Myers-Briggs Under Pressure: Intuition

by Ron Potter

I can’t possibly sort through all of these options. I’m already overwhelmed. We could work on this all weekend and we’d never get through everything we need to figure out. Stop! Don’t ask me again, I don’t know how were going to proceed through this morass! I need to get out of here, I’m starving and I need a drink.”

(If you didn’t start with the introduction to this “Meyers-Briggs Under Pressure” series, I suggest you make a quick review because it will help you better understand these subsequent blog posts.)

Teresa is stuck! She can’t seem to find her way out and she wants a clear path forward that cuts through all the information, data and options. Teresa’s dominant function is iNtuition (need for concepts, visions and future goals) and her inferior function is Sensing (need for detail and information).

There are four types that have this particular combination, the Introverted INTJ, INFJ and the Extraverted ENTP, ENFP. As noted above, the dominant function in all four cases is iNtuition and the inferior in all four cases is Sensing. These are what’s known as our Perceiving functions, how do we perceive the world around us? These are the functions that we use to take in the information that we’ll need to eventually make a decision.

In a healthy state, these Perceiving functions would then work in tandem with the “deciding” functions of Thinking or Feeling depending type. But, under pressure or stress, Teresa begins to lose this natural balance, falling back to her dominant function which has a need to know where all of this is going and becomes unable to combine it with her deciding function to keep things moving along. Teresa will retreat into her sensory pursuits of binge eating, drinking, TV watching, physical activities or whatever allows her to escape the fact that she’s stuck.

Balance, Balance, Balance

This is where team members and colleagues come into play. It’s difficult for any one of us to break out of these pressure packed situations. As colleagues, we want to help Teresa back into a balanced state by asking and sometimes even forcing her to use her auxiliary function. Notice that Teresa’s auxiliary function could be either Thinking or Feeling depending on type. Let’s start with the Thinking balance.

“Teresa, where do you think this will all lead?”

“I don’t know. None of it makes any sense to me yet.”

“I know, but tell me what you think will be the best answer in the end.”

“Well, it needs to provide us options once we get the product into the market place.”

“Great. Looking beyond the data for a moment, what step do we need to figure out next to give us options in the future?”

As we begin to force Teresa to try a little balancing act, she’ll begin to regain her footing. Note that we can’t tell Teresa what the final state should be. It has to be the act of balancing her own functions of iNtuition and Thinking that begins to restore her sense of balance and allows him to begin functioning on a more normal basis based on her own type.

If we’re dealing with either the INFJ or ENFP than Feeling is the auxiliary function, not Thinking. The approach is similar, just using Feeling questions rather than Thinking questions,

“Teresa, what are you worried about?”

“I don’t feel like I can figure out where this is all headed.”

“What values are you concerned that we’ll miss?”

“It could be any of them if we can’t figure out how this will end up.”

“Well, let’s talk through some scenarios and see how our values set with each of them?”

As Teresa begins to answer these very basic Feeling questions, she begins exercising her own balancing mechanisms and it begins to help him out of the rut. Teresa is regaining balance.

It doesn’t help to point out the values that we believe need to be protected. Our job is to help Teresa regain her own, natural balance.

Stay tuned. Next in our series titled “Myers-Briggs Under Pressure” we’ll shift our focus from the dominant styles centered on our perceiving function (sensing and intuition) to dominant styles based on our deciding functions of Thinking or Feeling. It’s an interesting shift.

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