Make It Easy


Thursday, November 15, 2001

Sensing and being
intuitive at work

Last time we discussed the impact of extraversion and introversion in the workplace. The next set is sensing and intuition: the way we gather information.

A "sensing" preference focuses on data that can be measured with graphs and charts. An "intuitive" preference focuses on information that is abstract or can be derived from intuition.

Preference determines what is heard and remembered. An intuitive person might stop listening after a few moments of intense detailed data.

They prefer to play "connect the dots" with information from many sources, looking at the big picture and seeing how everything fits together from the past, present and future.

A sensing person doesn't want the big picture immediately; preferring details that help them determine the big picture themselves. A lack of solid data might make them stop listening.

They are more interested in policies and procedures than an intuitive, and are very good at following the rules (even when it might not make sense.) The intuitive, on the other hand, is more likely to follow rules only when they make sense (which might get them into trouble.)

Both types are fairly certain that their way is the best way. When managing their opposites, communication breakdowns are sure to follow.

Intuitives don't want to insult subordinates with too much detail. They give general work outlines with desired end results, then expect employees to figure it out.

That works with intuitive employees. Sensing employees, though, will feel a vague sense of unease with the lack of direction. They may become suspicious that the boss is unqualified and balk at the directions being given.

A sensing boss will delegate in great detail, explaining parameters, costs, methods and rules, sometimes forgetting to give the bottom line or desired result.

Intuitive employees will become frustrated with the details, stop listening after a few minutes and try to figure out what the boss wants by using their intuition or "gut feeling."

When training or managing your opposites, remember that they hear and process information differently from you. This difference doesn't make them wrong.

Both types are valid and valuable methods for determining the "truth."

Try combining both sensing and intuitive input to create a direction that will work for all.

Beth Terry is president of Pacific Rim Seminars.
This column is excerpted from her upcoming book,
101 Ways to Make Your Life Easier. Send questions
on management, customer service and other issues

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