Living Outside Yourself: How you Relate to the Outside World

Ever wonder why it’s hard for you to implement a step-by-step plan? Or if that’s easy, you likely struggle with developing creative solutions and staying flexible during problem-solving. Why is that? According to psychological research (Huitt, 1992), the answers to these questions may lie in your personality.

We all have an inner world, a world in which we experience our thoughts and feelings. We have preferred ways of relating to other people, to information, and to events. But that’s not where it ends. All the ideas in our mind and the emotions in our body manifest externally. How does our inner world affect our outer world?

When we consider personality preferences, such as the four dimensions examined by the Myers-Briggs (MBTI), we see that the way in which we live our outer lives is distinct. Our behaviors are a manifestation of our world view and life experiences.

To be effective, we need to have insight into what makes us tick. While you may be aware of your preferences and how they affect your behavior, it’s important to take into consideration how to best engage in the world given those preferences. Additionally, it’s important to understand what makes you different from others and how to navigate your way with others.

In this article, we’re going to dive into the answers to these questions so you can be clear on how you relate to the world outside of yourself and ensure that this is in line with the results you want.

The 4th Dimension

As mentioned, there are four areas of preference noted by the MBTI that denote your personality. These include:

  1. How you obtain your energy (Introversion vs. Extraversion)

  2. How you gather information (Sensing vs. Intuition)

  3. How you make decisions (Thinking vs. Feeling)

  4. How you relate to the external world (Judgment vs. Perception)

We have examined the first three dimensions to date (see links above for additional articles). Finally, it is time to take a look at the fourth and final dimension and put the puzzle pieces together.

Judging (J)

Judgers refer not to those who are full of negative criticism. Rather, the label indicates that this is someone who prefers structure. They don’t like having things up in the air. They like to know what’s ahead and therefore engage easily in decision-making.

Because of their preference for structure, these individuals thrive in work environments that set goals. They are task-oriented and can get through their to-do lists to ensure they meet deadlines without the stress.

It can be argued that because Judgers are good with time management, they might be able to avoid burnout and enjoy more work-life balance. That is, of course, with the caveat that they aren’t so achievement-oriented that they keep piling the goals up and up and up. What is clear is that these individuals know what they need and are good at communicating those needs to others.

Judgers are action-oriented. They don’t like to sit around and think about what is possible. They leave that for the dreamers. For them, if they aren’t on the move, they can get antsy or bored.

One of the advantages to being a Judger is their ability to operate in a routine. Much research has documented that starting your day off with a routine such as meditation or journaling can help set the tone for the rest of your day. Judgers are more likely to have the discipline to put their alarm clock on for an earlier wake up time and engage in a morning ritual of self-care. Also, when it comes to creating habits, consistency is required. Being disciplined in keeping a routine going can help Judgers accomplish more this way.

On the flip side, Judgers can become stressed out when there is chaos in their environment, when matters remain open-ended, or when they need to “think outside the box.” They are creatures of habit who may struggle with being creative.

William Huitt highlights techniques Judgers can use when solving problems and making decisions. These include:

  1. Evaluation: Making a comparison to an existing standard.

  2. Plus-Minus-Interesting (PMI): Considering the pros and cons of an idea.

  3. Backwards planning: identifying the short-term and middle-range milestones toward completing a goal.

Perceiving (P)

Perceivers have no special ability to perceive information that Judgers aren’t privy to. Rather, the label refers to the ways in which these individuals prefer to operate in situations. As expected, Perceivers are the complete opposite of Judgers. They prefer to keep things open and flexible. They like to consider a variety of options when making decisions and are comfortable being spontaneous and taking their time before deciding on something.

You can spot a Perceiver if when you ask about their plans, they tell you they don’t have any. While socially they may be more available, at work there are other implications. Their strength lies in their creativity. As the stereotype states, artists tend to be creative but hate being confined to too much structure. They thrive in their ability to have variability in their schedules.

Perceivers like to take their time. Sometimes they wait until an approaching deadline to get into action. They are highly independent and thrive when they have an outlet for their authentic self such as in the arts.

Under pressure, Perceivers can neglect their self-care and engage in unhealthy behaviors. They may be passive or passive-aggressive in their interactions. That is because they don’t like being told what to do and if asked to do something, they may want to put it off while simultaneously avoiding conflict with the requester.

When problem-solving and making decisions, William Huitt recommends the following creative techniques for Perceivers:

  1. Brainstorming: Coming up with a variety of ideas without judging them.

  2. Random word technique: Finding a random word and putting it together with the problem you’re trying to resolve. Then brainstorm about potential associations.

  3. Outrageous provocation: Considering how a fact that is known to be false could be thought of differently and bridging it to a novel idea. This is similar to playing Devil’s advocate.

Overlapping Preferences

By now, you are hopefully clear on your preferred way of relating to the world. But we also know that our preferences with regards to sourcing energy, gathering information, and decision-making can influence our personality.

Let’s take a look at how your preference for relating to the external world looks differently based on other preferences you may have.

When Our Preferences for Energy Sources and Relating to the World Collide

Introverts gather their energy when they are alone. It is their way to recover from being around people and exerting energy outward. Extraverts, on the other hand, become energized around other people. How, then, do these energy distinctions intersect with the way we prefer to operate?

The main difference between these two dimensions (Introversion/Extraversion and Judging/Perceiving) is that the former is about your inner world while the latter reflects your outer world. Therefore, while Judgers prefer structure and a working framework, internally they may be flexible and open if they are an Introvert. Because Judgers make their decisions known, there is an extraverted quality to them, but if the person is an Introverted Judger (IJ), they may be mistaken for a Perceiver because of the way they internalize information.

Perceivers may show the world their open-mindedness and flexibility, but internally, they might be very decisive. For example, they may have pondered about a decision for a long time internally and suddenly communicate it to others. To the outside world, this decision can seem impulsive, but in truth the person may have given it serious thought. This is often the case with Introverted Perceivers (IP) who can be mistaken for Judgers.

When our Preferences for Gathering Information and Relating to the World Collide

Sensers are those who rely on their five senses to gather information about the world around them. Intuitives go inward and focus on their gut feeling. In a certain way, Sensing is a more extraverted way of collecting information while Intuition is more introverted. What happens when we examine the intersection of information gathering and our preference for relating to the world outside?

Judgers, as stated above, are action-oriented. When they are Sensing Judgers (SJ), they use information gathered through the senses about their environment and then focus in a structured way on doing their work. Because they aren’t focusing on intuition, they may need help seeing patterns and because they aren’t Perceivers, they may need help being creative in their solutions.

Intuitive Judgers (NJ) use their inner knowledge to gather information. They still like structure, but because they are focused on meanings and patterns, they may not know how to execute their ideas. Because they are independent and focused, they become stressed out when exposed to a sudden change or distraction. Their strength is their ability to envision solutions to problems.

Perceivers have a unique way of approaching solutions. When they rely on their senses, (Sensing Perceivers or SP), they may change their approach over time as new information is revealed. As such, they might struggle in environments that don’t allow for such flexibility or those that require quick decisions.

Intuitive Perceivers (NP) rely on their intuition and their creativity to approach solutions. It is no surprise, then, that they are much more abstract in their thinking. This can be useful when problems are abstract and give them an advantage over Judgers who think more concretely. NP’s ability to engineer novel solutions allows them to overcome barriers. That said, they can struggle when their environment does not allow for creative thinking or when traditional ways of operation take precedence over innovation.

When our Preferences for Decision Making and Relating to the World Collide

Thinkers make decisions based on logic while Feelers are swayed by their emotions. How do our preferences in making decisions interact with our way of relating to the outside world?

When combining the most obvious quality of each of these two dimensions, Thinking Judgers (TJ) are logical and structured. When thinking about a problem, they will be objective in considering the facts and quickly make a decision. Feeling Judgers (FJ), on the other hand, will likely be more considerate of how a decision impacts others.

Thinking Perceivers (TP) will show a combination of rationality and creativity. They can use logic flexibly to efficiently arrive at a solution to a problem. Feeling Perceivers (FP) will be similar to an FJ in that they will be focused on other people. FPs, however, are more interested in examining solutions, not necessarily in finding a resolution.


Our personality, at least according to the authors of the Myers-Briggs, is a combination of preferences related to our energy, information gathering, decision-making, and functioning in the outside world. Each of these dimensions has distinct characteristics that can provide us with insight about ourselves. When brought together, we establish a profile of our preferences that is more than the sum of its parts. That being said, it is important to remember that each of these factors is on a spectrum and while your typology may state a preference for one aspect over another, there may be more to you than these four letters.

It is my intention to provide you with this input so you can make informed decisions about the best person-environmental fit at work to avoid burnout, so you can get your needs met, and so you find fulfillment through relationships to those who are both similar and different from you.

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