MBTI: Thinkers and Feelers During Conflict

Have you ever been so frustrated with someone that you don’t even know how to express what’s going on in your head?  I think a lot of us have experienced these types of situations that either lead to hurtful comments or unresolved confrontations.  When it comes to conflict resolution, it can often be worthwhile to find external tools or to help us frame our thoughts and our view of others.  The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is just that, a tool for effective communication, especially during conflict. Learning about your personality type isn’t just a cool parlor trick or conversation starter.  Once you’re conversant in the terms and concepts, you can use constructive language to resolve disputes and differences, rather than suffer through frustrating arguments.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator provides four aspects of personality, each with a continuum between two different preferences.  Where we land on the continue of each preference pair can be used to describe how we communicate with others. One of the most important personality distinctions during conflict is that of Thinkers and Feelers; basically, whether we prefer logic or emotion during decision making.

Three things Thinkers and Feelers can do during conflict resolution.

Thinking - Primarily use logic based decision making

  1. Empathy - Take a moment to try and understand what others are experiencing from their point of view.  To others, “it feels right” might be more important than “it makes sense”.

  2. Give Praise - Thinking types have a tendency to point out what’s wrong rather than what’s right.  This often won’t well with Feelers, who are doing the exact opposite.  Be sure to mix in some good with the bad.

  3. People are important - Yes, T’s think that people are important, but they have a tendency to view them as a line item along with other important items.  Instead, consider that others view people as the most important factor in any conflict equation.

Feeling - Primarily use emotion based decision making

  1. Stay engaged - At times, those with a Feeling preference will avoid conflict resolution because it can be uncomfortable to address differences, however, some issues need to be resolved.  Work towards a resolution by acknowledging differences and suggesting compromises, and hopefully the other person is open to that sort of respectful communication.

  2. Use an objective viewpoint - Feelers have a tendency to make themselves the object of the criticism of others, when in fact the disagreement may stem from situational or environmental factors. Make sure it is about you before taking it personally.

  3. Analyze - It can be difficult for feelers to make critical decisions when more than one option feels right, which can be frustrating for others.  Find decision making tools that can help quantify different options, or seek input some someone you trust who has an analytical mind.

As usual when talking about personality type, the most important takeaway here is that both Thinkers and Feelers are important and provide valuable input during disagreements.  You wouldn't want a situation with purely logical decisions without considering the emotional consequences, nor would you want the opposite, a situation with only empathy and no critical analysis.  Especially in business where both profits and people are of utmost importance, it's good to recognize the benefits of each and bring together the best of both types.

Levi Baer

Chicago, IL