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Thinking or Feeling -
How You Make Decisions

Thinking and feeling are two different techniques of judgment – how you make decisions. One of these preferences dictates what decisions you make when given information. This preference determines what factors most influence your decisions.

Thinking and feeling, the third preference pair in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, are the two terms that Carl Jung used and have a broader and deeper meaning than their conventional use. For example, feeling here doesn’t mean ‘emotion’, it’s a rational cognitive process that brings decisions into relative worth. It asks, “is this more valuable or less valuable?” Thinking is more concerned with, “is this true or false?” Feeling types think and thinking types feel. Thinking brings objectivity to decision-making and feeling brings an awareness of how people will receive the decision.

Here are some words and phrases often associated with the two types. What’s the type that you prefer more often? If you’re having trouble deciding, it’s sometimes easier to use the process of elimination method by recognizing yourself in what you don’t like. Ask yourself, “Which of these descriptions isn’t me – which one would I loathe if I did it most of the day?”

Thinking (T) Feeling (F)
Head Heart
Objective Subjective
Tough-minded Relative worth
Practical Connections
Competent Warmth
Analyze Affirming
Evaluate Appreciate
Critique Empathize
Frank Harmony
Debate Tactful
Precision Compassionate
Consistent Values
Logic Caring
Thinking and Feeling Differences

Thinking function types prefer objective, tangible ‘black and white’ criteria to measure their success. They often are task and goal focused, enjoy competition and want to win. Feeling function types see many shades of relative worth and focus on each situation as being subjectively unique, especially when people’s feelings are involved. Thinking types judge performances on results – money is often used as an impersonal, factual measurement of their success. Feeling types judge performance on effort more than results, look at intent, and want to be seen as ‘good people’. There’s more of a warm-hearted feel to the person.

Groucho the thinker and Harpo the feeler
If you’re a Marx Brothers comedy fan, Harpo and Groucho both wrote autobiographies that are entertaining, funny and touching but in different ways. Groucho’s humor has an edge and he wittily focuses on his successes and tragedies with money. Harpo’s writing is warm-hearted, focuses on people, remembering almost everyone fondly, even the ones who took advantage of him. Their films are also great illustrations of the thinking and feeling functions in action.

Pros and Cons Lists
Pros and cons lists are a thinking function. If you live by pros and cons lists, then you probably prefer the thinking function. If pros and cons lists drive you crazy, especially when you’re making a decision involving people such as whether or not to break up with someone, then you probably prefer the feeling function.

Communication Differences
Thinking types prefer to get to the point. They use logic and analysis to critique proposals and ideas, and use tough-minded logic to convince. Feeling types prefer to make a connection with the person before getting down to the business at hand. They spontaneously appreciate things and appeal to people’s emotions when trying to convince.

So, if you’re a thinking type and you’re getting annoyed that the person you’re talking with has made small talk for awhile and still hasn’t come to the point, know that you’re probably talking to a feeling type and that this is an important part of their process to set the stage for their request or providing information. And conversely if you’re a feeling type and someone calls you up and without any prelude asks for some figures they need and then hang up, you probably just talked to a thinking type.  Try not to get annoyed or feel hurt by their desire for efficiency – it’s nothing personal.

When Things Go Wrong on Teams
This function pair is statistically the second largest cause of conflict between team members. Just one way this plays out: thinking function types spontaneously critique. Feeling types spontaneously appreciate. The more you’re aware of your team members’ unique needs and preferences, the more you can accommodate each other and create a whole team with no blind spots. Remember, you need each other!

Solving the Problems
Thinking function types see a problem of lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities. Their solutions often involve a mechanic’s perspective, for example, “we just need to improve communication; that will fix things.”

Conversely, when feeling function types notice something’s wrong they start by saying “we’re not getting along.” All fixes have to do with team members getting to know each other better. “Part of why we don’t trust each other is that we don’t know each other well enough.” Feeling types might recommend team-building exercises to increase trust.

We’re All Types Every Day

Would you like to know what you have in common with every other person on earth? We all use all personality types all day, every day. For example, regardless of your preference for extraversion or introversion, every day you get and give energy to external people and events (extraversion) as well as the inner world of thoughts and reflections (introversion).

You may have noticed this when you read the descriptions of the different types. Perhaps you said to yourself, “Yes, but I do what the extraversion type description says some of the time, and some of the time I do what the introversion type description says.” You may even have been hard-pressed to decide which one you preferred. “But I do both!”

And that is exactly true. You do indeed do both every day. The important piece is to try to discern which type you prefer. Even though you use both of your hands throughout the day, you probably prefer to use one hand to the other. Either your left or right hand feels more comfortable and natural. And you get better results. To illustrate this, try writing your name with your non-dominant hand. This holds true for your type – you use both, but one feels more comfortable. And you’re more efficient and productive if your preferred type is in play.

Your Type, Your Gift

Jungian type theory is a tool to give you options, not to put yourself or someone else in a box. All types are good – there are no bad or wrong types. Your type is your gift either to be utilized for a more successful life or to be squandered by not using it. Your type is a gift, not an excuse. It’s not a free pass to be used to avoid assigned tasks or performance issues that need to be addressed.

Look at the people around you, whether co-workers, friends, or family members. Get curious about their unique gifts. Encourage these gifts to blossom and leveraged to best do the work at hand so that everyone can have more successful lives.

Your Neighborhood

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” – Mr. Rogers

Consider the neighborhood analogy. Within each town or city there are different neighborhoods. You live in your neighborhood for a reason, and if you like where you are, you probably share many of the values of others in your neighborhood. You are most comfortable in your neighborhood. Like most of us, you probably enjoy exploring, but as the song says, “It’s nice to go traveling, but it’s nice to come home again.” You are most comfortable in your own neighborhood.

Deciding what your preferred type is accesses a common language that you can use to discuss your differences with others – a language of ‘neighborhoods’. How common is this language of types? The MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), which uses Jungian type theory as its basis, is the world’s most widely used personality inventory. When you use this language with others in discussing differences and how to leverage them, chances are pretty good that many will already have some understanding of what you’re talking about. And it focuses your search for your ‘home’ into a more efficient process. After all, now you know what neighborhood to look at.

Home, Sweet Home

You’re more than your preference. Some of the descriptor words and phrases may ring true, others won’t. Just as your home in your neighborhood is unique, so you occupy a unique position within a type description. What it does do though, is to focus your quest on a particular area, which makes your search much more efficient. If you can clearly articulate your unique home within a type of neighborhood you will be able to be at your best more of the time.

Type Examples

Below are some examples of movie characters, writings and quotes that exhibit many of the traits of the two different types. These are examples only, and they’re all guesses. We can only guess at what people’s types may be, or characters may be by their words or actions. It’s dangerous and ignorant to presume to know what someone else’s type is unless they’ve told you. Jungian type is completely self-determined.

So be careful with real people – avoid stereotyping. However it’s fun to speculate with famous people. For example, Gandhi’s two hours a day quietly using a spinning wheel alone, his numerous anecdotes in his Autobiography of his shyness, and even his solutions to his country’s problems – fasting, non-violence, walking to the ocean – all point to him probably preferring introversion.

So enjoy these guesses. Take them with a grain of salt, and feel free to agree or disagree with our guesses as you deepen your understanding of type.

Quotes

Thinking
“That's the true spirit of Christmas; people being helped by people other than me.” - Jerry Seinfeld
“My favorite poem is the one that starts 'Thirty days hath September' because it actually tells you something.” - Groucho Marx
“Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.” - Thomas Huxley
“I am easily satisfied with the very best.” -  Winston Churchill
"If you canít stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." - Harry Truman
"Life is so unlike theory." - Anthony Trollope
"Managing is the art of getting three men to do three menís work."
- William Feather
"A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere."
- Groucho Marx
"Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, hand for a hand, foot for a foot."
- The Bible, Exodus 21:24
"Feeling: A prostrating disease caused by determination of the heart over the head." - Ambrose Bierce
"One act of beneficence, one act of real usefulness, is worth all the abstract sentiment in the world." - Ann Radcliffe

Feeling
"Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings, and not by the intellect."
- Herbert Spencer
"Use a sweet tongue, courtesy and gentleness, and thou mayest manage to guide an elephant with a hair." - Gulistan
"People donít ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts." - Robert Leavitt
"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind." - Henry James
"I want to get to the stage where nobody can tell how a picture of mine is done. Whatís the point of that? Simply that I want nothing but emotion given off by it." - Pablo Picasso
"Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place." - Rumi
"Sixty minutes of thinking of any kind is bound to lead to confusion and unhappiness." - James Thurber
"Logic and sermons never convince, The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul." - Walt Whitman
"Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go." - Mother Teresa
"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." - Gandhi
"Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart." - Gandhi

Fictional Characters

Thinking Feeling
Dwight Schrute, Andy, Angela, Oscar, Ryan, Creed, Stanley, Kevin, Karen, Jan (from The Office) Michael Scott, Jim, Pam, Toby, Kelly, Phyllis (from The Office)
Jack Bauer (24) Sydney Bristow (Alias)
Mr. Spock Captain Kirk
Squidward, Eugene Krabs (Spongebob) Spongebob, Patrick Star (Spongebob)
Bruce Wayne/Batman Peter Parker/Spider-man
James Bond Luke Skywalker (Star Wars)
Bugs Bunny Don Quixote
Songs

Thinking Feeling
Think – Aretha Franklin Hooked On a Feeling – Blue Suede
Blue Collar Man – Styx All You Need is Love – Beatles
Heart of Glass – Blondie Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
– Mr. Rogers
She Blinded Me With Science –
Thomas Dolby
Love Will Keep Us Together – Captain and Tennille
Another One Bites the Dust – Queen Ain’t Too Proud to Beg – the Temptations
Money – Pink Floyd Let Your Love Flow – Bellamy Brothers
Rich Girl – Hall and Oates Kind and Generous – Natalie Merchant
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor Love Train – The O’Jays
You Should Be Dancing – Bee Gees Who Can It Be Now – Men at Work
Hit the Road, Jack – Ray Charles What a Wonderful World
– Louis Armstrong
Money (That’s What I Want) – the Beatles Listen to What the Man Said
– Paul McCartney
Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad - Meatloaf He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
– The Hollies

The Arts (the works of…)

Thinking Feeling
Ben Franklin Abraham Lincoln
Groucho Marx Harpo Marx
Stanley Kubrick Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will Be Blood)
Anthony Trollope Charles Dickens
Jerry Seinfeld James Thurber
Henry David Thoreau Gandhi
Ralph Waldo Emerson Walt Whitman
Ayn Rand Leo Tolstoy

Television

Thinking Feeling
24 Alias
Seinfeld The Wire
Curb Your Enthusiasm Laverne and Shirley
Subjects of Interest (many exceptions to these)

Thinking Feeling
Political debate Poetry
Math The arts
Philosophy Sociology

Religious dogma

Religious faith