I've gotten a number of inquiries about J/P to the
point where I got annoyed enough to say something about it.
There are a bunch of inaccurate stereotypes
floating around about J/P, and they're just plain wrong. I don't
know where they came from, I don't know why they persist, but they're
false, inaccurate, and unreliable. (Have I stated that strongly
enough?!) People forget about all the other letters, they forget
about the theory, they forget it's about a personality pattern
not about traits -- and they hone in on two letters: J & P, as
if the mysteries of the world can be solved with just these two
The first stereotype is the notion that J's are
always on time, and P's are always late. IT'S NOT TRUE!
Two J's live together in
my household, and
we're often late for appointments. In fact, the standing joke around here is that "J"
stands for "Just One More Thing!" -- meaning we invariably try
to accomplish one additional thing before we charge out the door.
We do not have a reputation for reliably being on time (ask my
In contrast, I've met P's who arrive at the airport
several hours ahead of their flights, and arrive well in advance of any
one P admitted to me that he arrived early as a way of compensation for
an acknowledged tendency to be late. Viva le compensation!)
The point is, if you're using a stopwatch to
distinguish P and J, you are wasting your time.
Another myth is about Js being tidy and Ps being
messy. Whoa again!
The messiest house I've ever seen in my life
belonged to an ESFJ. It
looked like a garage sale gone mad -- with a layer of dust everywhere to
boot! The "J"
house I live in with my husband looks like a tornado went through it.
Do you know who's probably the tidiest person I
know? My ISTP dad, of
course. (Notice the last
letter, willya?) I also
spent 8 years living with an ENFP -- and he would win the neatness award
long before I would even be eligible. So saying J's are tidy and
P's are messy is FALSE!
Then there's the added problem of people who try to
figure out whether they are J or P based on these same criteria! Well, as the Mafiosos say, "fuhgettabouttit!"
Linda Berens has said that NJ often looks like P.
And boy is that ever true in my NJ household. What's interesting is that my husband and I score equally on the
questions of early-starting and pressure-prompted -- because we do both!
Since the two of us possess the Chart-the-Course interaction style, we
tend to put just enough energy into an event early on in the process to
figure out what must be done to arrive at the goal point. But then we forget about the whole matter until we're
"pressure-prompted" to actually set the wheels in motion for
the event. Invariably, we
cut the margin too finely, and quality of life can be rather
questionable until the event has ended.
of the big mistakes people make with J/P is by confusing it with directing
and informing communication styles. This type difference is
very powerful, but it does NOT map to J/P, despite many assumptions that
it does. (It's worth your while to educate yourself about this
dimension in order to take advantage of its powerful revelations.)
There are other stereotypes around J/P -- you
probably know what they are. I've heard that "Js are
determined and energetic while Ps are unmotivated wimps."
Whuh?! Where is that written, I wonder? Does that describe a
healthy attribute of Type, as Isabel Myers intended? I don't THINK
so!! And it's about as accurate as pretending men are from Mars and women
are from Venus.
Berens says that if we spend too much time talking about J, before long
we're really talking about SJ (extreme SJ!)... and if we spend too much
time talking about P, we're really talking about NP (extreme NP!).
So it's not good to single out and focus on J/P alone for drawing lots
of Type conclusions.
only generalization I'm comfortable with about J/P differences is that
J's like to approach the world in the style of an orderly marching band
-- with structure; they feel
better following a plan; they like closure and want things completed. P's like to approach the world in the
style of a jazz band -- spontaneous, flexible, preferring to keep their
options open. And that's as specific about J/P as I'm willing to
Whenever I see conversation deteriorate to the
point that J and P are the only letters I'm hearing, then I know the
conversation isn't about type theory anymore -- it's about bias and
stereotype, or it's being conflated with functions --
and that means there's not enough knowledge about type theory overall to keep
the conversation going properly. I personally don't have patience for that,
and I believe it's ignorant and inappropriate.
The bottom line is that you can't point at that
last letter and make a boatload of assumptions about it -- because
whatever you assume will likely prove untrue for some portion of Earth's
population. So don't do it.
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