When it comes to approaches to getting things done, there is probably no bigger cause of MBTI® related conflict than the Judging and Perceiving preferences. Judging types love to get things over and done with and checked off of their lists with planning and time to spare before deadlines, while Perceiving types love to leave their options open in order to take in all of the information possible to make the most informed decision possible, deciding only when it feels right to them. Of course, both of these viewpoints are valid, but when individuals do not communicate their viewpoints and styles, things tend to go awry.
- When problems/conflicts arise, will usually assess what is going on, decide what to do, and act on the decision
- Generally want to stick to the plan until it is carried to fruition, rather than reopening and rehashing the issue
- When problems/conflicts arise, will usually pencil in tentative ideas for resolving the issue, while keeping an open mind
- Generally want to keep the eraser handy on the to erase and rewrite solutions that may appear to be better than original thoughts on the topic
Setting Public or Group Goals
Ah, goal setting… What American employee meeting or annual review would be complete without it?! Even children are now told that writing goals down makes them more likely to happen, so how could they possibly cause conflict? When it comes to setting goals, which are essentially plans, people who prefer Judging may appear to have the natural advantage because of their inborn tendency to begin with the end in mind and plan the steps needed to get there. They love reaching the destination! Despite this, they are not without goal related conflict. When asked to set a goal that he or she doesn’t care about or knows is unattainable, trouble will certainly arise, as the individual will go after the goal with a sense of indifference or the fear of almost certain failure.
Perceiving types, on the other hand, see the value in experiencing the journey and being ready to accept its gifts. When a person with a Perceiving type has to set a firm and specific goal, it can cause a sense of loss or even panic. After all, being held to an outcome before having the needed information kills the discovery process, and it may result in a sub-par outcome. Individuals with this preference tend to prefer to outline a general direction in which to head and an area to aim for rather than providing hows, whys, and whats that have yet to reveal themselves. When forced to go against their nature, the person will likely feel stifled and perhaps like he or she is being setup for failure.
As is always the case, communication can aid in avoiding conflicts. It never hurts to talk with a supervisor about how you have been successful in reaching goals in the past and talking about where you really want to see yourself in the time frame given. If you choose this route, go into the meeting prepared! Having data to back up your claims and showing that you have put real thought into the process can go a long way in helping your case. While this is unlikely to dissolve the requirement of setting goals, it may allow you to infuse the process with more of your style and your desires. If that isn’t possible, consider ways in which you can reach your goals using your processes and passions
When it comes to putting things in order, from papers to books to the kitchen, Judging types tend to use more standardized systems of arrangement. This may be alphabetical books by author, papers by date written, cereal in a cabinet between the bowls and the fridge, or closets by color or season.
Perceiving types are more likely to organize items in stacks, piles, or collections. One stack may represent things that are really important, while another contains items that are not super important but shouldn’t be thrown away, while yet another is stuff that is being kept just in case it’s needed at some point in the future… ever.
A Judging type may see the Perceiving system as no system at all, while the Perceiving type may believe the Judging system to be so tedious, unusual, or obsessive that it is simply not worth the trouble. Now, as you read this one, you may be thinking that you do both of these things in different areas of your life. Remember that Judging and Perceiving describe how you interact with the OUTSIDE world. You may find that you do things in the opposite manner when they pertain to what you consider your INNER world. For instance, as an INFJ, I have been accused of keeping a messy desk that is filled with the stacks listed above. My desk is my inner world, which my Judging preference doesn’t have a big say in. On the other hand, my Judging preference is completely evidenced when I set up a buffet table for a party, and I have an exact spot for everything as part of my buffet setup system. For more information on using preferences in the outer and inner worlds, check out Type Dynamics.
If you want to stay out of this conflict with someone discuss what items are most likely to be needed by the others involved and how to make them easily accessible. Of course, this discussion will be more successful if discussed in a calm manner that respects the other person’s right to her or his process. You won’t likely succeed by commenting on how insane the system, or lack thereof, is in your opinion.
When a person with a Judging preference goes on vacation, sometimes the planning is half the fun! The intricacy of the plan may depend of the destination and other aspects of the personality, but it can range from planning a couple of things each day and researching area restaurants to scheduling every second of every day, printing itineraries, pre-programming everything into the GPS, and having every meal planned with coupons months before leaving. After all, it’s easier to relax when the plan is in place and there is nothing to worry about, right?!
People with a preference for Perceiving may see vacation as one of the few times that they are not forced to plan and schedule, which is very exciting! They may run the gamut of booking plane tickets or a room on a cruise ship ahead of time to deciding to take off for the weekend minutes before leaving, deciding where to go on the way, and getting a hotel room once they get there. This is relaxation and adventure at its finest… The ultimate in enjoying the journey and seeing where life takes you.
Now, get these two people married to each other, make them friends, or have them be each others parents. Having fun yet? No?? Well, it’s easy to see that differing ideas on relaxing can be downright stressful! Compromise is probably the best course of action here. Maybe the Judging type gets to plan every detail of the Disney trip, since restaurants book up months in advance there, but the Perceiving type reserves the right to a spur of the moment trip at another time. Another compromise could be planning parts of the trip, like the museum that’s only open 3 days a week and is next to the awesome restaurant that requires reservations, while leaving certain days or blocks of time to do whatever comes to mind. Just remember that vacations are supposed to be fun, you both want to have fun, and you’re probably both traveling the path that you believe leads to fun.
Shudder!! Gasp!! Not group work?!?! Somehow, this seems like a 4-letter word. When I first started facilitating workshops for college students, I made an assumption that Extraverts enjoy group work, while Introverts dislike it. I was wrong, and the students were not shy in letting me know it! Turns out, almost no one likes group work because it involves people relying on others for grades. Eventually, I had some realizations and began encouraging students to discuss their Judging and Perceiving preferences when starting group projects.
Judging types like to plan projects in an organized fashion with steps and a deadline that allows for printer disasters to be corrected in a manner that still gets the project turned in on time or early. Last minute equally panic, or at least anxiety for Judging types.
Perceiving types usually do their best work under pressure. They may try to work on something early but will likely experience a block in the creative process that won’t subside. When the deadline is near, though, they get a burst of creative energy that allows them to get many hours worth of work done in a small time period and squeak it in before the deadline.
So, when these individuals are put in a group, the Judging type gets the work done early and sets the deadlines assuming that others will do the same. When no work has come in from the Perceiving type before the deadline, the Judging type worries that this group member is, in fact, a dud who is never going to finish the work and will cause group failure.
Meanwhile, the Perceiving type has plenty of time before the deadline even if that deadline is an hour away and the work takes 30 minutes) and wonders why this Judging type is attacking him or her. A lack of trust takes over, and the project becomes unpleasant.
To avoid the conflict, remember that both preferences are valid and not inherently evil. The Judging type may seem controlling, and may be, but will often take a follower, or more laid back, role if he or she feels comfortable that the project is organized and all parties are committed to a good grade. The Perceiving type has a process that probably produces his or her best work. While this process is different that the one used by most Judging types, it does not make the Perceiving type incompetent, untrustworthy, or lazy. Even if group members do not know MBTI®, it can help to discuss styles of completing tasks beforehand. If deadlines need to be adjusted to improve comfort, that’s fine! Just talk it out and don’t assume the worst.
I challenge you to identify conflicts you experience that are type related and use type to improve your life! If you are interested in learning more about Myers-Briggs and conflict, check out Sondra VanSant’s great book, Wired for Conflict: The Role of Personality in Resolving Differences, which was used as a reference for this article. You can also read the other articles in the series on conflict. As always, thanks for reading!