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Are You a Perceiver or a Judger?

The last pair of eight Myers-Briggs preferences are Perceiving and Judging. They relate to how people organize their lives. Perceivers are more spontaneous and adaptive than Judgers, and Judgers are more structured and organized.

People have some misconceptions about Perceivers and Judgers because of the labels they wear. Perceiving has little to do with perception of events; everyone possesses this ability. Judgers are not necessarily judgmental (although they may be). Both traits have their advantages. Which trait the individual chooses for any given situation depends upon the circumstances.

The Perceiver, although often late for appointments, may be spot on time for an airline flight—knowing that the doors will close if they don’t arrive by the deadline. The Judger, although normally on time for all events, may decide to arrive late at a party that promises to last all night. Their orientation all depends on the circumstances.  The Perceiver is capable of meeting deadlines without last-minute frenzy, and the Judger is capable of missing one from time to time.

This discrepancy between the two types is often the cause for resentment. Judgers who have made social arrangements with the habitually late Perceiver may come to see the person as disrespectful of his or her time. The Perceiver may see the Judger as compulsive and picky for no good reason. They have different views of clock time. On the same note, Judgers may start assignments early, scheduling time for the work so that it’s done in plenty of time. Perceivers are likely to stall on the project, resulting in a bind as the deadline approaches. Yet, by some miracle, they are almost never late. They make it just under the wire. The two types can make each other crazy.

Perceiving and Judging are just one pair of opposites among the four pairs that comprise the Myers-Briggs Inventory. The others are Introvert (I) vs. Extravert (E), Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N), and Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F). Everyone exhibits one of each pair of traits. For example, you might be an INFJ. That means you’re Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging.

Below are some of the differences between Perceivers and Judgers:

Perceiving Types

  • Perceivers get distracted easily. They can run to the garage for a screwdriver, and then halfway down the driveway forget the purpose of their errand.
  • They get bored with routine. Rather than take the same route home very night, they may experiment with new routes. They love to explore the unknown.
  • They don’t plan their tasks. They wait to see what the job demands. For this reason, they’re often accused of being disorganized.
  • Perceivers have to depend on last-minute surges of energy to make deadlines. Usually they manage it, but the chaos they create tends to frustrate others.
  • They believe that creativeness and spontaneity are more important than tidiness. They would prefer to have the materials around them organized, but flexibility and responsiveness are more important.
  • They make work seem more like play than work. If it isn’t fun to do, it probably isn’t worth doing.
  • In conversations, Perceivers easily change the topic by going off on tangents, changing the subject to anything that enters their minds.
  • Perceivers like to keep their options open, not pinning themselves down about most things. After all, something better might come along and then they’d be regretful.

Judging Types

  • Judgers feel like they’re always waiting for others to show up. They seem to be the only people who respect appointments.
  • They know that the world would be a better place if everyone would shoulder their responsibilities without shirking.
  • Judgers like closure on issues. They don’t dawdle making purchase decisions and feel best when they’re pulling out a credit card to close the deal. Perceivers like to look at all the options first, enjoying the feeling of open-endedness.
  • In a discussion, Judgers may be accused of being angry, when they’re just expressing an opinion.
  • They like to finish assignments in plenty of time, even though they realize they may have to do parts over to get them right.
  • Judgers try to work and live in an orderly environment. Messiness interferes with their competency. Everything has a place in their homes and offices.
  • They thrive on lists. They often make to-do lists first thing in the morning. Then if something comes up that must be done, they add it to the list just so they can cross it off.
  • Judgers have a place for everything and they feel uncomfortable unless everything is in its place.

Differences in the Perceiving vs. Judging function may cause more interpersonal tension than any of the other preferences. The following words describe the Perceiver: flexible, adaptive, open, tentative, spontaneous, and tardy. The Judger is resolved, decided, controlling, structured, definite, and scheduled. It’s no wonder they can grate on each other’s nerves in close quarters.

Procrastination: An Equal Opportunity Trait

A key element of time management relates to procrastination—putting off until tomorrow the things you could do today. Everyone procrastinates. Sometimes we get the impression that it’s the Perceivers who are most guilty—with their laid-back, flexible approach to life and their tendency to be late for deadlines, etc. Not so. There are ways and times when all types put off tasks.

The Eight Types

Extraverts

Extraverts procrastinate when something needs to be done that requires privacy and time for reflection. An extraverted student may find it difficult to study a sociology assignment, which requires thoughtful perusal of the course text and time alone to study. They may also put off preparation of documents that require careful thought. They’d rather meet friends and postpone the assignment.

Introverts

Since Introverts dislike group activities—particularly speaking before a group—they’ll do what they can to get out of it or put it off to the last possible minute. This is true of participation in group activities, too. They favor the company of only one or two friends and are reluctant to sign up for groups.

Intuitives

Intuitives put off tasks that require their Sensing trait. Sitting down to collect data and then assembling it in a report is the last thing they want to do. Yearly taxes are a good example. Sensing types dig in long before April 15, almost with pleasure. Intuitives dread the day they have to unravel all their expenses of the previous year.

Sensors

When it’s time to think about the future, Sensors don’t indulge in fantasies about what “might be.” They are not at their best when it comes to long-term planning. They are here-and-now people. If a partner wants to reflect on all the possibilities for a winter vacation, the Sensor feels at a disadvantage. He or she would rather talk about their plans for the weekend.

Thinkers

Thinkers procrastinate when it comes to expressing themselves about personal issues. They’re slow to say, “I’m sorry,” even when they know they’ve hurt someone and are in the wrong. It’s much harder for a Thinker to say “I love you,” than it is for a Feeler. Many of them think that being “touchy-feely” is a sign of weakness, and that it’s better to be logical and neutral about everything.

Feelers

Feelers are reluctant to get engrossed in tasks where there’s no one else to talk to or get feedback from. They also dislike conflict and will avoid or postpone it whenever possible. They want to be involved with people in positive ways, where everyone ends up with good feelings. Negative confrontations are extremely distasteful to them.

Perceivers

When a deadline looms or a decision must be made, Perceivers put off final actions as long as possible. In their opinion, there’s always more information to be collected and examined. Perceivers are often tardy for appointments. They avoid being stressed by clock time. Their attention wanders to other things and, as a result, they’re late.

Judgers

When it comes time for fun and relaxation, Judgers procrastinate because they can always think of things that should be done before indulging in pleasure. Because Judgers may have an endless to-do list, many never get around to the reward of having fun alone or with others.

Solutions to Procrastination

Extraverts need to discipline themselves so they don’t routinely seek feedback about whatever has occurred to them. One way to do this is to schedule “work alone” periods, interspersed with scheduled breaks.

Introverts need to discipline themselves to do just the opposite—get outside their private sphere when it would be objectively useful. Even going to a public place like the library can be a challenge for the Introvert who prefers the solitude of his or her study.

Intuitives, with their future-oriented perspective, may come up short when it comes to estimating the amount of time needed to accomplish something in a given amount of time. If they are building a sandbox for a child’s birthday, for example, they may run into construction hang-ups that mean the job can’t be done on schedule. This needn’t be a cause for self-criticism. It’s simply one of those things that happen in life for no foreseeable reason.

Sensors need to see beyond clock time when they know that foresight or flexibility is needed. They tend to do well with minutes and seconds but fall short when a vision of the future is required. Sometimes they need to act when those around them affirm that the time is right, not when it’s on the Sensor’s schedule.

Thinkers have a tendency to set schedules or follow time lines that are compatible with their own needs, without considering the needs of others. Offending people is one problem with the Thinkers’ practice of basing decisions on objective outcomes rather than considering the impact on others.

Feelers must learn to say “no” without feeling guilty. They sometimes have trouble setting firm boundaries for themselves—instead focusing on the impact of their decisions on others. While Thinkers more readily impose themselves on others, Feelers more easily take on the responsibilities or consequences of decisions themselves, resulting in the feeling that they’re being taken advantage of.

Perceivers need to recognize their predisposition to procrastination, flitting from one project to another. Ironically, they often see this as a time-saving effort, juggling more than one project at a time. The result may be several projects left uncompleted. They would do better to limit themselves to one or two projects at a time.

Judgers naturally work well with schedules and deadlines. They risk reaching conclusions prematurely, however, resulting in a suboptimal outcome. They should be ready to listen to the ideas of their more-flexible counterparts, the Perceivers. When Judgers feel a strong need for a decision, such as buying a car, they’ll do well to listen to a Perceiver’s feedback about the details of the decision. They may uncover valuable information that they’d neglected.

Procrastination is an equal opportunity trait.

Same or Opposite Types?

Do you prefer people who are the same as you, or people who are different? If you’re like most people, you’re originally attracted to individuals who are different. Over time, however, you may find that the very traits that appealed to you, now get on your nerves. If you’re an American from San Diego attracted to a person from the Bronx, you may think the New York street accent delightful at first. Within six months, a New York accent may be the last thing you want to hear. You might even go as far as demanding the person modify his or her way of talking. If that demand seems too much for you or your friend, you may just wind up feeling alienated.

It’s interesting to consider that as much as we think we prefer the novel and unique in other people, we wish later on that they’d be more like us. In the long run, we may find our attraction soured by people who insist on “doing their own thing,” especially when it departs from conformity. In a family, business, or community organization, such nonconformity may even be regarded as disloyal or slightly dangerous.

When you’re more respectful of all the different types of people in the Myers-Briggs spectrum, you may be more tolerant of the differences among various people. You can identify the differences between you and other folks and allow the attachment to grow or diminish with the passage of time—without feeling the need to change the other person more to your way of thinking and behaving. It requires insight and patience to allow other people to develop in a relationship in ways natural to them.

Self Awareness

It all starts with self-awareness. By recognizing your own tendencies, strengths and weakness you can acknowledge the justification for all individuals to live according to their own lights. If their behavior is not aggressive or destructive, you can view them the same way you view your own personality, with interest and tolerance. You can see where personality differences and similarities can be used for the purpose of harmony, not discord. If, for example, you are a Myers-Briggs Judging (J) type and your friend is a Perceiving (P) type, you might find that his or her inclination to be tardy for appointments is simply a trait that comes naturally. Waiting in a restaurant for your luncheon date might be okay on one or two occasions but after that it becomes irritating. You begin thinking about how irresponsible and thoughtless the person is—how negligent of your busy schedule.

How to Manage

There are several options. One is to bring a book with you, knowing that you’re destined to wait in the restaurant for 15 to 30 minutes. Another is to announce that after a 10-minute wait, you’re going to cancel the lunch date and move on. A third approach is to explain the negative effect their tardiness has on you and how it lowers your estimation of them as friends or partners. In other words, ask for compromise. It may be that your argument persuades the friend to at least be more prompt some of the time. If this is the case, their positive behavior should earn positive reinforcement from you to encourage repeat performances.

A compromise option is to tell them how important it is to you that they be on time; you feel disrespected when they’re not. Give them a 15-minute leeway and bring along something to occupy yourself in that vacuum. Then, let them know politely, if they can’t manage that, you’ll leave the restaurant after 15 minutes and go some place else to eat.

Framing your behavior and that of others in terms of Myers-Briggs traits is one way to make your relationships function more smoothly, and give you greater peace of mind. You no longer need to go through your life being aggravated at half your family, friends, and co-workers.