In the ‘here and now’ or ‘away with the fairies’?

A slightly tongue in cheek title, but one that helps me to make sense of the ‘Sensing‘ and ‘Intuition’, preferences that form part of the MBTI tool.

Daydream here and now career

MBTI is a well- known and long established psychometric tool has in more recent times taken a bit of a ‘battering’ in terms of its relevance and usefulness, but as a coach I use a number of different tools and models, MBTI being just one. I think they can provide new and useful perspectives and viewpoints within which coaching conversations can continue.

With any tool or model perhaps it’s all about knowing and understanding  it’s ‘limits’ and the boundaries beyond which the tool/model will start to ‘break down’ and cease to serve any useful purpose.

In any case returning to Sensing and Intuition, this set of preferences within the MBTI tool, refer to the way in which people prefer to take in information, what they tend to notice and pay attention to, as a matter of course.

Important to note, that there is no right or wrong, no good or bad preference, it’s just about what an individual will tend to focus on as they go about their everyday lives.

Someone with a preference for Sensing will probably focus on information they receive through their five senses. What they can actually see, hear, touch, taste and smell. As a result, they may tend to be more anchored and aware in the ‘here and now’.  They will in general prefer to take in information that is more ‘tangible’.

Individuals with a preference for Intuition tend to move pretty quickly beyond the facts themselves and focus more on the patterns and relationships between the facts.  They are less likely to notice the ‘specific details of a situation’, but form more of a general idea. As a result people with a preference for Intuition tend not to be so anchored in the ‘here and now’. Their focus will most likely move towards past associations or towards anticipating future possibilities in relation to the information they have.

For example, if two people are sitting down enjoying a cup of coffee, the ‘Sensor’ may more naturally be aware of the taste, smell of the cup of coffee they have in front of them. More aware of the current surroundings and the people around them. The ‘Intuitor’, may well be ‘drifting’ or ‘daydreaming’ about the last time they enjoyed a coffee or already projecting to the time they will enjoy another. Their immediate surroundings may well, fade away as they drift towards the past or towards the future.

So what might this mean in terms of your everyday working life?

Well it could be……………

Individuals with a preference for Intuition might feel ‘overwhelm’ if presented with too much detailed information in one go. They may miss important facts, as they try and skim through the ‘load’ of detail. They might find energy levels running low if continually required to work outside their preference, i.e. be required to work with large chunks of detailed information without the time and space to take a step back and see the big picture.

It might mean that those of us with a preference for Intuition may find it easier to think about strategy, but struggle to deal with a ‘crisis’ that is happening now.

It could be that in times of stress an individual with a preference for Intuition may refuse or be unable to engage with the reality of what is happening right in front of them.  They may try and cope by remaining ‘fixed’ in the past or continually projecting to the future, without necessarily engaging with what needs to be done now.

On the other hand………………….

Individuals with a preference for Sensing might feel a ‘lack of control’ if they find themselves in a situation where they feel they are not in possession of all the facts.

Though they may well be your most effective ‘fire-fighters’, if needed to deal with an immediate ‘crisis’.  They may well find it easier to see what needs to be done immediately and just get things ‘sorted’.

However in times of stress, an individual with a preference for Sensing, might get ‘bogged’ down and lost in the detail and find themselves unable to step back and see the ‘bigger picture’. They may find it easier to cope by ‘doing’ and keeping busy with their most tangible tasks and miss opportunities to plan and become more effective.

Must also stress that as with anything these preferences will only be, one of many factors that contribute to how someone behaves and manages in their work place. I also haven’t explored how the different sets of preferences interact with each other, in other words, type dynamics.

For example an ‘Extraverted sensor’ will respond/react differently to an ‘introverted sensor’. Both will focus on the detail, but with the ‘Introvert’, you may just see the results of their thinking after they have worked through the detail, internally. They may well choose not to share their process with you.

Whilst with the ‘Extravert’ you may well end up thinking “enough already” as they share both their detailed process with you and their results.

Please do click on the links below if you would like to read more around MBTI:

Do you sometimes feel like an alien in your own team? Extraversion/Introversion

So they are not just trying to wind me up… Judging/Perceiving


Type in a Nutshell, A resource for learning about Personality Types

Anita M. Woodwell

Janice Taylor

About careerresilience

Career Coach and Writer at Blue Sky Career Consulting. I love to write and am currently juggling three different blogs. On a mission to discover how people can thrive and flourish in life and work.
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