July 25, 2012

It's Just My Personality - Part 9: Being a Perceiving Type

How has parenting changed in the past 20 years?

If you said, "There are probably a lot of ways that it's changed, let's talk about that for a bit. And then halfway through the discussion you say, 'Let’s come back to this – how about we go grab a beer?'" you are likely a Perceiving type.

This next type is all about what our preferred lifestyle is.

As a Perceiving type, your preferred lifestyle is:
  • Flexible
  • Spontaneous
  • Oriented toward gathering information
  • "The joy of processing"
This means that you thrive best when you are able to spend time collecting information, developing and exploring ideas. You enjoy the process of a project, noticing all of the moving parts, but are less tied to the closure that the J time craves. So, loose or open ends are easy to stomach and, in fact, often enjoyed. Perceiving types are known for their flexibility and spontaneity and are often looked to for those “moments of distraction” we all need when simply keeping our heads down and getting things done becomes too much.

At work and play, the Perceiving type is:
  • Curious
  • Tolerant
  • Adaptable
  • Focuses on starting tasks, wants to know all about a project before beginning
  • Postpones decisions
  • Works most efficiently under last-minute pressure
Perceiving types easily adapt to change. They are tolerant of work and play environments that do not have clear schedules or routines. In fact, Perceiving types will often attempt to shake things up if things do seem to be settling into a pattern. Perceiving types are very curious and you will often find them exploring many topics or activities at one time.

One trap here is that Perceiving types will hesitate to make decisions because they want to remain open to respond to whatever happens. This can cause high levels of stress for you and others when deadlines are approaching or decisions are needed in order to move forward. Some of your best work will be done as a result of an approaching deadline or last-minute pressure. However, Perceiving types must learn to bring their same creativity and focus that arises at the 11th hour to the other hours of the day as well when needed.

Finally, when it comes to pace & closure, Perceiving types:
  • Resist closure
  • Like to keep their options open
  • Comment on the process
  • Dislike schedules
  • Often have last minute changes
Perceiving types can come across as procrastinators and unreliable. Perceiving types really like to discuss the project, plan for the project, get a sense of the project (or trip, or experience), but often have a hard time actually starting the project. As a result, they often leave things until the last minute. So, it’s important for Perceiving types to develop a few strategies for reigning in these tendencies, especially when working to meet deadlines. One strategy is to set a hard time limit for how long a brainstorming or research time will last. Once that time is past, a decision has to be made!

While your preference in most areas of life might be to remain flexible and spontaneous (and this can be a real strength since it helps you remain open to new experiences and adapt to the world rather than organizing it), you are in fact, internally, usually very decisive, so you must learn to communicate this to the external world to balance perceptions of you as being flighty, unreliable, or indecisive.

If you are a J interacting with a P:
  • As you are creating a plan, schedule, project, actually schedule in time for the P to gather information and then set a date for when the “exploration” phase is over and the “action” phase will begin
  • Learn to trust that the P will come through–even if at the very last minute
  • Give P’s a “fake deadline.” If you know, because you’re a J and have timed everything perfectly, that you need to leave for the play by 7p at the latest, tell your P that you need to leave by 6:30p
  • Embrace the P’s spontaneity for your benefit–letting go of your plan/schedule can sometimes lead to a lot of fun, creativity or adventure
If you are a P interacting with a J:
  • Learn to trust that the J’s planning or scheduling is not an attempt to limit you or tie you down–keep breathing–it is just a plan
  • Communicate clearly the decisions you are making internally, even if they don’t lead to actionable behavior so that others know you are still engaged and not just wasting time.
  • Embrace the J’s self-regimentation for your benefit–letting go of your tendency to resist closure can lead to accomplishment, clarity, and make room for new adventures 
I do want to make one observation in closing. We may be a very strong J while being a middle of the road N. In some situations, we may tap into our Extrovert skills while remaining, at heart, in introvert. In other words, it is important to keep in mind that we all share aspects of each personality type and, while presented in a binary kind of way, personality is best thought of in terms of a spectrum.

I hope you've enjoyed this overview and my attempt to highlight key characteristics and tendencies of behavior and perception that are commonly shared among those with a particular personality type. Remember to keep in mind the personality type "traps" and skills for getting along with each other!

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