Myers Briggs Type Indicator: Where Decisions Are Made

by Ron Potter

We’re going to take this break because the last two functions (Sensing-Intuition & Thinking-Feeling) are the two functions that make up our decision-making process.

Energizing

The Energizing function doesn’t come into play in our decision process except that we must be in our preferred function (extraversion or introversion) in order to make our best decision.

If we have a preference for introversion, but because of norms or a particular leader, we are required to make decisions during the meeting or on the spot, we’ll make a decision but we will remain uncomfortable.  For the introverted person to make the best decision, it would be better to take a break so they can think clearly before asking them to make a decision.

If we have a preference for extraversion, energy remains high during conversations and it seems easier to make decisions that we’re comfortable with.  Our quiet times are useful to think about the many options and maybe even rank-order them.  But we’re never quite comfortable with a decision if we don’t have the opportunity to bounce our thinking off someone else.  This ability to talk through a decision gives us confidence.  I once heard a person with extraversion preferences make the statement “How do I know what I think until I hear what I say?”  Perfect summarizing statement!

But neither extraversion nor introversion contribute to our decisions, they are simply environments that allow for better or more confident decisions.

Decision Functions

The next two functions, perceiving and deciding, are exactly where our decisions are made.  Of the sixteen Myers-Briggs Types, the second function will be either sensing or intuition (Perceiving) and the third function will be either thinking or feeling (Deciding).  For instance, my preference is ENTJ. My second function (Perceiving) is iNtuition and my third function (Deciding) is thinking.  I must have these two functions satisfied in order to make a decision.

Which Function is First?

It is the first (Energizing) and last function (Orientation) that determine which of the two functions lead.  When we get to the last function (Orientation) it will identify us as having a preference for either judging or perceiving (J vs P). You will recall from a previous blog that the third function (T-F) is called your Deciding function but it was originally described as your Judging function.

The last function (Orientation) will indicate if you have a preference for either judging or perceiving (J-P).  This indicates your preferred world.  If your preferred world is judging, then you will prefer to start your decision-making process with the deciding (Judging) process.  If your preferred world is perceiving, then you will prefer to start your decision-making process with your perceiving process.

ENTJ Example

I mentioned earlier that my MBTI preference is ENTJ.  This means that I will rely on the Perceiving function of iNtuition and my Deciding function of thinking in order to make my best decisions (ENTJ).  But, which of the NT functions do I tend to begin with?  My last function (orientation) is J.  This J refers to the original Judging function, now called the Deciding function.  This means that I prefer to start with thinking then back it up with iNtuition.

Had my preference been ENTP, I would have preferred to start with the Perceiving Function of iNtuition and then back it up with the Judging (Deciding) function of thinking.

It’s important to know this sequence because I used the term “back up” in the previous paragraphs.  For instance, my preference for ENTJ will start the decision-making process based on logic.  However, I will back this up based on my iNtuition of what the right decision should be.  So, even though I make decisions that seem logical, I also make them based on what I perceive to be the right decision.

What does the World See?

The last function helps us understand one more thing about our decision-making process.  We will tend to use our lead decision-making process in our preferred world.  The preferred world for extraverts is out talking with people.  The preferred world for introverts is quietly thinking.  This means that for the ENTJ, the world is exposed to and engaged in my lead decision-making process of thinking.  I’ll use the iNtuitive process to think about the decisions long-term implications or to support how iNtuitively I see the world.

Personal ENTJ/INFP Example

One of the best ways to understand the J vs P preference (last function) is to think about non-work time.  At work, we have often figured out that a good balancing act pays high rewards.  In our non-work time, we tend to function much less guarded.

Let’s look at vacation time.  Because of my “J” function at the end, I like to have my vacation time structured and decided.  I want to know arrival and departure times, where we’ll be staying, when and where do we have meal times scheduled and when are we scheduled to “have fun!”  Yes, even our “fun” time is scheduled!  My wife is just the opposite —everything should be spontaneous!

I decided I needed to give her some vacation time built around her preferences because usually, my “J” preference won out over her “P” preference.  So I made it clear to her that I wanted to give her a vacation that fit her preference.  She was thrilled!  But as our vacation time approached, my “J” would attempt to seize back control.  “Where are we going?”  “When are we leaving?”  “What should we pack?”  etc.  But with each of my questions, she responded that she didn’t know yet.  I finally received an indication that she wanted to go “antiquing.”

The day of our departure came.  I drove to the end of the driveway, stopped, then asked “Left or Right?”  She thought for a minute (she also has a preference for introversion), then finally said “Right.”  These Left-Right questions continued for the entire week through five states of our vacation.

As we drove we would see a sign for an antique store at the next exit.  Normally, when she wanted to stop at one of these stores, I would look at my watch and make a statement something to the effect of  “Sorry, we don’t have the time built into our schedule.”  But on this trip, my response was “Sure!”  I was slowly learning.  When we pulled up out front I wouldn’t ask “How long will we be here?”  As we entered the store I wouldn’t ask “What are we looking for?”  Once in the store, she might spot a cute little salt and pepper set.  I would ask “Can I find some more of those for you?”  That would put me on the hunt and firmly in my “J” mode.

We would leave the store and get back on the road and I”m thinking (I bet it’s going to be Strawberry Festival in the next town and there won’t be a room within 50 miles).  And then she would say “I’m tired, let’s stop at the next B&B and rest for the afternoon and evening.”  I’m thrilled.

And so the next several days went in a pure spontaneous “P” mode.  I painfully survived but she enjoyed every minute.

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