What’s more persuasive? “I think…” or “I feel…”?

by Derek Halpern | Follow Him on Twitter Here

What's more persuasive? I think or I feel?

Yes, that’s a serious question.

What’s more persuasive?

This:

“I think the secret to getting what you want hinges on your ability to give people what they want.”

Or this:

“I feel the secret to getting what you want hinges on your ability to give people what they want.”

You may think (or feel) worrying about the difference between “think” and “feel” is pointless, but the truth is…

…one IS more persuasive than the other, and when you know why—and WHEN—you can take full advantage of it.

How Changing One Word Ups Your Persuasion Game

Writing a blog post? Giving a presentation? Talking to your significant other?

Knowing whether you should use “I think” or “I feel” can give you that little persuasive boost you’ve needed—and WANTED.

Now that you’ve watched this video, I’d like you to take a second and think back to some conversations you’ve had in the past.

Did you notice how you use “I think” or “I feel” ALL OF THE TIME?

But my question to you is this: do you believe you’ll be more conscious about whether you use think or feel going forward? Leave a comment and let me know.

Also, do you know someone who will find this research just as interesting as you?

Take a second and share it with them. I create these videos for you, and I don’t charge a penny for them. All I ask in return is for you to share ‘em up. So do it :-D.

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  1. Mayer ND, Tormala ZL. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Vol. 36, No. 4 (April 2010), pp. 443-454. Original source.

{ 211 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas

Brilliant information as always, Derek. Considering that most of my audience is female, this is very useful. Thanks!

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Derek Halpern

It’s interesting, to say the least. In the end, saying think or feel, as my friend Jeff Goins pointed out in a tweet to me, is a weak way of conveying your opinion. You should just state it… without the qualifiers… but that isn’t really feasible for most people when they’re speaking to people who expect some form of social nicety, heh.

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R.J.

I came on to post a comment much like Jeff’s.

I can’t think of many instances when I would use “I think…” or “I know…” … I am a bit more matter of fact with my statements, like Jeff.

That said, the overarching principle of considering the words you use with your audience is extremely important, even if these specific phrases are not ones I found myself using.

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Shogo Garcia

Great content Derek!

Not only is it a form of social nicety, there are times when “I think/I feel” is a better mode of communicating what you want to say rather than leaving the qualifier out completely.

Leaving the qualifier out completely may be beneficial if you are trying to persuade as a statement of fact, but not if you are trying to persuade as or add weight to a personal opinion that you may or may not believe to be fact.

This could apply, e.g., when answering questions at the end of a speech or presentation, when negotiating (as Joe Cassandra pointed out), or in everyday conversation.

“I feel white wine goes best with pizza.”

“I think white wine goes best with pizza.”

“White wine goes best with pizza.”

At least that’s what I think. Er, feel. :)

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carolm

I would probably say, “I prefer to have white wine, (rather than red of that is the topic of conversation), with Pizza” Why? Because I’m expressing a personal preference. It’s not a fact, or an opinion or a ‘thought’ or a ‘feeling’ – it’s a personal preference only.

There is no right or wrong drink to have with pizza. We are not dealing with facts with that example. We are not even dealing with an opinion.

Having an opinion means you have views on what is ‘correct’ – which implies there is a right and a wrong answer…and also that you have the ‘correct’ answer!

Saying ‘ I think’ in the question of wine is the same as expressing an opinion. Saying ‘I feel’ in that circumstance is simply pretentious.

You can never express your opinion as a fact, on any subject, unless you want people to ‘think’ (or feel :)) you are arrogant or are showing an unpleasant egotistic personality.

…..Good Comments section going here!

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Debbie Hubbard

I agree that qualifiers weaken a statement appreciably. When writing, I try to avoid them. But if you’re trying to persuade someone, softening the pitch may be a necessary evil.

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Justin Westbrooks

I agree, it’s a tough balance between communicating your confidence in an opinion while also respecting another’s preference. I’ve found it to be situational – even within my own team – and thus have to make the decision of stating my opinion more as “matter-of-fact” vs. using the Dale Carnegie “If I may make a suggestion…” lead-in. Definitely a fun communication battle – thanks for the insight, Derek!

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Joe Cassandra

95% percent women on your webinars…you’ll always have a date on Saturday! :D

This is great for negotiation as the words are key (ask Ramit) and every tweak to leverage to your side is a plus!

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Derek Halpern

You’re absolutely right Joe. What’s funny is how many people discount this.

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Jula

This is a great post!! The whole psychology of semantics is fascinating to me. Let’s be objective. If aliens visited the planet to observe the speech patterns of humans, the phrase “I feel that blue lasagna is by far the best.” would embarrass them in its redundancy. “Well of course ‘YOU feel…blue lasagna is the best,” the E.T. scoffs, “doesn’t this go without saying!? Are we such retards that we need a play-by-play narration?” Who could blame an alien for saying that?

Bad habits harden and refuse to budge, meanwhile our brains turn into mushy automatons without our awareness. I fear that I am going to be neurotic tomorrow in conversation. Neurotically economical, that is!!

Just because we left our “Hello, My Name Is” identifiers at the Oracle conference earlier this evening, doesn’t give us a free pass to make everything about US!. “I feel,” “I think,” “I presume,” “I voted.” Me, me, me, me, me, I, I, I, I, I. Anyone bored yet? Are such habits borne of narcissism, slothfulness of speech or as a handy reminder in case anyone forgets who has the floor? Is this an American thing? Don’t answer that. To announce the arrival of one’s sentence with the perfunctory “I think” sounds like an unfortunate identity crisis between a question and a declaration. A “questlaration”, if you will. Questlarations are the tools of the insecure syncophant. Who am I kidding!? I’m so disturbed by the truth of this blog post that if I hear myself slip into this quicksand even once tomorrow, I will have no choice but to ground myself from the New Year’s festivities and read Tolstoy.

Now that you mention it Derek, relying on the same three words to introduce 80% of our musings seems like something only a troglodyte would do. Overstatements reek of insecurity. Same with lying. Isn’t the saying, “more details provided, more likely a lie.”

So when someone says, “I feel that white wine goes well with pizza.” what he is really saying (and I may be going out on a limb here) is. “DOES white wine go well with pizza? I’m unsure whether the utterance leaving my mouth will be socially acceptable, seen as gauche or open me to ridicule….What if you think my stance on white wine and pizza means I was raised in a barn? I had better overcompensate for my insecurity with audacity to mask my apprehension. As a matter of fact, can I have that megaphone over there? Yes, hey wait a minute. Here ye, here ye! let be known far and wide, that I Claudius, the one with the finest palate in all the land, thinks that white wine could not be mated more appropriately than with this pizza. Did everyone hear that?”

Besides William Shakespeare proclaiming that “Brevity is the soul of wit,” most are hip to “the louder the bark, the less of a bite, the more insecure the man.” Most with a quiet confidence don’t feel the need to be on the bully pulpit 24/7, because they have no need to constantly seek the affirmation of an audience. (I) know that by making this point, (you) probably already (think) that (I’m) already a marshmallow, begging for affirmation as (my) prattling on is as unceasing, but (I feel)…strongly, (I might add)…that you would be mistaken as Shakespeare was leading me somewhere…I think.

Bob Dylan immediately comes to mind. The most mysterious, quietly ego-less man to grace the public eye in a long time. Some would attempt to disagree, but the Bard (no offense, Billy) always seems more entertained by the wheels turning in his own head than the contrived noise happening around him. The reason why Dylan wears “cool” like an emblem he has a patent on, is not only due to his mysterious ways of brevity, but his utter lack of need to be understood. He understands himself. Who can spin words & insinuate profundities, all while saying nothing at the same time? Dylan’s cool factor comes from being truly self-possessed. Of course, if anyone were to point out how cool Dylan was to his face he would revolt. There is a reason Dylan refuses to be The Persuader On the Mount. To have influence capable of eliciting such a disproportionate adulation, is to imprison him in a way. Dylan was happy as a noonday clam to walk onto a stage play “Queen Jane Approximately” and walk off. Dylan is indifferent to his powers of persuasion. Still, we manage to project our desires to persuade and influence onto a man who is too self-possessed to need it. One day this celebrity has Messianic status or doing or saying something, and then next day he is the Devil (for doing or saying the same thing. Dylan knows it is not real and it’s a trap. This is why I believe we can’t “do” persuasion. It gives us the illusion we can control other people. While, I don’t think we can persuade a juror to sway one way over the other with a few meticulously chosen words, a commanding presence could. So let’s be honest, one can’t have a commanding presence blithering and blathering all over the place. And besides spoken language is only 7% of communication.

Dylan does not live or die by the sword of public opinion because he knows who is running the show. Can anyone imagine him scuffling into a green room after a show and saying, “I feel the chorus of ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ was like a mating call that would have persuaded ME to visit my hotel room.” If Bob ever said, “I think that our pizza may not kosher, possibly” he would lose all credibility and people wouldn’t even know why.

Anyone who feels the need to soften his pitch (be it a response, a song, or a sale) can’t believe in it very strongly. Is it possible to diminish or soften a pitch and still be in integrity? Are we selling out because we care more about manipulating an outcome, even if it wasn’t entirely real? I understand that selling successfully involves a bit of manipulation and the ability to read and understand people’s psyche, but I have a feeling that exerting much less energy in manufacturing outcomes might yield greater results, by volume and staying power.

I am only thinking aloud and playing Devil’s Advocate here. Up until now, the conventional wisdom has been to persuade others to bend our way, and buy our wares. Let’s say Susie Sassafrass had no intention to buy a grill for Biff Balzac to barbecue his beef upon. But the sales guy started using feminine words, slowly invading her space, talking about how much he loved Twilight and finally wore her down with charm. She may have walked out with the barbecue, but she will soon resent him and not respect him. The guy persuading doesn’t respect himself either. In fact, he feels dirty.

If Bob Dylan spent his life force measuring numbers, nuances and calculations, no one would be happy for more than 10 minutes. Those who are inauthentically influenced by Machiavellian persuasions could not possibly respect themselves — could they? Anyone who is in the business of persuading, with the right closing argument, the right album, the right position on abortion, or the right line at a bar — whether in an obvious or stealthy way — is broadcasting his empty incompleteness. For if he that persuaded were complete, he wouldn’t need you to bend with admiration, respect, or sales. This leads me to my final point.

Anyone who is “trying” to do anything inauthentic will not succeed. The paradox and natural order of the universe, is that as soon as a man sincerely loses his agenda to manipulate those outside of him, the people will be influenced and follow. Unfortunately, the universe cannot be outwitted or tricked.

Now, back to your original question Derek. Will I be more conscious of of excessive use pronouns in first person? Thank you (I think!) doh!

Lessons learned from Derek Halpern sandwiched in between two Bards.

1) You can’t coerce, persuade, cajole, or influence anyone with any lasting & true power unless you truly do not care. Dylan wrote the book. And this cannot be faked.

2) Our generation has become infected with a virus. Maybe it’s the fluoride in the water, but mamby-pamby speech patterns that reek of vanilla insecurity are commonplace: i.e, “I pretty much think our political system today…”, “I totally feel like…..he should have like asked you first. I mean, really!? Who does he think he is!?”, “I know, but I don’t think I am really feeling like want to go very much this year, you know? Because….like I think that sales guy is sooo incorrigible…….know what I mean?” Gee, this is awkward, but no I don’t know what you mean. And let us not forget the crown jewel of our generation, who could have diminished, even Claudius to tears, with the substance and clarity of his verse. For never before has the planet ever known such grand elocution at a podium! What am I saying!? Never before has even our silken Galaxy with its creamy, Milky Way of goodness, bestowed upon us a more perfect countenance to lead the most articulate generation ever to The Promised Land of Manna & Twitter. ………Like, EV-ER!

“That’s — that’s a bunch — so — so let me tick these off. Deh… Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, um, uh. So the issue is not a perception that, uh… Weh, weh, let me put it this way.”

At least he didn’t say “I think” or “I feel.” Genius!

Reply

carolm

Dylan puts into a few words and music, everything that I can not.

When I first heard him in 1963 as a young teenager, I could not believe my ears. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, cheer, or leave home. I did all four and have never looked back.

Well said Jula – and that’s the longest comment I’ve ever bothered to read through. Also the best ever.

Reply

Jula

Carolm —

And everything that you put into words & music, he cannot! So Shazaam!

Title: “I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, cheer, or leave home.
Subtitle: I did all four and have never looked back.”

I think you should take that quote from your post above, make it into an abbreviated title of a coffee table book, fill it with airbrushed pictures of Bobby and yourself in compromising positions and sell it! hahaha

Well, thank you for reading. I’m shocked even ONE person did. LOL. Yes, the post was v long and meandering. Derek inspired me, and then I got distracted by Bob. What can I say?

It’s nice of everyone to tolerate (or at least pretend to tolerate or ignore) that in the midst of everyone’s conversation. I was feeling especially passionate that night.

Rachel

Wow, this changes everything! haha. I deal mostly with women, but I’m a thinker – so I’ll have to test this ‘feeling’ message :) I bet you just made me some money! Thank you!

Best,
Rachel

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Derek Halpern

Small little insights… and potential for big results.

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Jula

Stop trying to be so serious. You know you want to laugh at the circus.

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Mary Houlihan

I think that shirt looks really good on you Derek. I do plan on using ‘think’ more often now, since the majority of my client’s are male.

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Derek Halpern

Trunk club is for men, after all!

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Nathalie Lussier

I absolutely relate better with “I feel” when I’m reading or listening to other people. And I can see how it would be different for men, having worked in the male dominated fields that I have for so long.

P.S. Love your T-rex arms.

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Derek Halpern

Those T-Rex arms should be an animated gif.

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R.J.
Adam
Jules Webb

I think you were persuasive now, but I will feel your persuasion later! LOL

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Janine

Good content – I think I can use this where I know my audience. When I’m often dealing with a mixed audience I like to “think” about framing things in terms of head and heart. Too many times I’ve seen presentations miss the mark because they used, or over used, just one approach.

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Lorea Sample

Thanks Derek! This is yet another simple actionable that you’ve given us all to enable us to connect effectively with our audiences!

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Vanessa Uybarreta

I have thought about this a bunch of times. I always use feel, because of the line of work I am in- Wholistic Massage Therapy. Good VID!!!!

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Scott Wyden Kivowitz

My blog audience is mostly male, but the private lessons I offer usually usually for female customers. This will definitely help for both aspects of my business.

- Writing with I Think (blogging)
- Speaking with I Feel (in person lessons)

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Mary

Fascinating and useful stuff, Derek. Thanks!

And the bloopers at the end were fun :)

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Kim Thirion │ Un-CopiedLife

I was first leaning toward “I feel” as being more persuasive. Then I watched the video and just had to laugh.

More emotional? Yup
Woman? Yup
And my followers are predominantly women.

I’m completely convinced!

I’m very glad I stopped by! Great video!

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Kristin

Great video, Derek! This gives me the idea to state the main points of my blog posts in both an ‘I feel’ and ‘I think’ format within the same post to impact as many of my readers as I can with my message. Sharing this great info. Thanks!

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Natasha Lakos

YES! I’ve used this for years, not only to convey my ideas but also in asking for feedback (as in “what do you think/how do you feel about…”). While I agree it’s mostly male/female based, I’ve found it’s really effective when you can read a male or female as being the opposite (i.e. a male who’s more intuitive, or a woman who’s more about facts) – you definitely access another level of communication and trust.
Great post!

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Shannon Kenner

Derek,
Great stuff on this, and it makes good sense. Do you think there are situations where using NEITHER ‘feel’ or ‘think’ is better? For example, instead of telling the audience ‘I think you should do A’ or ‘I feel you should do A’ – go with ‘You should do A’. I had an English teacher a long time ago who taught us ‘using I THINK is redundant, and it weakens the message. So just say whatever it is, and leave that out.’ Now her lesson was from a proper-English perspective (or was it??), but maybe this approach has some merit in a social trigger setting. Your take on this would interest me. Thanks for all you’re doing, and have a great day.

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Derek Halpern

You are absolutely right Shannon. You do need to axe the qualifiers for the most powerful phrase.

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Valerie

She’s right from an English language perspective, but like most of the stuff you learn in English class, when it comes to real world context everything can change.

Using modifiers works when you’re making an appeal to someone and you’re asking them to come with you on a journey to arrive at your conclusion.

When you’re positioning yourself as less of a guide and more as a director, drop the modifiers and speak from a position of power.

My two cents, anyway.

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Valerie F

From an academic training, I drop the modifiers most of the time. I have previously presented as many facets of a debate as posseble. Lately, I have been forced to take a position presenting my thought and reasons.

I have a psychology background. The scientific study is fascinating. So is the observation about gender differences. It makes perfect sense.

Thank you for the application to different audiences. I will be using this information in my writing.

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Jeremy Mullens

It makes me want to try/experiment other words too besides ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’. It’s really Neuro Linguistic Programing – just done without face to face interaction.

Love these posts :)

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Derek Halpern

Glad you dig ‘em Jeremy.

And I’m in the same boat.

I’d like to know the difference between all types of words. I’m betting “The secret to getting what you want hinges on your ability to give people what they want.” is better without the think or the feel though.

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Janey Burton (@JRFBurton)

I’m automatically more likely to use ‘think’ with men than women, though that might be to prevent men assuming that I’m emotion-led (since I’m a woman). I use a mixture of ‘think’ and ‘feel’ with women, but yes, I’m likely to be more conscious of it in future – thanks Derek!

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Derek Halpern

You’re welcome Janey.

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Darlene

I automatically assumed it was “I feel” but.. you guessed it.. I’m a woman.

Talking the talk of your core audience is crucial for connections. Once again, great info Derek.

darlene :)
p.s. I also noticed, women use happy faces MUCH more than men.

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Rahat Bashar

Although all words are made the same, some words have more power than others.

Using the information in your video, I’ll be definitely trying it out on my design clients. It probably could be used when I’m in conflicting opinions with clients about the design, hopefully these magic words will give me the power to persuade and win lol.

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Juergen

I can feel this is a great advise but I am not a woman that’s why I think I will share it :-)

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Martin

Great Info Derek,

I’ve been following Simon Sinek lately. I really like His whole Golden Circle idea. I really like His example of Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have A Dream” not “I Have A Plan”. It seems to me (and I am really just starting to test this) people tend to buy or agree with you on a more emotional level. Then they will justify their actions with the logical information you provide. It’s the whole “features vs benefits” thing. Features being more emotional based and benefits being more logical based. What I am thinking ( see you just found out what kind of person I am) is trying to use the emotional based feeling message when speaking about benefits and the logical based thinking message when speaking about features. You certainly gave me a whole new direction to test now. Thanks for the great work.

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Anna

I am a tender woman… It looks I should like “I have a dream” more than “I have a plan” because of emotional level of the word “dream”. Right? Not for me. I really don’t like the “dream” phrase, and I like the “plan” phrase much more. Why? Because the word “dream” has a meaning of passivity, non-action, sleepiness, laziness, procrastination… We all have tons of dreams that are just dreams without any chance to become a reality.
And the word “plan” has a meaning of activity, readiness to work, energy, willingness to achieve results and so on. The word “plan” energizes me much, much more than the cozy, almost lethargic “dream”. So, I think AND feel that any word means different things for different people. Does it make any sense to you?

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Jeremy Mullens

I thoroughly enjoy Neuro Linguistic Programing, it’s amazing how a few choice words can dramatically influence the way people perceive you or the work you do.

Great topic once again!

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Mike Johnson

Derek, great tip. I am forwarding on to all my strategic partners. Can’t tell you how big a deal it is to share these tips with others!

Mike J

ps. friends call me “amazing mike”.

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Claire Kerslake

Thanks so much for this distinction, Derek. If you are catering to both male & female, should you use both equally?

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Brian at Go Beyond Dating

Great stuff Derek – as typical, the answer doesn’t end up being either/or of the 2 options presented…

When I saw your subject line, I immediately thought of a piece in 4HWW where Ferriss says to use “I feel” in certain tense conversations/situations because people cant argue with another persons feelings (they just ARE)

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Beth

GREAT info as always Derek- and you do make me laugh!

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Chris

Really good information. Made me reflect on a linguistic technique I’ve used for years. When working with clients I usually use the “feeling” word when asking about problems or challenges they are having, and the “thinking” word when we are working on solutions. It causes a reflective response when considering problems which goes beyond facts and then when dealing with possible solutions asking them to think encourages new ideas and openness to change. Works for the same for men and women – though women seem to be confident about what causes problems.

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Sarah Cairncross

I’m so going to use this in conversations with my ex husband. Muhahaha

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Amy

Yes! When talking to my (male)partner, I had to switch from “How do you feel about this?” to “What do you think?” because he had no idea what I was talking about when I used the word “feel.” It is actually very helpful in communication. Good luck! :)

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Keith

Perfect timing! Just about to compose an email to PTA/PTO leaders so I will be using “I feel”. Thanks for always backing your ideas up with real data!

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Renee

Clarity! Use ‘feel’ when appealing to my mostly female audience, but ‘think’ in my FAQs for the spouse (usually male) who has to approve the purchase. Always beneficial, Derek. Keep ‘em coming!

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douglas

I feel you’re putting me on, but I think you’re right.

Thanks for sharing!!

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Amy

In the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator, a personality assessment tool) the “Feeling” and “Thinking” category is the only one of the four categories that is gender biased. Women are typically feelers and men thinkers. I want to emphasize, though, that this does not mean women do not think and men don’t feel. Women tend to trust their gut instincts more and exhibit empathy, so “feel” works best for them.

As an aside, Jonathan Fields once posted his Myers Briggs type online. He’s an INFJ (so am I). Although he is an “F” or “feeler” he clearly knows how to think critically. I wonder what word (think or feel) would persuade him and people like him … you know, former lawyers turned yoga instructors turned writers …

Anyway, understanding the MBTI can help a person know what types of people tend to lean toward certain vocations, and this might help people choose the best option (thinking versus feeling). For instance, software engineers are often INTPs/INTJs/ENTPs/ENTJs – mostly “Ts” and I know they prefer the word think. Counselors, on the other hand, are often “INFJs/ENFJs/ESFJs/ISFJs” and feeling is their specialty.

I highly recommend the book “Please Understand Me” to anyone who would like to explore the MBTI. It’s purpose is to help people communicate with one another better. It definitely helps in copywriting.

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Shawn Altman

I would say that in the scientific community there is no scientific proof that the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator, a personality assessment tool) is valid. Since it is based on forced test questions your score can change each time you take the test. The other issue with personality is that we all are both thinkers and feelers. We have a preference for one or the other, but people are both. Each time I take the test I fluctuate and mostly am balanced, which is a good thing for personality. If you are zero’d out on these scores then it brings balance. The other issue is that if you dont understand your personality this score will push you into a type. The bad part is that you will psychologically think you are this score and start pigeon holing others into a psychological type. This is a bad thing since people are far more dynamic and changeable. What many people do not know is that the personality tests was designed by a mother and daughter to place women in the work place during WWII since so many men were in Europe at war. It was a way to force a carrier path. So, using this tool for a career path is good, but to use it for determining a personality is a stretch. Same goes for the Big 5, enneagram, or what have you. The same would hold true for astrology in that you cant assume someone is a type based on a sign. Even if there is slight statistical data supporting, people have access to all scopes of personality and should develope the weaker sides for a better balanced out look on reality including the use of the world feel and think. Really using feel and think should be with in the context of the situation as well.

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Shawn Altman

I did want to add:

“Women tend to trust their gut instincts more and exhibit empathy, so “feel” works best for them.” is actually a function of Intuition and Feeling, so this would be a NF combination and not SF. So, the NF person would be more theoretical using gut instinct that is more or less a priori. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_priori_and_a_posteriori The SF person would learn through their senses and understand feelings better like an artist.

I would like to see the tests that were run to see if there are any outliers.

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Amy

You certainly don’t need to like it or use it, Shawn, but as a counselor and teacher I find it to be an invaluable tool and quite accurate for most, but certainly not all, people.

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Mathias

Hi Shawn, these tests obviously make more sense if you take them with a professional, not the online versions.
I know they are not considered as science but I find them a good tool to know yourself and as you said trying to get better in your weak points.

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Shawn

I studied Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology for my undergrad at the University of Maine in 1999-2003. Focused on Statistics in Psychology and testing. Also, I obtained degrees in Business Admin Accounting and Computer information Systems. I haven taken Myers and Briggs tests with professionals and online many times over the last 10 years. I even took this at the University with “Professional”. We talked for a long time and in the end told me only I know me. I know what I score, but I can change it day by day. The study of personality was a passion of mine for a long time. I have since taken the tests several times, but noticed that since they are forced questions I could make different choices depending on my mood and new preferences. I have done this off and on for over ten years. I have talked with lots of other professionals in psychology that agree they are not scientific and not valid in the community, but I concur they are a great toosl to find a job skill area. Amy, the comment that it is accurate for most and not all is challenging, but I get the gist. My only issue is if you tell a young person that they scored introverted then they will always think “I am an introvert” which makes them maybe not realize they are both. They get to pick when to express one over another. It is not black and white. Of course then we are all both Thinkers and Feelers. I am both and everyone is, but these tests are to look at our preferences. I have been involved with studies that take two different groups to test our conservative thoughts when being around noise/distraction. People tend to think more conservatively when there is more distraction and noise. This can alter our choices. I would encourage people to look at all the personality type tests along with additional knowledge. Only reason that I think all this is that I fluctuate each day on my preferences and how tired or distracted I am. Some days I am extroverted and am energized by the world around me, but other days I am reflective and dont want the external energy of the world around me. At one time I could read someone with in a few minutes and attribute them to a myers and briggs or know there astrology, but it painted a hard picture in my mind of them and is restrictive in thinking. I do love the personality type tests and used them heavily, but over the last 10 plus years I have come to know that it is like judging a book by the cover. These test are only for job placement if any. To do a full psychological evaluation one would need an IQ test and further testing by professionals. For my current job I do nothing that Myers and Briggs said that I would grow to be. I scored an INFP, INTJ, ENFJ, and ENTJ. I am always balanced with clear intuition, but I also learn through my senses very well. I was a professional kayak instructor and learned quickly through my senses where intuition would not help as kayaking everything is backwards from what we intuitively think. My concern is these test can push people to make the wrong choices and may take years to undo the negative choices they made on the test. I think that one would need to take the test every 3 months for many years to start to measure the personality IF it is to be used at all. Just my thoughts. Look at the “The Secret” which teaches positive thinking. Psychologist are having to undo this thinking since people were taking this to extremes. As for Think and Feel… well, it depends on the context. If talking to Engineers they will not like Feelings statements, but if buying Mom flowers then using Feeling would be good timing. Gender will of course play a role, but I Feel/Think that it is also situational no matter the gender which gets in the outliers of the Statistical Test conducted by the University.

Just some thoughts as I ramble.

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Alexis

I use “I think” CONSTANTLY in posts and comments. However given that 99% of my readers are women, I feel I should be changing that up in the future :)

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Cris

Very interesting. I am working on a book where the target audience is predominantly women. I just went and changed all of my “I think” to “I feel.” It felt a bit awkward because I am also a “thinker” rather than a “feeler,” but I know my audience is not. Thanks for the tip.

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Himanshu

Now this one was a great insight Derek… and my view is not just what I think or I feel about it but this is something I believe :)

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Laura

Feeling it, D. Think you are the, man! Do the T-Rex!

Seriously, you are always, always right on target with your info. Will definitely be using this tip going forward. Thx, so much- once again!

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Jared

I feel like this will help me write some better ad copy!

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Bud Brown

I told my tribe to watch this video and subscribe! Ours is an offbeat tribe from Derek’s traditional audience but this is information they need!

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Piers | Kickstarters'HQ

Thanks again Derek!

This makes for a great introduction to the many subtle language differences that make a huge difference in psychology. NLP has been teaching this stuff in depth for years, and is worth checking out if you’re interested.

A good habit to get into is to always try an alternative word and just think about/feel the difference it makes. A few other word combinations that are often used interchangeably to very different effect:

need / want
won’t / can’t / don’t want to
wrong / incorrect
hate / dislike
sign up / join
give / share
ad / offer
pay / invest in

So close in the thesaurus… so far away in psychology.

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Jiri Krewinkel

I’ve always been very interested in NLP and videos such as these are great fun to explore. But I’ve never really found any GOOD place for quality NLP material other than random ‘self-help-blogs’ that basically all teach the same thing.

You seem to have some experience in NLP, are there any GOOD books or marketing-relevant blogs that you recommend?

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Tammy Tilley

For years I have taught the difference between “thinking” and “feeling” in my college composition classes. I encourage students to use “thinking” language in their expository essays and to use “feeling” language in the introductions and conclusions.

Now, thanks to this video, I have yet another way to apply meanings and language to context.

The power of words…gotta’ love it!

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Luis R Silva

Very useful!
I’ve notice that my audience is 70% male and 30% female… it may be because I write about how to improve technical aspects of business websites and probably I’m using technical words that scares most of the women. Since I do want women also improve their web presence and start following me, I should start using less technical stuff (think) and start using more “feeling” language.
- Thanks Derek!

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Marisa

I had a male friend once lay into me for using “I feel.” Well, not into me per se, but it started a rant as to why women (in general) always say “I feel.” It both annoyed him and frustrated him. Finally he was like “Say ‘I think.’” This conversation basically proves the data. lol.

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Nichole

My guess… it depends on the product you’re selling and your audience.

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Lisa

Time to check my own website. I’m a “thinker” and most of my clients are women. Thanks for the tip!

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Tracy Matthews

Great advice Derek. I speak to men and women in both of my businesses…

Will definitely be using “think” language when speaking to the dudes about engagement rings. Big purchase so great advice….and I am always using “feeling” language so the ladies already get me and love it.

Thanks again!

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Wendy Garrido

Interestingly, there were no actual feelings expressed. Thoughts can be hidden behind “I feel” statements, but the reverse doesn’t work.

We can say…

“I feel sad because my dog died.”

but not…

“I think sad because my dog died.”

In personal relationships, it’s more vulnerable, but often more engaging and connective, to follow the words “I feel” with our actual feelings rather than our thoughts.

While two people might NEVER come to an agreement about what they THINK, we can ALL relate about how someone else FEELS, because we’ve all felt disappointed, frustrated, sad, nervous, excited, relieved, peaceful, happy, etc. at one point or another. (Even if we don’t agree (think!) that they SHOULD feel that way.)

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Dan

Oh Derek, I think you are actually a closet feeler.

Or I feel…you are…how does it go?

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Tanya McGill Freeman

Derek, I THINK (and I state that b/c you’re a dude-HA!) that you are absolutely on target with this. Knowing your audience and the language they speak/understand is imperative to being an effective communicator. Right on!

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Rose

Awesome video and insights Derek! I am a career coach and teach people how to interview and this has great application in that arena. I “feel” I am the best candidate for the job vs. I “think” I am the right person for the job. I wonder if this applies to salary negotiation though, maybe it’s because I am a thinker, but saying “I feel I deserve more money for reasons X, Y and Z” just seems to fluffy for me! If I was the hiring manager I would think, “I don’t care how you feel, give me facts!” Awesome content as usual, I love what you are doing!

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Erin Malone

I never cease to learn from you! As my audience is mainly engineers I am going to use “I think” from now on.

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Brenda Horton

Great video Derek! As a business woman, (actionplanr.com) I tend to use both logic and intuition. Keep up the great work!

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Brenda Horton

Great video Derek! As a business woman, I tend to use both logic and intuition. Keep up the great work!

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Deb Lund

Before I listened to the video, my thought was, “It depends who you’re talking to,” and I was ready to hear a specific answer, so this was great validation for me. ; ) For people in organizations where individuals take personality profiles such as the Myers-Briggs, they can access that information and know the ratio of Feelers to Thinkers. Like so many gender-based findings, there’s always a mix, as you pointed out. I tend to use “I think” when speaking, though I’m definitely an “I feel” kind of person. Maybe it’s to sound more credible to the “thinker” population. Thanks for giving us all these fun things to think (and feel) about…

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Bud Brown

To rephrase DesCartes: “I feel, therefore I am.”

Why don’t women ask their men “What are you feeling?” instead of “What are you thinking?”

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Max Miller

Most of our customers (95%) are women. This is worth pursuing.
We would like to know more about key words of this nature.

When I wrote flight manuals the choice of words was very important from a technical aspect.

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Michelle Brinson

Love it! Words are powerful! I’m a feeler, but in working with lots of men… I frequently use the phrase “I think.” Even without all the research, I learned a long time ago, it’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it that can make the difference.

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Bert Middleton

Thanks Derek, this is timely – statistically my audience is men, but I have way more women subscribing. This I can use.

Bert

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Shane

I think I’m feeling an inner struggle with this one Derek ;-)

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Sarah J Storer

I THINK that calling myself a FEELER is hilarious. Gonna put it on my business card.

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Beverly

Will test this! Nice video presentation….

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Maryam Reimer

This is so true. Men and women, in general, have different communication styles. We were talking about this over 10 years ago in corporate america. Knowing your audience is so important and I think it’s equally important to tailor your words to your content. I used to write about taxes and financial stuff –thinking much more appropriate there. Now, the writing is more spiritual — feeling more appropriate here even with guys!

And, thanks for the reminder Derek.

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Joshua Waldman

Yay! The bloopers are back!

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Michael Warren

I think this was a great presentation, and my wife feels the same way.

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Marion

I had a history teacher in high school that would respond to to everyone who said “I feel” with “You feel? Some days I wake up and I feel I dont love my wife. You can’t make decisions based on feelings!”

I often wonder if he’s still married…

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Serita Diana

Ha! I guessed feel because most people buy in because of an emotional connection. Of course, as a woman I firmly believe that. And when it comes to men and women their approach to business is usually vastly different. Thanks for sharing though. Always good to have what you think confirmed!

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Jelle

Hi Derek,

The past few weeks I have been following a salestraining program based on The enneagram of personality. Any idea if your findings fit into that model? Because how you suggest to use it, it sounds a bit too simplistic.

Take care!

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Sheryl

I have used this philosophy ever since my kids biology teacher told them that males are “reptilian” brained. Explains so much!!

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Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson

My daughter has a t-shirt with a T-Rex on it, stubby arms spread wide – well as wide as it can 8=) Under neath it says “I love you THIS much!” Your T-Rex is almost as cute.

Anyway, I try to avoid both “I think” and “I feel” although I used to tend to the “I think” side of things. Sometimes I’ll go with “I believe” when I need to hedge a statement. It would be interesting to see how that stacks up against the other 2. IMO and IMHO are also alternatives (whether written in full or as acronyms) that would be interesting to test.

But the fact is, using any of these is hedging. And, as it has been mentioned in other comments above, hedging weakens your writing (at least that’s what I believe that I think I feel 8=)

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Katina

Love! Great idea to test IMO and IMHO :)

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Nichole

Hey Bill,

I agree that it would be interesting to test “opinion”-based statements. I use them on occasion when writing blog posts when there are varying opinions as not to cause controversy.

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Katina

Very interesting!
I’m writing a book review that’ll be posted later on (Jan 2013), but there is a persuasive element to my post, and I do write “I think” a lot in this piece because it has more weight to it than feeling statements — no disrespect to the feelers in the room. I do use “feel” statements too, sometimes as much as “think” statements, but my motivation for using the words is a little different.
In my opinion, you can argue a person’s thought process (their logic), but you cannot argue a person’s feelings. So when I want to share my position on something without being contested on it, I use “feel” statements. I don’t care who sides with me or not — it’s just about being heard and letting folks know where I stand. When I want to be persuasive however, I use “think” statements. I find sound logic to be more persuasive than feelings, which change all the time… so it goes without saying that I was genuinely surprised that more women went for the “feel” statements rather than “think” statements. My natural inclination to favor “think” statements on the persuasive front didn’t reflect the majority trend among women.
How awesome is it that there is no right or wrong word to use, but rather effective and ineffective word choices based on who the audience is…
Great post Derek! I love your site, love your advice, and I look forward to the next post.

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Amandah

I will be more aware when I use “I think” and “I feel.” Since I write self-help, I know most of the audience ‘feels’ or consider themselves empathetic. On the flip side, if I’m writing business material, I’ll use “I think” versus “I feel.” Then again, if I’m writing fiction, YA, etc. I want my audience to ‘feel’ some type of emotion.

Thanks for the tip. I’ll keep in the back of my mind when I write.

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Adam Hunter Peck

Derek, great post as always!

I *feel* that, depending on the context, saying “I feel” can potentially sound more sure (though seemingly only supported by the vagueness of instinct rather than the concreteness of facts or experience), while saying “I think” can sound uncertain (if you’re not sure of something, you say “I think”).

What I found interesting about the research is that it starts with the statement, “My thoughts about…” which may help to communicate that the thoughts are solidified, negating any uncertainty from the following “I think”.

Just a thought!

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Jari King

Hi Derek!

Great information as usual! However, when your blog audience is pretty well split 50/50 between men and women, what do you think/feel I ought to do in employing this lesson?

Jari

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Jenna Dalton

Super interesting! I love how the experiment was so simple but had far-reaching consequences.

I’ll definitely be thinking about this when writing, speaking and talking with ‘feelers’ and ‘thinkers’

Thanks, Derek!

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Stanley Lee

Never thought there’s that much research between the use of these two phrases. Thanks for the work in dumbing that down.

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Susanna Perkins

LOL, Derek, I’m so glad you wrote this post and made this video. I totally understand the difference between “feel” and “think,” but I’m a rebel from your demographic. As a woman, it really annoys me when marketers try to appeal to or influence my feelings. I’d much rather have them go for my thoughts. :-)

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Carlos Vazquez

I think (yup) that there’s another variable here, and that’s the context defined by the subject matter. A more esoteric context will probably enhance the effectiveness of a “feel” delivery, while more empirical subject matter will probably be better supported by “think.”

At least, that’s how I feel.

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Louise Mandar

How do I plan to use this new secret weapon? Well, since my market is women based…I could use it on my sales pages, my posts and emails, even in tweets or other social media communications. I’ll pick one that’s trackable and measure the responses. Thanks for the handy tip!

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Martin Wedgwood

Thanks for sharing your thoughts in such an emotional way, Derek. I thought: “That’s good to know but what do I do when confronted to a heterogeneous audience or when I do have no idea to which domain they belong?” This made me feel a bit confused in the first place.

But then I thought about the NLP approach where I would look for the way someone is representing the world internally. In a coaching session the approach would be close to what you’re suggesting while in a presentation or group setting I’d tend to pace different representation schemes by alternating keywords and non-verbal expression.

So maybe this could be added: If you know your audience to be heterogeneous which will be true in a lot of contexts (as with your own blog – as Jari King mentioned) make sure you take into account the representation and reaction schemes of people who are wired in a different was than yourself.

That said: Thanks so much for your energy and enthusiasm! Which is an interesting way of combining the two: thinking/abstract (results of research) on the explicit/verbal level combined with energy and enthusiasm (emotion/feeling) on the implicit/non-verbal level. That is the communication genius way of pacing a heterogeneous audience ;-)

Cheers form germany
Martin

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Weston Minter

Good stuff, Derek. More out-takes…

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Katharine Trauger

Ha.
I still say, get facts and KNOW. Be the expert. Convince THEM that they agree, (whether they are hardboiled or softpeddlin’). Sighs.

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Gabriela Pereira

Hey Derek! This video rocks! I’m a total junkie when it comes to gender research; my psych theses both in college and grad school were on gender differences and cognition so I LOVE this stuff and I love thinking about how it can apply to real-world situations.

Going forward, I definitely know how I’ll use “I think” vs. “I feel.” As someone whose business centers on helping writers with their work, the nuances of those words make all the difference. When giving very objective and direct advice or info (i.e. on something like grammar or basic story structure where things are more analytical and clear-cut), I’ll use “I think.” But if giving someone more subjective feedback on their own writing (advice that might be more emotionally-charged and personal) I’ll definitely be using “I feel” much more.

Also, the gender difference is fascinating. I wonder if there’s any research being done that links brain hemisphere and the “I think” and “I feel” difference. Like, when people hear the words “I think” are they more likely to use their left brain to process the argument (and the other way around with “I feel.”) Would the nuances between those words actually prime us to use our brains differently and process the information in different ways. (BTW, who are the authors of the study and what journal? I’d love to read more of their work.)

Cool stuff!

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Gary Dunstan

I like this quote Derek, have you heard it?…
“We are not thinking machines that feel; rather, we are feeling machines that think.” Antonio DaMasio

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Michelle Barry Franco

Fascinating! I was CERTAIN you were going to say “I think” was more persuasive. Actually, when I think this over (incidentally, I’m a straight split of cognitive and emotional), I think… I feel… it depends on the content of the message as well. For example, if you say: “I feel that giving money to charity: water is a wonderful way to make a difference in the world”, I can *feel* the positive impact of that feeling focus. However, if you say, “I feel the best free email marketing platform is MailChimp”, I *feel* less confident in your advice than if you say, “I think the best free email marketing platform is MailChimp.” Is it just me? Do you know if they researched this question with different message content?

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Belinda Weaver

Great post Derek. I’m a newbie to your work and I love it!

I will definitely be applying this difference to the copywriting I create for my clients. I am always wary of writing female language for businesses that a have a male target audience so it’s great to have something to frame my approach. Cheers!

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Pat Pinto

I hear what you are saying but it seems a little tiny bit sexist and stereo-typing to me.

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Derek Halpern

How are objective results from academic research… academic research that was published in a carefully vetted scholarly journal… be sexist or stereotypical? These are just the results of the research. It has nothing to do with sexism or stereotyping.

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Valerie

How are objective results from academic research… academic research that was published in a carefully vetted scholarly journal… be sexist or stereotypical?

***

In about a bajillion ways that are as unique and varied as the researchers themselves who, as humans, can work from extremely sexist positions and therefore produce research that confirms it. (Here are some of the ways studies produce research data with gender bias: http://www.apa.org/about/policy/avoiding-sexism.pdf)

That said, this particular study does not sound sexist to me and it is not innately sexist to talk about gender differences and I am definitely not insinuating Derek is a sexist. None of that stuff here.

However, if you do start stereotyping women and men, you better be doing some other research on your market. Plenty of women are “thinkers” and plenty of men are “feelers”. Your market may draw a large percent of these stereotype reversals (women in tech? men in homeopathy?) so going by the men/woman rule of thumb may keep you from seeing the needs of your actual audience.

Derek, you should do a follow up where you talk about how people learn different and what words appeal to them. Like people who say “I hear you” vs people who say “I see what you’re saying”, things like that. Each of us is biased along the senses we use the most as well- would be really interesting to hear you explore it.

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Valerie

*learn differently, not “learn different”, ugh

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ioana

.. haha, and he ends the video with: ..”and if you think you can use this info…”..:-)
well, being a woman I am, I feel that this info… not think that this info…:-)
well yes, I feel that this info is very useful!
Thanks:-)

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Kristie

I’m really interested to go look through my posts now, although many of my articles are women based ie sewing, decorating, my stats show that I have a 70% male audience. I also consider myself a thinker so I may be defaulting to that….can’t wait to test this out!

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Everett

I find that ‘I feel’ is a stronger ‘I think’ that intimates more reflection.

Like it has a bit more gravitas.

And yeah- the thumb in the pocket is a good casual stance to occupy your non-gesticulating hand. (:

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Anita Avalos

Love this, Derek. 98% of my list are female so I will definitely be experimenting with using “I feel” more….starting with tomorrow’s newsletter…but I kinda wanna go back and see if I have already been doing this without even realizing it. Good to be aware of this. :)

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Tricia O'Malley

Interesting. I wonder if this applies in a male-dominated work place where women’s opinions are often over-ridden. I wonder if women could learn to present their ideas in a “I think” way in order to make their opinion carry more weight.

And – this is a good reminder with how I communicate with my husband – add a little more punch to my opinions. :)

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Danielle Malmquist

Thanks Derek! No wonder I couldn’t guess which one was right :) I will definitely be going over my About Me and Work with Me pages to see if they can be tweaked at all.

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ameena

Great information for using “feel” and “think” as an essential tool. Here is a bit more about understanding your audience typology:

http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/thinking-or-feeling.asp

I think your emails are of high value. :-) Thank you for your research.

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Rob

Very interesting.

A couple of of people have already mentioned it, but the first thing that sprang to my mind was how do “I think” and “I feel” compare with “I believe”. Derek, you yourself used “I believe” at 3’03″ in the video and in the intro below it. Do you have any guesses about “I believe”? And any more guesses about gender reactions to “I believe”?

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Emily

Hey! Yes, this is true.
Generally speaking in relationships:
- A woman feels best when her feelings are cherished
- A man feels best when his thoughts and ideas are respected.

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Ryan Kulp

Hey Derek,

Good stuff! But I think you missed a third angle:

The word “feel” is also more persuasive because nobody can really argue with your feelings. But when you “think” something, you are essentially stating a potential truth about the universe. This really hit me with the blood donor experiment. Although I donate blood myself, it was almost offensive when the phrase was “I think donating blood is the most important….” vs. “I feel.”

Just thought I’d throw that out there!

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Tina

Nice job, intellectualy stimulating and applicable. Thank you.

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Teresa

Love this one, I absolutely agree with you.
Happy you brought this forward.
I’ll add, your dress shirts are really sharp lately. In fact, I bet if you polled your women followers, they would prefer the crisp soft tone dress shirts, over the polo shirts….just my intuition.
I *think* you’ve gotten better with each video. Thanks for bringing it every week!

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Laura Pep Wu

Thanks for this Derek! I like the nuggets of info in your videos that we can use without feeling BOMBARDED.
So, outside of a business context, I’ve learned to use ‘I feel’ when confronting friends/ family about personal issues or calling them out on stuff. It helps the delivery of a difficult conversation, makes it slightly easier. Being conscious of these minor nuances can make a big difference! Keep ‘em coming.

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Eric Dingler

I know that more speaker would find this helpful.

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Deborah Antich

Being a woman, and an intuitive- I usually say feel – unless I’m talking in a more “business” way to a man. Then I say think. But – and LISTEN UP HERE! If you really want someone to listen say “I see”. Like this is what I see… When I’m doing a reading and something’s coming through this is the proper language. Because I’m not thinking or feeling…I’m just seeing and relaying information. Saying I see makes people want to know more- to flesh it out. People will really really listen to ” this is what I see”. Also – an excellent way to level the playing field- immediately – is to say , what are your thoughts on – insert topic here- there are many different ways this works – not enough room here – but it’s psychological and works like a charm. Try it. So Derek since you say you read EVERY COMMENT – I wonder, what are your thoughts on this?

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Rena Klingenberg

I rely on my intuition and gut feelings a lot – so to me “I feel” sounds much stronger.

I’ve always felt :) that when someone says “I think”, it sounds like they’re unsure about what they’re saying – sort of an underlying message of “this is just my theory – I’m really not certain it’s so.”

And going back to the Myers-Briggs conversation above, I’m an INFP.

Thanks for all the cool topics you share, Derek, and for making the science behind them short, sweet, and interesting!

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Wasim

When my family talks about things, which is not often in English these type of words or phrases change in different cultures because we all think or feel different about various things.

For example, in my family’s cultural upbringing they tend to say, “Mera Dill Kurta” which actually translates to ‘My heart tells me ……’ so it’s neither ‘think’ or ‘feel’ as it is about the heart so if I was trying to specifically communicate to the indian/pakistani target market we would talk in terms of whether ‘your heart tells you to ……….’

For example, it would be “My hearts tells me that donating blood is a good thing” or “My hearts tells me that donating blood is a not good thing” and not ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’

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The Get In Shape Girl

I’ve never given this too much thought, but I feel confident that my clients like it better when I say “feel” ;)

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Erin

This is gold!
In the theatre industry we know from every survey ever done of the ticket buyers that most of the people who buy theatre tickets are women. In my experience, while working with major theatre and opera companies in Melbourne Australia, the percentage of women ticket buyers is well in advance of regularly quoted 70%.

I’ll be keeping this in mind when writing copy for my next show’s marketing campaign. Might be interesting to see what happens when I segment my email list by gender and tweak the copy…

Cheers
Erin

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Rosieteapot

And here I was assuming “I feel” was going to win! Cheers Derek

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Sonia

I couldn’t see your thumbs. But I like the T-Rex arms. Just dance.

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Hallie Freedman

I was sure when I started watching that you were going to say the following: “I feel” is more powerful because no one can tell you how to feel, while “I think” invites people to challenge your thoughts as it comes off as more of an opinion. This was VERY fascinating and I will definitely keep this is mind depending on who I am marketing to :)

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Tracey Grady

Hi Derek,

My target customers are mostly male so I know which message I’ll be using. Also my product is directly connected with thinking, so it makes perfect sense to use that message.

I’m female and I thought you sounded more persuasive/authoritative when you mentioned the ‘I think’ example of the blood donation message. Whether that’s just me, or if it’s because you said it differently because you relate better to that message, I can’t say, but it was interesting.

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Selena Soo

Hi Derek, this is great! When talking to people, I often try to figure out what their Myers-Briggs personality type is and tailor my language around that (I know…it’s dorky).

A few thoughts I have on this topic:
-In my opinion, when it comes to trying to influence someone, feelings are more powerful than thoughts because feelings cannot be refuted. For example, I feel happy or sad. That is someone’s personal experience. Whether the feelings are legitimate or not, they are true for that person. Saying you “think something” is less powerful, because it can be questioned. What we think is not always true (i.e. we may not have enough information). What someone feels is ALWAYS true for them.

-Additionally, in the world of business, it seems to me that people often speak from a place of logic and reason. That’s easy — anyone can do that. Few people are truly able to create a profound emotional impact on someone. Think Oprah vs. MIT professor. Personally, I believe that if we cannot give someone an emotional experience, we cannot have an impact on them over the long-term. (Note – Derek, even if you don’t consider yourself to be a feeling-type person, I believe that you are effective at creating an emotional response in people, i.e. shock, excitement)

-You mentioned that you are thinker, but that when speaking to a female audience you may want to use words like “feel” more. If that word feels awkward to you, I would use the word “believe.” “I believe…” sounds powerful and is emotional in nature, while having more substance/strength than just the word feel.

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Jeff Stern

Pithy and to the point as always. My clients are mostly women, so they are mostly thinking about the feeling of eating chocolate. I’ll pitch to the latter term.

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Dee

Here is something else to ponder over. The study should have included feel vs. think vs. believe. Personally, I never use the word think unless I have weak confidence in the topic. As a result, when I hear others use the word “think,” I have doubts that they truly know what they are talking about.

1. Taylor thinks this website offers good insights. (weak confidence)
2. Taylor feels this website offers good insights. (pure emotion)
3. Taylor believes this website offers good insights. (strong confidence)
4. Taylor knows this website offers good insights. (certainty)

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Holli Thompson

Derek,
This is brilliant.. Working with women, I speak to and from the heart.. It’s that simple. Feelings are it. Heading back to check some blog posts now. Thanks love,
Holli

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antonio

Good stuff as usual Derek. One book you need to check out is Words That Change. I can’t remember who the author is. It’s based off the lab profile (language and behavior). Some really good info for sales and markerting. Its all about meta-programs.

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Lizzie Williams

I always catch myself before saying “I think” and the reason is because it just makes me sound uncertain. But I never thought about using “I feel” either because it makes me sound too emotional (attached). I always say “I believe” but in the future I’ll reconsider the distinction and how it relates to woman and men.

Thanks Derek!

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David Nickell

I doubt few if any people will see this since I myself skipped past probably 100 responses to get to the comment box.

The whole argument is kind of specious. From a writing rather than a social or psychological perspective — writing being the subject of my website — both words are generally superfluous. Beyond that, they can be annoying.

In the cited experiment, why not simply say, “Blood donation is one of the most important contributions I can make to society”? If the title of the essay is “My Thoughts on Blood Donation,” then why is it necessary to point that what you write really are your thoughts? Who else’s could they be?

And why is the title “My Thoughts on Blood Donation”? Why isn’t it, “My Feelings About Blood Donation”?

And where does the word “believe” fit in? Is there a male-female preference for “believe”? (“I believe blood donation is one of the most important contributions ….”)

But to reiterate, both “think” and “feel” are generally extra and unnecessary padding. It’s the same as saying, “In my opinion, blood donation is one of the most important contributions ….”

Bad writing, no matter how subtle, is not particularly persuasive to either men or women. At least that’s what I think and feel and believe. In my opinion anyway.

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David Nickell

Oops. Meant to say, “Why is it necessary to point OUT ….” And I’m someone who preaches the importance of copyediting and proofreading your words. Oh, well. In my opinion, I think and feel and believe that no one is infallible.

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Troy Vayanos

Nice video Derek,

Most of my readers are male golfers so i’m definitely moving towards using the ‘I think’ wording the majority of the time.

Very interesting how each of the two genders are affected by words.

Cheers

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Bob

Hi Derek

I like most of your stuff. Your enthusiasm rubs off but please take some constructive criticism on your video.

Too many edits man …. You stretched out a simple question and answer for over four minutes which lost my attention with what seemed like a hundred edits . Did like the ipad moment though, nice touch.

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Jane Frankland

This is a really interesting video Derek and I’ll be sharing it right away. It was actually great to hear that both forms are right and that it depends on your audience’s preference. Having worked in IT for 16yrs, I know that the vast majority of that audience are thinkers, and funnily enough they’re guys! They like data and analyze everything. Having also worked in the health and wellness industry, with women, I know that they are feelers. I now know I’m better equipped to serve my audiences with my copywriting and sales pitches from having seen your video :)

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Charles @ CodeConquest.com

Considering that my niche, learning to code, is a logical and mathematical pursuit, my audience would be overwhelmingly thinkers and not feelers. So I’ll definitely be keeping this in mind. Thanks Derek, I really appreciate your easy to digest content.

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Darren

‘suggest’ when speaking face to face, or ‘discover’ used on a web page are also great examples of small words that can make a big difference.

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Randy Marcoz

This is practical information that is very useful in the persuasion process. A number of comments have made the connection with the MBTI. If we go a little deeper into Jung’s theory behind the MBTI and type dynamics, we will see that there are two different ways in which thinking and feeling are used. Some people who prefer thinking prefer to use introverted thinking and others extraverted thinking. Likewise, some who prefer feeling have a preference for introverted feeling and others for extraverted feeling. The differences between an introverted preference and an extraverted preference can actually be significant. For this reason, I use a basic framework for persuasion that covers all four of these preferences and adjust my focus based on what I know about the specific individual or audience with whom I am dealing. Applying this nuance to your persuasion process is certainly easier and more effective with individuals than with groups.

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Janet Huey

Words are powerful.
When discussing compensation with my clients I NEVER use the phrase M

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Jovell

I think this video post is very practical. Thanks again Derek! Now I feel how to rightly approach my target audience in both of my blogs :)

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Michael Trotta

This has got me paying more attention to how I speak and I realize that my default if “I believe…” What’s you’re thought or feeling on that? Thanks

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Nicole Moore

Great post. My audience is women looking for love, so I will definitely be using more “I feel”.

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Tina

I’ve thought about the this ‘dilemma’ a few times and so it’s great to hear about the results of some real research into it – thanks Derek! Personally, I consider ‘feel’ to be a more powerful than ‘think’ and so I use it a bit more sparingly.

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Elizabeth

Hi Derek!

Great stuff. One BIG thing was missing for me, though…

Define “more persuaded by.”

As in, “Women are more persuaded by ‘I feel’ than ‘I think’.”

How do I know that they (whoever we’re talking about) were persuaded?

I feel (ha!) that it’s important to be precise in such an area, especially when giving credibility to experiments such as these.

my best
Elizabeth

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Gabriela Pereira

Great point, Elizabeth! I didn’t think of that before reading your comment but the operational definition of “persuasion” is key here. I’m so glad you mentioned that!

Like did the researchers do some sort of survey-response thing where they asked participants: “Do you find this persuasive?” In which case, how do we know that the participants’ own biases aren’t playing in? Did the researchers factor in any statistical measures to control for these biases?

Or maybe they used a behavioral measure of persuasion? Like did the researchers make the think/feel statements and then ask participants to take an action that reflected their level of persuasion?

Both ways of measuring persuasion have advantages and disadvantages but it’s useful to know how researchers defined that dependent variable o we can really understand this study.

Also, I’d be really curious to know which journal reported this research, because different journals have different approaches and slants on this sort of thing.

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Andrea

derek, so (after reading comments) I wonder if most of the women in your audience are “thinkers” vs “feelers”? I would guess the answer would be yes?

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Simone hardy

Great info. Can’t wait to get more!

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Joe P

How about using both.

I think I feel you should do this…..

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Elizabeth Syms, MSIOP

Derek: Informative as always! Thank your for your insight and sharing the research article (proper APA citation and everything). There is a great logic to the results of the study and although the results of the study are not a grand shocker, the a-ha moment comes in the blazing reminder to understand the demographics and psyche of your audience. Thanks!

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rasyidah

I THINK you are right :-).

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Diane Capri

Derek, Thanks for sharing. This nuance is not surprising — once you reveal the logic behind it. Right. I’m a thinker, not a feeler –and I’m female. Go figure. :-) Meanwhile, if you put a transcript of your video up, I’d read before watching. I hate being required to watch video, but I’ll choose to watch video sometimes when given a choice. Why? Video takes a lot longer. And I’m a “reader” not a “watcher.” :-)

Best,
Diane

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Ryan

I think this is a dynamite blog post, and I feel I will share it with others.

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Kyle Zimmerman

Thanks Derek!
Greta points.
When I hear “I think”, I feel (wink) like it’s more subjective, and more masculine in temperment, ie. males tend to state their thoughts more subjectively. When I hear “I feel” I’m pretty sure the speaker is feminine… the thought is inclusive, wanting to connect with others, to relate…

My online audience is pretty evenly divided but my physical sales are driven by women. Usually. Sometimes a man sits in the buying seat at my photography studio, so I’ll remember to ‘think him through it’ the next time he is wavering! I’m a woman and I tend to feel all over the place…so thanks for the confirmation! I’ll just keep my heart on my sleeve.

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Kyle Zimmerman

Thanks Derek!
Great points.
When I hear “I think”, I feel (wink) like it’s more subjective, and more masculine in temperment, ie. males tend to state their thoughts more subjectively. When I hear “I feel” I’m pretty sure the speaker is feminine… the thought is inclusive, wanting to connect with others, to relate…

My online audience is pretty evenly divided but my physical sales are driven by women. Usually. Sometimes a man sits in the buying seat at my photography studio, so I’ll remember to ‘think him through it’ the next time he is wavering! I’m a woman and I tend to feel all over the place…so thanks for the confirmation! I’ll just keep my heart on my sleeve.

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Carrie

Love the Larry David reference….. “pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay good” !!!

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Callie Durbrow

Really interesting video Derek. Most of my audience is women so I’ll have to test that out. I know for me, I think is more persuasive just because I’m pretty cognitive so I tend to use that in my writing. I’ll be making a few changes and see what happens.

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BKB

I have been using think and feel with men and women for years because of the different you just talked about. But I am careful to use “think” with numerous women who I believe to be more thinking oriented. I actually do not like it in the business world when people use the word feel. I am a female and I much prefer “I think.” I also do not appreciate it when people use the word love in a business or professional setting. Example, I would love to help you,” “I would love to have the opportunity to…,” I would love show you how this product can help productivity in your company.” What does love have to do with it? How about using the words- “I would welcome the opportunity to..,.”

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Tania Belkin

Derek,

Thank you. I love this post.

Intuitively, I often feel that there is a right way to approach different people.

Now it really makes sense. I am going to use it more:)

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Brandon

I find myself using think allot more then I should, having a target market of mostly woman. I wonder how those keywords effect gay men and woman? Just a thought.

:) Brandon

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Effy

Great stuff, Derek. Obviously from the title I started guessing which one was the better one. But you got me – it’s a trick question! They can both be right.

Correct me if I’m wrong though – would you agree that I think/feel is just for opinions? If I want to state something that I see as a fact, whether or not it’s universally accepted, wouldn’t the most persuasive method be to state what I think/feel as the definitive? (Instead of “I think…” or “I feel…”, “it is…”)

Love to hear what you think! Keep up the good work!

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Yoli

This is so new to me..
When I have discussions, with potential clients, it comes from the stand point of educating them on the subject. They ask questions and I ask them more questions, as I answer the questions they have. (I do this, because I really want to connect and get to know them and what makes them tick) I believe, with all my heart and soul what I say, because I live it, have experienced results, and many of my clients have as well.
So, when I speak of it, it’s more like, “I know this to be true.”
Most of my clients are women, some are fast paced, super smart career woman who think a lot. After a few sessions though, they find themselves “feel thinking.” or is it “think feeling.” Same for the men. They come in thinking and leave feeling.

It might have something to do with the kind of work I do. The “heart-brain” connection.
Thank you for the vid Derek.
As usual, fun to watch and user friendly.
:)

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Will Bingham

Powerful stuff! I’m going to start using this immediately. Keep ‘em coming!

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Jeremy

very interesting study. It seems like the study let’s you put the odds in your favor but you’re right Derek, you really should know your audience. I’m a fan of gathering data, so I like to ask questions to discover what the needs of my audience may be…one thing you could do is to do a survey and ask an open ended question and see if your subscribers explain themselves with “think” or “feel” then tally up the answers.

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Jiri Krewinkel

Derren I love these subtle nuances and little tweaks. I came in thinking that ‘feel’ would be more persuasive, guess I was wrong.

Could you maybe venture a little deeper into how YOU would find out what your audience is like? I can pass around surveys and do ‘interviews’ and see general broad strokes, but I think I have troubles asking the right questions to really figure out how I can connect on a personal level. What is some stuff YOU do specifically?

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Tom Rubens

Great post….I think I’ll use it when the feeling is right….Seriously, your content is great….Keep it coming!

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David

Haha, “I think”, ” I feel” who cares? That’s what I always thought. Both are terrible as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always gone out of my way to not write “I think” or worse “I feel” because while you’re an intelligent human being, you’re not always qualified to give an opinion on something and to write “I think” or “I feel” comes off as amaturish (though your writing should relate to your target audience). The findings however I will keep in mind when dealing with people face to face. *I think* they may work.

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Rav Chaudhary

I “Believe” (not Think or Feel) you create Great Content out of simple notions. Love the way you get the Audience all Fired-up about a couple words and get all feisty in the comments section. ;-)
BTW, I “Believe” I added another variable to a test in future!

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ShinazyBOBBblog

The CONCEPT v. the literal use of the “I think / feel” is our take-away.

I ask myself, is my audience feelers or thinkers or a combo?

I write the BOBBblog stories using words that evoke emotion (feeling) because most of my audience are women.

Fundamentally, I think Derek is reminding us to “Know Our Audience”

Thank you !

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carolm

I think, yes, THINK – that it all depends on context. If someone is telling my how they feel about blood donation, that is entirely appropriate because they are discussing how they feel about it.

But if someone is telling me about some fact, especially in marketing or sales of any sort, anyone who used ‘feel’ instead of ‘think’ would immediately reveal themselves to me, as having no factual Authority – and be someone using spammy Sales-speak on me.

I would feel, yes, feel – that he/she was trying to manipulate me, and I would run a mile.

These are just my thoughts about how I feel, right?

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Randall Wilburn

Hey Derek,

Thanks for this enlightening video. Very good stuff. I was aware of the “Think versus Feel,” issue but I never took time to apply it the way you described in this video. I will make sure I know what audience I am communicating to before I use either word. In addition, I am doing a Married Couples Seminar at my church in February and I plan to do a little vignette based on this video. I will let you know how it goes. It may keep a lot of husbands out of the dog house….

Merry Christmas!
RW

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Aditya

Verrrryyyy interesting. Understandable that women go for the ‘I feelers’ while men for ‘I thinkers’.

I haven’t given much importance to this before so I guess I should start doing so.

How will I use it from now on? My blog deals with personal development and motivation so I guess ‘I feel’ would be more appropriate than ‘I think’

Nice video. You always come up with something unique, you rock! Keep going!

Aditya

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Susan Osborne

Great stuff as always Derek! As a female, I had to think about which I respond to more, “think” or “feel”, and have to admit, “feel” won out for me. It’s funny how you don’t even realize what words you respond to until you really think about it. Wise to consider this in sales material! Thanks!

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Andrea Husak

Hi Derek,

personally I do think AND feel that it is most important to stay authentic when you’re communicating.
If you are a thinker better don’t try to pretend you feel something you don’t. Otherwise your “feel”-audience quickly might get the feeling that something is kinda odd about you or that you’re fake.
Actually the other situation seems not that bad to me – because thinkers won’t get bad feelings too easily, will they? ;-)

Thanks,
Andrea

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Razbet

Good one D !
I have to admit … We need to watch how we speak to women … precious creatures. I agree with the I FEEL .

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Trevor Lundstrom

WOW, this is so interesting. It’s my daily favorite.
Thanks – Trevor

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Mia@BlissfulChicksWellness

Really helpful! I noticed this while interning as an acupuncturist. Most of my repeat patients were female–I tend to use the words “I feel” without thinking about it. Thanks!

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Alice

Derek,

What do you do when you are addressing mixed audiences? Which do you use when you are writing an article and you have no idea who will be reading it?

I tend to use “I think” because I’m generally rational and promoting rational thinking. I’m a science-based massage therapist and science is about facts and evidence. I’m very careful in my communication to clients to keep what I say accurate and honest. It is more about knowledge than what I feel about something. This does not mean that feelings don’t come into play, but the information is about science.

For instance, your talk cites a study. You could say that you “feel” using one word or another affects how others respond, but your feelings about the subject are personal and, without evidence, are unsupported. But, by citing some research, you can put forth the notion that you think that choosing one word or another may affect a person’s reaction to it.

I shall keep what you’ve said in mind and think about how I can make use of this.

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Debi Slinger

Another great video Derek. I deal mostly with women and I could never quite work out why they connect with me. I now realise it’s because I work in the ‘feeling’ side of things rather than the ‘thinking’ side of things.
Keep up the good work.

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Jula

The fact that so many people have spent so much time on whether to use ‘think’ or ‘feel’ seems like a colossal waste of time.

Just saying.

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Noor Shawwa

Good content Derek,

Although as many said, it might not be necessary to use “think” or “feel”, what matters is that people are “wired” differently. Some are more logical and straight forward. They get annoyed and bored when you spend too much time “breaking the ice” and want to get straight to the point. Other people are more emotional and might interpret you getting straight to business as a sign that something is wrong. Knowing the type of personality you are dealing with and adjusting your communication style to them will improve our interactions.

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Chris1111

Wow! You can turn 2 words into an ever-expanding discussion! That’s fantastic, man!
Personally, I do not use either “feel” or “think” in my vocabulary, unless I’m being asked for my opinion.
I rather use “I imagine,” because, you know, I’m a creative kinda guy.
I am gonna experience with “think” and “feel” though. So next time a hot chick on Facebook uploads a new photo of herself, I’ll comment something like “I feel that you are a very beautiful woman.”
And, uh, very good, intelligent comments here. I’m impressed.

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Kalynn

Very interesting study and it explains so much for me personally. I’m a woman but have ALWAYS been a thinker. It explains why working with men has been more comfortable for me than working with women generally. Now I’m going back through my blog posts to see how often I’m using qualifiers. 2013 will be the year to quit qualifying.

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Thomas

It pretty much boils down to the differences in human personalities, as described by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. In the light of this concept you are clearly referring to two judging functions: Thinking and Feeling.
A very, I mean VERY useful for any business person (but not only) to know and apply this knowledge in everyday interaction with people.

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Claire Bushell

Thanks for this thought-provoking article. I manage a blog for a team of complementary therapists. I will definitely be more conscious now of my target audience for individual articles when it comes to choosing whether to express my opinions as “thoughts” or “feelings”. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

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Andrew Ross Long (@DrewRLong)

We use this in Coaching: listen carefully to what people say. Then use the same language they use. People will identify themselves as “thinkers” or “feelers” right away, in the first 60 seconds of conversation.

It works great for 1-on-1 interactions.

Thanks for the post Derek!

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Susan

This ties in with the 4 styles of learning/communication: (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Auditory Digital). It is wise to communicate to all 4 styles in a presentation. Use words like see or appears or notice for Visuals; hear or sounds like for Auditory; feel or sense for Kinesthetics; and think or learn for Auditory Digitals. Furthermore, Visuals appreciate pictures or PowerPoints; Auditories like recordings or spoken messages; Kinesthetics like to experience, move, or do while learning; and Audio Digitals like facts and figures.

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Thia

Brilliant! Thanks for sharing! I’m trying to build my own business (paper crafting/stamps) and most of my target audience would be female. I feel you have a good point and I think I’m going to be using your suggestion. Or is that, I think you have a good point and I feel I’d do better using your suggestion? ;0)

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Brian Koehn

This is great info.

If we are looking to capture a large audience of men and women do you recommend using a combination of think and feel?

Also, how do you know whether your audience is thinkers or feelers? I can see the direction I am heading appealing to the thinkers that are in touch with their feelings.

Thanks,
Brian

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Erik Krause

Another distinction between “I think” and “I feel” is that you can disagree with my thoughts based on logic and reasoning, but you can’t disagree with my feelings because they’re not bound by logic or reasoning.

Thought provoking question. (pun acknowledged, not intended)

Keep ‘em coming, Derek!

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Saskia Koch

Sooo I kind of am glad about this advice. As I am starting/promoting a blog which pretty much talks about passion a.k.a. feelings I am sure I should use the phrase “I feel” more, as this people would be my main audience (people who want to lead a life with passion). Thank you for that!

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Jean

Agree with the message know your audience but…totally disagree linking “I feel” with women and “I think” with men. I feel makes the message very weak. Yes many women use the “I feel” and that is why they often have less impact and influence in the work place.

That’s what I think!

Jean Caton

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Greg Vinson

My problem with the way this issue is framed is that it assumes only the connotations are different, and ignores that the phrases can’t be correctly interchanged; they have different meanings, not just connotations. Our sloppiness with language has confused the heck out of us when we try to zone in on emotions, and actually speak of real ones, rather than putting “I feel” randomly in front of opinions like “white wine goes best…” (BTW, red wine is better with pizza, in case anyone wants my opinion).

I understand that many may consider it nitpicky, but accuracy matters, and inaccuracy can lead to misunderstandings, and even escalating hostilities. Most of the time throwing “I feel” around as often as we commonly do, makes your speech inaccurate while eroding the meaning of true emotional speech, and increasing the general chronic confusion about emotions.

The fact is, truly talking about our emotions (as opposed to just tossing “I feel” in front of opinions) makes us feel vulnerable, which is a big part of the reason, when asked how we feel, we often simply state some thoughts and opinions with the words “I feel” in front of them; much less gutsy.

We often preface thoughts with “I feel” in order to blame someone for a bad feeling, rather than state the actual feeling. “I feel you were mean to me”, is blaming, not an honest emotion (“you were mean..” is not an emotion). An honest statement might be: “I felt sad and hurt (or upset, angry, whatever) after we spoke”. You can “feel hurt”, in response to someone’s actions, without blaming them for “hurting me”; a very important distinction most people never make, which causes all kinds of strife.

I “feel hurt by you” perverts the honest statement “I feel hurt” with the tacked on blaming phrase “by you”. Think how common it is to state feelings as a way to blame people with variations of “done to”, such as “I feel taken advantage of”.

“I felt hurt after we talked” is an honest declaration of emotion, and not an assertion that your emotion makes them wrong, casting you as their victim.

It might seem subtle, but relationships can be transformed by sticking to honest statements, and being clear about the difference between blaming someone, and simply stating an emotion, or fact, or combination; it is often the difference between opening a dialogue that enhances a relationship, and escalating a fight that damages or even ends one.

Opinions stated as “feelings” can be endlessly argued, but the disarming, vulnerable honesty of a true declaration of emotion: “I feel sad” is much more difficult to argue with, and in fact, it would be presumptuous and sound silly to argue with someone’s statement of a real emotion; “no you don’t feel sad” sounds ridiculous.

But “I feel wronged” can be easily argued with: “well you were the one in the wrong”. You can get endless competing “feelings” arguments like “well I feel dumped on”; “well I feel like you totally disrespected me”, “well I feel you effed me over”, ad nauseum.

“Like” after “feel” is a big red flag that you’re about to hear an opinion pretending it’s an emotion: “I feel like you’re not hearing me.”

We “feel” honest emotions like: angry, happy, lonely, upset, excited, sexually aroused, hurt, miserable, elated, strong, etc.

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Daniel Klein

A very talented salesman I know shared a technique of his that hinges on using ‘feel’ as opposed to ‘think’ when asking a prospect a question.
For instance:
‘Mr Prospect, which of the two products I have shown you today do you think is bested suited to your needs?’
VS
‘Mr Prospect, which of the two products I have shown you today do you feel is best suited to your needs?’
Asking what they ‘think’ subconsciously makes them rationalize their choice in terms of logic, and may not reveal what they truly prefer or most importantly why.
Asking what they ‘feel’ invites them to share their feelings, their emotions… “Well, I like this feature but I’m not sure about…”
Sales are made on emotions, not logic, so it’s all about the feelings.
I have used this technique often and it usually reveals where your prospect is really at in making a decision.

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