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Reading Behavioral Clues to Myers-Briggs Personality Types: Thinking/Feeling & Judging/Perceiving Preferences

Reading Behavioral Clues to Myers-Briggs Personality Types: Thinking/Feeling & Judging/Perceiving Preferences

Written by Pamela Valencia, Solutions Consultant, CPP Professional Services

After identifying the preferences in your team or group, the next step in improving relationships is learning to identify behaviors typically associated with each preference. Being able to recognize what behaviors “go with” which preferences will enhance your ability to flex your style to better connect with others and be more effective. If you missed the first part of this blog, read it here.


The preferences for Thinking and Feeling have to do with how we approach and make decisions (keeping in mind, of course, that people who prefer Thinking have feelings and people who prefer Feeling are not illogical). What typically steers me toward understanding someone’s preference for one or the other is the person’s comfort with critique or praise. Does he tend to point out what is wrong or right first? People whose natural inclination is to critique to fix or make something better probably have a preference for Thinking. People who tend to want to focus on the positive first, before they very kindly discuss opportunities for improvement, probably have a preference for Feeling.


And, for me, the core is fairness. Does the person base her decision on a logical principle— what is fair for everyone (Thinking)? Or does she tend to step inside the situation and focus on what is fair for the individual (Feeling)? People with either perspective have challenges on a team. Those with a Thinking preference can be perceived as inflexible when it comes to decision making, whereas those with a Feeling preference can be seen as playing favorites because their decisions are more subjective in nature.


Observed behaviors for Judging and Perceiving are a little easier to demonstrate because these preferences are about orientation to the outer world. Does this person prefer to plan out his day, week, month, vacation, retirement, etc.? And the big question: does he enjoy planning and actually work the plan? Chances are, if he does, he has a preference for Judging. I remember working with a colleague who was very proud of her planning skills when it came to tackling work and home. Everything was planned out; the challenge was when the unexpected came up. I could almost see her mind working, rearranging her plan like pieces on a chess board to make her schedule work. People who have a preference for Perceiving tend to shy away from plans and schedules because structure feels confining and may even take away from their “best efforts/product.” They prefer to jump into a project or a process at the point where they are most interested and work outward from there. General goals and guidelines may work best for them.


As I mentioned earlier, observed behaviors may be about a person’s natural preference and most comfortable self, or they may be due to environmental factors. As individuals we have choices in our behaviors, and only a general assumption can be made as to a person’s preference.


This blog post is part of a series on Relationships, Connections & Conflict. Read the next post in the series: Building Relationships by Flexing Your Style.

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