A well-rounded person learns from each personality type. I’m going to zoom in on Perceivers and Judgers for two reasons. First of all, a firm grasp on a few Judging traits is very practical, and Perceivers could benefit from assimilating some of their assertive, pragmatic methods of behavior. Secondly, most people don’t fully understand the difference between Perceiving and Judging. It will be simultaneously prescriptive and psychoeducational—an exciting two-for-one deal for counselors like myself.
Before we go further, I must set the urban myth straight. The “Judging” category does not mean “judgmental.” A “Judging” definition on a flashcard would state: “sticks firmly to decisions, detail-oriented, and desires structure.” In turn, “Perception” doesn’t actually mean perceptive. Its closer definition reads: “open-minded and spontaneous.”
I can’t say if it’s as simple for Judgers to learn from Perceivers. I’ve only ever been a Perceiver, peering over the line of demarcation to the side of pragmatic, assertive Judgers—where so many law students and executives hang out, planning their weekends by Wednesday and writing agendas for their vacations. It’s a vast land of schedules and quick decision-making skills—foreign territory to a spontaneous, indecisive human like myself. However, I’m a big fan of Judgers. Through their example, I’ve become a more well-rounded, spontaneous, indecisive human. So I’m here to share my gleanings with the rest of you.
1. Write Your Plans Down
In their whimsical spontaneity, Perceivers can be a little forgetful. They easily make plans with others and forget about them later, leaving their loved ones feeling unimportant and disregarded. Maybe you mark your calendars with only firmly-settled plans. So here’s a change —consider marking down the up-in-the-air plans as well. If you tell a friend you’ll call them later, put a reminder on your phone.
Perceivers often impulsively say “yes” to whatever invitation comes up, even if they agreed to something off-handed earlier. Remembering previous engagements is not our strong suit. If you have a habit of double booking, practice checking your schedule frequently. It can feel weird and stifling at first, but it’ll pay off.
2. Pick a Restaurant
Perceivers like to keep an open mind, waiting for the best possible option. Sometimes their open-to-all-possibilities mindset can go a bit awry. Have you ever seen two Perceivers try to pick a restaurant for dinner? We’ll go through every restaurant in the Zagat from our city and the next one over, hoping one person will name their preference.
If you’re a Perceiver, you may resonate with the difficulty in selecting one option in life. To feel good about a big decision, you want a pro-con list, external opinions, and a low-key sign from Heaven. Your open-mindedness makes you great for going with the flow and definitely fosters creativity. For balance, borrow the assertiveness and quick decision-making skills from Judgers. Offer your opinion when appropriate. Make suggestions. Dare I say, make executive decisions from time to time. Your open-mindedness probably won’t let you turn into a bossy, domineering person. So don’t be afraid to pick a restaurant.
3. Organize Your Living Space
Although not true for all Judging types, many Judgers are organized and tidy, particularly Introverts. The organization in their environment reflects the organization of their mindset. Everything has its proper place. Perceivers tend be somewhat more lax with their organization, which is a perfectly harmless preference. However, a huge step in personal growth is trying new behavioral patterns.
Marie Kondo’s famous and super chic book Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up elaborates how an orderly living space can foster a peaceful, organized mindset. Perceivers are open-minded people, which means a lot of loose ends. After a while, your mind can feel cluttered. If you’re inclined to start organizing your life more, try organizing your living space. Donate clothes you don’t wear to a charity you support. Organize your bookshelf (and rediscover all the books you want to read.) Practicing organization in one area of your life could improve your organization in other areas like scheduling, meeting deadlines, and coordinating responsibilities.
4. Try New Perspectives
Schedules and structure can be quite suffocating for a Perceiver. I personally think it comes down to a sense of lost control. We feel locked down when we have to make quick decisions and commit to them, and an open-ended plan gives us a sense freedom. Ironically, I think Judgers like firmly settled plans because it gives them a sense of control or self-guidance. A lack of structure makes them feel out of control.
If my little hypothesis is true, a sense of freedom comes down to perspective. If you need to embrace structure as a Perceiver, you may need to readjust perspectives—an action in which Perceivers excel.
Perceivers are excellent at looking at someone else’s point of view. Harness your strengths and practice looking from the Judger’s perspective. Train your mind to look for the benefits of detailed organization and firm decision-making. Does your anxiety decrease when you schedule out your week and write down a detailed to-do list? If so, journal about it. Do your friendships benefit from you taking initiative a little more? If so, bring mindfulness to your sense of positive self-concept. Practice a new perspective, and you may find that a structured lifestyle is freeing.
In short, it’s good practice to learn from positive traits of other personality types. Especially consider personality traits opposite to your personality type. Go beyond a cursory glance at their strengths and weaknesses. Trying new behaviors helps us achieve balance. Write down what you observe about Judgers— of any opposing personality type—and put them into practice. How do they act in social situations? Are they talkative or are do they listen better? Do they keep an open mind or make decisions quickly? Even if you don’t adopt new methods of behavior, perhaps you will appreciate them more or at least see them differently.
So my dear Perceiving readers, peruse the Judging lifestyle at your leisure and give it a go. Make a schedule. Create a timeline. Voice your opinions. Pursue wholeness and new experiences. Stand up on Robin Williams’ desk from Dead Poet’s Society “to remind yourself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”