Welcome back to our 3 Common Miscommunications series. Last week we discussed communication issues between Sensors and Intuitives and discussed Introverts and Extroverts the week prior. Today we will look at frequent communication issues between people with a Thinking (T) preference and those with a Feeling preference (F).
For those of you not familiar with Myers-Briggs, Thinking vs. Feeling is the dichotomy that rules how we make decisions. People who have a Thinking preference make decisions based on what they perceive to be a set of logical rules and principles. When making decisions, they do not consider their own feelings or the feelings of others as much as they do facts and objectivity. People who prefer Feeling makes decisions based on harmony and their own personal values. While facts are important to them, they focus more on “the human element” when making decisions. They consider how their decisions affect others and have hard time making a decision if their heart is not in alignment with it. If you don’t know your personality type, you can take a free test here. I must note that neither function is superior to the other. There are times when Thinking is more appropriate for a situation (i.e. a business decision), and others when Feeling is a better fit (i.e. helping a friend heal after the loss of a loved one).
Preference for Thinking vs. Feeling is strongly associated with gender. Sixty-five percent of men have a Thinking preference, while only 35% have a Feeling preference. Women are the exact opposite, with 65% having a preference for Feeling and 35% for Thinking. Because of this, Thinking is often viewed as a masculine trait, while Feeling is viewed as a feminine trait. However, a man with a Feeling preference can still be very masculine, just as a woman with a Thinking preference can still be very feminine. Now that we’ve clarified things, let’s look at 3 common miscommunications between Thinkers and Feelers.
Different Conflict Resolution Styles
Thinker: “You’re too sensitive”
Feeler: “You’re a jerk”.
People with a preference for Thinking can be very direct during conflict. Those who haven’t learned how their words affect the feelings of others often say what’s on their mind unedited. People who have a preference for Feeling on the other hand often take painstaking measures not to offend others and those who haven’t developed a tough skin may be extremely sensitive to conflict. This often sets the stage for epic conflicts as the Thinker can become annoyed by what they perceive as sensitivity on the part of the Feeler and the Feeler can become upset by what they perceive as a lack of tact on the behalf of the Thinker. To reduce conflict, Thinkers should take extra care to select their words carefully. If at all possible, they should take time to write down how they feel and ask a trusted friend or love one to review it. Conversely, Feelers should try to focus on what the opposing party is saying, not on how it’s being said. Often times, they’ll find they can agree with the substance of what the other person is saying, even if they don’t agree with the style.
Sweeping Under the Rug
Feeler: “I’m fine. Everything is okay.”
A second miscommunication between people with a Feeling preference and those with a Thinking preference is what I call “sweeping under the rug”. As stated before, many Feelers hate conflict, and will go to great lengths to avoid it Also, the Feeler may be uncomfortable sharing what’s on their mind if the Thinker was dismissive of their feelings in the past. This may cause the Feeler to agree to something they really don’t agree with just to end a conflict. The Thinker may conclude that the conflict is over, however the conflict may return in future if not properly addressed. To avoid this miscommunication, the Feeler should take time to process their feelings, and share them once they’ve figured them out. Also, the Thinker should be careful not to be dismissive of the Feeler’s views. It is possible to validate a person’s opinion, while still respectfully disagreeing.
The Foreign Place
Feeler: “How does this make you feel?
Thinker: “I have no idea.”
Most Feelers are comfortable exploring the emotional aspects of their personality. This is not the case with many Thinkers, who either actively avoid this aspect of their personality or are poor at engaging it. This may cause them to avoid situations that require them to navigate their emotions. Feelers on the other hand, typically have no problem identifying how they feel about something. These differences in how each type processes emotion can create issues in areas such as romance. The Feeler may openly express their feelings for the Thinker. The Thinker may feel the same way, but will have a difficult time expressing it. Or the Thinker may need time to process how they really feel, and for this reason be hesitant to reciprocate. To avoid conflict in this area, the Feeler should give the Thinker time to process how they feel. The Thinker should also practice engaging their emotions, no matter how comfortable it feels initially. In the end, it will make them a more well-rounded person.
These are a few common miscommunications I see between Thinkers and Feelers. Feel free to share any other miscommunications you’ve seen or experienced in the comments below.