When most of us think about working together effectively we think about how we communicate, how we show empathy, how we collaborate and how we handle conflict.  Very rarely do we consider the impact that “structure” has on our relationships and our ability to work together effectively.  According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – one of the most widely used personality assessments in the world – there are two ways in which we structure our world – as a Judger or a Perceiver.  When most of us hear Judger and Perceiver we generally think of the common following definitions:

  • Judger – judgmental of others
  • Perceiver – how we perceive the world around us

According to the MBTI, when it comes to our personality we have different definitions of Judger and Perceiver.  Individuals who structure their world in an orderly fashion, make a plan and work the plan, like to make decisions, come to closure, and move on are likely to be Judgers.  Perceiver’s, on the other hand, are definedby their ability to adapt quickly, turn on a dime, leave their options open and seek out more data in situations.

Judgers and Perceivers both have of structure – the difference is how they operationalize that structure.  For Perceivers, the key word is flexibility – an 8:00am appointment means showing up between 8:00-8:15am – time is flexible and more information and data is always better than making a decision too quickly or coming to closure prematurely.  Leaving your options open is preferable; plans usually are made, and changed, at the last minute with no anxiety.  For Judgers, the key word is scheduled – an 8:00am appointment means showing up between 7:45-7:55 – time is concrete, they have timelines for gathering and looking at data and information, then they systematically work to come to closure and complete the plan.  Planning is important, plans usually are made and meant to be executed, and last minute changes to the plan produce anxiety.

Judgers generally show up in the following manner:

  • Scheduled and punctual
  • Like to organize their lives and others, whenever possible
  • Seek to regulate and manage their lives
  • Make decisions, come closure and move on
  • Energized by getting things done
  • Make a plan and like to stick to it, hard to change the plan even in the face of evidence to indicate otherwise
  • Systematic in their approach to solving problems and living life
  • Methodical
  • Function best with short and/or long term plans
  • Like to have things decided
  • Work to avoid last minute stresses

Perceivers generally show up in the following manner:

  • Flexible and spontaneous
  • Casual approach to solving problems and living life
  • Like to leave plans open ended
  • Adaptable, can easily change course of action
  • Like to keep things loose and open to changing conditions
  • Energized by last minute pressures
  • Seek to experience and understand life, rather than control it
  • Open to more and new information
  • Energized by their resourcefulness in adapting to the demands of the moment

When we understand the structure preferences of others, we can work together in a way that supports and utilizes the strength of others and ourselves. When individuals are working together and fail to understand structure preferences deadlines are missed, data is not provided in a timely manner and micromanagement or lack of needed direction occurs.  For instance, Judgers are “early starting” while Perceivers are “pressure prompted”; therefore working on a project together can cause structure issues.  If a project is given Monday morning and due Friday at 5pm, Judgers will want to start immediately and finish on Thursday, while Perceivers will start on Thursday and finish Friday at 4:59pm. 

Neither approach produces better results, but rather the approach produces the best results for the individual based on their preference.  This difference in approach and structure can cause great concern and anxiety between the individuals working together.  This has large implications for parenting, marriage, teams and schoolwork.  Judgers tend to “work before they play” while Perceivers tend to favor “play before work” – again, neither is wrong, it is the approach that can causes anxiety and discomfort for those with a different approach to structure.

When working with Judgers, give them specific timelines and deadlines, putting as much structure as possible into your approach and expectation.  They do not want to be micromanaged but they want to have a structured approach to expectations and requests.  Be prepared, if not given a structured approach, they will put one in place and communicate and update you accordingly.  Perceivers, prefer you to describe the outcome expected in very broad terms, provide the final deadline and let them work at their own pace to meet the deadline.  Providing too much specifics and detailed structure will cause anxiety and they will not do their best work.  Perceivers will likely request more data, keep their options open and will be less concerned with coming to closure.  They are pressure prompted and will likely do their best work at the last minute.

Tips for communicating effectively with Judgers and Perceivers:


  • Provide structure in your approach to setting expectations and/or requesting their support
  • Be prepared to make decisions, come to closure and move forward accordingly – and not change the plan once decided
  • When data changes, it will be difficult for them to change their plan
  • Understand they want to have control over their lives and possibly others too
  • Early starters on projects, will want to start early and finish early
  • Love “to do” lists and marking off their accomplishments


  • Provide space for them to be spontaneous and creative
  • As ideas flow and new information comes in they will readily change their plan
  • Understand they like a very loose structure than can change easily
  • Changes to their plans are not difficult to manage and implement
  • Prefer to leave options open
  • Like to gather lots of data before making a decision – which is usually made right before the deadline

Interested in learning more contact Trigena trigena@me.com or 801.915.4046.