience has meant to her to see if this helps create more understanding and harmony in these relationships. Reflecting on this information helps Maria stretch beyond her usual style in order to be better equipped to make her transition back to "active-duty" wife, sister, and parent.

Case Study Wrap-Up

This case highlights that although reintegration is an experience shared by millions, people process their experiences differently according to their preferences. We hope this case gives you some insight into how you might go about improving your reintegration by better understanding your personal style. Use this case study to think creatively about how to utilize the material in your report, regardless of your type preferences or the specific reintegration circumstances in which you find yourself.

 

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