Exploding the myths of Thinking vs. Feeling

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 03/07/2014 - 15:09 by Bill McAneny

BarometerThe most misunderstood element of personality is the Thinking vs Feeling scale. The traditional view is that Thinkers are logical and Feelers are emotional. OK this may be true, but it does not begin to even scratch the surface of the real differences.

Even Jung, who coined the term conceded:

…I freely admit that this problem of feeling has been one that has caused me much brain racking.

So if Jung struggled what chance do the rest of us have? Well we think that Feeling types often get a bad press, as they are more tactful, more in tune and more concerned about the impact on people than their Thinking opposites. So the view is often expressed that Feelers are ‘soft.’ One HR Director I know well always fakes his assessments so that he records as ENTP because he truly believes that being seen as an ENFP may well be career limiting! 

Yet Feeling types, although driven by deeply held values, have a strong sense of justice. Transgress a value, or hurt someone vulnerable, or laugh at someone's expense they will become extremely crusading and, because they are driven by values, which are more difficult to quantify than logic, it is easy to dismiss these values as ‘mere emotion.’ 

So we all know the textbook differences, but what does it mean in real life, how does it play out? Look at the following encounter; a couple have just got home from work. The lady, a Feeling type, tells her partner (a Thinking type) that they have been invited to dinner:

F “Oh I forgot to mention, Jack and Sarah have invited us round tonight”
T “Oh no how long for?”
F “Just a couple of hours”
T “But I don’t like them!”
F “They’re nice people”
T “I didn’t say they weren’t they’re just boring”
F “OK I don’t really want to go either but we should”
T “Why?”
F “Because we didn’t go last time and we’ll offend them”
T “I don’t care”
F “But I don’t want to upset them because they won’t invite us next time”
T “But isn’t that good as you don’t want to go either?”
F “That’s not the point”

We can see that she is focused more on tact and diplomacy and how they might be seen, she doesn’t want to lose face, and that overrides the logic of the situation. And the guy is focused primarily on the logic of the situation, and really doesn’t get the emotional issues or why they’re important. Feeling types can be excellent barometers for how things are going and, provided you don’t ask them to logically explain how they know, but just accept that they do know, they will bring a superb insight about people and situations that often escapes the more logical Thinking type. 

Are the people around you Thinking types or Feeling types? How do you know?

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