Decision Making with Myers-Briggs Part III

by Ron

This is the third in a Myer-Briggs series on Decision Making. Over the first two blog posts we looked at the Perceiving Function (how people take in information), and the Judging Function (how people make sense of what they perceive). This blog post will be focused on how we put it all together in the Decision-Making Process.


Carl Jung was the famous psychiatrist who broke with Sigmund Freud. While Freud seemed to study what was wrong with us as human beings, Jung thought it better to study what was right and natural about us humans and what we could learn about ourselves with the proper framework. His work on Psychological Types led Myers and Briggs to put together their framework for understanding how we work.

Of the four functions pairs (making up the 16 possible archetypes) Jung and Myers-Briggs believed that the middle two were used in our decision-making process. It’s important to understand how these two functions work and in which order to under our and others decision-making process.

The simple concept is that we spend our days cycling between perceiving (observing what’s going on around us) and making judgments (decisions) based on that observation. A simple example is that when we’re leaving the house in the morning we look out the window and notice (perceive) that it’s raining. We then judge the situation to require (decide) to take an umbrella.

Depending on your personal type, one of the four function, Sensing, iNtuition, Thinking or Feeling is your primary function. If you’re going to make a decision you will need your primary function satisfied. My primary function is Thinking. If the answer does not look logical to me, I would (can’t) make the decision. Even more important to corporate teams or leadership, if my primary function is not satisfied, I will not commit to a decision. I may comply with it, but I will not make a full commitment to the decision. One of the most destructive events with teams is when people give compliance to a decision during a team meeting but it becomes obvious they are not committed to the decision in the long run.

Reaching Decisions and Commitments

Every person must have their primary function fully satisfied in order to make a decision or commit to a decision. Further, if their secondary function can also be satisfied, that’s all they need. They will now be onboard.

The problem is the facilitator, leader, decision maker always knows which two functions they need satisfied in order to commit to a decision, either consciously or subconsciously. Therefore, they direct the conversation to cover their two needed functions. Maybe it’s Sensing, getting all of the facts on the table, followed by Thinking, putting them into a logical order. That works great for that person and other ST’s on the team but for those who rely on N and/or F, all of the conversation sounded like the adults speaking in the Peanuts cartoons: Wha, wha wha. It’s like an English speaker sitting on a team of Chinese speakers listening to a language that is not understood at all until the question is put forth in English; “Are you ready to decide now?”

The Key

The key to reaching a decision or commitment on a team of diverse types is to take the time to speak in everyone’s language.


Ask and answer the Sensing questions: What do we know about the situation? What are the facts? Do we have all the facts? What have we done so far and what were the results? What do we need to accomplish next?


Ask and answer iNtuitive questions: Where are we trying to go? What should the end results be? What other possibilities could we consider? What does the data seem to imply?


Ask and answer Thinking questions: Is there a logical conclusion? Can we list the pros and cons of each option? Do we know what the costs of each option are? Can we put priorities to each possible outcome?


Ask and answer Feeling questions: Do these answers support or violate our values? How will people (ours, customers, vendors, etc) react to the outcome? Who will commit to putting in the sacrifice needed to accomplish these goals?

Balance, balance, balance

It’s only when each of the four function is given equal time, honor and trust that we can count on getting to a committed answer and a team that acts in an aligned and committed manner.

Learn to cycle through these four functions and keep cycling until everyone is onboard and committed to the decision. You’ll be amazed at the power of an aligned and committed team.

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