Myers Briggs Type Indicator: Deciding

by Ron Potter

There are a couple of problematic issues with this preference pair.  One of the issues is the title of this preference.  For years it was titled “Judging” but the wise people at Consulting Psychologists Press (CPP.Inc) who own the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) changed it to “Deciding” a few years ago.  I think this is a better description.

The other problematic issue with this particular scale is that one end is defined as “Thinking” while the other end is described as “Feeling” (T vs. F).  Business teams in particular revolt at the use of feelings.  They’ll say things like they don’t let their emotions or feelings get in the way of making logical decisions.  But this is your Deciding Function!  You will either make balanced or unbalanced decisions.  Make balanced decisions, both thinking and feeling.  Those will be better decisions.

Thinking – Positive and Negative

A thinking preference can be very positive when it comes to decision making.  The thinking preference tends to be very logical, objective, and can be firm but fair.  In addition, they will often hold justice in high esteem, can be very principle-based, and will easily critique ideas and decisions.  In the end, it’s very difficult to argue with the logic-based decision that comes naturally to the thinking preference.  And that can sometimes become the problem.

Because the thinking preference comes across as confident and even critical, there is a natural barrier for others to challenge.  I had a boss once that was probably the most logical, thinking based person I’ve ever known.  Because I had gained his trust, he often would take me to visit various project sites to get a feel for how the business was working.  Unfortunately, it never occurred to him that the way he set up the meeting rooms seemed much like a judge (with full authority) questioning those running the business.  He would sit at the center seat at a small table.  To his left would be the site’s general manager and to his right would be me.  He then would ask each of the site managers to enter the room, sit in a chair (feeling fully exposed) in front of this tribunal looking over the desk at them.

I know that my boss was simply trying to get as deep into the details (He also had a strong presence for sensing that we talked about in the last blog) and find out the truth of what was going on.  As soon as he detected any weakness in a person’s thinking or attention to facts, he would relentlessly pursue further details with more critical questioning.  Often the person seated in front of us (the tribunal) would eventually crumble and sometimes leave crying.

Later, as we were driving away from the site, I would say to my boss that he had really crushed Larry (or whomever).  My boss would come back with genuine surprise and say something like “I noticed there was something wrong.  What was the matter with that person?”  I would explain to him that his approach to questioning and drilling down shook the confidence of some people.  Again confused, he would say “I don’t get it.  I’m just trying to find out how things are going!”  He was a total thinker and never learned the value of balancing it with feeling type questions.

Feeling – Positive and Negative

The positive side of the feeling preference is truly caring.  Caring for people.  Caring for values.  The feeling preference focuses on things like values, mercy, compliments, harmony, empathy, compassion.  These are actually the issues that help create great teams.  If you’ve read my blogs you’ll know that there is no correlation between IQ and success.  But, there is a complete correlation between EQ and success.  EQ is Emotional Quotient and deals with many of the issues we just listed above: value, harmony, empathy, compassion.  The feeling preference does not ignore the thinking side.  They’ll acknowledge all of the points that the thinking preference makes as being real and accurate but will question if a decision is better being made on the facts or harmony (or other feeling preference focus).

I’ve watched leadership teams get ready to make a decision based on logic.  They’ll list all of the logical reasons they should make this particular decision.  But then, someone says “But how will our customers react to that decision?”  After a pause, someone will say “Your right.  They’ll hate it.  Maybe we should consider a different decision.”


I’m going to take a look at the statistics to see what we might learn and then I want to close with a couple of more thoughts.

Here at the Statistics:

US Population Thinking = 40%;  Feeling = 60%
Leadership Teams Thinking = 84%;  Feeling = 16%
Operation Teams Thinking = 83%;  Feeling = 17%

One of the things we learn from these numbers is that both Leadership and Operations Teams are substantially more thinking-oriented than the general population.  To some degree, this makes sense because businesses and corporations generally run and make their decisions based on logic, not feelings.  However, that’s a falsehood.

Fifth Avenue marketing firms learned long ago that people make decisions based on feelings and then justify those decisions based on logic.  Business and Corporate leaders are just the same, they just won’t often admit it.  In fact, it’s important to know that even ideas are believed to be true based on our emotions and then justified by logic.  Knowing this to be true, it’s important that when having a team discussion about which decision to make, members should share their feelings, emotions, previous experiences (baggage) with each other.  And don’t let a member get away with explaining the logic of a decision.  Make sure they share their emotions first, then explain what logic they use based on the emotions.

You’ll get sick of me saying this time and time again, but the best decisions are balanced.  Balance, balance, balance.  However, it’s important that to balance this Deciding function, you must start with the feeling side.

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