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

by Ron Potter

MeyersBriggsIn-DepthDeep Misconceptions

I 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 and will associate with the Thinking side rather than the “touchy feely” side.  This causes an imbalance in Corporate Leadership teams of roughly 85% identify themselves with a Thinking Preference and about 15% with a Feeling Preference.

T and F Buddies

Years ago we had a pair of hunting and fishing buddies on the team, Ted (with a Thinking Preference) and Fred (with a Feeling Preference).  As we introduced this preference and Fred came out on the Feeling end of the spectrum Ted had an incredibly animated reaction.  “What do you mean Fred is on the Feeling side of this scale?  No way!  We’ve been hunting and fishing buddies for years.  We think the same about almost any topic.  We almost finish each other’s sentences.  No way is Fred on the Feeling side of this scale!”  Interestingly, Fred seemed to just remain quiet through the episode with a slight smile on his face.

How do you Buy a Car?

At one point, as Ted continued to grumble at the inaccuracy of the instrument, the question was asked, how do you go about purchasing a car?  Ted launched into a detailed explanation of how he does all of his internet research; knowing every detail about the car he wants, how consumers rate the car, what’s the residual value after a few years of ownership, what price people have been paying in his region and a whole host of other logical data sets for purchasing the car.  He only then approaches the dealer to make the best possible purchase.  When the same question was asked of Fred he said something like “I have a dealer that I have worked with for 15 years and trust him to call me when he thinks I should replace my car and tell me which car would be best for me, offers me a deal and I take it.”  The sound of Ted’s jaw hitting the floor made everyone jump.

Which Deciding Function is Better?

Even as you’re reading this I’m probably getting different answers.  In the personal case of Ted and Fred, the answer is both.  For Ted, his research and logical decision helps him make the “best” decision for him.  For Fred, he was totally comfortable that a valuable relationship had been developed and could be trusted resulting in the best decision for him.

Favorite Equation

In a team situation, as always, the best answer is Balance, Balance, Balance.  One of my favorite equations is:

Effective Decisions = Quality of Decision X Acceptance of Decision (E.D. = QXA)

We can have the highest quality and accurate decision made but if people don’t accept the decision, no positive outcomes are achieved.  We can have the most highly accepted decision that everyone is cheering over and if it’s not accurate or the best decision for the circumstances, it also becomes a failure.  Good or effective decisions require both quality and acceptance.  Thinking types focus on quality while Feeling types focus on acceptance.  We need both.  Balance, Balance, Balance!

Have you learned to balance your own preference type?  Do you have someone around you that helps you with this balancing act?  How about your teams?  Have you learned to balance, balance, balance?  Share some stories with us.

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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David Arnold April 28, 2015 - 12:29 am

As an ENFP-type, I completely associated with Fred in this example! Too funny. I recently made my girlfriend take the MBTI and she registered as an ISTJ.

Balance, balance, balance! I hope so at least. 🙂

Ron Potter May 7, 2015 - 5:19 pm

David, thanks for your observation. Family and relationship situations are often the most visible and can be the most dramatic if you don’t work on the balance. Opposites attract but it takes work to balance, balance, balance. Even after years of using the MBTI I still catch myself reacting from my dominant function with my wife or one of my daughters while they’re reacting from their dominant function. It can be fun and frustrating but it’s always valuable.

Daniel May 15, 2015 - 10:42 pm

So with Myers-Briggs you think opposites are the most likely to succeed when it comes to romantic relationships? I’d be interested to actually see a study on this or something. For every person who says “opposites attract” there’s another person who says “birds of a feather flock together”, but I’d like to see which of those is true (if any) for the Myers-Briggs test.


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