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!

July 18, 2012

It's Just My Personality - Part 8: Being a Judging Type

How has parenting changed in the past 20 years?

If you said, "Well, you can list the changes in a spreadsheet and then rank them by what you believe is the most significant to understand exactly how parenting has changed," you are likely a Judging type.

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

As a Judging type, your preferred lifestyle is:

      Oriented toward goals & results
      “The joy of closure”

This means that you thrive best when you have a plan, can spend time working through a project or event so as to gain a clear sense of all that will be involved before getting started, and really like reaching the end of something. Judging types are notorious for having checklists, spreadsheets, to do lists and working through them systematically.

You may find that you are more organized in one area of life more so than another or you may bring a sense of order and organization to every aspect of your life. Either way, when it comes to lifestyle, Judging types are keen to set up systems, put things in their “proper” place, and are elated by every task completed during the day.

At work and play, the Judging type is:

      Focuses on completing the task
      Makes decisions quickly
      Uses lists
      Wants only essentials to begin projects

The Judging type is the person in the home or meeting that keeps things moving forward. Able to develop a plan with step-by-step action items, Judging types are often relied upon to keep projects and plans from become bogged down by indecision or running off track in a disorderly way.

One trap here is that Judging types can take on too much responsibility for planning. Other family members or co-workers will become overly reliant upon Judging types to first of all develop a plan and then oversee its implementation. This often results in Judging types resenting others for their lack luster ways and taking on too much. So, it’s important for Judging types to learn to let go, in a way, and make room for others to take on some of the responsibility for either getting a project done, planning a vacation, or taking care of the home.

This usually requires Judging types avoid a second trap – thinking their way is the “right way.” Since Judging types or so purposeful, exact, and self-regimented, they can often feel that the approach they’ve devised is sure proof and the best of all possible choices. So, in order to create room for others to play, Judging types will have to let go of this sense of “rightness.”

Finally, when it comes to pace & closure, Judging types:

      Hate loose ends
      Like closure
      Want to be clear about who is in control
      Want to state their commitments
      Want a clear schedule

Judging types can come across as regimented or unspontaneous. It’s often nice when Judging types and Perceiving types (which we’ll be talking about next week) get together since it can lead to a nice balance between spontaneity and organization. Still, Judging types often need to learn how to let down their hair and just go with the flow. A change in plans is not the end of the world, even if it can feel that way!

Next week, we’ll be talking about the Perceiving (P) personality type, the counterpart to the Judging type and the final of our personality types!

July 11, 2012

It's Just My Personality - Part 7: Being a Feeling Type

Think about a boss, professor or supervisor you enjoyed working with. In your opinion, what was it about them that made them an effective supervisor for you?
If you said, "He was very attentive, he really took an interest in my future and wanted me to do my best, I could really trust him," you are likely a Feeling type (“Feeler”).

This type is all about what we base our decisions on.

As a Feeler, you base your decisions on:
  • Personal, values-oriented information 
  • What "feels right" and is likely to lead to a harmonious outcome
  • Your impact on people
This means that your decision making process often keeps one eye on bottom lines but more of the focus is on how the decision will impact others and whether it will lead to contention and discord or connection and harmony. Feelers are very tuned in to their values and prefer making decisions that line up with these values independent of details, facts. In other words, “what feels right” will often outweigh “what makes sense.”

At work and play, the Feeler:
  • Is naturally friendly 
  • Acts personally 
  • Treats others uniquely & needs occasional praise 
  • Dislikes firing or reprimanding others 
  • Responds to people’s values as much as to their thoughts
The Feeler has a natural ability to connect with others and discover what is distinct and unique about each individual. Feelers thrive best in friendships and work environments where verbal affirmations and feedback occur with some frequency.

One trap Feelers fall into is becoming personally connected to others in a way that makes it difficult to set boundaries or, in a work environment, reprimand or redirect employees. So, it’s important for Feelers to strike a balance between “keeping the peace” and doing what is called for in a given situation – even if it means communicating a hard truth or leads to temporary disharmony.

Finally, when it comes to focus & orientation, Feelers prioritize:
  • People 
  • Tact
  • Harmony 
  • Supporting others
Feelers can come across as emotionally touchy or disconnected from logic. In reply to why they are doing or choosing something, it’s not uncommon for a Feeler to say, “It just feels right.” While this is a valid response, it can leave others feeling disconnected from your reasons. So, it’s important for Feelers to develop the ability to clarify the underlying values or ideas that lead to them to the “feels right” conclusion. For example, a Feeler could say, “I really value our friendship, so it feels right that we spend more time together.”

If you are a T interacting with a F:
  • Don’t immediately dismiss a Feeler for trusting his/her heart when making a decision 
  • Remember to offer praise and affirmation whenever possible
If you are a F interacting with a T:
  • Don’t immediately dismiss a Thinker for trusting his/her head when making a decision 
  • Resist the urge to label a Thinker as cold or disinterested simply because s/he focuses on logic or acts impersonally
Next week, we’ll be talking about the first half of the final dichotomy – the Judging (J) personality type, and, after that the J counterpart, Perceiving (P).

Upcoming Event:
Real Talk with Rachel - Online Chat - Open Forum. 7/25, 7p-8:30p PT - hope you'll join in!

July 4, 2012

It's Just My Personality - Part 6: Being a Thinking Type

Think about a boss, professor or supervisor you enjoyed working with. In your opinion, what was it about them that made them an effective supervisor for you?

If you said, "She was really good at communicating information clearly, set specific goals and objectives. There were some things I didn’t like, but overall, she was very effective and treated me fairly," you are likely a Thinking type ("Thinker").

This next type is all about what we base our decisions on.

As a Thinker, you base your decisions on:
  • Non-personal logic 
  • Objective information 
  • An outcome that “makes sense” 
  • Logical implications
This means that you lean towards basing decisions on measurable criteria. Decisions usually get made after evaluating the pros and cons of a given situation. For the most part, you strive to make decisions objectively using non-personal logic. This isn’t to say that emotion or feelings never enter into the equation for Thinkers; it just means that logic and objective information are more heavily relied upon.

At work and play, the Thinker:
  • Behaves in a brief & businesslike manner 
  • Acts impersonally 
  • Treats others fairly & needs to be treated fairly 
  • May hurt other people’s feelings without knowing it 
  • Tends to be firm
The Thinker tends to enjoy technical or scientific fields and thrives in environments where the culture is direct and structured. “Fairness” is an extremely important concept for Thinkers.

One trap here is that Thinkers may struggle to make a decision when “fairness” becomes too central to the final thought. They can become bogged down by trying to come up with a solution that feels balanced in a way that doesn’t leave anyone out in the cold. Therefore, it’s important for Thinkers to develop strategies for decision making that moves them along whenever the “fairness” question starts to interfere or shut down the process.

Finally, when it comes to focus & orientation, Thinkers prioritize:
  • Things 
  • Truth 
  • Principles 
  • Solving problems
Thinkers can come across as task-oriented, uncaring or indifferent. So, it is important to develop interpersonal skills that focus on connecting with others, keeping the “people” part of a situation in view, and communicating your thoughts and decisions in a way that is firm but friendly.

Next week, we’ll be talking about Feeling (F) personality type, the counterpart to the Thinking type and exploring how T’s and F’s can get along.

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