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  1. #1
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Default The Surprising Strengths of Perceivers

    I found the recent article "The Surprising Strengths of Perceivers" by Meri Hicks Beckham published in the Journal of Psychological Type to be right on target, and a good match for my approach to college (with a few exceptions). The study used a grounded theory methodology (a mostly qualitative approach) with a pool of 19 junior, senior and recently graduated academically successful undergraduate students. From the abstract:

    Quote Originally Posted by Beckham
    Findings supported the dimensions of Unconstrained Time, Entirety, Continuity, Awareness, Augmentation, and Momentum. The core dimension, Momentum, explained (a) the challenge of getting started (waiting to start), (b) the value of working all at once, (c) the energy of working at the last minute, and (d) the surprising significance of not going back.
    Beckham goes on to write:

    Quote Originally Posted by Beckham
    [To perceivers] time is continuous and resistant to interruption once a work process has begun. Thoughts and actions flow as the individuals become interested in objects and events, and experiences are connected and ongoing. When Perceiving college students work on a paper or project, they may think about various aspects of the assignment for quite a while before demonstrating any observable work effort. At some place in time, the location of which is typically indescribable, everything comes together and the product is complete, often right at the deadline. Rather than a burst of inspiration in which new ideas come into being, this is a burst of activity, coordination, and combination. It is as if pieces of a puzzle—previously collected, examined, and known—rapidly fall into place. Perceiving students say it can be very difficult to revisit work products for editing or rewriting, since mustering up interest on demand (deciding to start again) often seems impossible. A sense of wholeness and continuity shapes the flexible habits of academically successful Perceiving college students.
    Which is how the writing (and programming) process tends to work for me. I always had a sense of something percolating in the back and my head, and I knew when I was ready to write. If I tried to force it before time, writing was slow, painful and drawn out.

    I also tended to find that going back and editing (other than for basic grammar and typos) tended to make things much worse before they got better.

    The article goes on to point out that Judging faculty outnumber Perceiving faculty 2:1, and that time management techniques are all about taking a Judging approach. The author points out:

    Quote Originally Posted by Beckam
    Conventional ways of dealing with time—typically promoted as guides for college students’ academic lives—incorporate strategies aligned with the Judging preference including (a) clearly defined timeframes, (b) reminder systems for deadlines and due dates, and (c) limitation of leisure time in favor of work-related periods (Fitzsimmons, 1999; Lawrence, 1997). However, these out-of-character strategies require much effort from Perceiving students and are typically not sustainable “because they are not part of the natural rhythm of their learning process” (Lawrence, 1997, p. 27). Demarest (2001) cautions that time management, as used by people of different types, means being able to work toward and complete tasks that matter rather than simply following a prescribed set of techniques.
    The perceivers, although academically successful, tended to study very little (74% studied less than 7 hours per week), wait until the last minute, and not go back and revise.

    Six elements were identified as being central to how the perceiver's work process:

    Quote Originally Posted by Beckam
    • Momentum - A sense of intention and progress, activated and propelled by energy, which carries through to completion of a process of cognition or action. Its antithesis, going back, is avoided, resisted, and may even be perceived as impossible
    • Unconstrained Time - The perception that time is (a) available rather than passing; (b) fluid, not fixed; and (c) useable, not manageable. As the quantity of time decreases, the rate of thought and action increases.
    • Entirety - A pattern of cognition and action in which processes are (a) whole, not broken or in parts; (b) complete, not missing something or lacking in some way; and (c) cohesive, not compartmentalized or divided.
    • Continuity - A pattern of cognition and action in which processes have a flowing quality, and interruption of that flow is potentially destructive to both process and product.
    • Awareness - A pattern of interest and attention, employed cognitively and in relation to objects, which influences recall, intention, and use of time.
    So, I am curious if other perceivers identified with the above descriptions. It seems like some perceivers end up adopting more Je-typical styles as adults (@FineLine being an extreme example among INFPs, @PeaceBaby, too, to a lesser degree) and others mostly don't, working to optimize the process that comes more naturally.

    Also, for people who are successful with a more Perceiving approach, what are the limitations and work-arounds? When do you have to bite the bullet and engage/emulate Je?

  2. #2
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    When I work on something that affects primarily myself, this is the way I operate. I identify strongly with the entire work process as outlined above.

    -----

    Thoughts on the topic:

    1.) The Je approach was one that was always held as the vaunted standard from my scholastic years. I was very impressionable as a young person, believed this was the "best" way to study, and tried to emulate it. Despite that, in school I would still (almost without exception) wait until the last minute, do the work and succeed. I had an English professor in university who told me, "You write best when you don't try to think your way to the end, you just write." Still, I felt very lazy being this way, and felt I was judged critically for not appearing "organized". In my twenties, I actually went to a time management consultant and learned how to structure my time very much in the Je way. I had schedules mapped out managing every hour of every day, free time built into that even. It's never been a great fit for me though, never one that I could make work long-term, although in truth I can get a lot of stuff accomplished, a prodigious amount even. Is it my best fit, do I get as much pleasure out of stuff? No. I just cannot work as effectively that way, compartmentalize my time that way (schedule relaxation even, fun?) Nope. I used to have the most elaborate beautiful schedules though ...

    2.) I grew up in a very work-centric environment, and got married relatively young and started a family right after that. I haven't really had much luxury to work in my preferred mode. I have so much to do, and I don't feel like I can just wait until inspiration hits, the "right" time. So, with a heavily structured childhood full of farm work, and then an entry into motherhood by 22, it didn't matter much what I wanted to do, I have always felt like I have had to take care of my family as best as I can, do all of the work that goes along with that role. That was my motivation to try to be more organized, and that being organized was "the answer". So, when people rely on me, I have to just keep going, I just have to adopt a day to day to day approach. I wish things could get done faster, I get discouraged and annoyed when I have long term projects where I can only measure progress eked out bit by bit.

    3.) I don't know how to reconcile each approach. The best way for me does not seem to readily fit with a.) being an effective wife and mother and b.) being a successful business-person and c.) the way the world works. I haven't figured it out yet ... but I'll let you know if I do! I do find it fatiguing to work against my natural tendencies. I consider myself highly disciplined to be able to do so. But especially now at this point in my life (44), it can feel somewhat oppressive to have to keep operating in such a mode. I have to be careful to try to balance myself. Otherwise, it takes so much time each day to decompress. I spend the evening just vegging out instead of using it as productive and enjoyable personal time.
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    I found the recent article "The Surprising Strengths of Perceivers" by Meri Hicks Beckham published in the Journal of Psychological Type to be right on target, and a good match for my approach to college (with a few exceptions).
    I enjoyed the post.

    I don’t think the material is really saying anything all that new. It’s pretty much part of the standard definition of Perceivers that they prefer work environments requiring flexibility and immediacy and quick turnarounds (like an emergency room in a hospital), whereas Judgers like work environments that favor scheduling and the ability to foresee and plan for the coming workload.

    Still, it’s interesting to see how the author broke those Perceiving properties down into specific attributes, i.e., the bulleted points in the final excerpt. In that sense the article perhaps offers something new. Usually the definition of Perceiver is: A lack of those Te/Fe qualities that make a Judger efficient... The article instead attempts to show that the Perceiver is actually using a separate set of skills that Judgers presumably lack in turn. It makes sense of course; I just hadn’t seen it spelled out in this manner.

    Also, the description makes Perceivers sound like adrenaline junkies. And I think that’s true to some extent. Many times in the past I procrastinated with nothing in particular occupying my attention, just stewing in my own juices and waiting until anxiety and adrenaline hit a high enough level to suddenly propel me off the sofa...

    As for adopting a more J-ish attitude toward work: Yeah, I’ve definitely striven for that. I see it like the Introversion/Extraversion spectrum: One can be an introvert all one’s life, but frankly it makes life a little easier if one invests some effort into learning some extraversion. Similarly, one can procrastinate for a lifetime, but there’s something to be said for learning a little time management.

    And if I’m a good at Te/Fe skills, it’s because the skills weren’t learned easily; it took deliberate research and practice to pick up those skills.

    I've done it both ways. For years I worked in an "emergency room" type of environment, with unpredictable amounts and types of high-priority work suddenly thrown at me. And I loved it. But there was still the rest of my life to be handled. You can't use crisis management for everything; you'll end up with burn-out at that rate.

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    I as an INTP am a perfectionist, and it is for this very reason that I complete very few projects, because I am endlessly gathering information on the subject at hand and fitting more pieces into an endlessly expanding puzzle till the picture encompasses all perspectives and dimensions.

  5. #5
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    “When Perceiving college students work on a paper or project, they may think about various aspects of the assignment for quite a while before demonstrating any observable work effort. At some place in time, the location of which is typically indescribable, everything comes together and the product is complete, often right at the deadline. Rather than a burst of inspiration in which new ideas come into being, this is a burst of activity, coordination, and combination. It is as if pieces of a puzzle—previously collected, examined, and known—rapidly fall into place.”
    “Conventional ways of dealing with time—typically promoted as guides for college students’ academic lives—incorporate strategies aligned with the Judging preference including (a) clearly defined timeframes, (b) reminder systems for deadlines and due dates, and (c) limitation of leisure time in favor of work-related periods (Fitzsimmons, 1999; Lawrence, 1997). However, these out-of-character strategies require much effort from Perceiving students and are typically not sustainable “because they are not part of the natural rhythm of their learning process” (Lawrence, 1997, p. 27).”
    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    So, I am curious if other perceivers identified with the above descriptions.
    Awesome find Seymour, thanks for sharing.

    It was like reading my bio, especially the above…. really, really eerie. My INFJ mother refers to it as me “pulling it out of my a**.” I will “work” on something in my head when not actually working on it. I will even work on it in my sleep sometimes... waking up and it's just there. It will be written before I ever sit down. Sitting down and typing will be just a formality and polishing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    It seems like some perceivers end up adopting more Je-typical styles as adults (@FineLine being an extreme example among INFPs, @PeaceBaby, too, to a lesser degree) and others mostly don't, working to optimize the process that comes more naturally.
    I’ve tried to do things the way they are “supposed” to be done, but I have a very strong preference for P (I wonder if this influences it at all) and it always ends miserably. I find I get much better, more innovative and quality results and am much happier when I optimize the process that comes naturally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    Also, for people who are successful with a more Perceiving approach, what are the limitations and work-arounds? When do you have to bite the bullet and engage/emulate Je?
    The only time I’ve ever had to emulate a Je approach (other than when I was young and still living at home) was when I was being micromanaged by an ISTJ sup. He drove me CRAZY… literally a wreck. I had never been late once on a project, or turned in less than stellar and successful work, but because he wasn’t seeing steady, incremental work being done on various projects, freaked out on me several times because of what “might” happen. It was the only bad experience I’ve ever had in my professional career. We just did not work well together because his need to control ran directly in the face of how I worked. His predecessor was an INTJ, and we got along wonderfully. Again, I never turned in anything late or less than stellar, and that was all he cared about. The proof was in the pudding for him. He let me do my thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    Also, for people who are successful with a more Perceiving approach, what are the limitations and work-arounds?
    One of the things that seems necessary for me though is I have to have a deadline of some kind. I will usually wait until the last possible minute, but the presence of the deadline will be what actually starts the chemical reaction and pacing in my brain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    [...] I wish things could get done faster, I get discouraged and annoyed when I have long term projects where I can only measure progress eked out bit by bit.
    I'm just picking this out at random; it's a facet of Te that I've been working on more recently. I've had some big projects to do, and I had to work up some Te endurance tricks to keep focused on the projects and keep them from driving me crazy. Your item 3 indicates that you're still searching for ways to be a little more organized, so I thought I would throw it out here. And it makes a nice contrast with the material in the OP: The merits of Pe vs. Je.

    Basically, I view long-term projects as campaigns. Like military campaigns, or an election campaign. Though actually I got the idea from Fellini’s movie “8 1/2.”

    Here’s a little write-up I did on the subject for another context:

    “8 1/2” is an autobiographical movie by Fellini about dealing with (or not dealing with) the chaos of leading a big campaign. The plotline is that a director is making preparations for an epic movie; but with everything only half-done, the project looks silly. Half the workers, backers, and friends secretly think he’s a fraud, and half despise him openly. Furthermore, the director himself has artistic block and can’t make any seeming progress. But he moves blithely through the chaos anyway, armed with only an agenda.

    Donald Trump said: “If you’re going to think anyway, then think big.” But thinking big means tackling projects that are too big for you to track every detail. In “8 1/2” the director knows that all eyes are on him and that confidence is failing and things are dropping through the cracks right and left. But he also knows that he can’t possibly control all those things. So he just keeps things moving forward, pushes his agenda, and watches progress vs. casualties: Either he’ll progress enough that the project will come to fruition before it crashes, or the body count (people quitting, backers withdrawing their money) will become so high that he has to abandon the project.

    So the lesson is: Don’t be afraid of chaos, don’t be afraid of agendas, and don’t be afraid of projects that seemingly stretch into eternity. If a project is genuinely important to you, then just figure out how many casualties you can sustain in your campaign, and treat the growing body count as your indicator telling you whether it's okay to continue or that it’s time to quit.

    Also, don’t set the current campaign as the highest priority in your life. Big campaigns come and go, and some will be a failure and will have to be abandoned. Don’t go down with the ship. Stay focused on other higher long-term priorities as well, like improving your health or becoming more fit or whatever. Then if the immediate campaign goes under, you can still be achieving other higher-priority goals in your life.

    [Edit:] Basically it's just compartmentalization. IOW, no matter how brutal or soui-deadening the task gets, keep it apart and separate from your self-esteem and self-definition; let your self-esteem come from other sources. Judge the project apart from yourself. And see the movie, if you haven't already--it really is quite an eye-opener, in that Fellini bares his own xNTJ creative processes and (lack of) sensibilities as a director.

    FWIW.

  7. #7
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    -----------------

    A man builds. A parasite asks 'Where is my share?'
    A man creates. A parasite says, 'What will the neighbors think?'
    A man invents. A parasite says, 'Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God... '


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  8. #8
    Junior Member malachite's Avatar
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    Great find @Seymour.

    This is definitely how I work regarding most things (projects, assignments, social responsibilities, etc.). Although recently the quality of work I've been producing has dropped, but I suspect that's due to burn out. Usually it would feel like an adrenaline rush when deadlines approach, kickstarting whatever it is to motivate me to actually producing physical work. But it's stressful when there's a pile of projects and papers waiting to be completed and my advisors are starting to get irritated with the lack of "progress." It would be great to actually know how to keep up with a J approach to managing time just to avoid the stress, but the mental processes that go on in my head are always "you can't start yet because you don't have enough to work with" or "you still have plenty of time; it shouldn't take you long to finish anyway so do it later."

    And I type this while I'm attempting to complete a final assignment for a class >>

  9. #9
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Really interesting, thanks. Definitely spot on for me, both in my school & work (and LIFE) experience.

    I like how it explains how this is not a flaw in managing time & accomplishing things, but just a different way. The commonly promoted way of managing time is the Je way, which tends to view the Pe way negatively, as disorganized or chaotic or even lazy, when it's not really any of those things. I find the Je way suffocating & unnecessarily stressful....not to mention, just plain unproductive & inefficient for me.

    I won't detail my frustrations with this "Je way", but I will say I've often felt like I'm working the system, taking advantage of loopholes, & pushing boundaries a bit in an effort to work in the way that I am most efficient. I made it through school with excellent grades & have been valued at most of my jobs doing this, but it's somewhat annoying that I can't just openly work in the way that brings the positive results I'm rewarded/valued for. It's like you have put on some dumb charade of playing their little work structure game, while giving them the finger behind their back .

    Optimizing it means taking FULL advantage of those bursts when they come about, and also figuring out what are good go-to triggers for these (because there ARE consistent triggers). You also have to set communication boundaries with people, so they don't interrupt your "flow". You have to work out what kind of breaks refresh & inspire vs distract or feel like an "end".

    The massive, massive advantage is the adaptability& flexibility. When you prefer little structure, you can be tossed into new structures all the time & make it work (as long they don't have a stick up their butt about their structure). The flexibility allows you to take advantage of those bursts when they arrive (I'm pretty sure this is a big part of why Ps dislike too much planning; we don't want to commit to something & then find it interrupts a spontaneous burst of activity that is accomplishing something significant. There can be a resentment of any obligation that becomes an "interruption". I even find I suddenly want to do something else & have a lot of mental energy directed at it when an obligation arises. I don't know why my brain is so fickle like that ).

    Oh yeah... and being energized in chaotic situations (er, panic) is definitely an awesome skill. It's not even really panic. It's just like an exciting challenge . While other people stress & shut down, I'm problem solving & wrapping it all up.

    There are still problems to this of course, and many unrelated to merely being Je conflicts, but ultimately I feel like I get a lot more done in short amounts of time compared to a lot of people. I also mess around a lot more while they work steadily, but I can't maintain the level of energy I'm at when I get things done. No slow & steady & mapped out work style here... and I think that's pretty typical perceiver....
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

    INFP | 4w5 sp/sx | RLUEI - Primary Inquisitive | Tritype is tripe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasofy View Post

    Dude. Awesome.

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