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  • What’s Your Preference, Thinking or Feeling?

    Are you someone who prefers an impersonal work environment or do you seek a more personal touch? Identifying your personality preference for thinking or feeling helps you understand how your approach to work aligns with the task-oriented business world.

    Personality type theory tells us there are two qualitatively different processes we can use when solving problems, evaluating information, and making decisions. These approaches link to how we like to interact and be treated at work.

    How do you prefer to decide?

    These two approaches are called thinking (T) and feeling (F), not to be confused with the common use of these words. In personality type language, T refers to a preference for evaluating information and making decisions using logic and objectivity. F refers to a preference for using compassion and subjectivity when evaluating and deciding.

    One is not better than the other and, at times, everyone uses thinking and feeling to come to conclusions. However, you likely trust and use one process more than the other.

    Taking a logical approach

    People who prefer T tend to analyze a situation and make choices based on an evaluation of logical consequences and implications. At work they are not likely to talk about personal matters and tend to focus their attention on tasks. They often look at pros and cons and create a clear set of criteria for making a decision. They tend to spot flaws before appreciating.

    Taking a personal approach

    People who prefer F, on the other hand, tend to see situations in terms of the needs and special circumstances of the people involved. They look at how decisions will affect people and take this into consideration when making choices. This more personal approach emphasizes the importance of building rapport and establishing relationships. They tend to appreciate others before spotting flaws.

    T and F in the business world

    Of course, all work requires you to logically evaluate situations as well as consider people. A logical analysis provides a clear strategy for making consistent choices and a personal approach ensures people are happy with and well served by decisions.

    However, the business world typically emphasizes the T way of deciding. Businesses are usually set up to focus on results, not people, and decisions are made logically. However, for people who prefer F, this objective approach seems overly harsh and impersonal.

    Getting along with everyone

    Here are some tips for acknowledging the importance of both a logical and personal approach.

    • To build credibility, especially with thinking types, be calmly objective and demonstrate your competence.
    • To show interest in others, get to know the people you work with and engage in some pleasantries and small talk. A personal connection is especially important to feeling types.
    • To help others learn, tactfully offer honest, direct, corrective feedback balanced with positive comments, appreciation, and encouragement.
    • Find areas of agreement or acknowledge a person’s perspective before disagreeing. Expect that others may want to question and debate. Don’t take this personally.
    • When deciding or solving a problem, consider both logical implications and consequences of choices as well as how decisions will affect the people involved.

    Do you thrive or survive in an impersonal work world? Understand both the logical and personal approaches in the workplace and ensure your brand aligns to your preferred approach.

    Author:

    Donna Dunning, PhD, is a psychologist, certified teacher, member of the MBTI ® International Training Faculty, and director of Dunning Consulting Inc. She is the author of more than a dozen publications, including her two newest books, 10 Career Essentials and What’s Your Type of Career? 2nd edition. Donna’s guiding principle is: Know yourself, respect differences, learn and grow. Follow Donna on Twitter and Facebook and visit her website.

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