Sensing and intuitive people have different needs

I write a lot about leadership and how leaders can choose to see things from another perspective.  One of my inspirations is Carl Jung, especially his work on archetypes and dream analysis.  I see patterns and connections all around me.   Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), sets out two dichotomies, sensing and intuitive ways of processing information.  I have a preference for intuition.

Understanding Sensing and Intuitive Types in MBTI

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a popular tool for understanding personality. It breaks down personalities into 16 types, based on four dichotomies. One of these dichotomies is Sensing (S) versus Intuition (N). This dichotomy explains how individuals perceive and process information.

1. Sensing Types

People with a preference for Sensing focus on the present. They rely on concrete, tangible information gathered through their senses. They excel in noticing details and are grounded in practical reality. For example, in a planning meeting, a Sensing type might focus on the specifics: budget, timelines, and resources. They prefer step-by-step instructions and are often methodical in their approach.

This type of person prefers to see the world through their 5 senses, and so can be fairly factual about what they are seeing.  They are “realistic” and prefer facts and a pragmatic approach.  Sensors like to live in the present. They generally call upon past experiences to inform their decision-making.

2. Intuitive Types

In contrast, Intuitive types look beyond the surface. They are interested in possibilities, patterns, and abstract ideas. They think about the future and are often creative and strategic. Imagine an Intuitive person in the same meeting. They might propose new ideas or question the long-term impact of the plan. They thrive on innovation and are often seen as visionary.

Being intuitive means I prefer using my imagination to find meaning.  I am fairly future-focused, and a “towards” motivated person.   To those who don’t know me. I can sound idealistic, looking towards a “happy ever after” future.   Self-awareness, however, keeps my feet on the ground. Although I do believe we can influence our future by what we think, feel and believe in the present.

Both types bring valuable perspectives. Sensing types ensure attention to detail and practicality. Intuitive types contribute to innovation and a long-term view. To be an effective leader and manager, you need to be able to communicate and harness the commitment of both sensing and intuitive employees.

Sensing and Neuroscience: The Brain’s Processing

Neuroscience offers fascinating insights into how Sensing types might process information. Research suggests that Sensing individuals might have heightened activity in brain areas responsible for sensory processing. They are adept at noticing changes in their environment, which could be linked to more active sensory cortices.

This heightened sensory awareness means Sensing types are often excellent in roles that require attention to detail. For instance, a chef with a Sensing preference might be particularly good at adjusting recipes based on subtle taste differences.

Intuition and The Brain: Beyond The Obvious

Intuitive types, on the other hand, might show more activity in areas of the brain associated with abstract thinking and pattern recognition. This neural wiring allows them to see beyond the immediate data. They excel in connecting disparate ideas and foreseeing future possibilities.

For example, an Intuitive entrepreneur might excel in predicting market trends. Their ability to connect seemingly unrelated information can lead to innovative business strategies.

Difference In The Dichotomies

Understanding whether you lean towards Sensing or Intuition can be immensely practical. It influences career choices, communication styles, and decision-making processes. For instance, a Sensing person might thrive in data-driven fields like accounting, while an Intuitive might find fulfilment in creative roles like marketing.

In personal relationships, these differences can lead to misunderstandings. A Sensing partner might prefer discussing practical daily matters, while an Intuitive partner might enjoy exploring theoretical concepts. Recognizing these differences can foster better communication and understanding.

We are all  sensing and intuitive

The problem with MBTI is that some people believe the word “type” traps people into one of the two parts of the dichotomy. It becomes a label.  The truth is of course that we all take in information through our senses and our intuition in different quantities and a variety of situations.  We just can’t be taking in information from both sources at once.  One day we could be realistic and down to earth, and the other might be finding joy in our dreams and vision, and using our sensing and intuitive abilities depending on the situation.  Our type is determined by how we feel most comfortable, taking in information for the most part.

Using both Dichotomies is necessary for real growth

I remember talking to a friend about my plans and aspirations, and how I wanted to change the world and make a real difference.  I rambled on for about 15 minutes, enthused by my theme and feeling passionate about what I wanted to do.  She listened attentively, smiling and nodding.  When I finished, before I got the last words out of my mouth she said “Lovely, but let’s get back down to earth now shall we?”

I laughed and nodded.  As you can see we are very different.   When I was younger and less experienced, I might have felt she had deliberately rained on my parade.  Older and wiser, I knew she was right.  Our interaction demonstrated the harmony which can be achieved when both sensing and intuitive abilities are understood and honoured.

To grow as leaders and effective people whether in a leadership role or not, it is healthy and right to be both sensing and intuitive.  If your preference is more prevalent either way you might find it more difficult to get that balance right.

Getting the balance right

Leaders who get the balance right will respect the preferences of both sensing and intuitive employees and:

  1. Use their imagination and aspirations to develop a clear vision, and convert it to understandable outcomes
  2. Make connections; develop big picture and systems thinking to have an overview of how things will be.
  3. Harness the power of  strategic plans as well as action plans
  4. Assess the current situation or reality and understand where they are right now.
  5. Bridge the gap between current and future reality with communication, plans and milestones.
  6. Connect the past, present and future through storytelling and timelines
  7. Work towards outcomes through believable milestones, so both realistic and idealistic,  can buy in
  8. Be tuned in and help solve day-to-day problems
  9. Support and give credit and reward for  “here and now” achievements
  10. Listen to and understand both intuitive and sensory input.
  11. Harness appropriate change strategies
  12. Realise they have to understand the “here and now”  to be able to turn idealistic dreams into reality

Are you sensing or intuitive?  Do you think your leader understands sensing and intuitive needs?  At times, do you get frustrated with others because they seem to live on a cloud?  Do you get disheartened because someone can’t seem to focus on anything beyond tomorrow? I would love to hear your comments!

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I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.

I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.