In the world of Myers-Briggs and personality, the two middle letters in the four letter type point to your preferred mental functions (sounds scary, huh?). They really indicate how you use your brain. However, there are four mental functions and we use all four (not just your preferred ones), to some degree each day.
The first mental function, called the Perceiving function, is used for gathering information. It includes Sensing (S) and Intuition (N). You prefer either Sensing or Intuition. The second mental function, called the Judging function (not judgmental), is used for organizing information and making decisions. It includes Thinking (T) and Feeling (F). You prefer either Thinking or Feeling.
If you use only your preferred mental functions to make decisions, you are missing out on a well-rounded decision. If you are leading a team in the decision making process and you use only your preferred functions, you are discounting those in your group who have your opposite preferences.
Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It’s actually quite easy once you understand what is involved in each of the mental functions. Below are the four mental functions and a way to use them to make the best decision while honoring everyone in the group. Use them in the order given below to brainstorm and gather data and then to make a well-informed decsion based on the data.
- Sensing (S) - deals with perceptions of details and current realities. Gather as much factual data as possible related to the issue or question before the group. Focus on the facts. Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.
- Intuition (N) - deals with patterns and future possibilities. Look for meanings and patterns in the situation. Think about what is possible and new, with an eye to the future.
- Thinking (T) - deals with decisions that are based on principles and logical consequences. Generate solutions based on logical analysis of cause and effect, but don’t stop there.
- Feeling (F) - deals with decisions that are based on values and consequences for people. Generate and evaluate solutions based on how they will affect individuals, teams and the organization. Feeling decisions are based on what people care about and not just impersonal logic.
Follow the steps above as you begin the decision making process. If you follow this process, you will not only honor all Types, you will also make very sound decisions. In addition to following the four steps above, there are a number of decision making tools and techniques that you can use in the process that will help facilitate the four steps. An internet search of decision making tools will yield a multitude of sites dedicated to the topic of decision making.
Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Honor and acknowledge them in the decision making process.