What you say is not always what is heard

Sensing and Intuition.

What you say is not always what is heard

Last month we looked at the first of the Myers Briggs dichotomies – Extroversion and Introversion. This month we are going to look at two more of their dichotomies – Sensing and Intuition and then Thinking and Feeling. Again, please do not get hung up on the words, but look at the descriptors. Also remember there is no right or wrong type, or good or bad. Your type just denotes your preferences.

How often have you been in a business or social setting where what you said to someone is clearly not what they heard and the communication process—and relationship as a consequence — just deteriorates?

As a coach, I regularly meet people who are having trouble communicating with their colleagues, boss or partner.

So what can you do to make sure everyone shares the same understanding?

Everyone has his or her own communication style and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a great starting place for anyone suffering communication meltdown.

Let’s look at the Myers Briggs dichotomies and explore the preferred style of each:


  • Likes evidence (facts, details, examples) presented first
  • Wants practical and realistic applications shown
  • Relies on direct experience to provide anecdotes
  • Uses an orderly, step by step approach in presentations
  • Likes suggestions to be straightforward and feasible
  • Refers to a specific example
  • In meetings, is inclined to follow the agenda


  • Likes global schemes, with broad issues presented first
  • Wants possible future challenges discussed
  • Relies on insights and imagination to provoke discussion
  • Uses a rounded approach in presentations
  • Likes suggestions to be novel and unusual
  • Refers to the general concept
  • In meetings, is inclined to use the agenda as a starting point


  • Prefers to be brief and concise
  • Wants the pros and cons of each alternative to be listed
  • Can be intellectually critical and objective
  • Convinced by cool, impersonal reasoning
  • Presents goals and objectives first
  • Considers emotions and feelings as data to weigh
  • In meetings, seeks involvement with tasks


  • Prefers to be sociable and friendly
  • Wants to know why an alternative is valuable and how it affects people
  • Can be interpersonally appreciative
  • Convinced by personal information, enthusiastically delivered
  • Presents points of agreement first
  • Considers logic and objectivity as data to value
  • In meetings, seeks involvement with people

Look at the differences in how each type responds! If you are a “thinking” type communicating with a “feeling” type, then your brief and concise words are going to come across as unfriendly and unsociable. On the other hand, if you are an “intuitive” type communicating with a “sensing” type then you are going to be talking around general concepts, using your imagination, whereas the sensing type needs examples and hard facts so he or she just won’t get it.

It’s not surprising that communication is such a difficult thing to get right, and yet it is what we spend our days (and sometimes nights) doing!