Confessions of a “Control Enthusiast”

“Hi, I’m Rita and I’m a control enthusiast.”

The concept of psychological “type” proposes that one of the first things we notice about others are certain behaviors in the ways they orient, speak, approach, and/or present themselves (i.e., what they make public). Of the four MBTI® (Myers-Briggs) scales, this blog, this confession, is about the fourth scale.

What about you? Do you prefer a structured, orderly, controlled, and well-planned lifestyle (Judging) . . . OR do you prefer a flexible, spontaneous, freedom-loving, and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)?

These two psychologically opposite approaches are the most “dramatic” and are at the root of more conflict between two people than the other three scales. Compare and contrast these “public” approaches:

  1. Judging (J) – “the control enthusiast” – This person is self-regulated and self-disciplined (i.e., uses checklists, is goal achievement oriented, watches the clock, checks the list, and monitors their calendar as they seek closure through control by the elimination of all surprise). They are also more directive and formal in their approach. Judging types tend to speak in a decided/closed and declarative voice, favoring the use of words ending in “ed” (e.g., decided, planned, finished, concluded, etc.).
  2. Perceiving (P) – “the freedom-lover” – This person is flexible, pressure-prompted, non-directive and adaptive (i.e., seeks to stay open through the freedom of alternatives and options, gets their sense of control by being time-flexible and process oriented, and makes choices only when they are necessary). Strict plans are kept to a minimum, decisions are avoided or put off, and it’s difficult to settle on one direction or plan. They are also more facilitative and informal in their approach. Perceiving types speak in a more questioning/curious tone, filled with “in-process” words ending in “ing” (e.g., planning, deciding, finishing, concluding, etc.).

Is it possible that process-oriented and pressure-prompted Perceiving types may be at higher risk for academic, life and love, and/or business failure? You be the judge. At the core of Judging (J) is the need for “control” – of time, of space, of self, and of others. At the core of Perceiving (P) is the need for “freedom” – in time, in space, for self, and for others.

Personality type differences demonstrate that a Perceiving approach to the outer world is different than the Judging approach, not necessarily better or worse. Your MBTI results indicate your preferred way of doing certain things. It’s not designed to measure emotional maturity, intelligence, psychological or mental health disorders. And while type preferences influence the behavioral habits we develop, type theory suggests that in any situation, we have the following choice: use our innate preferences or decide that it’s more appropriate to use the non-preferred opposite:

Too much Judging and not enough Perceiving, which leads to prejudice OR

Too much Perceiving and not enough Judging, which leads to procrastination

A Confession: I am grateful I gained greater awareness of my natural, innate preferences in my mid-twenties when I completed the MBTI, absorbed the book Gifts Differing, and validated my preferences. For the first time in my life, I had an objective lens to fully realize, embrace, and understand the “pathways and pitfalls of a control enthusiast.” It was the start of this lifelong journey of developing Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and practicing “humble inquiry,” a process gained through knowledge and observation, to study others and treat them with respect regarding their preferences and, most importantly, to help me “flex” and use my non-preferred opposite when it’s more appropriate. And, when I do lose my joy, this understanding of being a control enthusiast helps me relax and often laugh at myself. It also helps that I married my emotionally intelligent Perceiving husband, Ron. We innately and respectfully use type language every day as we navigate our “public approach to life” differences.

Control Enthusiasts unite and support “Perceiving voices” . . . Too many Perceiving voices are silenced by the Judging ideals of control enthusiasts. Join me and champion the message that flexible, less-structured, and more spontaneous strategies are also effective, and, for Perceiving types, they are indispensable. What about you? What is your preference – J or P? . . . Remember, you can and do use both preferences at different times and in different situations, but which one of these, Judging or Perceiving, is your public face to the world?

Note: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and MBTI are registered trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries

Rita Murray, PhD, is the Founder and Principal of Performance Consulting, LLC, an organizational development firm, previous CEO and Chairman of a national energy services company, cognitive psychologist, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), executive coach, and sought-after leadership consultant. She has held leadership roles at General Electric and Lockheed Martin, and is also a private pilot. Dr. Murray frequently speaks at leadership events and conferences and is highly regarded for her ability to connect personal and interpersonal development with the needs of business and with mobile and virtual technology. See more at

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