How to work with an intuitive vs. an analytical person

Intuitive vs. Analytical Personality Traits

Everyone makes decisions and judgments differently. Within any workplace, you’ll find two different styles of decision-making: intuitive and analytical.

This is just one element of an employee’s workplace personality (read all the personality trait descriptions here), but taken into account with their overall personality type and other traits, it can give you great insight into their work style.

What is an intuitive person?

Simply put, someone with intuitive personality traits makes decisions based on intuition. Rather than formally analyzing a lot of information, the intuitive personality type goes with a gut reaction. High-achieving intuitive employees are often known for making the right call under pressure.

What are the characteristics of someone who is intuitive at work?

Here are a few characteristics of intuitive employees:

  • They tend to make decisions and judgments based on their feel of a situation.
  • They may not always be able to immediately describe why they’ve come to a certain choice.
  • They’re often observant and may be good at spotting patterns, reading people, and picking up on cues that subconsciously influence their decisions.
  • They may be very good at making the right decision quickly, without much information, especially if they’re high-performing.
  • Once they’ve made up their minds, they may grow frustrated by additional steps or hoops to jump through.

How to work with someone with an intuitive personality

Tapping into the intuition of employees with this trait can help your business succeed and the employee thrive.

How to train someone who is intuitive
  • Explain where the employee will be able to make judgment calls and where they need to rely on procedure or check in with someone else. Of course, the level of flexibility you have with this will depend on the role and level, but be realistic about where you really can give an employee with good judgment flexibility.
How to motivate someone with the intuitive personality trait
  • All employees are motivated when they feel trusted, but especially those with intuitive traits. As they prove themselves to be trustworthy, give more leeway with decision-making.
  • Intuitive people may become unmotivated by what they view as unnecessary steps in decision-making processes. Cut down on red tape wherever you can.
  • Intuitive people can sometimes push back on second-guessing once they’ve made up their minds. Sometimes, that push-back is necessary; however, if you find the employee is often just waiting for a green light, try to eliminate those blockers.
How to give feedback to an intuitive person
  • Ask your intuitive employees to walk you through a recent decision. Doing this occasionally will help give you a sense of their informal process and enable you to give specific feedback.
  • Don’t be afraid to point out times when it’s necessary to slow down and double-check information before proceeding. Coach the intuitive employee to recognize times when waiting on more information would help, even if it’s not their first instinct.

What is the opposite of being intuitive?

On the other hand, some people in your workplace will have the analytical personality trait. Rather than relying on a gut reaction, intuitive people will carefully gather information to make a data-based judgment.

What is an analytical person?

An analytical person wants to gather and consider information at length before making a big decision. Even in small choices, they will tend to look to the numbers or data for guidance, rather than making an off-the-cuff choice. The analytical personality trait is often correlated with a Type C personality (see our guide to the 4 Personality Types for more information).

What are the characteristics of someone who is analytical?

Here are a few signs that an employee tends to be analytical:

  • They like to have all of the relevant facts before making a decision.
  • They value data, especially quantitative data.
  • They have a “prove it” mindset and want to hear the underlying reasoning behind decisions.
  • In the extreme, they may get over-think decisions and get caught in “analysis paralysis,” unable to move forward efficiently.

How to work with someone with an analytical personality

When they’re in their element, analytical employees can bring great data-driven decision making to their teams.

How to train someone who is analytical
  • Be sure to explain all of the information sources the person in the role has available. For example, is there historical data from past years available? Who can they call for a second opinion?
  • Explaining the reasoning behind your processes helps analytical minds accept them more easily. For example, did you start doing things a certain way because you saw a big reduction in help desk tickets when you did? Is there a correlation between upselling a certain product and higher customer lifetime value?
How to motivate an analytical person
  • Give them time to be analytical. Look for projects and roles where careful, thoughtful decision-making is valuable.
  • Give clear direction about how much time and resources you want to allocate towards gathering and analyzing information. If you know your employee will naturally dive deep, be clear about when it’s needed . . . and when it isn’t.
How to give feedback to an analytical employee
  • Offer information and data to back up your feedback. Your praise and constructive criticism will both carry more weight with an analytical employee if you tie it to real, meaningful performance data.
  • Be clear if over-analyzing is a problem. For example, if “analysis paralysis” is leading to missed deadlines or a slower pace of work than the role demands, explain that things need to move more quickly. Ask coaching questions like: “If we’re on a tight deadline, how can you move forward sooner, even if you don’t feel have 100% of the information you’d like to have?”

Which is a better worker: intuitive vs. analytical?

Intuitive and analytical thinkers bring different strengths and many teams benefit from a mix of people with different degrees of intuitive and analytical styles.

The intuitive personality trait can be a huge bonus in fast-paced environments and people-facing positions. On the flip side, analytical employees bring a data-driven viewpoint and thorough decision making to the table.

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