Thinkers and Feelers

The other day at work, I ran into a situation in which someone accidentally damaged a piece of the property, and I asked my bosses’ permission to confront the person about it. I don’t seek out confrontation, but when someone hurts something or someone I know, I’m compelled to say something.

Survivor returns tonight, which makes me think: How cool would it be to have Survivor: Thinkers vs. Feelers? Or Introverts vs. Extroverts?

My boss had a very wise response, something he and I have learned over the years. He said that I should consult an F before confronting this person.

By F, he meant a Feeler. Someone who relies on their feelings to make decisions and someone whose feelings are intrinsically tied to everything they do.

If you’re familiar with Myers-Briggs, you know that the opposite of an F is a T, a thinker. Thinkers are people who reply on their minds, not their hearts, for decisions. They have emotions, of course, but they separate those emotions from most of what they do.

I’m a high T. A very high T.

Ts and Fs tend to clash. Ts don’t understand why Fs are so emotional; Fs don’t understand why Ts are so stoic.

So at work, us Ts have learned that when we need to say something that someone might have a strong reaction to, we first consult an F on staff to make sure we convey the message in an effective way. That’s what my boss was saying today in regards to the person who accidentally damaged our property.

But as I read his e-mail, I realized something, and I made this statement. It might rub people the wrong way, but I stand by it: Every F needs a good T to make them realize that their feelings don’t matter when they hurt other people/property.

I want to point out that the converse is also true: Every T needs a good F to make them realize that they affect other people’s feelings when they hurt people/property.

My point is in this particular situation is that, sure, this person may not handle the confrontation well. No one likes being told that they screwed up. They’re going to feel bad. But their feelings don’t matter in this situation. This isn’t about them. This is about property that they damaged, and they need to know that what they did was wrong without padding or buffers. I don’t think this is a situation when I should mold my normally blunt words into a soft, gentle, sympathetic explanation. Their right to that approach disappeared when they carelessly destroyed property.

Do you agree? If you comment, please let us know if you’re a thinker or a feeler.

5 Responses to “Thinkers and Feelers”

  1. Anne Riley says:

    Do you happen to know if the culprit is a thinker or feeler? In my experience, it helps to know that so you can tailor your confrontation to that person. If they are an F, they probably already feel terrible about it and are trying to get up the guts to admit to what they did, or they’re freaking out and trying to figure out how to handle it without having a breakdown. If they’re a T, then they might just not care or might not realize how big a deal it was. So that’s something to consider.

    When I took the MB test, I was almost exactly down the middle between T and F. I am extremely rational but also feel things very, very deeply, and those feelings can put up a big fight with my rational side. The result of this, I’ve found, is that I don’t have a very good “socially acceptable” filter. Something will seem perfectly acceptable to me–something I’m going to say to someone, or something I’m going to do–and then when I actually say or do it, NO ONE agrees that it was appropriate. Sometimes I never understand what I actually did wrong.

    So, like you, I’ve started running things by several people before I act on them. It really helps!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Anne–Thanks for your thoughts. In this case, the culprit was a feeler, a high F. I definitely agree that some feelers feel really bad, but I think the other reaction common for high Fs is to get really defensive to cover up their shame. In this case, the person simply denied that any damage had been done.

      I would think that given that you’re in the middle, you’d be able to create a socially acceptable response for any situation. It sounds like quite the opposite, though! 🙂

  2. Emma says:

    I am a thinker and my sister is a feeler and I think the root cause of almost every one of the little childhood fights stemmed from that difference! We never got in many real fights, and almost never even argue now, it was just silly childhood stuff, but it really did reflect that. Even to the point of how I wanted to play legos and design structures and she wanted to make the people talk and interact with each other. 🙂

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Emma–I wonder if kids could benefit from knowing about the Myers-Briggs, or if our struggle with identity at early ages would lead us to pigeonhole ourselves into one personality type or another.

      That’s very cute that you took a clear T route while your sister too the F route.

  3. Red says:

    What if it was more like,”Sometimes people need their T/F counterpart to understand that damage to people and property has both an objective impact on a situation and a personalized impact on others in the situation.” Even then, I think the discussion has as much to do with how the message is presented, which is what I think your boss was suggesting (run the language by someone else who is the same T/F as the person you are addressing).

Leave a Reply to Red