Shaping your new normal

Thinking vs Feeling

Thinking and Feeling, exploring the differences

The other kind of mental process identified by Jung is judgment, 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

  • Firm, fair and rational
  • Interested in logical analysis
  • Make decisions with the head
  • See logical inconsistences
  • Value truth and logic
  • Driven by dispassionate objectivity

Feeling types

  • Caring, passionate and emotional
  • Interested in people and feelings
  • Make decision with the heart
  • Feel how others are feeling
  • Value tact and diplomacy
  • 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, as a thinking type 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.

Thinkers may see Feelers as

  • Illogical
  • A little soft
  • Overemotional
  • Irrational
  • Inconsistent

Feelers may see Thinkers as

  • Cold and inconsiderate
  • Uncaring and overly hard
  • Insensitive
  • Too robotic and logical
  • Lacking humanity

Thinking

Thinking types make their decisions on the basis of logic, rational argument and dispassionate analysis. As Jung describes:

Others are exclusively oriented by what they think, and simply cannot adapt to a situation which they are unable to understand intellectually…most of the conscious material he presents for observation consists of thoughts, conclusions, reflections, as well as actions…of an intellectual nature or at the least the material is directly dependent on intellectual premises.

We can how Jung uses scientific rationale and syntax to illustrate his point that Thinking types will naturally make their decisions from a non-emotional standpoint. If you are a Thinking type you will find it easier to make your decisions more objectively and you will bring a rational approach. However this does mean that at times you may not fully understand the impact of your behaviour or pick up on the more emotional and subtle points in discussions.

This scale is not about being ‘tough’ or ‘soft,’ as Feelers often make great crusaders for the cause and can be incredibly outspoken and strident in defence of values or people who are being oppressed. As a Thinker you simply approach problems and decision-making from the standpoint of logic and removing emotion from the equation.

Feeling

Feeling types make their decisions based on values, emotion, impact on people and factors that are far more subtle and difficult to read. It is important to emphasise that we are not speaking about ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ people. It is more about how we make decisions and if you are a Feeling type you will make these decisions based on more emotional and non-logical precepts. As Jung describes:

[Feeling types] are guided in everything entirely by feeling. They merely ask themselves whether a thing is pleasant or unpleasant, and orient themselves by their feeling impressions…The material presented by a feeling type will be of a different kind, that is, feelings and emotional content of all sorts, thoughts, reflections and perceptions dependent on emotional premises.

We often find Feelers who are crusading. They have such a strong value system, firmly held beliefs, and a clear sense of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ so they will often courageously stand up for the oppressed or lessfortunate. So it is not about a dislike of conflict per se, more around objectivity versus subjectivity and if a Feeler’s values are transgressed, or someone needs protecting, the Feeler can move from being a harmoniser and consensus driven to a crusader who stands up and takes charge. This subtle difference is often missed when comparing Thinkers to Feelers.

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