Feeling vs. Thinking

A senior consultant at CPP, the Mountain View, Calif.-based assessment firm, offers some suggestions for ways "feeling" types -- generally, HR leaders -- can better communicate with "thinking" types -- often, the other corporate functional leaders.

Friday, February 1, 2008
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Using data from Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality tests given to 1,295 HR vice presidents and 7,149 vice presidents of other functions, such as sales, finance and operations, the assessment firm CPP found that HR executives are much more likely to have a "feeling" rather than a "thinking" preference.

"Thinking" types, who tend to focus first on the bottom-line, prefer to make decisions based on objective logic. On the other hand, "feeling" types tend to focus first on how actions will affect others, and make decisions using more subjective criteria.

Feeling types can improve their communication skills when working with colleagues having a thinking preference by following these tips:

* Be concise when communicating with executive management, demonstrating logic and precision.

* Exhibit business acumen and demonstrate clear knowledge about the core aspects of the organization and its industry.

* Build trust through effective listening, manifesting empathy with management and their objectives.

* Display competence by delivering on what you say you will do.

* Demonstrate objectivity in actions and decision-making.

* Illustrate cause-and-effect relationships when discussing options (if we do this ... then, the result will be ... .)

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* Offer honest and frank feedback as well as positive comments.

* Avoid becoming overly emotional or passionate when discussing issues.

* Always support your opinions with facts and logic.

* Tie metrics to aspects of the business that managers care about, and describe what those metrics are measured against. Don't just tell them what the metrics are -- tell them what they mean and how they impact the business.

* Detach yourself emotionally from situations when making decisions.

* Don't feel threatened when others debate or challenge your opinions -- accept critical feedback without personalizing it.

Heather Ishikawa is a senior consultant at CPP, a Mountain View, Calif.-based assessment firm.

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