It’s 9 o’clock at night and we are perusing the food options in the United terminal at O’Hare airport in Chicago. Packaged shrimp salads with strawberries and jicama; yogurt parfaits with granola, mango and bananas; roasted cinnamon and sugar peanuts… All look like perfectly good dinner substitutes to me. My eyes take in the selection and my brain works over every facet needed and not needed to decide which delectable is the winner. Meanwhile, my man asks me questions to help me narrow down my selection, gives me more info to add to my already overloaded brain and silently urges me with his body language to choose something soon. As I near the moment of declaration, he says something to the effect of, C’mon you have to make a decision Baby. I give him the death stare and say something like, Stop talking please. I can’t think. I never remember exact dialogue (I’m an intuitive thinker), but that is the gist of the interaction. Bottom line is we were both tired. It was the end of the day and we both wanted me to make a decision so we could sit down.
Whatever you do, don’t be ambivalent
I’ve witnessed and been on the receiving end of other’s impatience with people who are slow to make decisions. One of my relatives described a co-worker as being ambivalent. He practically spat the word ambivalent out like it was akin to worthless or repulsive. My family member expected leadership qualities from his co-worker. A leader would be decisive.
I completely understand the frustration when someone sits on the fence forever or can’t seem to take a stand on anything. But what if your decision-making abilities are so complex they require additional time and processing? What if each choice must accurately reflect your values and personal identity? What if your senses are already tapped out and every additional decision is harder than the next?
My decisions reflect who I am
According to, INFP vs. INFJ: 5 Surprising Differences to Tell Them Apart on Personality Hacker, my Myers Briggs type, INFP, does an emotional check-in for every decision. We decide from the inside. It is essential for each choice I make to minimize emotional fallout and represent my truest values or identity. INFPs use authenticity to determine their responses. It is the slowest decision-making process out there based on Myers-Briggs types and temperaments (but given all of the factors we consider it actually is quite a quick computation). Not surprisingly, other types’ decision-making processes are based more on logic and efficiency.
No wonder I am decision fatigued by the end of the day. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to decision-making mates. They provide a sort of relief.
In Why Is It So Hard to Say No to People? Introvert Guilt and Fear of Inferiority, I mentioned struggling to decide whether to go to the beach with my man or take a nap by myself. My boyfriend did not care what I did. He just wanted me to make a decision. At the time, I was feeling bad about myself because I couldn’t keep up with the others on vacation with us. When I tested my emotional thermostat it was in the danger zone. That emotional fallout hampered and prolonged my decision-making process.
It just feels right.
I often feel pressure to make a decision but have to run everything through personal screening. Another problem is I see lots of possibilities for each choice. Things are rarely cut and dry. I want to consider all the options and then go with the one that ‘feels’ the best. According to the Personality Hacker article, INFPs often only know if they made the right decision after they make it. What? Only then can they get the right or wrong feeling they need. This type of thinking is indescribable and for many, ridiculously senseless. It’s extremely difficult to justify a decision based on a feeling. Facts and cause/effect analysis is so much more readily digested and accepted.
How will this decision affect everyone involved?
Quite often intuitive feeling individuals make decisions based on how the people involved are affected. My type can see a case for almost anything. We are empathic. We put ourselves in others’ shoes constantly and fairly easily. We often reference ourselves because we run your experience through our own personal collection of experiences and match up resulting feelings. We search for what’s really true for us in order to get an idea of how you would feel in the same situation. We understand you based on understanding ourselves. What is the exact feeling I’d be feeling if I were you? No surprise, our decisions are delayed by this process. No wonder we hesitate or appear ambivalent. We do not want to upset others or make unfair choices. We are totally aware of emotional fallout from our decisions, not only our own emotions but those of others.
We get faster and more determined
The cool thing is decisions based on values get easier as we get older. We eventually develop conviction based on past experiences and results. We know ourselves, our truths, therefore we can commit to a response quicker.
We also become better readers of people and therefore can apply empathetic feelings to situations more readily.
There’s a rhyme to our reasoning
We may still hem and haw at times but when we do come up with an answer it is quite often astutely in tune with others and in line with our most intrinsic values. This level of thoughtfulness, although time-consuming and often frustrating, is a way to create a unique glimpse of and brief connection with the human condition. We don’t simply order a snack at an airport kiosk. We consider the effect the food will have on our body. Will this make me tired or give me energy? We want to stay awake so we can keep our partner company until bedtime. Will the food get me through the next two hours until we get home? We consider sharing the snack with our partner. Would they like that?
This type of introspection is rare and I can’t help but think it is beneficial to the world in some way. When we express ourselves in ways beyond decision-making perhaps we give others a small taste of humanity? Perhaps empathy and personal values are the foundation for profound decision-making? Profound relationships? I don’t know. I can’t decide.
Do you make swift decisions or do you ponder a lot? Conviction and swiftness are traits we assign to leaders. Is everyone meant to be a leader? Could the personal decision screening done by intuitive feelers be exactly the humanity the world needs?
If this piece resonated or affected you in a meaningful way, I would truly appreciate it if you would share it with others who may benefit. Thank you!!