‘Is that your final answer?’ Why Integrators are so indecisive

Why are Integrators Indecisive?

Do you know any Integrators? If so, you are probably familiar with their tendency to change their minds. Today it’s “yes,” tomorrow it’s “no.” ”Final” decisions usually aren’t really final, and new information can start the decision-making process all over again. Integrators might be accused of being capricious, flighty or even fickle – though I’m sure not by you. Recriminations aside, many of us find this tendency toward indecisiveness frustrating. A little insight into the mind of an Integrator might help.

When it comes to decision-making, Integrators are usually comfortable with ambiguity. In fact, being okay with not knowing all of the answers is one of the fundamental characteristics that makes an Integrator an Integrator. They don’t necessarily require a clear-cut answer the way some others might. So when they make a decision they’re likely to consider it AN answer rather than THE answer. Given this perspective, changing one’s mind is easy.

Most Integrators are highly focused on relationships, and they see consensus as essential to making good decisions. Unless you’re a dictator, anyone who prioritizes consensus must be willing to change their own mind. Integrators understand this and they’re willing to walk their talk. They usually prioritize reaching agreement and nurturing relationships over sticking to their guns. Since they’re often comfortable with more than one right answer anyway, this isn’t much of a stretch.

Many Integrators are empathic, which means they’re strongly affected by the emotions of others. Emotion is one of the two primary paths to influencing people (the other being logic)1, and the Integrators’ empathy makes them particularly likely to be inspired by others’ emotional appeals or strong convictions. Add in their trusting and helpful nature, and Integrators can often be swayed by someone who is really persuasive (or persistent).

So what if you need an Integrator to make a final decision and stick to it? What should you do? Well, you might emphasize that the good of the group requires a final decision. (Think TV’s “Jeopardy”: “Is that your final answer?”). You might also ask them to put their decision in writing and make a public commitment to it. Research shows that doing so makes people more likely to follow-through2, and this could work especially well for Integrators, who often have a strong feeling of responsibility to the larger group.

Integrators: Do you change your mind often? How about now? Have you changed it yet? Are there particular circumstances that make you less likely to do so?

Dr. Suz

Suzanne Vickberg, PhD (aka Dr. Suz)
Dr. Suz is the LCC’s very own social-personality psychologist, which means she studies how people’s thoughts, behaviors and preferences are influenced by both who they are and the situations they’re in. She uses Business Chemistry to help teams explore how the mix of perspectives brought by their individual members influences their work together. Follow her on Twitter @DrSuzBizChem

1 Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2010). Switch: How to change things when change is hard. Random House, Inc.
2 Cialdi, R. B. (2009). Influence: Science and practice. Pearson Education, Inc.

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11 thoughts on “‘Is that your final answer?’ Why Integrators are so indecisive

  1. Interesting post. As an Integrator — sometimes I find myself hesitating to make a decision, precisely because I’m aware that I might be more vulnerable to being swayed by someone or something (say, an article or book) persuasive, especially when it comes to areas in which my own convictions or opinions are less resolute. I’d be curious to hear if you have any advice.

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    1. Kathy, sorry for the the delay in responding to your comment! I’m a secondary Integrator and I couldn’t decide what to write. Get it? 😉 I think you’re already halfway there by just having the awareness that you can be easily swayed. Knowing that, I’d say you should simply do what Integrators do best–talk about the decision with several different people before you make it. Try to get some different perspectives so you have something to weigh the persuasive someone or something against. If everyone agrees, well maybe there’s something to that! And if not, you can make your decisions with those multiple perspectives in mind, knowing you are not blindly following in a certain direction just because you were swayed by a skilled persuader. Keep a couple of people you trust on speed dial in case you need to make a decision promptly!

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  2. I didn’t realize it until I read it, but yes, as an integrator it is very possible that a new piece of information could completely change my decision. It’s interesting that you mention that we’re alright with ambiguity, I didn’t realize that’s what it was, but sometimes I really like to make the best decision possible right now with all the information I do have and then figure out the rest as it comes. Therefore, the second you get a new piece of information, there is a new “best decision possible right now”, and hence a new possible decision.

    One of the things that gets me around the constant loop of trying to make a decision is my love of goal setting. It helps me to realize that the sooner I make a decision the sooner I can be closer to the final outcome, but that might be the Guardian in me.

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    1. How helpful our secondary types can be! But yes, there are both really good reasons for staying open as long as possible and also for making a decision and moving ahead. Its the balance that’s most important and one of the reasons a diverse team is so helpful.

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  3. I’m an Integrator – Teamer, and I can relate with this topic. Areas which are closer to my value system are easy to decide, while on other topics I’m looking for more diverse views of others.
    A lot of times I find others bringing in a good variety of perspectives, and those perspectives give me a broader understanding of the topic / subject, and in the process help me take a better informed decision.

    Liked by 1 person

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