Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Earlier today I was talking to a colleague.  The conversation went a little something like this:

Him: Can you do X for me?  I can't get to it before I leave town, and I'm not sure I'll have time Monday.  (I don't want to do this.  It's boring and has numbers.  Plus there's an old Sting song stuck in my head.)

Me:  Yes.  (If you could give this task 10 minutes of focused attention, it would be done.) Wait, these dates don't make sense.

Him: Oh.  That doesn't make sense.

Insert significant pause in which he clearly doesn't want to do anything about this and hopes I will tell him not to worry about it.  I don't.

Him: Um, I guess that row didn't get deleted.  (Please let me go now. Lemme go. Lemme go. Lemme go.)

Me: Okay, but this date doesn't make sense either.  What dates have you had class this year?  (For the love of spreadsheets, didn't anyone look at this?  Ever?  Even a little bit? Was it typed by monkeys?)

Him: I'd have to look at a calendar.

I pointedly turn and stare at the wall calendar directly behind my head.  Another pause.

Him: Oh.  We had class on A, B, C, D, and E.  No, not D.  E and F.  Yeah.  E and F.  (I can't be expected to remember this information.  It's been six weeks--no, five weeks.  Why won't she let me leave?  LOOK!  There's something shiny!)

Me: Okay.  Then why does this paper say G?  Is the kid confused? Did he actually work six days? (I want to punch you in the nose and then make you track all these kids down and get proper timesheets. Why can't you see that this matters?)

Him:  Maybe we did have class on G.  Maybe we didn't have it on F.

Me: You just told me you had it on F.

Him: Well, I'm not sure!  I've got a hundred other things on my mind right now!

He left my office at that point, which was really the best outcome for us both. I had a dayflash of stapling his khakis to my guest chair and forcing him to focus with me for 2 minutes. After he left, I found that two kids had clearly said they'd worked 6 days, which wasn't possible if he was right about there being 5 sessions.  I actually started an e-mail to him, and then stopped.

The light bulb came on.

He's a P.  He's the most P person I've ever, ever met.  In the Myers-Briggs world, one of the four personality types differentiates between P (perceiving) and J (judging).  I am a big, fat J.  I'm the most J person you know who doesn't actively take pills for her J-ness... though I probably could.

A P wants to look at all the options, talk about them, and maybe never do anything about it.  A J wants to looks at the options, make a bulleted list of how to move forward, and go straight on that path.  Ps are big picture people.  Js are detail people.  You might want a P to brainstorm different product ideas for you, but you want the J to build the thing and figure out how it's going to get to the marketplace.

Both are necessary.

I have trouble dealing with my P colleague because I can't pin him down and get him to give me the details I need to complete my task.  He has trouble dealing with my J-ness because he doesn't see the importance of all these trifling details.

He's saying, "IT DOESN'T MATTER.  Just move on and get this done."

I'm saying, "I CAN'T do this until you give me these specific pieces of information."

Neither one of us can understand why the other person feels that way.

Well, I understand.  I feel that way because I am right and the way I see the world is the only sensible one, damn it.

When I'm really honest with myself and get my ego tamped down a bit, I can understand how my need for details that others see as unimportant can keep me from getting things done and, quite possibly, drive people crazy.  Sometimes, I suppose, the details are not necessary.  I don't really get it, but I can rationally see how it might be possible if one's brain were wired differently.

It feels better to have a name for our specific crazy.

That's a trait of Js, too.


  1. OMG! But, Bonnie! They're TIMESHEETS! Details are the only way people get paid!


    Don't even try to see it from the other side. You are so clearly right!!!

    (!!!!!! There aren't enough explanation points in this comment yet !!!)

    Also, I think if you're going to say J-ness, you must also use the term P-ness.

    Was that completely inappropriate? I'm sorry.

    The second most J person you know who doesn't actively take pills for her J-ness

  2. I'm a P, and I don't take pills for my P-ness.

  3. Oh my ghod. I'm the THIRD most J person you know how doesn't take pills for her J-ness.

    J-NESS UNITED! :fist in air: