Here’s a doomed Myers-Briggs® interaction I’ve observed more than once:
Mr. Thinker: “You neglected to mention A, B, and C in your presentation. You should also have spent more time talking about X, Y, and Z. You’ll need to factor in these points at next week’s conference.”
Ms. Feeler: “Well, I did the best I could at such short notice. Was there anything you liked about it?”
Mr. Thinker: “I didn’t say I didn’t like it. But there are kinks that need to be worked out if it’s going to be presented at the regional conference.
Ms. Feeler: “You could have acknowledged my efforts instead of pointing out my faults.”
Mr. Thinker: “Whoa! Who said I’m pointing out your faults? Get a grip!”
Ms. Feeler: “Really?! Well then go get what’s-her-name to do your presentation next week. I’m done. You never show any appreciation for anything I do.”
Mr. Thinker makes a statement that makes logical sense to him. Unfortunately, he overlooks the impact of his suggestion on Ms. Feeler. Ms. Feeler takes offense and becomes defensive. She knows about the “kinks” in her presentation (and was probably planning to fix them), but in the moment of the interaction, her natural inclination is to take Mr. Thinker’s words personally. Mr. Thinker doesn’t see her logic and therefore doesn’t take her words seriously (she’s illogical!). Ms. Feeler gets even more upset and lashes out. Both end up angry and/or upset by the others’ inability to see their point of view.
A few weeks ago, I experienced a very similar interaction. I gave a presentation and received unsolicited advice from a stranger afterwards. The stranger’s words pointed at my “faults” and gave me recommendations for improvement.
Fortunately for me, I gritted my teeth, smiled, and thanked the “perpetrator” for the advice. However, I’m still stewing about the interaction. The irony is the intent was to help my presentation skills, but because I perceived the “perpetrator’s” delivery as insensitive and uncalled for, I’ve been paralyzed to take the recommended next-steps. Had the “perpetrator” mentioned something positive, or even thanked me for my presentation, I would have felt empowered to move forward on improving.
To A Feeler, Everything is Personal
In the Myers-Briggs® Type Indicator, the dichotomy of Thinking and Feeling relates to decision-making. Thinkers’ preference is to make decisions based on objective analysis and cause-and-effect logic. Feelers’ preference is subjective, focusing on consensus and the people involved. “Thinking” and “Feeling” are not descriptive of what these Myers-Briggs® Types do. Thinkers are not smarter than Feelers, nor are Feelers more sensitive. They both have the ability to reason logically and to empathize with others. The fundamental difference is their values: Thinkers give priority to truth and justice; Feelers give priority to relationships and affirmation. Therefore, a Thinker’s motto may be, “It’s not meant to be personal.” However, to a Feeler, it’s all personal.
It’s easy to see where miscommunication can occur!
Communicating with Feelers
Here are some tips to promote positive interactions with Feelers:
- Conflict makes Feelers unproductive. Feelers like harmony and are energized through appreciation and encouragement.
- The problem is always secondary to the people involved. While Thinkers have a checklist of how to make things better, Feelers use personal reasoning, factoring in emotions and how things affect people.
- Empathy trumps reasoning, rationality, or logical discourse. Thinkers may struggle with having empathy for any extreme behavior (including super sad or excited) because their goal may be to convince Feelers of something. On the other hand, Feelers want harmony and will naturally make decisions based on the impact on others.
- When Feelers says something offensive, they’re being vengeful. Whereas a Thinker may say something offensive because they are unaware, “wronged” Feelers want you to feel their pain! A misconception of Feelers is that they want everyone to be happy all the time. On the contrary, Feelers know how to make people truly suffer if it is their intention to do so. Healthy Feelers, however, want their words and actions to have a positive effect on others.
Tips and Job Advice for the MBTI® Feeler
- Understand that Thinkers are able to recognize Feeler values in others and adjust their actions accordingly.
- In the heat of the moment, “think” before replying out of emotion.
- Though it’s easier said than done, practice not taking things personally.
Keep in Mind
“Feeling” does not mean irrationality, hyper-emotionalism, hyper-sensitivity, immaturity, or ignorance. These traits can be found in many people, regardless of Myers-Briggs® Type.
**Finally, please note that we all use both Thinking and Feeling in our everyday lives. Sometimes we behave as a Thinker, and sometimes a Feeler. However, we each have a preference for one or the other.