Personal development

Personality Preferences: The ways we gather and trust information


In part two of my Personality Matters series, I look at how we gather and trust information.

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There are two main preferences of how we gather information from the world and what information we trust. These are ‘Sense’ and ‘Intuition’ preference and are based on the Myers Briggs Personality Types.

The two types of preferences

These two types refer to our preferences on the way we find and understand information. The sense preference, also known as ‘Detailed Thinking’, is concrete and specific. Whereas intuition, also known as Big Picture Thinking, is more abstract.

Sense preference

If you favour a Sense preference to finding information, you’ll gather it from your five senses, while focusing on facts and specifics. You might look at things from a practical and realistic standpoint, in the here and now. For example, if you were to look at the below picture, you might identify things like grass, flowers or trees; your thinking is observant, and detail-orientated.

Intuition preference

An intuition thinker will gather information from association, thinking about the big picture and possible ideas. An intuition thinker will focus on future possibilities, with a theoretical and imaginative outlook. So, taking the above image, you might focus on things like the setting of the picture, the season or memories it conjures up; your thinking will be more conceptual.

In relation to a working environment, a sense-based individual will want to work to a schedule, using a logical process. An intuition-based individual, however, will make connections between things and lean towards bigger picture thinking with concepts, ideas and strategies.

How do these preferences affect the way we work?

Let’s say you are going into a client meeting. You are aware of your sense preference, so you go into the meeting focused on the details, looking at the practical steps your idea will take leading to a logical outcome. However, the person you are meeting with has an intuition preference. They are coming from an imaginative standpoint, interested in the bigger picture and the future possibilities of the outcomes. How do you work effectively with people who have different informational preferences?

Working with those with a sense preference

If you are working with someone who has a sense preference it will help to:

  • Show detailed, factual evidence and examples
  • Be practical and realistic in your approach
  • Have a logical, detailed plan in advance

Working with those with an intuition preference

For someone who is intuitive, it is best to:

  • Present the big picture first, then draw out the details
  • Accept the intuitive conclusion at face value
  • Encourage imagination throughout the journey

With these two dichotomies in mind, we can effectively work collaboratively, regardless of the individual or their preferences. It’s important to be aware that although you might have a preference, it does not mean you can’t think in the opposite way. For example, if your preference is intuitive, you might use detailed, logical thinking, which can lead to better collaboration in the long run.