I Prefer Thinking… But Could Use a Dash of Feeling

I could tell from my team member's eyes that I had hurt his feelings.  A change was happening at work, and I didn't account for the fact that he and I had previously discussed this topic and his preferences regarding it.  When I shared the news with my team, he approached me afterwards to ask why he didn't find out in advance or why I hadn't communicated more delicately about the topic.  His words were a punch in the stomach.

I had made a decision based on logic.  I listed out the pros and cons.  I thought through the impact of each option and the possible risks.  I weighed the known information and proceeded based on the results.  I did not give enough weight to how people would feel.  That doesn't mean my decision was wrong or that I would chose differently given a do-over, but I knew from the pain in my stomach that I could have done a better job in how I communicated the news.

Folks familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® are probably nodding because this is a classic example of the T-F dichotomy.  This preference pair deals with how people prefer to make decisions, whether by Thinking or Feeling.  We all use both, and preferring one does not mean a person is incapable of the other, but we each gravitate toward one or the other.

I consistently demonstrate a preference for Thinking.  While I don't necessarily want to change that, I do want to increase my awareness of how my actions impact others.  My team member was right to call me out.  A decision between two sides inevitably pleases some people and disappoints others.  We all know and accept this.  But if I want my team members to feel safe and valued, then how I communicate matters.