Judgers and perceivers have a lot of misconceptions surrounding their tendencies. Some people argue that judgers are judgmental and prudish, while others argue that perceivers are lazy and irresponsible. Both of these misconceptions don’t really have anything to do with the Judging or Perceiving preference but they still manage to work their way through online type communities.
I remember at my MBTI® certification class there was an exercise about Judging/Perceiving and time management. The instructor took us to the hallway outside the classroom and posed a hypothetical scenario.
“You have just been given an important work project and it’s due in ten days.” He motions to the furthest end of the hallway, “stand there if you’d start the project right away.” He motions to a point at the middle of the hallway, “Stand here if you’d start in five days.” He motions to the opposite end of the hallway, “Stand there if you’d start the project on day 10. Pick somewhere along the wall to choose when you’d typically start the project.”
This particular class was attended by predominantly ISTJ personality types. They all moved to the “Start today” section of the hallway. As an INFJ, I stood close to the middle of the hallway. That left one ENFP who hesitantly stepped between me and the “start on day 10” corner of the hallway.”
We heard snickers coming from the STJ corner of the hallway. Several people shook their heads. I glanced over at the ENFP and a crestfallen look came over her face. Later in the certification process, she told me how judged she felt during that moment.
Unfortunately, moments like this are not rare. There are times when many people are judged or mocked for their J/P preference (often without knowing that it has anything to do with a J/P preference).
Table of contents
- But What Does Judging or Perceiving Mean?
- The Introvert Dilemma
- But Why Do Judgers and Perceivers Annoy Each Other?
- Judgers want to focus on one thing at a time. Perceivers often move from task to task, mixing work with recreation or play.
- How Judgers and Perceivers Feel About Surprises
- Different Work Styles
- Does this mean Judgers Never Explore and Perceivers Never Create Structure?
- How Judgers Can Understand Perceivers:
- How Perceivers Can Understand Judgers:
Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
But What Does Judging or Perceiving Mean?
Judging and Perceiving relate to the ways you orient yourself to the world around you. If you’re a Judging type, you organize the world to support your decision-making process. If you’re an FJ type, you organize the world to support harmony and interpersonal morale. If you’re a TJ type, you organize the world to support efficiency and effectiveness.
If you’re a Judger, these statements would generally apply to you:
- I like to have things decided
- I like planning out my future
- I prefer to have a clear schedule
- I pay close attention to deadlines
- I like to focus on one-thing-at-a-time
- I sometimes focus so much on finishing one project that I miss new information
- I work methodically so I don’t feel rushed
If you’re a Perceiving type, you organize the world to support your information-gathering process. This means that you like having unstructured time to be spontaneous and make last-minute decisions. If you’re an NP type, you organize the world so that you can easily explore multiple ideas, theories, and possibilities. If you’re an SP personality type, you organize the world so that you can be spontaneous, jump right into action, or respond to life as it happens.
If you’re a perceiver, these statements would generally apply to you:
- I like having a flexible schedule that I can change at any time
- I prefer to wait and see before making a decision
- Generating possibilities and ideas is more fun than finishing them
- I like leaving things open-ended
- I enjoy being spontaneous
- Making decisions can cause me anxiety
- I like to mix work with play
- I am energized by an approaching deadline
- I work in bursts of energy
The Introvert Dilemma
If you’re an introvert, then chances are you relate to both of these preferences quite a bit. That’s because IJ types have a dominant perceiving function (intuition or sensation) while IP types have a dominant judging function (feeling or thinking).
While on the outside IJ types may appear like Judgers, on the inside they relate to many Perceiving tendencies.
While on the outside IP types may appear like Perceivers, on the inside they often relate to many Judger tendencies.
But because the Judging and Perceiving preferences explain how a type interacts with the outer world, the J or P indicator is still relevant.
On the inside, introverted judgers (IxxJ personality types) get in flow by gathering information, generating ideas and impressions, and flexibly looking at many perspectives or memories. Yet in their outer world IJs still feel most comfortable with a clear plan, closure, and a structure and routine. At work, they’re going to be more content if they can focus on one thing at a time and work in a methodical way so that they aren’t rushing to wrap up projects at the last minute.
On the inside, introverted perceivers (IxxP personality types) get in flow by clarifying and deciding what they think, planning out their futures, and focusing on one thing at a time. Yet on the outside, they appreciate a more flexible deadline, working in bursts of energy as their inspiration strikes.
But Why Do Judgers and Perceivers Annoy Each Other?
There are multiple answers to this question. And to be clear, my husband and best friend are both Perceivers and I’m a Judger. So even though we might drive each other crazy sometimes, Judgers and Perceivers can still share beautiful relationships.
Let’s start with one of the most common conflicts:
Judgers want to focus on one thing at a time. Perceivers often move from task to task, mixing work with recreation or play.
In a relationship, a Judger might be hyper-focusing on one task (say….trying to figure out what to make for dinner) when the Perceiver bounds into the kitchen, turns on the television and starts talking about their day. The Judger, completely thrown off by the interruption, feels a flash of anger by the distraction. Rather than being able to focus on one thing (looking through their recipe books) they now feel their attention splitting three ways (recipe books, TV, spouse’s words). Eventually, they slam a recipe book on the table, collapse on the floor, throw their head into their hands, and groan. The perceiver looks at them shocked,
“It’s 5:30!” the Judger shouts, gesturing towards the wall clock.
The perceiver, less bothered by schedules, shrugs.
“And…It’s DINNER TIME AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M MAKING!”
The perceiver suddenly gets a burst of energy, there’s a problem to solve spontaneously! He jumps up, starts pulling random ingredients out of the refrigerator, and setting them next to the stove.
“What are you doing??” the Judger gasps nervously.
“I can throw something together! I’ve got this. You just take a break.”
“But WHAT are you throwing together? I have a meal plan. Some of those ingredients might be needed for recipes I’m making later in the week.”
The Judger gets up and quickly starts looking at all the ingredients the Perceiver placed on the counter. She shakes her head and puts the ham and cheese back in the refrigerator.
The Perceiver scoffs and shakes his head. “Why won’t you just let me help you? Screw the meal plan. We’ll figure Wednesday out when it’s Wednesday.”
While the particulars of this scenario will vary, this overall pattern tends to repeat itself in many relationships.
Perceivers (especially ExxPs) are skilled at multi-tasking. They can have multiple things going on at the same time, and rather than being drained, they feel a rush of excitement. They now have multiple streams of information flowing into their senses and they can juggle back and forth between the various streams that are most interesting at the moment. They also enjoy acting in the moment, being flexible, and taking life as it comes.
A caveat: There’s a limit even to what Perceivers can handle. As an example, nearly everyone gets overstimulated by crying babies, toddler tantrums, lots of people shouting at each other, or being interrupted in the middle of a high-pressure task that needs to be finished right away. IxxP types are also more bothered by a lot of outside sensory stimulation and interruptions.
Judgers like to start one thing and finish it in one fell swoop, without distractions or interruptions. IxxJ types especially find outside interruptions overwhelming. They like to direct all their energy to the task at hand and they like planning things out in advance (like the weekly meal plan). Splitting their focus can create a lot of stress and anxiety in the Judging type and they often worry that they’ll run out of time or energy.
A caveat: If a Judger has done something many times they can multitask easily. For example, if they have prepared a variety of meals many times, they can prepare them from memory while talking on the phone and the television is on. Judgers also enjoy flexibility during their leisure time when there is no pressure and their to-do list is completed.
How Judgers and Perceivers Feel About Surprises
The surprise is often used as an example of where Perceivers and Judgers differ. Judgers typically like having a plan and following the plan. A surprise can throw them off course and be more of an irritating interruption than a harbinger of joy and elation. For the Perceiver who has a more flexible approach to life, the surprise can be exciting and stimulating! This surprise can give them more new information to take in and this new information could spark new possibilities and opportunities!
In general, this theory is fairly accurate, but, as always, there are some caveats.
If a Judger has their tasks completed and they’re an extrovert, a surprise party might be a really exciting thing for them. If they’re in the “leisure time” segment of their plan then unexpectedly having friends over can be a fun and energizing reprieve. Not so for the introverted judging types – they’re more likely to want to fill their leisure time with solo activities. The same goes for IxxP types, as introverts can get overwhelmed by people and social obligations quickly.
The key being, know the Judger or Perceiver you’re trying to surprise. If you want to anger an IJ type, announce that someone is unexpectedly coming over when the house is a mess and they already had a plan for their day. Even if the IJ likes that person, they’re bound to be shocked and stressed by the sudden change in plans and the need to re-arrange their entire schedule and mental state. If you want to anger an EP type announce that you have every bit of their week scheduled out in advance. Having no room for flexibility and spontaneity is a death sentence for any perceiving type, especially an EP type.
Different Work Styles
Judgers move through life by evaluating situations, setting priorities, and creating structures or rules to accomplish tasks. They typically like to start a project and work on it full swing until it’s finished, or work on it in moderate chunks at a steady rate over the course of several days, knowing they will finish way ahead of the deadline. Being distracted by an unrelated event, conversation, or possibility can send them into a stress response quickly (as we explored in the dinner-time scenario).
Perceivers move through life by absorbing information, looking for possibilities, and noticing any interesting pathways they’d like to explore. They like their life to feel open and boundless, without a lot of rules or guidelines. When they start a project they may feel inspired and finish the entire task in one burst of energy, or they may work for five minutes, go for a walk, talk to a friend, or play a game waiting for more inspiration or information to come to them. Distractions can be a welcome reprieve for the Perceiver, giving them the opportunity to step off one path and explore a new one.
When Judgers and Perceivers work together, in a business setting or in a family setting, they can butt heads over these different work styles.
I’ll use an example from my own life:
I work from home running Psychology Junkie while my husband attends film school. When I work, I put on my headphones, block out all surrounding sensory information, and hyper-focus on one project at a time. At the moment, I’m trying to focus all my energy on writing this article. If my husband, an ESTP, is working with me, he’ll work in little micro-bursts of inspiration, occasionally turning to me to tell me about something interesting. I’ll look up from my screen and see him looking at me with his lips moving, but I can’t hear him because I’m listening to blaring loud opera or instrumental music. I realize I have to disengage from my task and hear his interesting story. I look at the clock on the wall, realizing my “work segment” of the day is nearing an end and I don’t have a lot of time. Soon I will have to be in “mom segment” and switch my focus to that realm entirely.
Do I think my husband is trying to be annoying? No. Does he think I’m being a stick in the mud? Maybe. But this shows one of the frustrations that Judgers (particularly IxxJs) face when they’re trying to work alongside Perceivers (particularly ExxPs).
Perceivers generally need to feel a sense of inspiration in order to do their best work. Judgers tend to follow their schedule and task list regardless of the level of inspiration. Both of these tendencies can have downsides and upsides. The perceiver may procrastinate on a task for far too long or the Judger might hurry up and finish a task in a lackluster way because they lacked inspiration.
Does this mean Judgers Never Explore and Perceivers Never Create Structure?
Absolutely not. As a Judger, I enjoy open-ended mental wandering during my scheduled “leisure time.” I arrange my life in blocks, with mental frameworks I need to be in during each block. During “mom block” I focus fully on being there for my children and training them/tending to their needs, during “work block” I am all about work and want zero input from another side of my life, and during “leisure block” I let myself relax and explore many different ideas, possibilities, or theories. But my time blocks generally don’t mix. If I have to mix them, I feel stressed and mentally scattered.
Your average perceiver doesn’t typically organize their days in these timed “blocks.” They might mix “mom block” with “work block” and a little “leisure block” thrown in.
Just like the keys of a piano, the Judger’s life has a predictable order and structure that they follow in order to simplify things and avoid stress. A Perceiver’s life is more like a jazz band, following inspiration and improvising based on new information.
Perceivers will have moments where they structure their lives as well. My ESTP husband served in the military for eleven years and had to enforce structure, rules, and guidelines during his time there. He knew that a repeatable structure was the most efficient way for him and his fellow sergeants and airmen to accomplish the tasks they needed to accomplish at particular times. At the same time, he was always ready to improvise if needed and wouldn’t have been stressed if he’d had to ditch the structure because a surprise task came up. In fact, he thrived whenever he could create fun, novel ways to accomplish tasks with his team rather than doing things “by the book.”
How Judgers Can Understand Perceivers:
- Try not to schedule the majority of their time for them unless you are in a supervisory position.
- If you must have a schedule, make sure you’re giving them ample unstructured time within that.
- Realize that it is often their style to mix work with play and sprint to a finish at the last minute when they have a task to accomplish
- Realize that there are benefits and strengths of a perceiving preference. When someone stays open to new information longer, they often discover creative flourishes and features that can improve a project or experience.
- Practice spontaneity. It can feel a little unsettling at first, but you might find out you really enjoy some of the experiences you discover along the way!
How Perceivers Can Understand Judgers:
- If they have a busy schedule, try not to interrupt them with surprise events or activities that will throw them off.
- Realize that they will still sometimes enjoy spontaneity and surprises. Take some time to ask them what kind of surprises they enjoy and get a clearer idea of the kinds of interruptions they enjoy or dislike.
- Realize that there are benefits and strengths in a judging preference. When someone prioritizes tasks and works on them one-at-a-time, they can stay organized and ahead of schedule easily.
- Try to show up on time for important events to show that you care. If you can’t be there on time, try to give them a heads up.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you have any tips for fellow Judgers or Perceivers? Let us know in the comments.
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer, and The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter
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