Personality Types and Office Politics: Judgers and Perceivers28 March 2011 / By Truity
Judgers and Perceivers differ significantly in how they make decisions and approach their lives. Where Judgers prefer structure and routine, Perceivers thrive on spontaneity and possibilities. These differences in style can cause clashes in the workplace. Office politics often gets a bad rap for amounting to nothing more than a collection of cut-throat behaviors, whereby some people try to advance themselves at the expense of others. It needn't be that way, however. Office politics can be conceived as a system in which people work together to accomplish goals, and understanding personality typology as it applies to Judgers and Perceivers constitutes a great start.
When it comes to communication, it's easy for misunderstandings to arise between Judgers and Perceivers. Judgers tend to like clear, unambiguous statements on which they can act. Perceivers, on the other hand, have a higher comfort level with ambiguity. When a Judger tells a Perceiver how he or she would like a task to be performed, the Perceiver might think the Judger is being bossy or even arrogant. The reverse, too, can be true. When a Perceiver conveys a task to a Judger, the Judger might grow frustrated with what he or she hears as uncertainty and a lack of clear parameters.
Office politics – in the negative sense – rears its head when either the Judger or the Perceiver complains to a supervisor or to co-workers about what he or she perceives as the other person's faults. For office politics to work for the betterment of the office as a whole, Judgers and Perceivers must strive to understand each other's diverse communication styles and not assume the worst based on their differences. For example, a Judger, when relating a task to a Perceiver, could try leaving an open-ended element that conveys trust in the Perceiver's ability to perform the task. Likewise, a Perceiver, when relating a task to a Judger, could make an effort to be as clear, concise and direct as possible.
An essential element of a productive office is teamwork, but teamwork can't be accomplished unless people try to see the best in one another in order to work together. Judgers often see Perceivers as disorganized, and Perceivers often see Judgers as inflexible. Both of these are seen as negative qualities, but when Judgers frame “disorganized” as “accommodating” and Perceivers frame “inflexible” as “decisive”, each personality type is more likely to appreciate qualities that complement their own, and teamwork is enhanced all the way around.
By learning to cooperate with one another, Judgers and Perceivers contribute to team spirit. For example, a Judger might become impatient with a Perceiver for his or her fondness for stopping to smell the proverbial roses on the way to closing a project. If the Judger looks instead at how the Perceiver's openness to new possibilities might ultimately lend strength to the project once it's completed, then he or she will be more likely to view the differences as a means of cooperation, not conflict. Likewise, a Perceiver who dislikes deadlines can learn from the discipline of a Judger who is able to filter out distractions when they compromise his or her effectiveness.
On both sides, empathy, not judgment, is needed in resolving disputes. If the best face of office politics – cooperation – is to be brought out, then both Judgers and Perceivers must strive to see matters from each other's point of view. When the two personality types make an effort to understand one another without making negative judgments, they can trade perspectives and imagine how each might feel in the other's situation. In that way, they can work to minimize behaviors and reactions that annoy one another.
Here's a case in point: Judgers dislike being distracted in their work. Often, they'll go for a focused sprint to the finish line. Perceivers, on the other hand, are apt to wander off the path in order to explore unexpected avenues. Judgers should be patient with Perceivers when they want to take a side road, and Perceivers should be considerate of Judgers when they're highly focused on their work and don't wish to be interrupted.
Judging and Perceiving are preferences; they aren't absolutes. For a Judger, orderliness and structure are preferences, but Judgers are capable of flexibility when necessary. In a similar way, Perceivers prefer latitude, but they can deal with deadlines when necessary. Judgers and Perceivers can complement one another, maximizing structure and spontaneity, both of which are essential to a productive office environment.
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