Individual Development: Is Your Type ‘Thinking’ or ‘Feeling’ ?

Individual Development: Is Your Type ‘Thinking’ or ‘Feeling’ ?

Type is everywhere

When you make a decision, do you prefer to analyse the pros and cons, and take an objective view? Or do you believe you make the best decisions by weighing up what people care about and the points-of-view of the persons involved in the situation. This information can help you understand your Type and how it affects you and those around you.

The quality of our decisions can have a huge impact on the performance of our organisation, our team and our career. It’s therefore crucial that we understand our individual preferences when it comes to decision making.

In this article we’ll be looking at the two decision making types as identified by the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and start to give you an awareness of your own preference.  We’ll also look how you can adapt your approach when working with people with the opposite preference to you in order to work with them more effectively.

Millions of executives across the world have undergone the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment in order to help them improve their performance. As a psychometric tool, it measures 4 basic aspects of our personality. One of the most insightful aspects it measures is our decision making preference.

The MBTI identifies 2 decision making functions; Thinking and Feeling.

Here are a common set of statements used to differentiate between the types. Read them and decide which seem more natural, effortless, and comfortable for you:

Thinking (T)

When you make a decision, do you prefer to find the basic truth or principle to be applied, and then be consistent and logical in deciding? Do you try to be impersonal, so that you don’t let your personal wishes–or other people’s wishes–influence you?

The following statements generally apply to people with a Thinking preference:

  • I look for logical explanations or solutions to almost everything.
  • I notice inconsistencies.
  • Decisions are made with my head and should be fair.
  • I believe telling the truth is more important than being tactful.
  • Sometimes I miss or don’t value the “people” part of a situation.
  • I can be seen as too task-oriented, or uncaring.


Feeling (F)

Are you concerned with what is the best for the people involved. Do you prefer to do whatever you can to keep the harmony? In your relationships, do you appear caring, warm, and tactful?

The following statements generally apply to people with a preference for Feeling:

  • Being tactful is sometimes more important than telling the “cold” truth.
  • I have a people or communications orientation.
  • I’m concerned with harmony and can feel anxious when it is missing.
  • I look for what is important to others and express concern for others.
  • Decisions are madewith my heart and strive to be compassionate.
  • Sometimes I miss seeing or communicating the “hard truth” of situations.
  • I am sometimes experienced by others as being too indirect.


Thinking versus Feeling

Everyone uses Thinking for some decisions and Feeling for others. In fact, a person can make a decision using his or her preference, then test the decision by using the other preference to see what might not have been taken into account.

When working with individuals undergoing the Myers Briggs assessment, we go to great lengths to ensure they understand the real meaning of the approaches. For example, people shouldn’t confuse Feeling with emotion. Everyone has emotions about the decisions they make. Nor should they confuse Thinking with intelligence. The labels “Thinker” and “Feeler” are not descriptive of what those people do. Thinkers are not smarter than Feelers, nor are Feelers more sensitive. Thinkers have feelings, and Feelers are able to reason logically.

Decision Making Example:

Here is an example of the different ways in which Feeling and Thinking types approach the same situation. You will see that both Thinking and Feeling came to the same decision, but they used different pathways to get there.

Claire is being promoted to Head of Department, and she starts her new position on Monday.  A few days before, she makes a crucial mistake on a major project when she takes a big risk that doesn’t quite turn out as planned. What should the senior leadership do? Should they take away her promotion, or go ahead with it?

A Thinking manager may decide like this: “Her past performance indicates this mistake is a one off. If we don’t promote her, we would have to restart the entire recruitment process and we’re too busy already, that would impact the productivity of the department and delay essential projects. I think we should go ahead and promote her.

A Feeling manager may decide like this: “If we don’t promote her because of this one mistake, people will probably see our decision as unfair. Our employees may feel like they can’t take risks, and some will start worrying about their jobs instead of doing their jobs. Also, our corporate values state that we promote risk-taking, so punishing Claire for taking a risk–even though she failed–would be against our values. I think we should go ahead and promote her.”

Some useful strategies defined by Isabel Briggs-Myers (designer of the Myers Briggs) to help people understand type when working with others from the opposite decision making preference:

Thinkers with Feelers

  1. Don’t just dive into an argument. Say hello. Ask how things have been going first.
  2. Logically work out the ethical and ‘people’ implications of the points you want to raise in advance of the discussion. These may be points of contention. The Thinker can then consider whether there is a way to accommodate the Feeler.
  3. Before a discussion, put yourself in the Feeler’s ‘shoes’ to anticipate potential feelings re issues. Empathise where possible.
  4. Genuinely express appreciation for contributions the Feeler is making in the discussion or has been making on the team. Praise should not be reserved for extraordinary accomplishments only.
  5. Ask ‘How do you feel about this decision or issue?’
  6. First mention points of agreement.
  7. Appreciate their efforts and contributions.
  8. Recognise legitimacy of feelings.
  9. Talk about ‘people’ concerns.
  10. Smile and maintain good eye contact.
  11. Be friendly and considerate.


Feelers with Thinkers

  1. Get to the point fairly quickly.
  2. Before the discussion, reflect on what you want to present and identify those elements you would like accepted on the basis of faith or because they seem to be the right way to go. The Feeler should identify some objective reasons for these beliefs to supplement this point of view.
  3. Give reasons or logical arguments where possible, especially related to mutual goals or objectives.
  4. Don’t assume that the lack of an enthusiastic response means rejection of your ideas or of you. Be patient; have faith; try not to fall into righteousness.
  5. Remind the Thinker that no solution to a complex organisational problem is perfect. Accept criticisms that make sense and attempt to work with the Thinker to come to a conclusion regarding what is the best choice among imperfect options.
  6. Be organised and logical.
  7. Consider the cause and effect.
  8. Focus on consequences.
  9. Don’t ask how they ‘feel’; ask what they ‘think’.
  10. Appeal to their sense of fairness.
  11. Don’t repeat yourself.


If you would like to know how Myers Briggs Type Indicator can develop your teams in the areas of communication, decision making, team building, leadership, and conflict; please contact Outstand today.