Are you displaying too much P’ness?

Yes, I know, cheeky title, but one I know I can get away with as I weave it in regularly when I do Myers Briggs training, and I haven’t been sued yet!

Let me explain.  One of the Myers Briggs dimensions explores whether you are a J (for Judging, bad word to describe being structured, planned ahead, organised, logical in approach to projects) or a P (for Perceiving, odd choice of word to describe being spontaneous, in the moment, unplanned, leave it open as long as possible in case something better comes up).  So, if you do the profile you find out which your preference is, and when you do it will explain a lot to you.

In my mind the different worlds that people with these opposite preferences inhabit are a source of arguably the greatest tension between individuals.  If you’re a J you think that P behaviour is incompetent, disorganised, childish, and that those displaying P’ness need to grow up and get their lives sorted out.  If you’re a P you think that J’s are boring, risk averse, no sense of adventure, and that their J’ness is a sad reflection on their monotone existence, and they should get out more and find out what life has to offer.  Different worlds, no good or bad, just different.

I suppose like everything else in life, when you start to overdo it you start to get problems.  A bit of P’ness is OK, but when it’s incessant it drives the J to distraction.  I used to work for a consultancy where all 12 trainers were P’s, and all the admin people were J’s.  The poor admin folks spent their whole lives chasing up stuff, reminding the P’s of the rules, the policy, the need to plan things like flights further ahead than one day: basically picking up the trail of devastation we left in our wake.

I often find that teams are either predominantly one of the other:  sales teams are often P’s, operations teams often J’s, for instance.  And too much of one preference can be a bad thing.

This all popped back into my head the other day when doing some Presentations training using Cisco’s fabulous TelePresence video conferencing equipment.  There I was in London, others in Amsterdam, another in Barcelona, and to all intents and purposes we were in the same room.  We were talking about the relationship this group had with their internal clients (primarily operations type people, J in style).  This group is, guess what, all P’s.  Maybe this starts to explain why the ops people might think their new schemes are insufficiently thought through, haven’t gone through the correct approval procedure, can’t be fitted in to this quarter’s plan, and so on.  When we analyse it this way, the J’s aren’t getting enough J, and the P’s will gain huge respect if they just become a bit more J in their approach.

When the Myers Briggs Type Indicator was being developed, the people who did the initial work were motivated to develop a tool which might improve relationships between people and reduce conflict worldwide.  On the evidence of this tiny example, they were certainly onto something.

So if you are having difficulty building a relationship with an individual, ask them what their Myers Briggs profile is (it’s easy enough to find out), and then adapt your style of thinking to theirs for a bit.  You’ll be amazed at the result.

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Thanks for reading.

About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at
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2 Responses to Are you displaying too much P’ness?

  1. Bassel says:

    Took me right back to LFP. Thanks for the post, sometimes I need the reminder to downplay the P every now and again.


  2. Spencer says:

    explains a lot doesn’t it, I spend a lot of my life trying to get Ps to stomach some of the discipline of project management. I have to keep it succinct but find Ps are sold on the benefits of keeping plans visual and, once conducted properly, the solid plan leaves them more time to do more P-stuff

    think I’m getting more and more J in my old age – is that possible according to M-B?


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