Myers Briggs: Information From Every Angle

I found the perfect table, but the color was a shade or two lighter than my chairs.  I liked the contrast.  The question was would my husband? When he arrived at the store to look at the table, I waited for him to point out the color contrast...but he didn't.  While I had evaluated the overall look and checked how to put in and take out the extra leaf, his first action was to turn the table over.  Yep.  Upside down.

Why? I asked.  To check its construction.

Made of heavy wood, with thick legs and impressive gears to slide apart the ends of the table, I had no doubt the table was solid.  It never occurred to me to look at how it was put together.  Yet, here was my husband checking the nuts and bolts that held this table together.  After extensive checking, he turned the table back over, sat in our chair and pulled up to the table.  Well, duh!  I compared the overall look of the table with my chairs, but it hadn't occurred to me to try sitting at the table to check for leg room!  I quickly followed suit.  Yes, there was plenty of room.

He noted tiny dings or scratches, some I knew of, others I hadn't seen.  Overall, the table looked great to me. The consignment store sold very nice furniture, no junk as far as I could see, and a few scratches on a used table was to be expected.  But he found all of them.

In the end, we did buy the table.

As I watched my husband explore the individual pieces that put this table together, I realized this was a perfect example of the information gathering dichotomy of Myers Briggs.  When people gather information, they tend to follow one of two paths:

  • Start with the big picture, then explore necessary details
  • Start with the individual details and eventually step back to see the overall

I'm an Intuitive, the one who starts with the big picture.  Although, I do dig into specific details, I never dig as deeply as a person wired to be detail-oriented.  I see "what can be," using my creative bent to envision the final product.

My husband is a Sensor, the one who notices the individual parts and minute details first.  He will eventually look at the overall, but only after checking out the pieces that make up the whole.  This means he's more focused on "what is," looking at things with a literal point of view.

Both are creative, both explore details.  One is more visionary and focused on the big picture, the other is more literal and focused on the individual parts. The two balance each other. If you operate only from the sensor or the intuitive side, you will miss some important insight.

As in last week's post, The Dynamics of Our Energy Source, these differences can create conflict between people.  If an intuitive approaches a sensor with an idea, they will walk away frustrated if they aren't prepared to discuss specific details.  If a sensor approaches an intuitive with an idea, the intuitive will cut them off and ask them to get to the point rather than cover all of the supporting data.

Although everyone uses both methods for gathering information, one approach comes more naturally to you than the other.  Which one sounds like you?  How have you experienced this in the past?


Most of the time, I'm not one to notice practical details. I need someone with me to point out the obvious. Guess that's why John and I have been together for so long. I'm sure I have my charms, too, though. Right?
Valerie, sounds like you're an intuitive like me. Of course, you have your charms because that's what makes us visionaries and creative writers.

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