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20 Sep 2010

The Words “Feel” and “Think” as Tools

Intuitive approaches require the identification of emotional drivers in influencing and problem solving. They generally work better than cognitive approaches because emotional drivers tend to impact behaviors, thoughts and decisions far more than logic, reasons and rationales. Therefore, if we want to effectively identify these drivers, we need techniques to help us. Our word choice is one such technique.

Generally speaking we can uncover feelings by simply asking, “How do you feel about . . .” If we ask, “What do you think about . . .” we’ll tend to receive a heady response rather than a heartfelt one. The word “believe” gives us more of a middle-of-the-road response. We need the mid-range approach because some people do not like to be asked how they feel about things. I once asked a woman how she felt about something, and she replied, “I hate it when you ask that question.” Therefore, we need a mid-range approach for these folks.

Furthermore, we can incorporate these words into our discussion, not just our questions. The more we use the word “feel” the more likely our discussion will hover on an emotional plane. Conversely, the more “think” is used the more likely it will hover on a logical one. In order to avoid redundancy we can incorporate more feeling words like emotions, empathy and sympathy. Thinking words would include reasons, rationale and logic and keep the discussion on a heady level.

If you will be teaching others how to use these words, you need to be aware that some people don’t like to even use the word “feel.” If so, they will have difficulty using this technique.

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