Why Briggs Myers' "Judging" Trait Doesn't Mean Judgmental

So you've done a personality test and the results are in: you're a Judger. If you're not too familiar with Myers and Briggs' way of describing personality, being called a Judger may sound like cause for concern. But there's no need to feel defensive! Judging, in this context, has more to do with how you approach life—not how judgmental you are. Plus, Myers and Briggs center their work on the tenet that all types are valued.  No one type is better than another, and it's impossible to get a "bad" result.

Whether you are INFJ, ENFJ, INTJ, ENTJ, ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ or ESFJ, the Judging trait describes your preference for a well-ordered outer world.  As Judging types, creating structure and systematic approaches to life reduces our stress and contributes to our overall well-being. Compare this with Perceivers, who take a more spontaneous approach and prefer to keep their options open. 

Our traits make us who we are, and every trait has its positive and negative sides. But sometimes, even the best of us can fall into destructive habits. As a Judger, the voice of the personal critic can be overbearing. It’s critical for the sake of our relationships to judge when our wonderfully organized and quick-to-make a decision “Judging” personality traits are leaning too heavily into the judgmental zone. 

Judging vs. Judgmental

According to the personality theory created by Briggs and Myers, your Judging or Perceiving preference illustrates how you shape your surroundings. Simply, Judgers desire a sense of structure while Perceivers appreciate flexibility. Judgers like to orchestrate and develop procedures for successful functioning. In short, we aim for a well-laid plan.  

For instance, Judging types typically know where they put their keys… on the key hook.  Perceivers, on the other hand, accept that they’ll need to root around in their bags or the pockets of the coat they wore yesterday. Nothing in the type description suggests that a Judger is going to get all sanctimonious and judgmental -- it’s all about how you live your outer life and how you structure the world.    

What single negative social habit would earn someone a judgmental reputation? It would be the tendency for someone to rush to disparage or disapprove of someone or something without exercising empathy, thought or reason. If a Judging personality type succumbs to judgmental behavior, then it’s usually because the Judger organizes his world to gain a quick closure of a difficult situation. 

Perceiving type personalities may also act judgmental. But inherently, Perceivers are in less of a hurry to form judgments. They tend to reserve their positions for as long as possible.  It makes it easier for them to change their minds later, if need be. 

Our Judging Strengths

Spring fever brings out my inner camper like clockwork. Lately, we’ve taken our trips to the next level with ‘ultralight backpacking.’ Judging strengths are essential for this sport. In order for a Judger to enjoy the trip, they must attempt to create a sense of order in the wilderness. That’s no easy task! The typical approach would be to map the route and pack the best survival gear they can find. Preparation is everything to a Judger. They work hard to ensure each successive trip is smoother than the last. 

This is a valuable skill that rolls over into each aspect of a Judger’s life. These types continually develop strategies to reduce stress. They create structure by writing to-do lists, setting schedules and establishing relatively smooth relationships. Judgers also prefer to communicate with a loose script in mind.  A free-flowing talk can lack effectiveness and Judgers are more comfortable with structured conversations. For instance, the way I respond to people often hinges on whether or not they approach me with proper greetings and manners. 

Did you sense me entering the judgmental zone? 

Judgmental Much?

It happens to the best of us, for sure. In our haste to create order, we sacrifice compassion. The drawback is that we become habitually judgmental of each other. Efficiency can be overemphasized in a Judger’s procedures. It’s great for laundry but not for people.   

We make judgmental assumptions when we become fault finders. That I might be more accommodating if someone says “good morning” first is a judgmental thought. It’s easy for judgmental habits to take root and be reinforced by the negative consequences of the interaction. Our closest connections will be hurt and eventually alienated.  

Have you found yourself in situations, as I have, and responded judgmentally before?  For instance, a Judger parent juggling household responsibilities may resort to criticizing their teens clothing choice with a quick retort.  Or maybe remade a bed or rearranged the dishwasher after a guest pitched in to help. A Judger may neglect appreciation for the good and focus on what’s missing from a colleague’s work. Judgers need to control their surroundings and in extreme cases this can prove detrimental to personal or professional relationships.   

How to Quit a Judgmental Habit

We’re all endowed with the ability to practice sound judgement while we interact with our environment.  However, even the best of us should consider if our words and deeds are in line with our personal vision of ourselves.  Falling short is natural but we’ve opportunities to grow within our interactions. We can recalibrate our need for quick closures and practice compassion.  Luckily, empathy is an encouraging practice. These thoughts should be a good place to start:

  • Look for hurt feelings. It can be hard to address hurt feelings in the moment if you don’t know about them.  Look for red flags such as stiff body language, withdrawal, quietness or defensiveness.

  • Compliment sandwich. It’s useful to frame critiques with positives.  Over time, people will become more open to feedback. 

  • Ask, “does that make sense?” This can be a powerful tool to ask others after you’ve given them your point of view.  It’s also good to ask this yourself when you’re evaluating someone’s actions. Allow the space for a response.  

  • Accept the grey area. We are all wonderfully imperfect people living in a world that’s not always black and white. We can manage our expectations by understanding that sometimes people and circumstances are inconsistent.  There will always be outliers or choices that you would have to walk in someone else’s shoes to understand.

Final Thoughts

The Judging personality trait is not the same as acting judgmental. However, Judgers thrive in a self-ordered outer world and this can push them into judgmental territory if the need for order and closure stops them communicating effectively. We can avoid forming judgmental behaviors by practicing compassion.  We should assume people are all trying to do their best with what they have at the moment. 

If we’re to avoid leaning past our good judgment threshold and into negative judgmental behavior then empathy must be at the top of our minds.  Cultivating empathy gives us the time to think about our communication with people in order to understand... not judge. We can keep our personal critic honest and loving when we show ourselves compassion, as well. 

I believe in the power of one individual.  If we can order our personal world for success and purpose, then what can’t we do as people?  There’s always a benefit from reflecting about our words and deeds towards others. It serves our inner dialogue, shapes our relationships, and goes on to influence our community.  Let’s put that vision to good use and make the world a place where we’re all seen, heard and thoughtfully valued.

Marisa Dallas

Marisa Dallas is a freelance writer with two bachelors’ degrees in Biomedical Sciences and English & American Literature. As a creative idealist, INFJ, she is an imaginative world builder and enjoys writing fictional literary short stories. Marisa is working on her first novel. Reach out to her at www.marisadallas.com.

Comments

Elena Craig (not verified) says...

Great article! I can totally relate!  I look forward to reading more of your work. 

Marisa Dallas says...

Thank you!

Share your thoughts

THE FINE PRINT: Myers-Briggs® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., which has no affiliation with this site. Truity offers a free personality test based on Myers and Briggs' types, but does not offer the official MBTI® assessment. For more information on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, please go here.

Truity up to date