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Mind, body and soul in balance

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

The Myers Briggs Preferences Judging vs Perceiving

Are you a planner/decider? Or do you prefer to keep your options open?

Do you feel more comfortable when decisions are made, or do you like to keep plans to a minimum so you can respond to what might come up?

Are you so focused on the goal that you miss new information, or do you stay open to new information so long that you miss making decisions when they are needed? Over the last several years I have spent many hours studying personality types and theories, and am now certified in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). As I learned more about this specific preference pair, Judging vs Perceiving, I realized it is one of the most important differences I have with many people in my life. Understanding this made me appreciate their point of view and recognize why I just don’t seem to see things like others do sometimes.

What is the MBTI?

The purpose of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator is to make the information from Carl Jung’s personality theory understandable and useful to people. It should not be considered a test that “tells you who you are.” It is meant to be an instrument that helps you discover how you take in information and make decisions. Your four letter type is determined by your preferences in four dichotomies: Introversion-Extroversion Sensing -Intuition Feeling-Thinking Judging-Perceiving Your preference in each of the four areas results in your four letter personality type. For example, I am an INFP because I prefer Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Perceiving. Learning what each of these means and how they interact is a meaningful way to identify and articulate how you see and interact with the world.

How do Perceivers and Judgers Differ?

I have found that exploring the differences between Judgers and Perceivers has helped me understand those around me. As a Perceiver, I prefer to keep my options open. I am open to new ideas, can easily see the perspectives of others and I am flexible when plans change. Like many Perceivers, I feel confined when too much structure is imposed or planned. I feel like I have less control of a situation when it is pre-planned and I feel better making choices only when necessary. These are mainly positive traits, but there are downsides as well. To those around me I can appear unorganized, indecisive and even lazy. Procrastination is a way of life and I had to give myself a deadline just to finish this blog post! For someone who prefers Judging, I can be a nightmare. Judgers are planners. They tend to prefer structure and organization. Judging types like making plans to achieve their goals in a predictable way. They are decisive and feel better once a decision has been made. People who prefer judging do not like to change their minds once something has been decided. They are self disciplined and get things done. You definitely need someone like this on your team! However, to a Perceiver, the Judger can seem rigid and opinionated.

Are all Judgers alike? All Perceiver alike?

Of course, we all fall somewhere on a continuum on this Judging-Perceiving scale. It is based on five different facets including: Systematic-Casual Planful vs Open ended Early starting vs pressure prompted Scheduled vs Spontaneous Methodical vs Emergent I happen to score on the Perceiving end of each of these facets, but many people demonstrate preferences more in the midzone. For example, I have met other INFP’s whose scores fall more on the end of planful and are very good at planning and details.

The idea behind exploring your type is to identify how you feel about making decisions and compare that with those around you. I have such a better understanding for colleagues who need time to adjust to change, or children who don’t like to “go with the flow.” I learned to make weekly schedules for my kids who need to know the plan and I stayed calm when a change in routine upset them.

How does knowing your type affect your career choice?

Now as I work with students who are choosing a major or career, I realize that “choosing a career” for Perceiving types can feel stressful. Making a choice on one path closes the door on other options. Instead of feeling relieved to have come to a decision, they worry about saying “no” to all of the other careers they have considered. Just acknowledging this feeling can be helpful for these students. I also assure them that change is possible. People rarely stay in the same job with the same company for their entire careers. Their need for variety and willingness to consider other options will allow them to be flexible and adaptable as career changes come along.

Judging types do not seek out help in choosing a career as often as Perceiving types. But when they do, it might because they made a decision too early in an effort to take some control. I have met a few students who received positive feedback for early success in a certain study area. (Math or science, for example.) They made a career decision in high school and stayed focused on that field without considering other options. However, these students were so determined to stick with their early decision, they ignored their other interests and abilities. They made a decision before they really explored their strengths, interests and values.

Knowing who you are and how you are wired is essential to finding a career that you will find satisfying. Knowing your personality type is one part of this process. There have been studies about which careers tends to attract different personality types. These can be helpful, but it is just one piece of the puzzle. It is more important for you to understand what parts of the type descriptions apply to you and how they might affect your work life and relationships. True Compass offers the MBTI as well as the Highlands Ability battery that discovers your natural talents. Pairing this information with your interests and and values provides a framework for discovering who you are, how you are wired, what’s most important to you and a career for which you are best suited.

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