Understanding Humans, the S-types

Image courtesy of Emma Charles via stock.xchng

Image courtesy of Emma Charles via stock.xchng

The first half of the M-B quadrants focus on those who pay the most attention to the physical world and its details.

They are distinguished from one another, you might say, by what they do with that awareness.

Stabilizers (SJs) have a very pronounced “J” pattern (in all its organizational glory). Due to its combination with the physical-world centered, detail-oriented S in their type, they tend to be those who get things done, or get anxious when they don’t. Stabilizers have a strong sense of duty motivating them in much of what they do; they derive a good deal of their personal satisfaction from knowing they’ve done the right thing.

They’re the ones I think of when I read this poem:

To Be of Use
Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is as common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museum
but you know they were meant to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.


The Innovators (SPs) are the figure-it-out-for-myself types.

I like to say “Experience is the best teacher, if you can learn second-hand, the tuition’s cheaper.”

That is, I’ll learn from anybody’s experience, primarily to avoid making mistakes that have already been made.

And it really is something I don’t understand that there are people who aren’t interested in what I consider caution.

“I’d rather pay tuition,” one mom my age told me after I inserted my line into our conversation. I was speechless. What could I say?

She’s not the first person I’ve known who really meant it.

The positive things people see when they look at Innovators are flexibility and creative energy.  Innovators are frequently very good at what they do, and involved in projects where improvising is part of the structure and fabric of the task.

In contrast to the Stabilizers, Innovators don’t need to have everything “nailed down” to do their most effective work.  Therefore, considering the general nature of reality, having a population of Innovators roughly equal to that of Stabilizers is a good thing.

Marriages pairing a Stabilizer and an Innovator are common, but there are built-in conflicts the couple will have to learn to navigate.