Its not easy being an ENTP


I love the Meyers/Briggs personality test.  Of all the tests I found it to be the most insightful as I attempt to understand myself.  Not everyone gets the same mileage out of it but it is worth checking out.

In this approach to personality people are understood using four indicators that go one of two ways. E/I, N/S, T/F, P/J.

E – Extrovert
Energized with lots of social interaction, process things externally
I – Introvert
Prefers less intense social interactions, needs time alone to recharge
N – iNtuitive
Idealistic, abstract, beyond surface, imaginative, what could be
S – Sensory
Realistic, concrete, interested in physical world, what is
T  – Thinking
Value truth, critical, cold/impersonal,
F – Feeling
Value harmony, emphatic, softy/personal
P – Perceiving
Adaptable, spontaneous, carefree
J – Judging
Likes life firm and controlled, planner, serious

I am an ENTP.  There are a couple recognizable ENTP characters in TV/Movies.  Gaius Baltar, Tony Stark/Iron Man, Calvin (of Calvin/Hobbes), Gregory House and Indiana Jones are some of my favourites.

The people I get along with the easiest are other NT’s and SF’s.  I love the NT’s because we can sit down and discuss the deeper meaning of things.  Apparently we make up about 10% of the population which is probably why we feel we are constantly surrounded by a sea of insanity.

I love some of the SF’s like ESFP and ISFJ.  The ESFP is the quintessential party person.  Not terribly responsible but they are an incredible amount of fun.  The ISFJ’s are the quiet responsible people who take care of things with a deep sense of loyalty and devotion.  I have one of each in my immediate family.

Being an ENTP means I have some serious weaknesses.  I forget details, I get bored incredibly easily, and I really have a hard time with irrational people messing with my life, and I’m fiercely independent.  I can handle working with ENTJs, who are pretty much the army generals of the world, because they are rational.  I’m not generally a fan of anyone telling me what to do, but if someone is running the ship and they competent I am ok.  I don’t generally like being in charge because all the details of managing the real world bore me incredibly.

My arch nemesis is the ESFJ, well it is more like I am their arch nemesis.  They tend to be very traditional and seek to establish and enforce harmony in any situation.  ENTPs are relentless learners, and innovators that hate static situations.  We are constantly analyzing things critically and are always pushing towards change.  We don’t necessarily care about the traditions we offend or the disharmony this might bring about. 

In fairness not everything should change as much as we ENTPs might want it to.  ENTPs have to figure out they will always want to be 3 or 4 steps ahead (or off to the side) of almost everyone else.  The world doesn’t change as much as we want it to because it would be all chaos all the time if it did.  The other thing we have to learn is that feelings matter because people matter.  Our Intuitive side can pick this up, if we don’t we end up like George Carlin ranting about all the people we perceive as worthless and stupid in the world.

The people most likely to drive me crazy are the NFs.  The NFs are the idealists.  I connect with them on the N side of things, especially their ideals and values but its the F side that just seems to derail things.  I find myself thinking, ok, I just disagreed with you about an idea why are you taking it so personally?  ENTPs like to debate things, for us it is kind of a sport.  NFs like to debate too as they can be deeply passionate people.  Sadly many of them can throw a punch way better than they can take one.

Some NFs are pretty good at “reading” people but unhealthy ones are less likely than other types to understand how much their own feelings and insecurities can bias the conclusions they reach.  To the NTs of the world they can come across so completely irrational we think they are insane, and we really don’t know what to do with them.  The worst NFs take things to the next level and are so wrapped up in their emotions and issues they just erupt like some geyser projecting indiscriminate emotional napalm over most of the relationships in their life, and still manage to blame everyone else for it.  I had a pastor like that once, it was a frickin disaster.

That isn’t to say I haven’t worked well with NFs even in conflict.  The key to resolving issues doesn’t lie in words but in actions.  One has to clearly, genuinely and concretely demonstrate your care and concern for them.  At certain point words become empty to the NF and even harmful because they may not be taken at face value. 

For me this is a small price to pay to restore a relationship.  However If I have to go through this process several times over the temptation to jettison the relationship becomes very strong. ENTPs can be coldly rational and impersonal.  We will sacrifice relationships for the truth and the less noble among us will dump someone just because they are no longer useful to us.  If someone comes across too irrational too often the cold calculating Thinking side takes over and we cut bait. 

We don’t like to lose, or give up the last word.  Which means we often get suckered in to endless meaningless debates.  Sometimes we hurt people in these debates.  For years my blog was a freaking battleground until I realized the futility of it all.

There are a lot of great things about ENTPs.  They are always striving to make things better.  We are really good a assessing a situation quickly and can be incredibly clear thinkers in the midst of crisis.  No other type can match our ability to see how things connect together or analyze the impact of things upon other things.  It makes us great problem solvers, although we aren’t necessarily attentive to enough details to avoid some problems in the first place.  Our other rational NT cousins are much more attentive to details in a specific field, but few can match the depth of our knowledge across different fields.

  1. #1 by kelly on October 20, 2009 - 10:45 pm

    hey LT; I love reading your blog, thanks for your posts. you know I”m also a MBTI fan, although I’m having to consider the basis for my appreciation, and for Jung, as I wade through counseling and psych texts that prefer other foundational understandings of human dynamics.
    I have a growing appreciation for the diversity of all ‘types and preferences’ – I am more and more thankful for those who operate in spheres that I don’t.
    You’ve been great in helping me understand how being NF is fundamental to my choices.
    I choose to believe that I”m one of the NF’s that DOESN’T drive you crazy 🙂
    take care, my friend.

  2. #2 by Leighton Tebay on October 20, 2009 - 10:56 pm

    You are correct, you’ve never driven me crazy.

    Perhaps I should read some of those texts as well. I recognize that field of psychology and the study of human behavior has accomplished much since Jung. All labels, types and preferences are limited windows to ourselves. I don’t think most people realize the foundational assumptions of the MBTI (and how flawed they might be), they just think it is cool to read about themselves. At best all these tools are starting points, guides that lead us to impressions that must be held tentatively.

  3. #3 by Rev. Mike on October 21, 2009 - 6:48 am

    LT, you would probably not be surprised to find out that the so-called “helping professions” are overrun with NFs. We all took the MBTI in our first year at Columbia Seminary, and the class was like75-90% NFs.

  4. #4 by Robert Kenneth Peter Kroeker on October 29, 2009 - 7:28 pm

    ENFP’s RULE! =) I know, you’re very surprised to find out I’m an ENFP. Always have been, always will be.
    I don’t know about myers/briggs though. I’ve taken it a few times, and always come out the same, but the levels or doses tend to change. I believe now that I “recharge” better away from people then around people, whereas in high school it was the other way around. How much is environmental as opposed to genetics? people do change, I think, but usually their personality doesn’t change a whole lot, unless they really work at it (and then only maybe).

  5. #5 by Leighton Tebay on October 29, 2009 - 7:48 pm

    This explains a lot. 🙂

  6. #6 by beck(ers) on November 3, 2009 - 9:38 pm

    “To the NTs of the world they can come across so completely irrational we think they are insane, and we really don’t know what to do with them. ”

    I know what you do with them. You ask them why they act mind-numbingly stupid. Ha ha ha! Poor LT. I am irrational. And insane. At least a little. Okay, a lot. And I was worse at camp than I am now.

    Anyways, the reason I’m here is because I can’t comment on Carol’s blog. And I’m an ENFP so puzzling out why and how to fix it seems like a waste of time. I’m all about instant gratification. So I though I could just give you a message?

    Can you tell her thanks for the post, even if it wasn’t written for me, which it probably wasn’t, but thanks from me anyways. I’m not in any way in a good place with God right now, and reading about her struggles and coming to terms with loss and disappointment encouraged me. Maybe it won’t always feel like this. Maybe I won’t always feel like God is mean and not at all interested in the concerns and cares of the people who serve Him. Carol has been through a lot in her life, and her faith (I know it sounds trite) is inspiring to me. Which is something. Not enough to get me where I need to be, but enough to hope that it’s possible for me to get there someday.

    Could you tell her that?

  7. #7 by Ryan Androsoff on November 11, 2009 - 10:18 pm

    It has been a long time my friend – I hope you are doing well! Stumbled upon this post and thought I would share that I am an ENTP as well. Did the testing last fall as a part of a leadership course and found it to be quite insightful.

    Hope all is well with you – when I am back in Saskatoon over the holidays, perhaps we could grab a coffee and catch up.

    All the best.

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