I've been (way too) preoccupied lately with the fundamental differences between thinkers and feelers, especially in the workplace, and how, if you mix in a little pride and judgmentalism, those differences can over time lead to massive breakdowns in communication and respect, and leave everyone mired in a ponderous soup of distrust and disillusionment.
There's nothing quite so sad as being in a room full of really good people who are not seeing each other clearly. Personality differences aren't the culprit; they're just the catalyst. The real issue is pride.
I'm a feeler myself, and frankly, happy to be one. I like the way I perceive the world, the way I measure what's important in life and make decisions about it. I believe I was wired by God to be the way I am and I don't have any need to try to be something else. But, that said, I've learned a great deal from the thinkers in my life. And I value the perspective and insight they can bring to just about any situation. As long as there is mutual respect, great synergy can and does happen between these two powerhouse personality types.
If you suspect you may be butting heads with a thinker (if you're a feeler) or a feeler (if you're a thinker), then you might find it helpful to take a look at this PDF file, which gives some pointers on how to bridge the gap between you in a respectful way (for both of you).
And I'll add a few tips of my own, based on my own work with clients in both of these arenas:
* If you're working with a thinker, don't assume or expect them to pick up the same emotional cues you do, no matter how stunningly obvious those cues may seem to you. They do not have the same level of emotional awareness as you do, and expecting them to is like expecting someone who's colorblind to distinguish between blue and green. If you want a thinker to know what's going on emotionally in a situation, you have to tell them--directly, plainly, without judgment or sarcasm. There is no shortcut to this. By doing this, you may feel at times like you are talking down to them, but you aren't, and they generally won't perceive it that way.
* Do not assume that because a thinker doesn't pick up on "obvious" emotional cues, or does something that you consider insensitive, that means they don't care about the situation or the people involved just as much as you do.
* Feelings are not truth. Feelings are feelings. Don't let your feelings become the compass by which evaluate your behavior. Scripture doesn't say "Love one another, except when you're really upset." Feel what you feel, but act in accordance with truth and your core values. True authenticity is living according to what is most deeply true, not according to what you feel in the moment.
* Become a student of thinkers. You can learn a lot from them. And once you get to know them you'll realize they have just as much heart as anyone else.
* Realize that you do not pick up on all the emotional dynamics in most situations you encounter. Whether you like it or not, those emotional dynamics are a powerful force, and unless you find a way to recognize them and respond to them effectively, your good intentions and well-thought-out decisions will be repeatedly cut off at the knees.
* Feelers have access to information you don't; they know things that are as true as any measurable fact you can point to, but they can't always tell you how they know what they know. This is understandably frustrating to you, but it is nonetheless true. You will do yourself a huge favor by finding a feeler you can trust and regularly checking in with them to tell you their take on any situation you are in. An honest, straightforward feeler in your posse can save you a world of hurt and frustration.
* Don't make the mistake of equating strong emotion with immaturity. Immaturity is when you let your emotions rule you, but it is very possible to express strong emotion without letting it rule you. It is just as immature, by the way, to let your intellect rule you. The mark of maturity is being ruled by your spirit, allowing neither intellect nor feeling to take precedence over God's heart within you.
* Emotions are not something you need to fix. Please stop trying to do this.
* Rather than focus on winning the point, focus on winning the relationship. This approach will take you a lot farther and get you to your goals much more quickly.
Any other thoughts on this? I welcome your comments.
In search of familiarity
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