Jay Nisberg: To improve one-to-one communication, determine your colleague’s navigational style

One-to-one communication problems often can be resolved by understanding your communication style through the styles of others. Effective managers do this to make other people understand them, be receptive to ideas and lessen their resistance to change.

The work of psychologist Carl Jung offers a framework that managers can adopt to improve communication. Jung found that people tend to have one of four communication styles: thinker, feeler, doer and intuitor.

Our navigational styles form patterns of behavior recognized by others through the way we write, dress, speak, act and think. Let’s examine navigational styles and see if you recognize yourself.


Thinker style of navigating relies heavily on reasoning and logic. Thinkers have a strong sense of linear time; past, present and future are connected in a logical sequence. If the facts don’t fit in this order, they are likely to be ignored and discarded.

The thinker’s strength is in analyzing data and using it to solve problems, often with a variety of solutions. Other people view thinkers as rational, objective and unemotional.


A feeler’s style is anchored in feelings and emotions. Users can’t separate their emotions from a situation when making decisions. They are very aware of moral issues/dilemmas, and they show more empathy and compassion for people than the other styles.

Feelers tend to be more traditional in their approach to solving problems. They think best when people are around and they feel they are contributing.


No other style has the ability to perceive the present moment as fully as the doer. The doer is considered the most practical and pragmatic in making decisions. This navigational style is results-oriented and likes useful — not theoretical or conceptual — solutions to problems.

Doers can absorb vast amounts of data about what’s happening around them and use it to get things done quickly. Doers tend to be better at making short rather than long-range decisions.


The intuitor lives in the future — a world of concepts and ideas, rather than actions, feelings or logical thought. This style is more at home with what will be then with what is or was. Such a person is able to see the potential in a situation or person.

The intuitor is easily frustrated with routine in detail. To others the intuitor may appear flighty and unrealistic; but this person can be inspired about the future as quickly as the doer can initiate a project, the thinker can evolve a new theory and the feeler can recognize the effects of a decision on the people involved.

Once you’ve identified the other person’s navigational style, you can modify yours so there is less friction and your styles become complementary.

If the other person is a thinker, prepare to work with him or her by being armed with all the facts. This makes you look credible and helps develop a rapport so you can explore the alternatives to solving a problem.

If you’re dealing with a doer, realize this person makes decisions quickly. Don’t overwhelm this individual with the same amount of facts you would provide the thinker.

If the other person is a feeler, be prepared to listen to feelings. However, once you build a relationship with this type of person, you’ll be rewarded with the feeler’s greatest strength — loyalty.

Jay Nisberg is an internationally known management consultant recognized for his work in strategic planning and growth management with professional services firms and privately-owned businesses. He is the author of the “Random House Handbook of Business Terms” as well as the “Random House Dictionary of Business Terms.” Nisberg is the longest active member of Accounting Today’s “Top 100 Most Influential People in the Accounting Profession.” He is the co-author of “Stratagem: Simple, Effective Strategic Planning for Your Business and Your Life,” published by Smart Business Books. Contact him at [email protected].

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