You Might Be Surprised: Thinking or Feeling – Part I

by Ron Potter

You Might Be Surprised
Dave and Charlie had been best friends for most of their lives. They had met in college and seemed to share common interests in both the classes they were taking and in the great outdoors. Both of them loved camping, hiking and most of all fishing. As their careers began their work took them in different directions but they used their outdoor activities to stay connected and would schedule at least one fishing trip together each year. Families began to grow and the distractions increased but their annual fishing trip was never abandoned.
And then a wonderful thing happened about half way through their careers. All of a sudden they were working for the same company and ended up in the same city. As it turned out their children had all gone away to college and they had a bit more time to spend together and they took full advantage of it by adding some weekend outings and expanding their fishing adventures to all kinds of venues.
You probably couldn’t find two guys more compatible then Dave and Charlie. They knew their similarities added to their mutual bond.
Then one day Dave and Charlie ended up in one of my Myers-Briggs team building sessions. As I run the sessions I rearrange the people in the room around the conference table based on their positioning within each scale. This allows me to talk with those in the middle of the scale about their ability to adjust their behavior depending on the situation. It also allows me to talk with those who are solidly on one side or the other of the scale about how clear their preferences are and how they will default to those preferences in many situations and often without even much thought. It’s just natural.
As we progressed through the scales of Energizing (Extraversion and Introversion) and the Attending/Perceiving functions, Dave and Charlie weren’t far apart and I could often see them exchanging knowing looks. Then we came to the deciding function, the one identified by Thinking and Feeling.
Once we’ve taken in our information through either our Extraversion conversation or Introversion reflections and processed it through our Sensing attention to detail or our iNtuitive conceptual view, we then will decide. This Deciding function shows us how we approach decisions from either a very logical, practical angle or a Values based approach. While Thinking types will consider emotions and feelings as data to weigh their decisions will be made based on logic. And while the Feeling types will consider logic and objectivity as data to value, in the end they will make their decision based on values.
Well now the dynamics between Dave and Charlie had changed. Dave was solidly on the Thinking side of the table and Charlie was well into the Feeling side of the table and Dave was staring at Charlie in utter disbelief.
Finally, Charlie almost erupted. “There is no way this instrument can be valid! Charlie and I have known each other all of our lives and we are completely alike. There is no way he could be on the Feeling side of this category. That’s not who we are!!!”
Can you guess how Charlie reacted? Did he truly belong on the Feeling side of this preference? Did Dave really not know Charlie after all of these years? In our next Myers-Briggs based blog we’ll continue the story of Dave and Charlie. Please join us. You might be surprised.

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