This is my husband (many years ago). Cute, huh? He has never taken the test to prove it, but after living with him for several years, I am quite certain of many of his preferences. In this case I’m thinking about personality preferences, specifically the one we choose when gathering information.
Everyone has both sensory and intuitive traits in their personalities. Yet, for each of us one of these traits is dominant, meaning it occurs naturally without much conscious thought or struggle. We may need to utilize the lesser preference when a particular job or challenge arises, but it will require more effort by the user and will likely appear awkward.
I am certain that my husband is a Sensor (S).
Most people are Sensors (70%) so the odds are in my favor. Harder to tell without the test though is how strong or weak his sensory preference is. The Sensor-Intuitive preference is often hard to recognize in someone else because the preference occurs internally. Over time and observation, it is possible to get an idea of someone else’s preference. Most important though is understanding your own and how it affects your environment.
Sensors observe their surroundings, collect data, and perceive associations through their five senses. They interpret their world literally, trusting mostly what they see, hear, touch, taste, or smell. Sensors are generally practical, realistic, and down-to-earth. They rely on information that is factual, detailed, proven, and useful to their daily lives. Information and new skills are learned best through a step-by-step, sequential manner. Sensors prefer experiences that are hands-on, include direct observations, and provide opportunities for imitation. They like detailed examples, clear rules, time-frames, agendas, and detailed descriptions.
Intuitives (N) gather information through their sixth sense. They rely on “gut feelings” and “hunches”. While Sensors focus on what is real, Intuitives concentrate mostly on “what could be”. They like theory and are prone to fantasy and imagining future possibilities. An N may take something apart just to see how it is made. Time is relative so “tomorrow” could mean “next week”. Ns think in generalizations more than in specifics. They are more concerned with the “big picture” than on specific details. They are apt to use approximations when describing situations. The exact date, name, or place may not be important to the overall scheme of things. They are imaginative and like learning new solutions to common problems.
This is me (many years ago). I am a Sensor too, but a really weak one, which means I use a lot of the N qualities as well. For me it is the realistic, practical, sequential, step-by-step aspects of the Sensor that are the strongest. Details matter but only in so much as they serve a particular point or purpose. I tend to ignore a lot of details (N) that I perceive as irrelevant or unimportant at the moment. Another N quality that I have always preferred is the “what will be” focus. Instead of being in the moment, I am often thinking about the future.
Sensors prefer doing to thinking. I’m about 50/50 here. I like to get things done, but I can spend a lot of time first just thinking about it.
How we gather information determines what we notice, how we organize and interpret what we notice, and how we communicate this to others. There is lots of room for annoyance and misunderstanding from both preferences. Sensors may see Intuitives as being disorganized, flighty, or absent-minded. Sensors like specific answers to questions and get annoyed by the more general response given by the Intuitive. It isn’t hard to see how suspicions arise between the two. The S may feel the N is “dodging the question” while the N wonders why the S keeps prodding him for questions he’s already answered.
If the N is telling a story he may leave out a fact or substitute one date for another because it doesn’t matter to him so long as the story flows and makes sense. Complete accuracy may not matter in that context. He is likely to be annoyed when his S wife interrupts his story to say that it was Tuesday, not Monday, and they were on Parkway, not West Hampton.
Here are some things that S and Ns may say to one another:
S to N: “You can’t see the trees for the forest.”
N to S: “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”
S to N: “Tell me everything. I want all the details. Don’t pretend nothing happened.”
N to S: “Just get to the point. I don’t need to hear all the boring details.”
S to N: “How can you not notice? It’s right in front of you!”
N to S: “You aren’t paying attention to the overall meaning.”
S to N: “Come back down. Get your head out of the clouds.”
N to S: “You’re such a stick in the mud.”
S to N: “Why are you always so vague?”
N to S: “Why do you have to put everyone into a box?”
When Sensors and Intuitives think or talk to one another , these are some of the things they might say:
S: “This worked before so I’ll do it this way again.”
N: “I’ve already done that. I think I’ll try a new way this time.”
S: “Isn’t it obvious?”
N: “Is it relevant?”
S: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
N: “How can I make this better?”
S: “Don’t just stand there. Do something.”
N: “Let me sit here awhile and think about it.”
S: ” I focus my attention on the present. I’ll think about what’s next when I get through
now. When I park my car at the mall I check the row and number before I go
inside. When I return to the parking lot I know exactly where I left my car.”
N: ” I focus my attention on the future. I’m busy thinking about what will be so I might
not notice certain things. I’m lost in my thoughts when I arrive at the mall. I leave
my car and don’t think about it again until I’m standing outside the mall wondering
where I left it. Fortunately, someone invented a remote that lets my car tell me
where it is.”
S: “On time means precisely at 8:00 pm. I’ll probably get there 10 minutes early just to
make sure I have time to buy popcorn and find a good seat.”
N: “On time means when the important stuff begins. As long as I am in my seat by the
time the opening credits are done, I’m on time.”
S: “I like being able to see what I’ve accomplished. As much as I hate spending Saturday
morning cleaning my house, at least I know I’ve done something useful when I see the
N: “I’d rather think about decorating than cleaning and painting. I’ve looked at lots of
photos and narrowed it down to a few ideas I like. I’m just not sure how to get there.”
S: “I read the instructions and they were very clear. I should follow them exactly.”
N: ” Instructions are just guidelines. I’m sure it will all make sense once I’ve started.”
S: “Are you serious, or are you just joking?”
N: “No, I wasn’t there, but it sounds better if I tell it in first person.”
S: “How can I decide on what to drink if I don’t know yet what I’m having to eat?”
N: “Here’s the main course. I’ll figure out the rest of the menu later on.”
S: ” From here you go back the way you came. When you get to the vending machines
you’ll see a sign with an arrow pointing to your left. Go down that hallway just past
the gift shop. The bathrooms are to the right, just before the elevators.”
N: “The bathrooms are down the hall and to the left.”
S: “When you say that our political leaders are behaving hypocritically, what exactly
do you mean? Can you describe some specific examples to back up your claim?”
N: “They claim Christian values while they behave badly. They insist on following the
constitution but they are always looking to amend it. Believing them is like trusting
that the fox will guard the henhouse.
S: ” Tell me exactly what you want me to do. It frustrates me when you make me guess.
I can’t read your mind!”
N: “It offends me when you talk down to me that way. Just tell me what you want and
trust me to get it. I think I’m smart enough to figure it out myself.”