Are you a feeler or a thinker? Just writing that sentence feels too black and white, too pigeon-holing. To label someone as a "thinker" or a "feeler" seems to imply that thinkers don't feel and feelers don't think. So before I even look at this from a Myers-Briggs perspective, just know that's not the case! We all think. We all feel. And I'll say it again, these personality elements are not either/or - it's a continuum. Before I dive in, I have to give this caveat: I'm a feeler. So some of this comes from my POV, naturally!
What about you? Are you a feeler or a thinker?
You might be a feeler if...
- You want everyone to like you, be happy, and feel good.
- You value camaraderie and goodwill.
- You don't feel there is a single right answer, since everyone has a different perspective.
- You're sensitive to the emotional vibes and political undercurrents in the workplace.
- You're not comfortable with confrontation and carefully arrange your communications with people to avoid upsetting anyone.
- You explain yourself alot.
- You use alot of emoticons ;-)
- Motto: Don't be mean.
You might be a thinker if...
- You want to do what's right and what's logical.
- "Logical" is one of your favorite words.
- Facts and data combined with reason lead you to clear conclusions - there is a right answer if you can find it.
- You view work as all about getting things done - getting the right things done.
- You love solving problems and puzzles, learning and challenging your intellect.
- Your communication style is direct, precise, and succinct.
- You're not afraid to argue for what you think makes sense - you're not worried about hurting feelings.
- You say what you mean the first time.
- Motto: Don't be stupid.
Now, what about the people you work with? Are they feelers or thinkers? Signs to look for:
Feelers may come across as warm and touchy-feely - they're not afraid to dole out hugs. Feelers may spend alot of time on how to present things to people or how to deal with a situation to assuage other's feelings. It's not that they don't want to do the right thing - they just want to do it in a way that makes people feel good. Feelers are often concerned with dealing with other's feelings and not upsetting the apple cart. They don't just look at the facts, they look at the human dynamics.
Thinkers focus on facts, logic, what's "right". Thinkers may not be as apt to talk about what they did that weekend and like to get down to business. They want to do what's right and don't generally worry about how it will make anyone feel. They speak their mind and often seem to be very confident of their position - after all, it's the only "logical" conclusion.
Now, once you understand where you fit and more about the people you're working with, how can you work better together?
Working with feelers:
Be patient with them. When you're in a meeting understand that social niceties must be exchanged before starting work. Think about your tone when communicating with them - even if you know you are right, try not to be intimidating or harsh. Speak their language, think about things from their perspective and you'll find you get things done more quickly because there is no distraction of ruffled feathers. Know that they will spend energy on how to present something, how to communicate something, and how to work with all the different players of the team to get something done - even if you view this as a waste of time, expect it and be patient with it. Don't forget to publicly acknowledge and thank feelers - this builds the kind of feel good culture they crave. A feeler may have a warm, casual, perhaps too friendly persona - don't take it personally or assume they're not serious about their job.
Working with thinkers:
Use facts, data, and logic to make your case with thinkers. Only after you've won them over to your way of thinking, can you talk about the best way to accomplish something with the people involved. Focus on why something needs to be done and what needs to be done - "feel good fluff" and "team spirit" may seem like filler to a thinker. Give thinkers room and time to analyze. Don't ask them to guesstimate. When you're working on a project, let them consider things and come up with a rational answer - they want to decide based on facts and reason and not their gut. A thinker may have a somewhat cool, distant persona - if you're a feeler, don't take it personally or assume it means anything about the way they feel about you. Realize it may take a little bit longer to get to know a thinker on a personal level.
My personal experiences...
I'm a strong feeler, but hey, I think too! I believe feelers and thinkers can form wonderful partnerships at work if they learn to play off each others strengths. If feelers can put their "feelings" aside to listen to facts and logic provided by thinkers, together, they can build an air tight case. Then, feelers can help package and sell the story with their intuitive understanding of interpersonal dynamics and office politics.
As a feeler, I'm still learning to push past my natural weaknesses. Sometimes I force myself to ask for things and say things, even when it's uncomfortable, even when it might cause stress, because it's the best thing for the business. I'm also trying to develop a thicker skin when I'm dealing with someone that might seem a little gruff and realize that it's probably not because they don't like me personally - they're also just trying to do what's best for the business. All in all, examining and understanding myself in this area has done nothing but help me out!
What about you? Are you a thinker or feeler? How does it affect your style at work?