Myers-Briggs In-Depth: Deciding: Thinking vs Feeling – Part I

by Ron Potter

MeyersBriggsIn-DepthDeep Misconceptions

We learned in the Energizing Function that preconceived ideas of what constitutes an Extravert and an Introvert often lead to misunderstandings.  It gets even worse in this function because of the title “Feeling.”

Most (business) people react negatively to this “Feeling” function and will associate with the Thinking side rather than the “touchy feely” side.  While this is a complete misconception, it drives a very strong bias to the Thinking side.  In my data base of corporate leaders that I’ve gathered over the last 25 years, roughly 85% identify themselves with a Thinking Preference and about 15% with a Feeling Preference.  This is far outside the parameters of the other functions.

Why the bias?

The main reason is that the people leading corporations pride themselves with making purely logical decisions.  Or more accurately, leaders fool themselves into believing they make purely logical decisions.  We know through observation and are increasingly aware through brain science that we actually make more of our decisions on the feeling side and then justify them by logic.  I think that’s the point here.

It Felt Like the Right Thing to Do at the Time

Justified.  Besides being the title of one of my favorite TV programs over the last several years, we are often faced with this issue in the corporate world.  As we review results we are often asked how and why a certain decision was made.  If we can recall the “logical” steps that we went through to make the long ago decision, we have a chance of justifying the decision.  If our only response is “It felt like the right decision at the time” it becomes difficult to defend our choices.  More corporate leaders identify themselves with a Thinking Preference (85%) because of the assumed superiority of Thinking, logical based decisions.

How Do You Feel about that?

I’ve used one technique through the years that dispels this imbalance very quickly.  While grappling with a topic during a team discussion I’ll ask “What do you think about this solution?”  This question will generate many logical based answers.  A little while later I’ll ask “How do you feel about this solution?”  For the truly Thinking preferenced people, it seldom generates any new response beyond their initial logic based response.  But for those members who actually reside closer to the middle or even on the Feeling side of this preference, it generates a much more robust, deeply felt answer.  And what’s amazing to me is that these responses almost always initiate a deeper discussion that many times leads to a different answer than was first proposed.  Also, the Thinking crowd actually begins to engage in their Feeling side which begins to create balance.  Remember, Balance, Balance, Balance is the key to great decision making with Myers-Briggs.

Myers-Briggs In-Depth is a blog series in which I dive into each MBTI function with more detail, providing some practical applications for creating better dynamics and better decision making. Click here to read the entire series.
Interested in an overview of each of the four Myers-Briggs functions? Click here to read the Using MBTI to Great Advantage series.

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1 comment

Myers-Briggs In-Depth: Deciding: Thinking vs Feeling – Part II - Team Leadership Culture April 27, 2015 - 10:11 am

[…] mentioned in my last blog on this preference of Thinking and Feeling (our Deciding function) that most (business) people react negatively to this “Feeling” function […]


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