The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test (er, psychometric test–I’m not sure I know the difference) which aims to generate some understanding about how a person perceives the world and makes decisions. Most EWBers are familiar with the MBTI and have taken the test at least once. Basically, it creates the four following dichotomies and assigns you to one of the two options to generate a four letter descriptor of your personality:

  1. Attitude: Extrovert/Introvert
  2. Functions: Sensing/iNtuition
  3. Functions: Thinking/Feeling
  4. Lifestyle: Judging/Perceiving

For more information, visit the Wikipedia article here.

My MBTI is ENFJ. I think this information is limited in its usefulness, but useful nonetheless, in my personal development. The MBTI is just one framework through which behaviours can be analyzed and it therefore cannot give a complete picture of a person. For example, I would never claim to be an extrovert. However, my MBTI result has made me question the pseudo-identity of being an introvert with which I have always sided. As a result, I now see that I am in fact extroverted in groups in which I am comfortable or have a leadership role. The rest of the time, I’m crazy introverted.

As much as I don’t want to, I have to confess that the MBTI has me spot on for the other three metrics (iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging). I generally rely on my gut feeling–often in the face of overwhelming facts–and I can be easily swayed by my own emotions. I have never had any trouble balancing these aspects of myself and see them as descriptors of who I am, not areas that need changing.

I do have a slight problem in the judging (J) vs. perceiving (P) category, though. I am most definitely a J. Before I go on, let me make it clear that “judging”, in this sense, refers to time use and thought processes (in a nutshell). Js need structure and linear progression, whereas Ps… well I don’t really know, because I don’t understand Ps and they easily frustrate me.

The thing is, I love thinking linearly. Everything in life is so much tidier that way! And I just need the safety and security of my beautiful Google calendar, with every hour of my week sectioned off into tidy, categorized events.

This is a problem, folks.

I’m too J.

It’s not just obvious here, either. My J-ness is actually hindering communication with the rest of my team, because we get off topic a lot. Actually, it’s likely that I just notice it a lot, because when we do, I’m left hanging with the last thought I had, too worried that it won’t fit in with the current conversation to put it out into the universe. My thoughts become so focussed on the thought I didn’t get to share that I end up completely lost in the conversation and have no idea what’s going on. That’s how serious this is.

I need to understand P. I need to learn to feel it, love it, and become it.

Okay, so that’s a bit extreme (and kind of weird?), but I certainly would like to learn to be less structure-oriented and more ambiguous in both my use of time and my thought processes. I think doing so would certainly increase my flexibility in terms of time use and would generally lead to increased productivity as a result of better responses to changes in structured time, which are bound to occur. Additionally, lateral thought processes could increase my creativity by moving my focus away from the A-to-B-to-C thing I’ve got going now to more synthesis-and connection-based thinking.

I’m working on it! I need some help with non-linear thinking (any Ps out there with advice?), but I’m getting much better at not scheduling my time so intensely. For example, this weekend I didn’t let myself worry when I fell behind on studying for my exam this morning. I simply changed my goals, communicated the required changes in my schedule to those involved, and carried on. Guess what? Everything turned out fine.




14 responses to “ENFJ

  1. I suppose finding 20ish people at your house randomly would throw a wrench in (we were, uhm, FORCING you to be less J? That was *totally* the objective, yup). Have you had any success with your be-more-spontaneous plan?

    MBTI is a bit weird for me because it always tells me I’m a J, but given that we’ve both met me, I think it’s pretty clear that I’m not. I think there are a lot of advantages to being a J, since you’re clearly more organised, and linear thinking is something I’ve always admired and wished I had more of, and linear thinking can be really useful in problem solving and analysis. I’m kind of on the opposite spectrum, because my unstructuredness usually leads to procrastination and poor time management… got any tips for ramping *up* the J? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

    (Also, I hear you on the introvert-except-in-comfortable groups. I get full-on mental hives and regression to public-school neuroses in unfamiliar groups of more than 2-3 other people, but people who know me well are sometimes surprised to hear that I describe myself as introverted, given that I’m kind of ridiculous the rest of the time.)

    And yes, I will be stalking your blog. You know your blog’s made it when you’ve got a stalker 😉

    • Surprise birthday parties = definite P training.

      When I think of increasing J-ness, tools usually come to mind. There are a ton of time scheduling tools out there (I ❤ Googlecal). Finding the one that works for you and using it are key steps to becoming more J.
      /self-help preacherness.

  2. Chris!!!

    we should talk

  3. patrickbvmiller

    Mr. Euler,

    I am glad you’ve started a blog – I’ll be sure to check it frequently as you explore Ghana and G&RI this summer.

    on the perks of being a perceptive p –
    It’s important to note that the last letter, J or P, relates to the external world! So when you’re thinking about being more P, don’t think it means you need to throw out logical thinking or scheduling, but it might mean you are a little more flexible with them. From my understanding being a P means you’re willing to have some flexibility and randomness in your world and a real true blue P will thrive in such situations. It sounds like you’re already off to a good start in using this P as a preference for interacting with the outside world.

    (I’m an INFP)

  4. patrickbvmiller

    One thing I shared with a friend who had a similar J vs. P post was to write a narrative of an event where he felt as though he was being a heavy J but to write it in a way where he behaved like a P instead. I am not sure if that will help or not.

  5. It’s interesting, I feel that I have the exact opposite problem. I have an incredible difficulty with structuring my time. My Google calendar is pretty much the opposite of yours (it just has class times and work hours, and I think one event penned in for May – a wedding). Having a ton of unstructured time is great for being social; it’s easy to just call people up and do something. But it’s hell for getting any non-vital projects done. If it’s not due soon, I effectively don’t worry about it, which is a terrible habit that I suspect will absolutely ruin me in grad school.

    Plus, projects that I want to work on for myself usually get put aside. Writing, guitar-ing, reading theory; they’re all things I want to do but don’t often get around to unless I set time aside for them because when I have free time and nothing/no-0ne around to fill it with, I generally jump into immediately ‘fun’ activities (read: watching The Simpsons and playing Rock Band). Or I comment on blog posts.

    I suppose, like any lifestyle change, any change to the way you want to organize yourself begins with small steps. Give yourself an extra block of unstructured time per week, maybe? Or perhaps decide to leave one given activity per week unspecified so you’re forced to do something impulsive when that activity comes up?

    I should try to do something along the same lines; devote a tiny amount of time per day on some scheduled activity and stick to it no matter what until it becomes natural; then extend/add more as time goes on…

    Maybe after exams. 😛

  6. ESTJ
    But I consider myself introverted, in that I prefer alone time and I keep things in.
    I definitely cannot help with the J, although I think I balance it more by forcing myself to go out rather than do work sometimes.

  7. Good to hear everything turned out fine with your exam. Even though I am massive P. I don’t think I can relay any advice, but perhaps I can put at ease one of the concerns you raised. During our meetings when we do get off topic, and we will always get off topic because we are always coming up with ideas. I don’t find it stressful because I always find that in due course we end up coming back to the original point. This form of conversation is important to a P. because it flows the same way as our thought process. I have a difficult time when I have to process a thought directly. Even structuring this comment is a bit difficult because I would rather just let all my thoughts flow out as they come but they would make no sense to a reader. I will most likely finish this, go take my shower, get into my bed and start reading and then realize what the best way to write my thoughts down would have been. I think that that is the best way to explain it from my point of view.

  8. Hey there,

    So I’m an ENFP, and one who lies at the extremes of each of the measures except the Intuitive .

    I am pretty happy as a strong P. I feel comfortable when plans go to shit, and I can react to crises well. But I suck at planning. And being on time. Basically all the things you probably value in a team member that you have to work with, I probably lack.

    So while I’m happy with the strengths that being a P has provided me, I’ve been trying to work on the associated weaknesses (and Google Calendar has been essential). So I can understand where you’re coming from.

    As for advice to help you try out being a P, I think trying out some Improv would really help. I joined an Improv team in high school and it exercises all your P muscles. You have to “live in the moment” and commit. No time to analyze consequences, just react. If you get really fast you can maybe think a few steps ahead, but you have to be ready because chances are something will change before you get that far. So I don’t know if you could just do Improv games as chapter, or if there are any Improv clubs on your campus or in your community, or if you could talk your friends into doing Improv with you, but I would really recommend it. And try to get in front of an audience, since that intensifies the effects.

  9. So I’m a ISTJ.
    But more importantly I, too, am a J.
    And this makes sense. When I’m doing a Sporcle quiz, I have to answer things in order. If i’m making a list of something, it has to be in order. Linear thinking is super important to me.
    But I’ve also come a long way from how I used to have every minute of my life structured and packaged into little time segments. And, while I’m not sure if this has been a good development, it’s definitely helped my socializing aspect. I’m much less of an introvert than I was when I first got here, and you’ve got a lot to do with that.
    I think that surrounding yourself with people who are the way that you want to be is the key to achieving change in your life.

  10. INFP
    Linear thinking is something I cannot comprehend, I jump from the beginning to the conclusion without understanding the middle bits. Its not so useful when you are considered a “healer;” people like explanations.
    My advice? Be a bit imaginative and take a leap once in a while, a la Alice in Wonderland.

  11. ISTJ.

    I find the thing with being a J is realising you don’t have control over everything– and being okay with it. I also really like rules and procedures and that’s cause problems with certain things, like booking flights. I want the form filled out exactly the way it should be and I don’t want to spend extra money. But sometimes things come up and they are unavoidable and no matter what, those unexpected things will happen (ie I’m going to have to buy the flight anyway). I find thinking about the big picture to be very helpful.

    Good luck trying to be more of a P! If you discover anything really good, please let me know!

  12. Oh my goodness. I do this. “…thoughts become so focused on the thought I didn’t get to share that I end up completely lost in the conversation and have no idea what’s going on. ” I had no idea until you said it though. I can’t believe this. You just changed my whole life. Or at least my whole day.

    You are my new favorite JF. Don’t tell Ann.

    P.S. Nice job getting a my.ewb side bar featured blog post. I don’t think that happens to just anyone. One day when I write my more or less amazing blog I’ll be there too and you can say you knew me when…

  13. Chris,
    I recently saw that you had started a blog and have been busy reading away and was very interested by the quiz. Needless to say, I took the quiz : ENFJ. I am very J as you probably already know, and have been reading these comments looking for the same thing, advice on becoming less J. Then it occured to me that things like surprise events and things popping up and making me change my schedule have occured alot lately. My thoughts have been running wild and this is where they ended: when things come up, go for it. This semester has been full of last minute hangouts and having to alter my plans, but it always seems to work itself out. *Knock on wood* Anyways, you now have a new blog-follower.

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