Saturday, April 30, 2011
Thinkers, Feelers and other animals from Charles Lowery
My wife and I periodically take a personality inventory in which one can score either as a thinker or as a feeler. It shows whether you make decisions with your head or your heart. Thinkers and feelers gravitate to different kinds of occupations. A pastor, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer asked, “What’s with these guys? We’ve been waiting for fifteen minutes.” The doctor agreed, “I don’t know, but this is ridiculous.” The pastor noted, “Hey, here comes the groundskeeper. Let’s have a word with him.” The pastor called out to the groundskeeper, “Say, George, what’s with the group ahead of us?” George said, “They are rather slow, aren’t they? That’s a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.” The group was silent for a moment. The pastor sympathized, “That’s so sad. I think I’ll say a special prayer for them tonight.” The doctor added, “That’s a good idea. In fact, I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there is anything we can do for these guys.” The engineer suggested, “Well, in the meantime, why can’t these guys play at night?” I think you know what category the engineer fell into.
The majority of men score in the thinking category while the majority of women score in the feeling category. In my marriage, it’s just the opposite. I don’t know if I think like a woman or Penny feels like a man. But it affects our relationship. The first time I was sick, I wanted some serious comfort. I wanted sympathy, understanding, breakfast in bed with Snickers and ice cream, and a little bit of encouragement. She said, “You’re not that sick. Take a shower and go to work. You’ll feel better later.” Once I woke up with a backache, moaning and looking for some comfort. Penny said, “Get on the floor and do the exercises you are supposed to be doing. You’ll feel better.” I felt like the man who had a critical heart problem. The doctor called his wife in by herself and said, “Your husband is in bad shape. He will die unless you cook healthy foods for him, rub his neck, and meet his every need so that he can relax and not worry about anything.” When they were alone her husband asked what the doctor had said. The wife replied, “He said that you’re going to die.”
Thinkers are like that. They don’t gift-wrap things. One fellow that had one too many was stumbling home through a cemetery late one frosty night. He fell into an open grave. Pretty soon another inebriated type came along and heard the first fellow yelling from the hole in the ground, “Help. I’m cold. I’m cold.” The second fellow peered into the open grave and said, “Well, no wonder. You kicked all your dirt off.”
Inebriated thinkers are still thinkers. They have the ability to depersonalize things. Their humor is even different. They like jokes like the one about the war camp. The prison camp leader said, “Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. First the good news: There is a change of underwear in the shower for everyone. But now the bad news: Smith you change with Jones, Jones you change with Smith…” You get the idea. If you are a thinker you are probably laughing. If you are a feeler, you are saying, “Yuck! How could he say that?”
I knew an administrator who was a thinker. People said he would fire his own mother. He replied, “No. I would never have hired her in the first place.” Thinkers would rather be right than be liked. They don’t worry about presentation; they just give you the cold, hard facts. Feelers gift-wrap everything.
Being liked is important to feelers. They are concerned with people’s feelings; they understand people and want to help. Unfortunately, this means they have a tough time saying no. They are the ones at the family reunion trying to keep everyone happy, especially after some thinker just insulted everyone at the table.
So why do feelers get into trouble? Because in trying to take care of the whole world, they end up resenting the world. Feelers have to remember what you learn on the airplane. In times of trouble, first put the oxygen mask over your own face and then help your children. You can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself.
How should I make decisions? With my heart or with my head? Use both. Don’t you know that they are connected? God connected them with a word. The word is love. Speak the truth in love. A gentle heart and a firm mind can get along when connected by love. Love connects a lot of opposites. It’s kept my wife and me connected for a long time. She has even softened up to my sick spells. As a matter of fact she goes overboard. When she says, “Does my little boy have a runny nose?” It takes a little joy out of my ice cream. But her heart is right. And for a thinker, that’s progress. So I respond, “Yes,” and I also add, “Your little boy has a headache, too, which a Snickers would really help.” So when heart and head are in competition, remember the love connection.