I have a new working analogy to describe the difference between Myers-Briggs Ps and Js. Since I had the privilege of spending a week visiting family in New York City, yes my J family, I begin with a New York centric metaphor.
A New York centric metaphor
To P’s, the world is like a 7-day unlimited subway pass. There’s no cost for changing plans. Or for not making them. I can step outside for a breath of fresh air and then go back down into the subway and swipe again. I can plan to walk home then catch the train because I’m “running late.”
To J’s (and this is based on conversation with an actual J), people go through life with pre-paid tickets. It matters when things change. It matters when people change their minds. However small it may seem, change involves sacrifice.
To the P, change doesn’t involve sacrifice, but every choice does. And here’s the hidden cost of the unlimited pass: if every ride is equal, either nothing matters or everything matters. And it’s usually the latter. There are hundreds of potentially better choices to make, and no one, if we are honest, can say what is the best thing to do with this moment that we will never have back again. Choice is a terrifying word. It doesn’t cost anything to buy the train ticket; it could cost everything to sit in the seat.
To the J, every subway ride is a choice. And the J is not uncomfortable with the word choice. People can make the world more beautiful and better (values the P might share but wouldn’t state as strongly), but maybe not as beautiful or as good if they have to change their plans again and again. There may be a plan b and a plan c on the docket, but it will cost that extra fare to implement them. Better make the right choice the first time, which, to reiterate, is a statement that terrifies most P’s. All the more reason–we P’s think–to delay a choice, to embrace the changes, to gather more information.
With that said, here are some of the J-est things that were said during my week in New York.
Yes, these things were actually said by 5 members of my family and, lest you accuse me of close-mindedness, I have even included those utterances that I myself made when a J cloud passed over me. You can decide whether it was a stormy J thundercloud or a breath of fresh rain to nurture our parched earth.
J’s be like:
“We should start walking now.”
“We only have 45 minutes if we want to get there on time. I mean 10 minutes early.”
“This is our subway stop. This is where we should eat. [To the kebab vendor] I’ll have a lamb gyro.”
“I’m in the mood for a leisurely stroll.” (As opposed to what?)
“Happy Thanksgiving.” (On Tuesday)
“Okay let’s figure out what we’re doing, so once that’s out of the way, we can sit around and enjoy this cup of coffee.”
“I want to get that done so we can just relax, you know?”
“You should get dressed.”
P: Can I close the curtain?
J: No. We’ve already closed and opened the curtain today.
“I’ll go wait in the lobby.”
“I’m going downstairs to wait.”
“We’re almost there. Come downstairs.”
“If we don’t take the subway before Columbus Circle, we can’t take the subway.”
“I can’t eat in here.”
“I’m walking inside.”
“Before we order, can you take our picture?”
“Is everyone happy with their choices?” (This one is the most painful on the list. And we had to talk about it several times one dinner. I think they genuinely enjoyed talking about it, and I also think they were teasing me.)
“This family cannot order desert on their own.”
“And after that, we’ll play cards.”
“Are we going to play cards?”
“Is no one else worried about missing our train?”
“Here, take a look at their event calendar.” (Someone had to point out where the date was. It was November 27th, but I was looking at the beginning of the month. In my defense, I don’t ever use calendars.)
“So you want to take Staten Island Ferry? How long does that take?”
“We probably don’t have time to do both.”
“At nine? No way.”
“Why don’t we plan to meet here at 1:00 and head to Bryant Park at 1:30? That’s at 42th and 6th. That’s just 3 stops.”
“We will be outside at 5:10.”
“This is why we didn’t get a Christmas photo last Christmas.”
“It never just happens, people. It never just happens.”
“We do it every year.”
“I don’t care where we go. I’m like a P; I can do anything…Who’s going to lead the way?”