Potential for conflict between each preference  – Judging and Perceiving

Judging and Perceiving are real conflict hotspots because these preferences are externalised – they happen in the outer world, where we meet each other.  The differences will show up in the ways we work together and in our personal lives and can be a real source of tension if not understood.  In fact, a marriage guidance counsellor who uses Type (rare!) told me that this is the preference pair where most of the irritation occurs between people who are living together.  So let’s see what is really going on.

[I’m not going to repeat the caveats and context of my approach to this – see earlier articles for that – but remember this is about typical expression of our preferences and based on the most commonly occurring criticisms that I have come across in over 20 years of working with Type]

The Judging preference is concerned with getting closure.  Therefore, people with this preference in their 4 letter type code will want to get to decisions quickly – if it’s on the list, they want it off the list a.s.a.p. The phrase “done and dusted” fills them with joy!  They will get a real sense of energy and satisfaction when something is finished.  To achieve this closure, they tend to be organised and planned.  They also have the tendency to structure things like time – there is work time and leisure time – two different things.
The Perceiving preference is about keeping options open as long as possible.  So, people with this preference in their 4 letter type code will want to remain open to any new information, ideas or inspirations that will inform their eventual decision.  As such, they will tend to dip in and out of different things, go with the flow, explore different options as they go – keeping some in mind and discarding others.  They tend to have a fluid approach to things like time – work time can be play time and vice versa.

So how do these two valuable approaches to life manage to wind each other up so much?  The answer is ‘very easily’.  Looking at each of the top 3 criticism that each make of each other, we can explore how the misunderstandings that lead to conflict can occur.

P types will appear to keep changing their minds and changing the plan when, in fact, their mind has not yet been made up and no plans are in place.  It looks like they are changing because they will tend to speak out loud about the options they are considering.  So they may say “let’s go for a curry tonight”, but a little later say “actually pizza might be nice”.  Their J friend will probably have taken the time to decide which curry restaurant to go to and possibly even have booked a table, thinking that “let’s go for a curry”, means “let’s go for a curry”.  Experience has shown me that, as a J, I need to allow the options to emerge and only as the time approaches ask, “so which are we definitely going to do?”  P types need the time to externally process the options that they are considering – so be patient and don’t think every statement they make is a decision.
Conversely, P type will see J types as inflexible.  It is true that if a J type has made a plan and it is suddenly disrupted, it can be very irritating; however, most J types can re-jig the plan if just given a little time and patience, and the initial irritation is seen as just a part of the process and not a personal attack.

The last minute vs. impatient issue comes down to the fact that P types like to keep their options open till the last minute, and J types are keen to get closure and put something to bed as soon as they can.  It is all about energy levels.  P types have very little energy for committing to something early on – it will feel like wading through treacle if they are asked to make an early start on something; however, their energy to get things done really kicks in as the deadline approaches and this is when they say they do their best work.  Unfortunately, if working on a project together, their J colleagues may be concerned that nothing seems to have been done early on and they may start to see their P colleague as unreliable.  In truth, although the P type may not be showing anything concrete until the end, they will be mentally exploring the project and refining and adapting their ideas – so they are not slacking off.   They will also need variety, so may tend to juggle different tasks, dipping in and out of the things they need to do.
The J types will be keen to make an early start and often even re-set the deadline for a slightly earlier finish.  Sometimes this means that they will be so keen to get the project done, that they will not have spent enough time exploring all the options and information, and then later on when everything is done they will have some regret about what they missed.  Of course, as time is tight for nearly everyone these days, J types will often find themselves being pushed to the deadline.  But for the J type, this is not a positive, energising experience – it is stressful and irritating.  Their preference is to work through a task to completion if possible, then move onto the next thing. They may inadvertently annoy the P types by keeping asking them what they have done on the project so far.

Another common dynamic that I frequently witness along these same lines is where there is a P type boss with a J type assistant.  The J type assistant will typically have made their to-do list for the day and worked out how long each task will take etc.  The P type boss may have the tendency to throw in extra last minute tasks, or create diversions so that the J type needs to keep changing from one task to the other.  Sometimes the J assistant cannot help but finish what they are working on and be seen as not responsive to the wishes off the boss.  Again, frustration and irritation are the result for both parties.  It is simply a mismatch of styles, and with understanding of each other’s preferences and work styles, it can be managed without conflict.

The final point (unclear vs controlling) comes down to the fact that our J or P preference indicates what we externalise, aka what we talk about.  J types will externalise their Judgements (decisions, plans, what they have done, etc.) and have decisive and closed communication, and P types will externalise their Perceptions (ideas, options, inspirations, stories, etc.) and have a fluid and meandering style of communication.  So when the two types converse, they are speaking very different languages.  The J types will sit through the outpouring of fluid perceptions from their P colleague and at the end be confused as to what the actual decisions or plans are.  For the P types, they will experience their J colleague as someone who comes in with plans and decisions already made and then tell them what to do – bossy!

Again, irritation and frustration build, as well as negative perceptions of the other’s competence, when in reality it is just a mismatch of communication styles.  So the top tip for J types is to keep the options open, consult with others, incorporate ideas from others (I know, I know …. It’s a big ask!), and not just come in with the plan already made.  This will get you more buy in and will often help you to make a better decision.  The top tip for P types is to consciously spend the last 5 minutes of a meeting spelling out the decision, the action plan and the allocation of tasks – and write it down on a chart or email it to everyone after.

There is a lot more that can be said about the potential for conflict and irritation between these two preferences, but I think that will do for now (she says, keen to get to closure and get this posted!)

Earlier articles in this series of Different Perceptions of Conflict:

  1. The difference in conflict definition from the Thinking and Feeling perspective
  2. Extraversion – Introversion explores common misunderstandings between these styles.

Further articles will look at the functions of Sensing and Intuition, and Thinking and Feeling, followed by the other 5 Typological Perspectives on  Conflict

3) from our Opposing Function
4) from our Inferior Function
5) between Same Types
6) how different types may try to Resolve Conflict
7) the potential for conflict as  result of our Stage of Personal Development.


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