Bedtime conversation: “Jim, are you asleep?” “No”. “What are you thinking about?” “Thinking about going to sleep.” “I have so much running through my mind; what went on today; what’s on tap for tomorrow and my clients’ problems”. “Ruthie, just shut your mind off and go to sleep.” We were a classic example of the difference between Sensing and Intuition. I still have trouble falling to sleep, but my subject has switched to Jim.
Another amusing comparison: In the night when you wonder what time it is, do you just look at the clock and go back to sleep or before you look try to guess the time to see how close you projected? Sensing people tend to just look; Intuitives like to guess. Intuitives inevitably create games to dress up repetition.
Sensing and Intuition Information Gathering—present the stiffest challenge. Both designs are marvelous personality assets, but each person, by default, automatically trusts one of them more than the other.
According to MBTI, (Myers Briggs Temperament Indicator) the two preferences for Gathering Information are the Sensing crowd who stand strongly in the conscious world trusting provable black and white facts and figures as they complete hands-on responsibilities which keep life and limb safe and sound, and the Intuitive group who concentrate on ideas, analysis and possibilities centered around today’s world-wide problem-solving as well as tomorrow’s. A quick review:
In MBTI scheme, Information Gathering of facts and ideas--Sensing and iNtuition fall on the second line.
I – E -- (Introversion and Extroversion) Social preference
S - N -- (Sensing and iNtuition) Information Gathering
T – F -- (Thinking and Feeling) Decision Making
J – P -- (Judging-Structure and Perceptive-sPontaneous). Lifestyle Preferences
(To review Introversion/Extroversion and Thinking/Feeling, check my blogs at ruthmcrobertsward.com or google How to Get Along with Everyone. J-P will be forthcoming next week)
Sensing—75% prefer black and white facts & figures (feet on the ground) focusing on today.
Intuitives—25% prefer ideas and possibilities (head in the clouds) focusing on tomorrow.
Our sensory systems collect and catalog facts and figures that aid physical survival while Intuition supplies abstract ideas and possibilities that are especially helpful in problem solving and design. For good balance, we all need to rely on both preferences. Most people do just that, but—on an individual basis—one preference is more appealing to use, while the other requires a disciplined effort. Moving back and forth from Sensing to Intuitive preferences eventually becomes as normal as inhaling and exhaling. Sensing people respect facts, collect them, and sleep on them before making a final decision. They are comfortable with repetitive behavior not suffering from boredom unless there’s nothing to do. The Sensing segment are usually drawn to mechanical endeavors; repairing things seems to come naturally for them.
Intuitives, on the other hand, prefer analysis, avoiding up-coming problems, researching for new purchases, or jobs involving research, writing and counseling with many things on their minds all the time. They are more likely to keep a journal. They set not one goal but maybe four or more. They endeavor to know everything and if someone asks a question, they are likely to fabricate an answer than seems to be right. Self-improvement is high on their list, and may at times struggle with perfectionism which may intimidate others without realizing it. Intuitives compete against themselves, wanting their game to be better than their last. Sensing people strive to measure up to what they did last time.
Several years ago, I administered the MBTI Indicator to a family. The parents and three teenagers typed out Intuitive and only Billy, a ten-year-old, typed-out sensing. I was impressed that being just ten years old, he paid very close attention to the interpretation. When it became obvious that everyone was in the Intuitive arena except him, I didn’t want him to feel left out or too different, so I quipped, “Billy, you are the only normal one in this room”, to which he proudly replied, “Yeah, I’m the only one who knows where the bottle opener is when we’re traveling. “His siblings warmly affirmed his Sensing capabilities.
Telling the difference is quite easy and entertaining. Sensing people repair a bike, outfit it with a basket, comfortable seat, bright lights and a good horn with tools for the road. An intuitive will probably elect to paint their bike so it looks different from other bikes and be more concerned about flashy biking clothes and a cell phone along with a snack bag and water bottle just in case. They like to ride with a sensing biker who knows how to fix flat tires and kinked chains. Intuitives avoid getting their hands dirty, if possible.
Since Jim has been gone, I’ve become more aware of his Sensing contributions around the house and recently especially in preparing the Christmas newsletter. I normally compose the letter with his verbal suggestions, approval and proofing and then, I print it. He ran the copies, folded, affixed address labels, stamps, and return address labels. I write personal notes at the bottom of the letter and put them in the addressed envelopes and he sealed and mailed them. Jim enjoyed doing hands-on jobs. I pulled it off, but had to play music or schedule my work during an interesting TV program.
Sensing people don’t seem to get bored unless their hands are idle or there’s a football game, basketball, baseball or golf game on. Jim was admired in our family for watching ball games with the volume down. He read during commercial breaks. When I’d join him, primarily just to be with him, I’d request he turn the sound up so I could keep up with the game. When I’d get sidetracked with reading or writing, he’d turn the sound down. When I’d look up the uniforms were different colors to discover he browsed the channels. He preferred to read but couldn’t do that with the sound up. Sensing people prefer to focus on one main thing at a time. Consequently, Sensing people make fewer mistakes than Intuitives.
Sensing people are alive to the physical world. They tend to believe what they see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Because they rely on these senses to supply the majority of their information, they are closer to the visible, conscious world. They want their decisions to be workable and affordable.
When visual-sensing people walk or ride, they automatically see birds, rocks, potholes, abandoned cars, cracks in the sidewalk, and new paint jobs on houses. They read newspapers thoroughly, picking tiny bits of news. Intuitives read the headlines and a few sentences but miss a lot. Sensing people are expert at giving directions or detailed descriptions of people and events. As an Intuitive I need not only directions on how to get someplace, but directions on how to get back. Intuitives often make fun of themselves for getting lost two blocks from home or missing their routine turns. Off in another world. Intuitives can learn the physical world’s tricks of the trade and do very good work, but repeating procedures become mundane to them.
The Sensing crowd usually knows how much money they have in their pockets. Sometimes Intuitives cannot even find their money, let alone remember how much they have. Sensing persons rarely forget a price, an experience, details of an argument, where they put something or what they did last July 4th. Their stories teem with names, places, times, etc. making them especially interested in things like history, tradition, and family reunions. Because they respect facts so much, their decisions are not likely to be impulsive.
By contrast, Intuitives are drawn to careers like counseling, design, writing, analysis and ministry. When Jim, a Sensing Thinker was called by God to the ministry, he was obligated to years of intuitive theological studies, preparing sermons and counseling. His sermons were not lofty but practical, spiritually enlightening and encouraging. I never heard him deliver a stale re-heated sermon.
Sensing types are hard workers and depend on perspiration and effort never avoiding manual labor. They often say, “We’ve always done it this way,” or “We stick with tradition.” Intuitives have a tendency to want to improve tradition being drawn to variety and preferring new places and events. How remarkable are God’s differing gifts of Sensing and Intuition. We celebrate differences not criticize. We really do need each other.
Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it. Prov. 16:22
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands…Psalm 90:17.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. Rom 15:5.