Thinkers vs Feelers: How Are They Different?
Written By Dick Massimilian
Published Fall 2020
People approach decisions in one of two ways. These opposing mindsets, Thinkers vs Feelers, prefer to problem-solve using different approaches.
Thinkers are analytical. They step back from a problem, apply logic, find objective standards and want everyone treated the same. Thinkers choose logic first, empathy second.
Feelers are empathetic. They jump into a problem, are guided by personal values, seek individual solutions and want everyone taken care of. Feelers choose empathy first, logic second.
People deploy both but have a preference. Just because you type with both hands doesn’t mean you’re ambidextrous. You favor your right or your left hand.
In a meeting to design an annual bonus plan, Thinkers talk about plan criteria and internal consistency. Feelers talk about how people will react and plan rollout. Good decisions synthesize both perspectives.
Communicating Effectively with Thinkers vs Feelers
Logic works well for a Thinker talking to a Thinker. But don’t talk Logic to someone who speaks Empathy. Never say, “that doesn’t make sense.” Say, “how do you think that will make people feel?”
Empathy works well for a Feeler engaging a Feeler. But don’t talk Empathy to someone whose first language is Logic. Don’t say, “morale is down and people are feeling stressed.” Instead, say, “Current workloads aren’t sustainable and we risk turnover we cannot afford.”
To be effective, know your preference and proceed accordingly.