Relationships between Thinkers and Feelers, the “T” and the “F” of the Myers and Briggs personality system, are often well-balanced. Between them, these two personality types bring the right combination of logical thinking and emotional thinking to the table.
Sometimes, though, it can be challenging to communicate certain ideas or to bridge the gap between the two different approaches to work at home and in professional settings. Here are a few ways for Thinkers to understand the needs of the Feelers in their lives, so you can quickly resolve conflict and achieve long-lasting compromise, collaboration and happiness.
Show positivity (Feelers pick up on the unspoken)
Feelers, by definition, follow their emotional instinct. This means they often communicate silently and will pick up on your non-verbal cues as well as your spoken ones. It’s important to approach difficult conversations while calm and at ease, otherwise your Feeler will be on edge no matter what you say. This can be challenging, so consider taking long, deep breaths beforehand.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to your body language—your Feeler certainly will be! Watch where you put your arms, how you stand, and the tightness in your shoulders, all of which can express anger and distance in an unspoken way. The calmer and more relaxed you appear to be, the more open and approachable your Feeler will be as well.
Be patient and respectful
Feelers are driven by their emotions, but they’re also focused on keeping others happy. This may make it difficult for them to be straightforward and honest about how they feel. Feeling personalities often sacrifice themselves for the sake of tact. When they need to express honest emotion, it can be both challenging and frustrating for them.
For your part, it’s important to give a Feeler plenty of time to get to the point they’re trying to make, even if it does include some wandering thoughts and false starts. Your logical and rational-thinking skills are incredible and beneficial in many facets of life, but it’s important to remember that others reach their conclusions in different ways than you.
Because Feelers so often think of others first, they don’t like rocking the boat or creating discord in the group or at home. If you sense that an honest conversation is needed, whether it’s about expectations in the workplace or collaborations at home, you may need to be the one to create the space for that engagement.
Start by giving Feelers a platform where they feel safe and comfortable and encourage honest communication, rather than tactful compromise. It can be challenging to help the Feeler in your life say what they really mean, so reassure them that being open and having real discussions about your shared interests or needs is ultimately better for the group in the long term.
Approach with emotion over logic
Thinkers like to find rational, logical answers to questions and to solve problems as soon as they appear. This approach is both efficient and helpful in many facets of life. Feelers, on the other hand, focus on emotion over logic. This means that if you, as a Thinker, are responding to the way a Feeler feels with cold, hard facts, they may see it as impersonal and distant. You’re essentially setting the conversation up to fail.
It’s important to meet the Feeler in your life halfway, or at least try to see the emotion behind the words even if you don’t necessarily feel it yourself. Seeing their perspective will give you more patience in the situation and make it easier for your Feeler to feel comfortable and willing to be honest and collaborative.
Find the right communication platform
We all have our preferred form of communication, and it’s important to both know your own and determine that communication preference for the Feeler in your life. While you may see a quick text message as an effective method of sharing information, your Feeler may think it’s impersonal and reductive -- they may even think that they’ve done something wrong because you didn’t call.
Openness is key here. Explain to your Feeler how you like to communicate, and try to meet them on their terms as well. Where’s the common ground? Finding that platform—whether it’s via email, over the phone, or in person, can help to reduce miscommunications and make it easier to find solutions and answers.
Do not logic them out of their feelings
You should be proud of your ability to think logically and find solutions to issues big and small. It’s an incredible skill and it will serve you well in life. Still, there’s a time and place to go for the hard evidence and it’s not always going to be in a conversation with the Feeler you love. While your instinct may be to solve their problem and move on, remember that Feelers can solve the problem on their own. Often, they just need to go through the process.
Watching a Feeler weigh their pros and cons and work through different scenarios may feel frustrating to you, but it’s not dissimilar from how you gather evidence for your arguments—theirs are merely emotion-based. But if they feel like their methods are being judged or that you’re impatient with the process, they may shut down completely. So maybe skip the quick answers and help them find the deeper understanding they’re looking for.
Acknowledge the value of gut instinct
In the same vein, it’s important to have faith in your Feeler. They may offer up logic that looks like it has come from thin air, but because Feelers are so tuned into their emotions, they are excellent judges of characters and often have very good instincts about people and situations.
If you want to communicate on an even level with your Feeler, it’s important that you don’t dismiss this gut instinct. It has served them well in life and is an integral factor in how they make decisions. Dismiss it, and you’ll find your Feeler is no longer as open or willing to collaborate. Give it the value its due, and you’ll reach those answers with more ease and your Feeler will trust you more the next time around.
Help guide them to their destination
Every great relationship is about balance, and that’s why you don’t want to close off your rational side completely when talking to the Feeler in your life. (Or ever, it’s what makes you you and that’s excellent!)
Because Feelers make their decisions based on instinct and emotion and because they often wander to their destination, it can be helpful to have the guidance of someone accustomed to following the roadmap. Use your skills to prompt them with relevant questions, help them find the information for their pros and cons columns, and gently bring them back on topic when they seem to stray too far away.
It may not work every time, but the right balance of your critical thinking and organizational skills and their instinct and emotional intelligence can honestly change the world.
Bottom line: It all comes down to being open
You don’t have to hide your best traits to communicate with the Feeler in your life. In fact, the more open and willing you are simply to be yourself, the more you will be able to connect and communicate with your Feeler and to resolve challenges or overcome difficult situations.
This may require expressing a little more emotion than you’re accustomed to, but with a Feeler, you’re in good hands. They’ll see your emotional vulnerability as the gift it is and respond in kind and, because these personality traits balance each other so well, they may even take that step back to allow you to be emotional where they are rational. When you’re open with your Feeler, you can collaborate and discuss issues together—and you’ll both come out better for it.