Monday, June 3, 2013


I flew to Cairns and back this weekend. One of the things I read on the flight was ‘Gifts Differing - Understanding Personality Types’ by the Myers Briggs people. 
Something that occured to me was how Getting Things Done and other books like it are all written by strongly ‘judging’ types (rather than ‘perceiving’ types). Read the descriptions:
“[Judging types] are more decisive than curious. [They] live according to plans, standards, and customs not easily or lightly set aside, to which the situation of the moment must, if possible, be made to conform. [They] make a very definite choice among life’s possibilities, but may not appreciate or utilize unexpected, unplanned and incidental happenings. ... [Judging types] like to have matters settled and decided as promptly as possible so that they will know what is going to happen and can plan for it and be prepared for it. [They] think or feel that they know what other people ought to do about almost everything, and are not averse to telling them. [They] take real pleasure in getting something finished, out of the way, and off their minds.”
Perceptive types, however, “are most curious than decisive. [They] live according to the situation of the moment and adjust themselves easily to the accidental and the unexpected. ... Being empirical, they depend of the readiness for anything and everything to bring them a constant flow of new experiences-- much more than they can digest or use. [They] like to keep decisions open as long as possible before doing anything irrevocable, because they don’t know nearly enough about it yet. ... [They] take great pleasure in starting something new, until the newness wears off. [They] aim to miss nothing [and] are inclined to regard the judging types as only half living.”
I wonder how much the aim of GTD etc is to turn perceiving types into judging types. Because that ain’t going to happen. Sure, you can pick up a couple of tricks (which is great), but perceptive types aren’t going to alter the basic bent of their personalities. Nor should they try to. If we were all judging types, a whole lot more would get done, but none of it would be interesting or particularly well informed.


  1. Interesting descriptions, Simone. And an interesting question as to whether change from one type to the other is possible. As a thoroughly judging type, I'm inclined to read the description of the perceiving type as superior - how I long to cope better with the incidental realities of life that happen in my life according to God's sovereign plan. As you say, life would be even more problematic if we were all one type. Perhaps if we applied the categories of creation/fall/redemption to personality types, it would be easier to receive them with thanksgiving as God's gifts: differing personalities are God-made according to his good design, but corrupted by the fall. In God's kindness he's redeeming us by Jesus and the cross, so we can embrace what's great about them and put to death what's not. I can probably learn tonnes more from perceiving types.

    1. Meaning, I can learn more than I am inclined to think from perceiving types (cause I gravitate towards people just like me), not that there's one type I can learn more from than the other.