Entries for month: September 2010

My Thinking type friends and emotions

When we talk about type we’re always careful to distinguish the Feeling preference from emotions.  The way I say it is that both Thinking and Feeling types – like all human beings – have emotions. Sometimes they orient to emotions differently, or value them differently.

But sometimes Thinking types are accused of being emotionless. Not necessarily so.

Here’s one way I know Thinking types have emotions.  I have a couple of friends – both Thinking types- who also both happen to be research psychologists. I love being at a party with them. Not surprisingly they get into some pretty esoteric discussions. And as they get a couple of beers in them, the discussions become even more….   animated.

So here’s the fun part.  They’ll get on some topic of mutual interest and eventually they find some interesting point on which to disagree, voices rise, and they start gesturing even more energetically at each other. 

“Surely you don’t mean….” is accompanied by rolling eyes.

Countered with vigor and an exasperated sigh, “You seem to have forgotten the research that shows very clearly that….” 

And so on.

Usually it means they’re on a topic where one or both of them have done research themselves.

Hearing their heated “discussion” from across the room I would sometimes – for fun – wander over and say, “What are you guys arguing about. You looked pretty angry.”

Without fail they would say some version of “We’re not arguing. We’re just comparing the merits of different approaches to….”  Oh, and they’re pretty clear too that they’re not upset.

Except they are of course.  And they are very clearly having emotions!

Thinking types – just like Feeling types – get invested in certain stances, topics, issues, and so forth. And can be just as passionate and energized around something they care about. On the benefit side, scientists often – even typically - choose things to study that they care about – which is what carries them through their work, with passion, with vigor, with interest. Sometimes that means too that they get attached to things – quite unconsciously, just like Feeling types. Just like every type.

I reflect too on the form emotion seems to take in Feeling types – but that’s another post!


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You can learn that way, too?

I know a little bit about type, but I always love it when I get an aha moment. When I see it in action.  And I especially love it when I see - in relief - my own assumptions about the nature of things. Or about how to do things.

My wife and I – both introverts – had been living in a town in Florida for several years when her parents decided – in their retirement – to move to the same town. I love her parents and we were thrilled to have them in the same city with us.

Here’s the funny - and telling - part of the story. We had them over for dinner very soon after they’d moved to town and we were all sitting around the dinner table. My father-in-law gestured at me with his drink and said, “Did you know they’re building an addition to the stadium at the university?”


“Yeah, I was talking to this guy. We were standing in line at the quick stop getting coffee. It’s going to have….” And he went on to describe when and how it would be built, who it was dedicated to, and so on.  


My wife and I looked at each other and smiled. This was so him!

He continued, “Oh, and  I was getting my car washed the other day and talking to this guy who was waiting there too. He works at the university. We’ve been looking for a local doctor and he had some really good recommendations. Have you heard of any of them?” He then goes on to list some good primary care people in town.  This went on as he shared some other things he’d learned from someone he’d met at Target, and then someone he’d met at the motor vehicle office, etc.

In a blinding moment of insight I registered (a) Wow, he knows more about this town already and I’ve been here a lot longer, and  (b) - this is the funny obvious part - Hey, you mean you can really learn things by talking to people?

He’s an extravert with feeling and I’m an introvert with thinking. Not surprisingly one of my first inclinations in learning and exploring something new is to search online or to read a book.

Wow, you can really learn something by talking to people?

Funny huh?  Well, I’ve learned my lesson.  

Now I talk to people – sometimes.


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