Thinking vs. Feeling

As this site grows in popularity (Thanks Slime Time) many more "Thinkers" and "Feelers" will come into contact with each-other. Generally, when thinkers and a feelers get together, trouble is not far behind. To the thinker, the feeler is not communicating any patterns. It is just random words with no meaning. To the feeler, the thinker is like a robot saying a lot of words, but none of them click emotionally so it makes little or no sense to them.

The thinker generally thinks that the feeler must be a moron. The feeler generally feels that the thinker must be an utter arsehole or an alien of some description (spock :D)... either way they are at best uncomfortable and freaked out by the word exchange, and at worst ready to kill each other.

This is my preemtive attempt to stop the site descending into pure chaos. So.. my question is... is it possible to bridge this gap and allow thinkers and feelers to communicate using a language both can understand?

The ideal situation would be if both parties were fully satisfied with an intermediary language, and not one side pandering to the other, however I can't see this state of affairs coming about in the near future. Could the answer to this "problem" be as simple as being openly aware of the difference in the modes of communication of the differing parties?

Thinking and Feeling, exploring the differences

The other kind of mental process identified by Jung is judgement, a process of organising and evaluating information, and coming to conclusions. Using the judging process, some sort of evaluation is made and Jung identified two kinds of judgment: Thinking and Feeling. The T-F dichotomy is our ‘output’ scale - ie how we each make decisions.

Both of these can be used in either the outer, extraverted world or in the inner, introverted world. Thinking judgments are based on objective criteria or principles, as Jung describes:

...judgement is reserved as to what significance should be attached to the facts in question. And on this significance will depend the way in which the individual deals with the facts.

Feeling judgments are based on personal, interpersonal, or emotional values as Jung describes:

...adaptation will depend entirely on the feeling value he attributes to them.

Thinking types tend to make their decisions based on data, evidence and rational thought. They tend to be pragmatic and not swayed by antipathies or emotions but prefer empirical data.

Feeling types tend to make their decisions based on values, emotions and impact on people. This is a slightly more illogical way of making decisions (when compared to logical ‘T’s) however ‘F’s can often ‘feel’ situations and so their decisions often take account of the less obvious more subtle issues that transcend the logical. This is not to downplay the importance of this function of decision-making or question its validity but it does make it more difficult to quantify. As Jung himself (a ‘T’) confessed:

…I freely admit that this problem of feeling has been one that has caused me much brain racking.

Thinking types Feeling types
Firm, fair and rational Caring, passionate and emotional
Interested in logical analysis Interested in people and feelings
Make decisions with the head Make decision with the heart
See logical inconsistences Feel how others are feeling
Value truth and logic Value tact and diplomacy
Driven by dispassionate objectivity Driven by passionate subjectivity

So we can see that Thinking types are far more rational and objective in their mode of making decisions. If you are a Thinking type you will tend to value truth and logical analysis over emotion. It will make your approach fair and rational but it may mean that you don’t pick up so well on the verbal and non-verbal cues and the impact of how people are feeling. Feeling types will tend to make decisions based on emotion and the impact on other people whilst you will tend to remove emotion from the equation and make your decisions based on what is right based on objective criteria and general principles.

Feeling types tend to make their decisions based on values, subjectivity and the impact on others. If you are a Feeling type you will tend to tune into how other people are feeling and your decisions will essentially be people based. This may mean you will look for harmony and dislike conflict but it also means you will spot the nuances and see things that would be lost on those who focus only on the logic of the decision.

How Thinking types and Feeling types might experience each other

Thinkers may see Feelers as Feelers may see Thinkers as
Illogical Cold and inconsiderate
A little soft Uncaring and overly hard
Overemotional Insensitive
Irrational Too robotic and logical
Inconsistent Lacking humanity

Engaging with and managing a Thinker, if you are a Feeler

  • Begin with the more logical points, as this will provide a far more helpful foundation for the discussion
  • Outline the cause and effect of the matter, rather than focusing on issues such as how people are feeling
  • Focus on consequences, as this will make more logical sense to the Thinker and remove any emotional aspect
  • Ask what they think to ensure the conversation remains in the realm of the logical and factual, rather than letting it drift into the realm of the emotional
  • Be brief and concise even if the issue is emotionally charged as Thinkers often struggle with the irrationality of making emotional decisions
  • Be calm and reasonable as this is the Thinking approach to decisions making and will be where the Thinker is most comfortable
  • Use more objective language, as ‘loaded’ language, however well intentioned or heart-felt, will not help the Thinker make the decision in the way they need to

Engaging with and managing a Feeler, if you are a Thinker

  • Begin with points of agreement as the Feeler prefers consensus and collaboration to conflict and so this will be a far more helpful foundation for the discussion
  • Demonstrate that you appreciate efforts and value contributions from people
  • Focus on people concerns as this is where the Feeler’s starting point is and so you will be more likely to move the discussion forward
  • Ask how they feel as it is important to recognise and to acknowledge that the Feeler inhabits the world of emotion, values and impact
  • Let them talk as the Feeler will probably want to provide context and evidence of impact and may feel shoehorned if you move straight to ‘what needs to be done’
  • Be friendly and considerate as Feeler’s are ‘people-people’ and it would be easy to transgress an important value without meaning to
  • Allow emotions to come out in the sense of the Feeler may want to vent using slightly more emotional language “It’s not fair,” “That makes me feel like,” etc

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Comment by Morgan Freeman on January 23, 2014 at 3:45

Hi Ray, I agree that it is never a simple case of either/or. People are far too complex to be merely reduced to thinkers or feelers.

When I originally posted this item it was with the intention of warding off any unnecessary head- kicking of new members, additionally I wanted to ensure that those new members integrated into site as smoothly as possible, lastly I wanted to make new members aware of some of the potential personality types they might encounter, and how best to handle them.

I also thought it would do us all no harm to be reminded that at the other end of our screens are real people with varying thicknesses of skin. I've been active on various forums for many years and have seen first hand how easy it is for people (myself included) to fall into the trap of group-think and engaging in a bit of mindless head kicking simply because the other person holds a differing, dogma/world-view/ideology, call it what you may. This head kicking (be it conscious or not) has the rather unfortunate knock-on effect of permanently silencing a lot of new members, never making the jump from lurker to actively engaging in the forums or chat box, this is a real shame as I am sure some of these people have real valid insights and knowledge that may be of use to us all.

On a more serious note some of these members might be in dire straits and need our help, even if it is only to have a space to air their problems and discover they are not alone in their problems. Something as simple giving someone the space to air their problems without being jumped on can be enough to pull them back from the brink of the abyss.

All communities be the on-line or off-line live and die by the membership. If new members main experience of the site were to be one of people shouting each other down, and engaging in mindless head-kicking, well... you know how it is, they just go elsewhere, and this site dies a slow death, which to my mind would be a real shame, as I think this site has the potential to be something truly outstanding.

Happily, the site is going from strength to strength, and the influx of new members is quite refreshing to see. As an aside I must remind all new female members between the ages of 25 and 40 that they are legally and lawfully required to contact me with a view to a dinner date. NB – Given the fact that we now live in an equal society said women will be required to pay for the meal. :D

I like your idea of multiple mini 'test' economies/social structures, and getting away form the endless, “If I ruled the world......” debates.. How much thought have you put into this social experiment of yours, and how do you see it playing out?

Comment by Ray Soular on January 23, 2014 at 1:40

I appreciate your effort in this subject area Morgan, but as Oillil said I don't think/believe ;) you must one or the other. Also I think/believe there may well be other issues than just being a 'thinker/feeler', there may be other underlying issues also like people leaning towards a cooperative / competitive nature.

Some thoughts of mine which may help the situation:

1) Simple respect for each other and each others opinions.

2) No verbal attacks on a person or their point of view --- instead simply agree/disagree and give your point of view.

3) When a debate/discussion is going in circles --- simply respectfully end the debate/discussion.

4)Put things into practice --- i.e. When debates/discussions don't resolve issues --- construct physical real world examples  (where applicable) e.g. Instead of endless debates on what kind of economy/social structure a country should have --- how about creating multiple mini 'test' economies/social structures within a country and see which type people prefer in the real world? and see where we go from there.

Comment by Morgan Freeman on November 3, 2013 at 1:17

@ Echoplex

Indeed, if one is to look at personality tests and other associated Jungian stuff  on a scientific basis one must take into account the personal validation fallacy. In 1979 French statistician Michel Gauquelin asked 150 people to rate a horoscope reading for how accurately it described their character. 94% rated the horoscope as accurate. The horoscope readings were fake—all 150 people had been given the horoscope of a serial killer named Marcel Petiot.

In the normal course of our lives, all of us like to hear positive things said about us. We like to feel connected to people around us and the greater universe at large. I have found that horoscopes and personality tests offer many people such feelings, and can impact how they feel, the power of a few nice words are often underestimated and conversely sometimes overestimated.

From a purely rational standpoint it can be quite easy to dismiss believers of such practices as stupid or gullible, however the ability of a person to find coherency and meaning in a variety of disparate and often contradictory statements can also be seen as a sign of real creativity and a very active mind. I feel as long as practitioners of the esoteric arts are not claiming that their practices are purely scientific there is no real harm in said practices, and often their skill set and gifts for picking up on subtleties and lifting the spirits of there fellow men and women are very much undervalued, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio."

I, like you can be defined as introverted, and I must say that being in the company of extroverts is emotionally draining at the best of times. I too have been accused of being cold, emotionless, and at times downright rude. Recently I forced myself to attend a street party, as you can imagine there were at least 10 different conversations taking place at once, I say conversations, in reality it was nothing more that twenty or so people competing to be heard, the noise level was almost unbearable. Then, out of nowhere a youngster addressed me, “Hey what's wrong with you! You never say anything.” Gotta love the honesty of the young. I explained to this youngster that I was somewhat introverted and contemplative, and that I only tended to talk when I felt I had something worth saying, rather than simply making noise for the sake of it. “Oh!” remarked the youngster, “I thought everyone was loud, I'm the life of the party type myself, see ya later Mr quite.” Thus by the simple act of communication and confronting my introversion, understanding was reached. One down 3 billion to go.

Comment by oriel on October 31, 2013 at 14:38

i get called an actress most of the time and nobody takes me seriously, im defo a feeler bi-polar in emotional extremes,next time my mental wires are going crazy in cyborg world i will call on SPOCK 

Comment by Echoplex on October 31, 2013 at 14:05

According to the MBTI, I'm an INTJ. I've experienced a decent amount of difficulty being misunderstood as cold and uncaring, but its simply not true. I usually get to grips with my emotional state when I'm alone, it does exist. The dichotomy between thinkers and feelers is interesting to explore as it highlights ways past impasses that might occur between introverts and extroverts too. However this Jungian stuff isn't very scientific and I've seen many people identify completely with theri MBTI results to the point of being a stereotype. Cool post.

Comment by Charles Magus on October 31, 2013 at 7:00

Well!  isn't lucky that I am a thinking Feeler!

Comment by It, Which is That on October 31, 2013 at 4:13

Thanks for sharing this Morgan - you're an inspired visionary.

If I may add my 2 cents on bridging the gap....
Having people simply read your blog post is a big step towards creating the right kind of harmony and understanding. 
We also need to take responsibility for who it is that we are so that we can be at peace with ourselves and others. We can take the Myer-Briggs Type Test which you refer to (Thinkers vs Feelers), we can get a free Human Design chart (and read up on what those Types mean), or we can get our Astrological natal chart read by my wife for a reasonable fee (shameless plug), or we can just do some introspection and realise we're not the "big cheese" and ALWAYS right.

One thing I've learned about life is the importance of integrating what I am not into what I already am. Being able to appreciate all sides of the Human diversity we call life. I see problems with both Feelers and Thinkers when they're not responsible and learning how to work together or keeping their shit to themselves. To be exclusively obsessed with your idea of how the world works is always the road to tragedy.

Thanks again, dude.

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