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This Myers-Briggs Letter Says A Lot About How You Handle Work Stress

Jane Finkle
November 24, 2020
Jane Finkle
By Jane Finkle
mbg Contributor
Jane Finkle is the author of The Introvert's Complete Career Guide: From Landing a Job, to Surviving, Thriving, and Moving On Up. Finkle has 25 years of experience as a career coach for universities and has run her own career counseling firm since 2002.
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Image by Zhph Production / Stocksy
November 24, 2020

Your job likely looks a little different these days—whether you're working remotely or in person. Understanding your style according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), one of the most popular and widely used personality assessments in the world, can help you determine the best strategy for tackling the important and ever-shifting work decisions you encounter every single day.

According to Myers-Briggs, there are two ways in which we make decisions, as a Thinker or as a Feeler. Thinkers prefer to make decisions by looking for the logical consequences of an option or action. While Feelers make the best decisions by weighing in on what people care about and encouraging thoughts and opinions from those involved in a situation.

To figure out whether you are a Thinker or Feeler, ask yourself which of the following descriptions seems more natural and comfortable to you.

The Thinker

Thinking types make their decisions based on logic, rational argument, and objective analysis. They desire a clear understanding of what is right and wrong and dislike vagueness. Thinkers also value truth, justice, and fairness, and when it comes to people's decisions, they believe everyone involved should be evaluated based on the same criteria.

You are a Thinker if:

  • You enjoy technical fields or tasks where logic is important. 
  • You focus on tangible things, seeking truth and using clear rules.
  • You seek logical explanations for issues and reasonable solutions to problems. 
  • You strive to make decisions that you believe will be fair and just. 
  • You prefer being honest and direct to being tactful. 
  • You sometimes miss the value of considering people in a given situation. 
  • You can be viewed as too task-oriented, unsympathetic, or detached. 

The Feeler

People with a Feeling preference are motivated by the desire to understand and help people and are guided by personal values. They make decisions based on what is important to them and others. Creating harmony within the belief that each person is unique in their own right is an important value to Feelers.

You are a Feeler if:

  • You make decisions keeping people and communications front and center.
  • You like to facilitate cooperation and become nervous when there is tension.
  • You focus on what is important to others in the decision-making process.
  • You often follow your heart and are friendly, empathetic, and supportive.
  • You value being tactful over telling the hard, cold truth.
  • You sometimes miss seeing or communicating conflicting situations. 
  • You can be viewed as too idealistic, soft, or indirect.

How to put your type into practice at work.

The thinking and feeling dichotomy is a leading cause of conflict and stress at work. Thinkers quickly critique, and Feelers quickly appreciate. Thinkers see team conflicts as a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities, and they look for a logical remedy to fix things.

Feelers see the problem relationally and approach the discord by coming up with ways team members can get to know each other better. Once you appreciate and understand your co-workers' style preferences, you are more likely to accommodate differences and understand that you need each other.

When feeling types are faced with difficult work-related decisions, they tend to focus on how the decision will affect the people involved. Feelers listen sympathetically to the swirl of thoughts and opinions of team members with the strong hope that harmony will be the end result.

While it is admirable and important to acknowledge the input of co-workers, the Feeler should be reminded of the adage, "You can't please everyone all the time." To balance their anxiety regarding people's reactions, Feelers can shift to the Thinker side to include a more analytical decision approach zeroing in on data and facts.

Conversely, Thinkers quickly move to the rational side when making work decisions using their tough-minded logic to analyze the issues. They tend to keep people out of the equation and welcome criticism as they sort out a resolution, without taking it personally. A rational approach is highly valuable, but Thinkers should press pause before moving on a final decision and consider the human factor too. 

Both Thinkers and Feelers desire positive outcomes to their decisions but initially lean toward the approach that feels most natural. Neither preference style is better than the other. Solid decisions are built from a foundation of being open to different perspectives.

The bottom line.

The next time you catch yourself leaning heavily on your preferred style to determine a work decision, challenge yourself by looking at the other side. You just might discover that you have missed something valuable and important that will enhance your own work life and lead to a better outcome for you and your teammates.

Jane Finkle author page.
Jane Finkle

Jane Finkle is the author of The Introvert's Complete Career Guide: From Landing a Job, to Surviving, Thriving, and Moving On Up. Finkle has 25 years of experience as a career coach for universities and has run her own career counseling firm since 2002. Prior to founding her practice, Finkle served as Associate Director of Career Services at the University of Pennsylvania, where she designed and administered career programs, developed resources, and provided career counseling and advice on employment trends for students and alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School.