Sensing and Intuition in Conflict

After discussing how Extraversion and Introversion interact in conflict, you may be wondering what other conflicts are type related. Well, never fear! All of the preferences have conflict styles and typical causes, including Sensing and Intuition…

Conflict Style


  • Tends to look at the conflict that is going on in the here and now as an individual incident
  • Generally relays concrete details of the incident and avoids aspects which cannot be proven through these details
  • Example: “Sally came to me today and stated that Richard told his team that he came up with the idea to allow employees to go home at 3:00 on Fridays from today through August 28th. Sally was upset because she states that the original idea was hers, but I cannot confirm that because I was not there.”


  • Tends to look at conflict as it relates to previous incidents and other similar or related conflicts
  • Generally relates the overall impression of the conflict and provides interpretation on its general meaning and vibe
  • Example: “Sally said that Richard is passing her idea to let us leave early on Fridays off as his own. She seemed really angry, and I can’t blame her because he’s always taking credit for other people’s ideas, and he’s done this to her before.”

Conflict Catalysts

Driving to Unfamiliar Places

In the interest of fairness, this one probably causes a lot of conflict for people who share a type because being lost is no fun, but that conflict can easily be exacerbated when a person with a Sensing preference drives with a person with an Intuitive preference.

This is an area where Intuitive types tend to need or request a bit more detail than usual, and they often become annoyed with having to deal with and sort through those disliked details, when they’d prefer to travel more by an internal sense of direction. On the other hand, Sensing types want the details that they always want, but they find frustration in having to try to pay attention to all of the details while attempting to drive without running into a lake.

When these two types are put together, the Intuitive type may say, “The turn is right over there!!”, leaving the Sensing type to beg, “Where are you pointing? Which way do I turn? What’s the street name??” How far is it???”. If you’ve ever been on either side of this conversation or fight, my deepest sympathies.

Fortunately, technology has largely taken away the days of reading coffee stained paper maps (which then have to be frustratingly refolded). To avoid conflict on this one, get a GPS that fits your type! Some are much more detailed than others, telling you what lane to be in in advance and talking more or less often than others. Once you get said GPS, agree with all people in the car that any driving mistakes that happen are to be blamed on the machine and not on the people. Yes, they are wrong sometimes, but their feelings are not hurt when you yell at them.


This one could probably have its own article, as it can make people of both types want to pull their hair out. Let’s look at each type giving and receiving instructions.

The Sensing type says, “First, you need to book a room that will hold between 300 and 350 people, based on anticipated increases over last year’s event attendance. Second, you must order 350 chairs, 44 tables, two projectors, two screens, the largest possible dance floor for the room, and a stage that is the same width as the dance floor. Next, you will need to talk with the caterers to decide on a beef, chicken, and fish choice, as well as options for vegetarians and those on a gluten-free diet, that fit with the available budget of $18 per person…” While the Sensing type receiving the instructions will have everything needed, after clarifying a couple of details, the Intuitive is mentally saying, “I get it! You want what we did last year for more people. You don’t have to tell me all of this again… I will ask when I can’t remember something.”

The Intuitive type says, “I need you to reserve a room that holds about 350 people for the event, and make sure it’s set up with what we need. Oh, and make sure to talk with the caterer about our options, too. Pretty much like a bigger version of last year.” The Intuitive type receiving the instructions knows the goal of planning the event and plans to come back to ask additional questions as they arise, while the Sensing type is mentally saying, “Wait, is the 350 minimum or maximum? Exactly how many chairs and tables should I get? I need more details to do this right!!”

This happens in so many areas of life, and it can really be frustrating for both sides! If you have a relationship with someone that involves instructions, reduce conflict by talking about your needs and what works best for you. If you find that your needs aren’t met, ask questions, and make them specific (“How many chairs and tables should I order?”, as opposed to, “Can you tell me what I need to order?”) so that you are assured of having the necessary information.


This is an area that will pop up again with the Thinking and Feeling preferences, but Sensing and Intuition play a role as well.

People with a preference for Sensing want specific feedback and specific ways to measure personal and professional success, so providing these specific ways to measure and following up on progress will really speak to a Sensing type. For example: “Your first goal was to increase sales over last year by 10%, and you exceeded that by 15%. You narrowly missed your second goal of reaching an average sale of $1500. Yours was $1487, so we can talk about how to improve that next month.”

Individuals preferring Intuition generally want an overall idea of their work quality before moving into specifics of what needs to be improved. For example: “You’re really doing well this month! There is only one goal you missed, and I would like to talk with you about what happened and how to improve next month.”

You’re probably not shocked to hear this, but this is another place where discussion and asking to have your needs met is a great idea. In most cases, a supervisor will be happy to see you show an interest in improving your performance, so asking how you are doing overall or seeing if that person would take the time to go over each goal with you will likely be a welcome request.

You may notice that there are less areas of conflict catalysts here than in the article of Extraversion and Introversion in conflict, but these areas play huge roles in our day-to-day lives and in what frustrates us. I challenge you to identify conflicts in your life that are type related and use type to improve your life! If you are interested in learning more about Myers-Briggs and conflict, check out Sondra VanSant’s great book, Wired for Conflict: The Role of Personality in Resolving Differences, which was used as a reference for this article. As always, thanks for reading!


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