In the personality typing system developed by Myers and Briggs, the Thinking/Feeling pairing describes how a person makes decisions. A Thinking type uses objectivity to solve a problem, even when considering a moral or aesthetic puzzle. Feelers, on the other hand, make decisions based on their internal belief system. Feelers also solve problems using a system guided by their internal values and motivations rather than extrinsic facts. Because of these opposing styles, Thinkers and Feelers face challenges when tasked with solving problems as a team.
Thinkers: The Lure of Logic
Thinkers apply facts and logic to solve problems and typically seek hard solutions like a yes or no answer. As a result, Thinking personality types may come across as:
- analytical and skeptical
- impersonal, even though they do not mean to be
- argumentative and opinionated
- tactless and prone to exposing flaws in other people and systems
- insensitive to the feelings of others
Ideally, Thinkers should provide rational analysis and consistency to the ideas generated by the team. Problems occur when the detached Thinker irritates someone and thus, endangers the team spirit.
Feelers: The Seduction of Subjectivity
Feelers apply their innermost values and beliefs to reach conclusions. This typically involves agreeing or disagreeing with a hypothesis based on subjective feelings rather than formulating a solution backed up by fact. To Thinkers, the Feeling personality type comes across as:
- passive and overly accepting
- fearful of challenging the status quo
- too concerned with other people's opinions, choosing tact over the truth
In a team setting, Feelers should be the ones who sensitively persuade others towards the team's point of view. Problems occur when Feelers avoid confrontation to the point where the group cannot achieve consensus.
Tools for Achieving Thinker/Feeler peace
Despite their differences, getting Thinkers and Feelers to work together is not as difficult as it might appear. When communicating with a Feeler, a Thinker might:
- Make small talk, instead of diving straight into the argument
- Separate the "rational" and the "emotional" sides of an argument and ask the Feeler to tackle the emotional side
- Praise the Feeler for the contributions they are making to the discussion instead of remaining detached from the emotional side of the process.
When communicating with a Thinker, a Feeler might:
- Prepare an argument in advance so that their ideas aren't overruled during a disagreement
- Get to the point quickly
- Identify the solutions that the team needs and assign other problems to a Thinker
- Be patient, and remind the Thinker that few solutions are rarely perfect.
The key takeaway is that both Thinkers and Feelers provide valuable insight to business decisions. The trick is to encourage them both to freely express their views so that business processes are undertaken from both a task-oriented and an empathetic point of view.