Inspired Action vs. Efforting: judging versus perceiving

Of all the Myers-Briggs preference pairs, this one is the most challenging for many to wrap their minds around. Judging versus perceiving.

Part of the initial confusion is caused by the terms themselves.

  • Judging sounds like it means judgmental.
  • Perceiving sounds like it’s about being perceptive.

Neither is the case.

So what are these two really about?

This fourth preference pair, the J-P Dichotomy, describes how you like to live your outer life. Do you prefer a more structured and decided lifestyle (Judging) or a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)?

Stability and certainty

If your preference is Judging, you like to live in a planned and orderly way, and plans are your best friend. Structure and organization are appealing. You like to have things decided and seek closure. You’re energized by getting things done.

Discovery and options

If your preference is Perceiving, you like to live in a flexible, spontaneous way and keep plans to a minimum. Casual and open-ended are appealing. You prefer to keep your options open and change course easily. You’re energized by your resourcefulness in adapting to last-minute pressures.

Which is home base?

Which preference pair is more natural, effortless, and comfortable for you?

  • Do you look at the world and see decisions that need to be made (Judging) or options that need to be explored (Perceiving)?
  • Do you want the world to be organized and orderly (Judging) or seek to experience the world, not organize it (Perceiving)?
  • Do you feel comfortable with a schedule (Judging) or constrained by a schedule (Perceiving)?
  • Do you say, What’s the goal? (Judging) or What are my options? (Perceiving)?

Know this: Whatever your type, you can flex and function on the other side, but it’s not your natural home base.

Which means, just as with all the other preference pairs, when you have to spend a lot of time operating from the other preference, it’s draining. You can start to feel like your natural way of being is not the “right” way, not appreciated, not acceptable.

Judging versus Perceiving in the workplace

I hear from many of my clients with a preference for Perceiving that the workplace is oriented toward Judging, which makes their work life challenging.

Likewise, I hear from clients with a preference for Judging who are frustrated and confused by their Perceiving colleagues who delay decisions, finish things last minute, and seem to collect information rather than come to conclusions.

How does Judging and Perceiving show up in your workplace?


Check out these posts to read about the other Myers-Briggs preference pairs:

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