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N used to tell me that people, generally speaking, are separated into two types of thinkers' modalities: emotional and rational. 'Feeling people and thinking people' is the way he put it.

After 20 years of observation, I'm wondering if this quick and dirty distinction perhaps has some merit.

I find that people who react emotionally (and can often argue their point cogently and intelligently) tend to have strong on/off viewpoints. Either something is right (or correct or good) or it isn't. Their aspect is hard-edged: their emotions are involved; a disagreement with their idea is an attack on them personally.

People who look at an issue rationally, I think, look at various viewpoints; will even try to see the problem from the opposite side; will discuss the pros and cons of various solutions. They tend to understand how most solutions are compromises and that seldom is there a right answer. They can see the concept as independent from the emotional push behind it. That push will be required to put the solution into action, but is not appropriate to determine the correctness of the answer (the person who holds his view most strongly is right).

The rational thinkers often accede to the emotional view because they do not want to blur the line into a personal attack, and anyway, it may be one kind of a right answer -- but the emotional people are not listening to any kind of alternate views. In fact, they will feel that discussion of a problem is really an argument against their position; they react very negatively to any other standpoint.

They become oppositional. All of a sudden there's a fight, an argument, when the rational thinker was simply mulling over the possibilities, the potentials, the unknowns. He is taken by surprise, finding himself in a firefight where none was intended, nor (in his view) warranted.

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