The Sensing vs. Intuition dichotomy charts the information processing capacities of all human beings. Within the Myers and Briggs typing system, your possession of one or the other of these functions will determine how you absorb information, and what you do with it once you’ve taken it in.

Most workplaces will feature a mixture of diverse individuals, including both Sensing and Intuitive types. Regardless of where you fall on the Sensing vs. Intuition scale, you’ll be working with some who share your information processing style, and with others who handle information quite differently.

When you understand the meaning and consequences of this, it can help you form high-quality personal and professional relationships with your co-workers. You can avoid the mistakes involved in a ‘one size fits all’ approach, as you tailor your interpersonal and job-related interactions with each individual to achieve the most satisfying outcomes.

You’ll be doing this for your own good, for the good of your co-workers, and for the good of the business or organization that provides you all with your income.

Sensing vs. Intuition in a Nutshell

Sensing types are fully immersed in the real world of sensations, observations, and experiences. They take an inductive approach to life, which means collecting as many facts as possible and then developing their ideas about reality based on the sum total of what they’ve seen, heard, and felt.

Conversely, Intuitive types believe there is a hidden meaning behind everyday experience, and they are always busy trying to figure out what that might be. They do live in the real world just like their Sensing counterparts, but they believe that the world should never be taken at face value. They rely on their intellectual, psychological, and emotional instincts to guide them, interpreting facts and experiences according to inclusive ideas about the nature of truth and reality.

It is important to recognize that the Sensing vs. Intuition divide is not rigid. A Sensing type will still be capable of forward thinking, while the Intuitive person will still find pleasure and meaning in day-to-day experience. But their preferences, priorities, and primary frames of reference will be essentially fixed, focused on the immediate in one case and on the more theoretical or abstract in the other.

As a Myers-Briggs aficionado, you probably already know where you fall on the Sensing vs. Intuition scale. Assuming you don’t know the same about your co-workers, you should be able to tell after a few days or a few weeks at most of listening to what they say and observing what they do. Once you have a good idea of who the Sensing and Intuitive types are, you’ll be able to customize the terms of your relationships to make the best possible impression with each individual.

Four Tips for Navigating the Sensing and Intuition Divide in the Workplace

Knowing your co-workers’ Sensing vs. Intuition inclinations will help you understand their reactions. To some extent, you may even know what they’re thinking and feeling at various times and in different circumstances.

This awareness can assist your efforts to form healthier relationships with them. With this goal in mind, here are four suggestions for how you can put your knowledge to good use:

#1 Delight them with fun cultural references

Everybody appreciates cultural references, when they know and can relate to the character or real-life person mentioned. It grounds your ideas in the familiar, and that makes such references ideal for making a good impression.

If you talk to a Sensing type about how a character from their favorite show, film, or book chose to solve a particular problem or deal with a conflict, they’ll likely get your point right away. Whether that character handled the situation well or poorly, your reference will resonate with the Sensing type and in their mind will illustrate your purpose quite clearly. Your new Sensing friend will love your down-to-earth, easy-to-relate-to example, and they will be thrilled to know you share an interest in the same show or movie.

Intuitive types, on the other hand, are more likely to respond to cultural references that mention great thinkers, renowned spiritual leaders, acclaimed self-help experts, and artists of all types who pushed the boundaries of understanding in one way or another.

Any references to bold and creative thinking will get their attention, even if they haven’t actually read the books or seen the speeches or presentations you mention. They will likely quiz you about the ideas of these visionaries, seeking your thoughts on how they can be applied in the workplace. The ensuing discussion can help you forge a productive relationship, convincing your co-worker that you are worthy of being involved in their brainstorming sessions.

#2 Use technology to communicate your ideas more memorably and effectively

No matter how good you believe your ideas are, Sensing types aren’t likely to take them too seriously if you can’t illustrate their immediate impact in some way.

What they will respond well to are polished and artfully crafted video presentations, detailed speeches filled with anecdotes and examples that underline your points, physical models or blueprints of new products or processes, research papers that are filled with facts and figures showing how your business can profit or expand in the short-term, and any other type of presentation that captures their attention and provokes an emotional and immediate response.

With Intuitive types, your approach must be more inclusive and future-oriented. They will also appreciate a skilled and carefully prepared multimedia presentation, but will want to know how your concepts, ideas, inventions, and plans for action will impact your company’s long-term bottom line and standing in the industry. They won’t disregard the importance of an immediate return, but they will see it as less essential than what your ideas will mean for the company or organization in five or 10 years.

If you’re trying to impress co-workers in a group rather than individually and one at a time, you would still be wise to keep the Sensing vs. Intuition divide in mind. You should take great care to customize your presentations to emphasize your concern with both short-term and long-term considerations, proving that you are flexible and diverse enough to cater to the expectations and preferences of everyone in the room.  

#3 Make their lives easier through considerate gestures

In any type of relationship, attention to the smallest details can sometimes make the biggest impact.  

For example, because they’re so impacted by their surroundings, Sensing types will appreciate a workplace environment that is bright, airy, roomy, and free from annoying noises, strong odors, and other such distractions. Knowing these vulnerabilities, you can make choices or offer suggestions on how to customize your workplace to make your Sensing co-workers feel more relaxed and comfortable. You’ll be helping to eliminate potential stressors that can leave them feeling irritable and anxious, and your consideration will be noted and appreciated.

For the Intuitive types, you can help them by paying extra close attention to the details they might miss, so you can bring them up to speed later on.

Since they are often focused exclusively on big-picture issues, Intuitive people can become bored, distracted, or lost in their own thoughts while procedural details and other less interesting topics are being discussed or introduced. They may miss vital facts or crucial instructions as a result, leaving them unprepared to fulfill all of their duties.

You can help them avoid this unfortunate outcome, without calling their attention to their inattentiveness. If you discuss job responsibilities and duties with them often, under the guise of making sure you haven’t missed anything, you can help them stay current and up-to-date without wounding their pride. They will come to appreciate your frequent discussions of the mundane, benefitting from your thorough approach even as they’re convinced that its actually they that are helping you.

#4 Most of all, be sincere and generous at all times

It has often been said that knowledge is power, and that is certainly the case when you delve into the fascinating world of Myers and Briggs personality analysis. But how you use this power matters, and you should never try to use it to manipulate others or bend them to your will.

The idea behind your analysis of the Sensing vs. Intuition difference is to get to know your fellow employees better, so you can use your understanding of their needs to improve their experiences in the workplace. You want to help them thrive in any way you can, and as long as you’re guided by this generous attitude your relationships with your co-workers will almost certainly improve (even if they’ve been fairly friendly already!).

Sensing, Intuition, and Making New Friends

If you’re working on creating healthy relationships with coworkers who share your spot on the Sensing vs. Intuition spectrum, you’ll discover the delightful truth that there’s strength in numbers, and value in cultivating a sense of shared purpose and solidarity. With these individuals you’ll be reinforcing the team dynamic right from the beginning, building interpersonal bonds that will make you all feel bolder and more empowered.

If you’re cultivating connections with your Sensing vs. Intuition opposites, you’ll enjoy the chance to form fascinating and enlightening relationships with people whose strengths can help offset your weaknesses (and vice versa). As a Sensing person, your concern with the here-and-now could make you the perfect partner for someone who is always focused on being a visionary. If you’re an imaginative thinker on the Intuitive side who can innovate in your sleep, you could be the ideal collaborator for a co-worker who tends to get bogged down by the details.

Mutual respect and a cooperative spirit are vitally important, and you can take major steps to nurture both by making an honest and good-hearted effort to relate to Sensitive and Intuitive types on their own terms. Everyone in the workplace will ultimately benefit from your efforts, and from a personal perspective you’ll be opening doors to form friendships that could last a lifetime.  

Nathan Falde
Nathan Falde has been working as a freelance writer for the past six years. His ghostwritten work and bylined articles have appeared in numerous online outlets, and in 2014-2015 he acted as co-creator for a series of eBooks on the personality types. An INFJ and a native of Wisconsin, Nathan currently lives in Bogota, Colombia with his wife Martha and their son Nicholas.