How to Get Successful Results When Debating with a Person with a Feeling-Perceiving Preference

Yesterday, I shared tips on how to hold your own in a debate with person with a Thinking-Judging preference.   After publishing the article, several of you asked me via email and on Facebook for an article detailing how to communicate with a person with a Feeling-Perceiving preference.  If yesterday's post was an education on logic and critical thinking skills (which are imperative when communicating with TJs), today's is a crash course on emotional intelligence. So, with that in mind, here are four tips for getting positive results when debating with people with a Feeling-Perceiving preference. 

1. Seek to Understand their Values

 Habit #5 in Stephen Covey's classic The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People states "seek first to understand, then to be understood".  If you want to be highly successful in communicating your perspective to a person with a Feeling-Perceiving preference, you must keep this principle in mind.  After all, communication is about the receiver of the message, not the sender.   Effective communicators know that in order to successfully deliver a message, one must tailor it to their audience. 

People with a Feeling-Perceiving preference (FP)  utilize Introverted Feeling (Fi) as either a dominant (INFP, ISFP) or auxiliary function (ENFP, ESFP).  If you are unfamiliar with functions, here's the basics.   Introverted Feeling is the function that causes us to act and make decisions based on our morals and personal value system. So, if you're having a hard time understanding an FP's perspective based on objective logic, seek to understand their value system, personal history, and moral beliefs. Often times, when you take these things into consideration, you'll find that their perspective makes complete sense within the context of their values.   You may agree or disagree with their perspective, but at least you'll understand where they're coming from as opposed to being baffled, irritated, and confused.  

2. Do Not Create a Win-Lose Situation

Instead, try to create a situation of mutual understanding.   When debating with someone who has a preference for Feeling-Perceiving, do not aim to be right (unless you're on a debate team). Instead, your goal should be for both parties to walk away with an increased understanding of the issue at hand.  Maybe you are right and this is a learning opportunity for the FP. Maybe they are actually right, and this a learning opportunity for you.  Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle.  Regardless of the outcome, there is no need to put either party's ego at stake.  Creating win-lose situations can damage the relationship and cause future resentment.  Remember Covey's fifth habit, use the understanding you gain from tip #1 to effectively communicate your perspective. As long as you do not create a win-lose situation,  the conversation should be civil and mutually beneficial. 

3. Be Sure to Use Style AND Substance When Communicating

When communicating with Feeler-Perceivers, how you say something is just as important as the content of your message. It is important to choose your words carefully to ensure that your message does not come off as condescending or dismissive.   Again, remember that when communicating, it is important to deliver your message in a way that will be receptive to the receiver.   Choosing your words carefully not only will reduce barriers in communication between you and a person with a Feeling-Perceiving preference, but also make you a better communicator in general!

4.Validate How They Feel

It may not have been your intention to hurt their feelings.  However, do not assume that just because it wasn't your intention to hurt them that they should not be upset.   Instead, acknowledge their feelings while explaining to them that it was not your intention to upset them. Perception is reality, and everyone is entitled to their own perspective. Dismissing an FP's feelings is the quickest way to ensure that they shut you out. 

Communicating with a person with a Feeling-Perceiving preference does not have to be an exercise in futility.  If you follow the tips above, you should be able to get them to see your perspective.