The Thinking-Feeling Facets
The Five facets of the Thinking-Feeling dichotomy are Logical-Empathic, Reasonable-Compassionate, Questioning-Accommodating, Critical-Accepting, and Tough-Tender.
This core facet of the T-F dichotomy emphasizes the criteria we tend to use to reach a judgment.
People at this pole understand the world best if it makes logical sense. Objects, events, and statements must be analyzed using reason. If they are internally consistent and logical, they are accepted as true. If not, the issue in question must be either untrue or not understandable. It should therefore be rejected because illogical statements are not worthy of time and attention.
Logical people start with a set of assumptions or facts and use specific rules to make deductions. They assume that universal rules permit such logical deductions. Therefore, when they don't understand something, they try to find out what the prevailing premises or assumptions are. Even when the other person is unaware of his or her implicit assumptions, the Logical person must discover the relevant premises in order to understand and proceed.
A person at this pole receives a great deal of confirmation that reason is a direct means to accuracy and understanding. This is because many things can be understood logically. Logical people may therefore find it hard to accept contradictory explanations that don't follow the laws of logic. Their worldview is internally consistent and they expect everything to function in that same consistent way. Even though Logical people may at times be inconsistent in their views of themselves, other people, and the world, such inconsistencies are not bothersome if they do not directly contradict a Logical person's scheme for understanding things.
When there are several competing viewpoints on a matter, Logical people are likely to be persuaded only by arguments that make logical sense. Facts must support conclusions and must be capable of fitting into the relevant logical scheme. Facts about another person's emotional state may be just as relevant as "objective" facts. However, they too must fit into a consistent analytical framework. Any inconsistencies in another person's chain of reasoning weaken the credibility of the other person, the other perspective, or both. This is especially true when the inconsistency is central to the person's argument. A person at this pole can strongly disagree with another and still have respect for that individual. This is because logic is a personally detached process. The Logical person respects the other person's ability as a thinker, not his or her viewpoint, because the person is separate from the viewpoint. Being able to think clearly and consistently is a highly valued general ability. Repeated signs of illogic, inconsistency, and contradiction in another's statements can easily lead to diminished respect.
People at this pole tend to apply generalized and impersonal principles to a broad range of relationships. They value rights, fairness, and reasonableness as standards for making decisions in personal and contractual relationships. They apply these standards for deciding about others, and they expect others to judge them the same way. They view rights and reasonableness as good tools for relationships because they can be consistently, fairly, and logically applied. Everyone involved then knows what to expect from the others.
People at this pole see the world as operating within a rational framework of relationships that link people and things to one another. They view detached logic as only one way (and a limited way) of understanding the world. For Empathic people, relationships, life experience, and personal meanings are what is important. Interactions within these areas are transformative. Thus life and the world are best understood as a drama with characters, themes, and plots. Just as the characters in a novel have distinct motivations and personalities that affect the twists and turns of an evolving drama. For Empathetic people, truth is not separate from people and their lives. It therefore makes no sense to apply logically consistent principles irrespective of the people involved. Understanding of the world comes from the mutual sharing of experiences, so understanding can occur through knowing someone else's experience and not just one's own experiences.
Empathic people put logic and reason into their conceptions of how life may be experienced and understood; just as Logical people put empathetic concerns into their logical schemas as a way of understanding them. The use of logic is just another human characteristic among many others. What is known through logic simply takes its place among many other human experiences, modes of understanding, and ways of living. These are all valuable and even necessary for grasping the meaning in life.
Empathetic Intuitive people have an implicit notion that every person's life is a miniature variation on timeless, universal themes. Sharing a common humanity with others is a central aspect of caring for and staying connected to another person. For Empathetic Sensing people, the central focus is on the ups and downs of people they know or their own significant relationships. Empathy and meaning are grounded in the shared experience of personal histories. However, regardless of their Sensing or Intuitive preference, people at the Empathetic pole value other people for their basic humanness as well as for their worth as unique persons.
Truth for Empathetic people is both personal and universal, a view that is easily understood by Empathic people but difficult for Logical people to accept. Similarly, Logical people may find it difficult to convince Empathic people of the universality and absoluteness of detached logical truth. The inconsistencies in values of the Empathetic person primarily involve relationship issues. Compartmentalizing may be one way of handling these inconsistencies, as in heaving separate, circumscribed contacts with friends who don't like each other. The Empathetic person may handle differences in more intimate relationships by accepting them as part of the other's uniqueness as a person. This works best when the differences do not involve key values.
People at this pole pay more attention to the feelings than to the rights of other people. Someone who uses power in the name of "rights" demonstrates heartless self-interest, especially if another person is hurt by this. For the Empathetic person, impacts on people and personal feelings are of far higher value than any rights of standards of fairness that ignore the individuals involved.
This facet emphasizes the standards we use to maintain relationships when we make Thinking or Feeling judgments.
People at this pole tend to see their relationships as primarily task-focused. This includes factoring human needs into one's problem-solving logic, since each person brings his or her needs into situations. Reasonable people, especially men, often demonstrate caring for others by analyzing and solving problems. They may analyze both the immediate situation and the long-range consequences of proposed solutions. They do not believe that sympathizing is a helpful approach to problem solving and decision making. While they may feel sympathy, they demonstrate their care for others by fixing or modifying things. This may involve adjusting an employee's work schedule to deal with a family crisis, making exceptions when circumstances arise, or doing something special in recognition of someone's extra effort.
Being Reasonable means being consistent. When exceptions are made for individuals, they must also be made for others having similar problems. If this does not happen, the making of exceptions is the same as playing favorites. There should be no favorites before the law. For reasonable people, mercy may be equivalent to letting sympathy for one individual overrule principles of fairness.
Reasonable people find it difficult to work for someone who is not consistent. Rewards and punishments from such a person would be divorced from task performance and therefore illegitimate. Reasonable people try to resolve disagreements so that positive or negative consequences are equitably distributed. The fairness in such solutions and the effort it takes to arrive at them are expressions of caring. For the Reasonable person, both giving and receiving fair treatment are ways in which everyone's worthiness is acknowledged. This is far more important than attending to one's own or others' feelings or emotional states, since equity of treatment is independent of oneself or the particular other people involved. Their view is that attending to the feelings won't really solve anything; it is more helpful to attend to the behavior or help the person see the consequences.
People at this pole see the world as personalized and interconnected rather than impersonal and detached. They therefore pay attention to the unique needs that other people bring to situations. Recognizing each person's uniqueness is more important than policies, procedures, and rules. Laws, rules, and agreements help define the boundaries of relationships, but they are not their essence. People relate to each other through their shared experience as human beings. Each person has hopes, hurts, dreams, and discouragements that are similar to one's own. They must be treated with recognition of that fact, not merely with fairness. Compassionate people also care for and about other people in a personalized way. For them, mercy is not spinelessness or an excuse to put sympathy ahead of law. Rather, mercy is the basis on which judgments of another person should be made. It also takes into account unique (and possibly mitigating) circumstances or characteristics of the person, and thus values the person over abstract principles. For the Compassionate person, fairness is not defined as treating everyone the same. Rather, it is judging each person in terms of his or her unique character and circumstances. Failing to take into account another person's uniqueness when making a judgment hurts the other person as well as oneself. That "no man is an island" (in the poem by John Donne) is one reason that the hurt goes both ways for Compassionate people.
Compassionate judgment is active rather than passive. This quality is shared with the Feeling poles of several of the other T-F facets, specifically the Accepting and Tender facet poles. Both failure to recognize the need for compassion and failure to act compassionately hurt the other person because both failures yield the same outcome.
Finally, Compassionate people respond best in relationships if they are treated sympathetically and compassionately. They highly value being recognized as individuals who are connected to others in a network of friendships. Such recognition validates their uniqueness and the importance of their relationships. Sympathy, pleasantness, and compassion will give rise to devotion and loyalty in them, whereas fairness or mere consistency is unlikely to have such an outcome.
This facet focuses on how people deal with differences in point of view as they attempt to arrive at a judgment. It is the part of the judgment-forming process that is involved when the judgments must be shared with others.
People at this pole seek detached, impersonal truth. There are three typical motivations involved. The first is to find reasons that make logical sense; when questions, statements, events, or observations don't fit together logically, Questioning people ask direct questions. They want what others say to be logically consistent with what they already know. Their Questioning approach is not a personal attack or disregard for other people. Rather, it is a attempt to get at objective truth. Questioning people may be somewhat distrustful of others who want them to agree to something before all their questions have been adequately answered. They tend to approach all statements with some degree of skepticism.
Questioning is also a way to solve problems. A Questioning person who prefers Intuition may question established practices, beliefs, information, principles, designs, or even facts. A Questioning person who prefers Sensing may similarly question solutions, changes, predictions, or the likely success of proposed problem solutions. Questioning people believe that there is a logical order to everything. If something is not working, it must be because assumptions about how its parts should go together are wrong. Questioning such assumptions may very well lead to a solution.
A third approach to Questioning is in dealing with other people. Questioning people may raise questions or objections when they are asked to accept or conform to things that don't make logical sense. They question in order to find a common ground of understanding from which they and the other party can proceed. Truth is independent of personalities for Questioning people. Therefore, their questioning is not intended to disparage another viewpoint or person. If someone cannot satisfactorily answer their questions, however, Questioning people may take offense. Forcing a Questioning person to accept an important decision that has not been thoroughly examined is experienced as an affront to his or her intelligence. Such devaluing of truth is not likely to go unchallenged, and the Questioning person may use sarcasm to communicate his or her disdain. The hurt such a tactic may cause another person is felt to be justified by the offense to truth that has occurred.
For people at this pole, reality is socially defined. Accommodating people are much more concerned with how truth is understood, valued, ad used by others than with an assumed "objective" truth. Their primary focus is on their own and others' experience and understanding of the world. If a person's understanding is incorrect, he or she can be gently corrected, but never disparaged. Direct questioning of someone's statements can be construed as a personal attack. Once that happens, the opportunities for growing a relationship or established consensus are diminished. If their questioning might threaten a relationship or their membership in a group, it is better to trust the statements and motives of others.
People at the Accommodating people may value harmony so highly that they are simply unwilling to question another viewpoint. If differences of opinion occur, they will try very hard to encourage a decision that satisfied everyone. If they are unsuccessful, they will feel somewhat dissatisfied with themselves. Accommodating people also work to ensure that harmony prevails at family gatherings. They will be greatly distressed if other family members are unable or unwilling to make concessions that will keep the peace.
For people at the Accommodating pole, the most important truths are validated by group consensus or by personal relationships. Truth is not separate from people, and groups cannot function well if different perspectives are not accommodated. Agreement and harmony are not merely signs of a good relationship; they are the mortar that keeps it together. Accommodating people avoid hurting other people's feelings and expect the same consideration from others. Disagreements in intimate relationships are particularly distressing; people at this pole often avoid such disagreements and confrontations by letting matters pass unchallenged. It seems better to preserve the relationship by being agreeable than to risk the relationship itself.
This facet describes what we do after our initial judgment has been made.
People at this pole are interested in correct what is incorrect and settings things right. They want to get at the truth in order to improve things, situations, or procedures. Their overriding motivation is to make things better; to do this, critiquing is necessary to determine an issue's relative merits. Then a way to make things better can be devised. For the Critical person, not to critically evaluate is irresponsible. Because truth is more important than others' feelings, Critical people may not exercise tact in communicating their judgments. They tend to see being honest with themselves and others as kinder in the long run than being untruthful. They usually point out what is wrong before noticing or commenting on what is right. That is because achieving accuracy is a major concern. They believe that there is no point in mentioning things that are all right because it wastes time and will make no improvement. On the other hand, telling someone what they did wrong may help them avoid getting hurt again.
Truth is so valuable to Critical people that they find it distasteful and dishonest when others try to smooth over disagreements or disagree so mildly that their objections are not registered. They do not value merely getting people to agree because that might compromise the truth and make things worse. Hurting someone's feelings is a small price to pay for needed corrections and improvements. Critical people hold that people can recover from hurt feelings but the consequences of a wrong judgment or decision can hurt many people in the long run.
People at this pole tend to put others' feelings, viewpoints, and emotional needs into broader contexts than their Accepting counterparts. They are not oblivious to the human factor, but they do not want to lower their standards or forget what they see as truth. They hold themselves and others to very high standards. To suppress the natural competitiveness that accompanies their high standards would be dishonest. For Critical people, collaborating with others or complimenting them simply with a goal or creating harmony compromises their beliefs or values and is disrespectful. However, when absolutely necessary, they can consciously decide to put up with others' shortcomings and tolerate less-than-optimal standards, performance, or outcomes.
For people at this pole, truth is quite different. Accepting people want to affirm a truth that focuses on the value and worth of other people's ideas and viewpoints. "Objective" judgments about the truth are less important than the truth about other people and their relationships. For an Accepting person, the environment is primarily human and social. Passing critical judgment on someone's ideas or contributions may harm the person and also destroy the relationship, whereas being open to and accepting of others' views validates the person and enhances the relationship. Factual or nonpersonal issues are only of passing concern in comparison.
Building up relationships and people is as important to the Accepting person as is avoiding harm. Accepting people, therefore, do not merely tolerate lapses and "deficiencies" in others, they overlook them. Harmony is as essential to human sustenance as sunlight is to living creatures. Even though disharmony may sometimes be unavoidable, it must eventually give way to agreement between people. Acceptance brightens human relations and also nourishes them so they can achieve their full potential.
Acceptance for the person at this pole is a very active response that gives others the space and freedom to be themselves or to be right about an issue. Accepting someone in this way is not weakness, failure to recognize truth, a lack of sound judgment, or a mere passive reaction. Active affirmation of others is so important that it is often maintained despite potential risks to the Accepting person. Risks may range, for example, from financial loss from accepting a spouse's decision to pursue a dream, to personal disappointment at seeing a child fail when given the freedom to test his or her wings. Accepting people tend to first notice and comment on what is right or well done, and offer correction only secondarily. This helps in accepting and affirming others; they are likely to take a collaborative approach, at times putting their own desires or ambitions aside in favor of those of others.
This facet focuses on the impact of our judgment and how we carry out a decision once a judgment has been made.
People at this pole stand firm in the judgments they have made. This stems from exercising other facets of their decision making in their assessment. For the Tough person, a thorough, well-considered evaluation must result in the best decision that can be made. Compromise is not appropriate under these circumstances, even if it would avoid hurt feelings or outcomes that might hurt some people. A judgment that was honestly and thoroughly processed must stand, regardless of one's own or anyone else's personal opinion. Anyone who used the same information and the same judging process would arrive at the same conclusion. It does not matter to Tough people whether those conclusions are popular or welcome. The rightness of a conclusion is independent of both the person making the decision and other people.
Tough people distrust considerations based on feelings, personal attachments, or a desire to maintain warmth and harmony. Judgments based on such criteria play havoc with their trusted decision-making process. Personal considerations should be weighed along with all nonpersonal factors in making a decision. But once a judgment is reached, there is no justification for changing it simply because it is unpopular or may have negative personal impact. In fact, the value of a detached Thinking assessment is that unassailable logical truth can be achieved regardless of personal attachments. Compromising the truth is repugnant for Tough people, even if they themselves experience a negative outcome. They want to "stand firm" behind a decision that they believe in.
For people at this pole, the effects one's decision may have on others far outweighs any logical process by which one reaches the decision. Tender judgments focus on the impacts of a decision on people. Tender judgments focus on the impacts of a decision on people. Kindness, caring, and consideration of others are primary concerns in both making a decision and implementing it. Tender people bring warmth and concern for others to decision making because the well-being of people is integral to their decision-making process. Having arrived at a Feeling decision, the Tender person may be just as convinced of the rightness of a conclusion as if the Tough person. However, his or her tenderness, warmth, and gentleness will be used to communicate the decision to others. If that decision is unpopular or hurtful to some of the people involved, the approach of the Tender person includes caring concern for those people. For Tender people, there is no absolutely correct truth apart from the way things affect people. They therefore insist that others be treated with kindness and consideration. People at this pole also respond best when they are treated with the same gentleness and warmth they so willingly give to others.