Friday, August 21, 2015

Deconstructing an ENTJ

One of the problems with personality typing is that we try and put people into boxes.

But you can't say than an ISFJ will do "this" particular thing every single time because that's what ISFJs do. Why? Because an ISFJ's actions are based off tradition and past experiences. Any tradition. Any past experience. My past experiences are different from every other ISFJ's experiences out there. Our brain patterns may work in similar ways, but my values do not have to be another ISFJ's values. It's the same with any personality type.

Take my newish friend, an ENTJ. I'll call him D to protect his identity just in case he ever finds the time and the motivation to read my blog. Up until meeting D my experience with ENTJs was limited to television and film where they are always the masterminds who usually take over the world irregardless of body count. They're scary. They're single-minded. And they don't give a damn about humanity. But D is not Raymond Reddington from The Blacklist, and I can honestly say, THANK GOODNESS! Because as much as I love Red, he's scary as hell and I would never want to personally make his acquaintance.

If there's one thing I've learned during my developing friendship with D, it's that he does not fit a weird stereotypical mold of how ENTJs should behave. He's not some crazed power-hungry lunatic out to take over the world. Don't get me wrong, he is driven. Almost insatiable in his need for success, so much so that he works 3 jobs in order to buy the camera equipment he needs to be the best professional photographer he can be. If that means he gets 3 hours of sleep a night, so be it.

Did you hear that? That's me screaming in the background.

Yes, his desperation to succeed drives me crazy because it's like I'm watching him kill himself. And I HATE that. If there is one thing I, as an ISFJ, cannot stand it's watching a friend overwork themselves to the brink of destruction and poor health. D has stomach ulcers for goodness' sake, and he's not yet THIRTY.

Ahem, now that I've ranted (and he already knows how I feel about his crammed schedule so he won't be surprised if he reads this), we can move on.

So, yes he has the undeniable drive of an ENTJ.

What I see most in him, though, is his overwhelming frustration. He has potential. He sees solutions and wants to implement them in his job. But he can't do that because he is not in a position of power to inspire change. And this frustrates him. What happens if you put a good-natured ENTJ in a frustrating situation for a year? You'll rapidly find that ENTJ declining into something less than healthy. Hence the stomach ulcers, the bouts of erratic emotionalism and paranoia, and the occasional panic attacks. He is in a period of life right now where nothing is going his way, and because he sees that trend as a pattern in his life, he's afraid to take new steps for fear of them not working. There is nothing more worrisome to an ISFJ than an ENTJ afraid to take back his future.

D and I had an enlightening conversation today that I feel like sharing.

I'm persistent with people, especially if it's someone I genuinely like and want to help. You might even say that I can be annoying in my persistence. I keep asking D to walk with me on our breaks. He's done it maybe a few times, but most of the time he says no. So finally I broke down and asked him why. I can understand if he refuses because of stuff involving his other jobs. I really can. But I was concerned that he was saying no for a different reason, so I just asked him outright if he refuses to go on walks with me because it was me asking and I irritate him. To which he responded no, and that if I ever did irritate him, he would tell me. Which he has yet to do, and I really, really hope never happens.

You see, D knows why I keep trying to get him outside on his breaks. Because he needs to go outside! He needs the fresh air and the sunshine and a little rejuvenation for his tired, depressed endorphins. And I know why he keeps saying no, because he's overworking himself. Can I fix this problem in his life? Damn it, no, I can't. It doesn't mean I wouldn't want to if he'd just let me, but he won't, and so I'm learning to step back and not pester him, even if what I have to say is for his own good.

But he said something before we headed out separate ways after work today. I asked him if he wanted to do something tomorrow morning since our mandatory OT was canceled. But the rest of his day is crammed so full that he needs this extra time to sleep, so he said no. I remarked half-teasing that maybe I should just stop trying to make our schedules jive so we could do friends-type stuff outside of work, and he looked me right in the eye and said, "Don't stop trying."

In one of the most honest moments I've ever experienced with D, he said, "All my other friends stop trying and so when I finally do have time to do something, no one asks me. Don't pester me about my work schedule, but don't stop trying either."

He's very lonely, so overworked that he can barely see straight, and my heart just breaks for him. I have little to no experience with men as friends, really, I don't, and so I have to remind myself that D isn't my brother or my son. He's not a child, not a sibling, but a man who has to make his own decisions whether they're healthy ones (from my pov) or not. At least his faith is in good working order, a fact for which I am very grateful.

But throughout my time getting to know D, I've discovered that he is gentle and kind and when you don't want something from him for selfish reasons, he will respond positively. D knows that I like him for who he is, even the bad parts. I understand his frustration, am darkly amused by his visions of stabbing people he doesn't like with plastic forks, and grieve when he occasionally shares bits of his extremely sobering past. If I ever needed help or protection or advice, I know I can go to him because I trust him. He tells me the truth and in return, I'm honest with him. Honesty really is the only viable means of keeping an ENTJ as a friend.

Let's just say there have been moments when I'm so frustrated with him that I could spit, and he simply laughs because my hot-headed desperation to fix his life amuses him so much. Hey, if I can give him a rare laugh, then that works for me.

I now have a point of reference for what "real" ENTJs can be like. Does this mean I'll ever meet another one like D? No, of course not. But at least now I know they're not all going to be like Reddington or Lionel Luther, either.


  1. I like Red. He would never allow anything to happen to what's her name (... sad that I don't remember her name, isn't it?) and that draws me to him. He's not soulless, just dangerous.

    Often ENTJs run away from their emotions. They become so driven that they neglect their marriages and relationships. They find it difficult to deal with their emotions or to give them value. They become frustrated by situations they cannot see any way around.

    Your having TiNe is going to be very useful in this situation; if you can get him to confide in you, you can open more possibilities to him and help him move forward. :)

    1. Oh, you know me, I love Red too. And yes, he is extremely protective of that gal (I can't remember her name either). It's just that he's seen and done so much in his life that he's far less inclined to empathy than he might have been when he was younger. And that is scary.

      Neglecting relationships, eh? Well, that's where D is at the moment. Not with me, per se, since we're only coworkers, but I know he doesn't spend a lot of time with his friends or even his family because he's so busy. I wish he would just quit one of his jobs, just one, and give himself enough time to socialize.

      He does confide in me about some things, but getting him to take the advice I offer is almost impossible. I suspect he even knows I'm right, but he won't let himself make the changes he needs to make. He's governed by fear compounded by a lack of sleep, which makes him irrational and far more moody than he would be normally. At the moment, all I can really do is pray for him and occasionally swing by his desk to give him a pep talk. Both of which seem to help, but I wish I knew how to encourage him to actually act on the changes he needs to make.

    2. Te-doms are workaholics. ESTJs have a little easier time balancing family and drive, because their Si grounds them in the importance of those things, but ENTJs are often disengaging of the people in their lives. They really have to work at marital relationships, for example. It's so easy to be at the office mentally and literally, planning out the next twenty years of their career.

      You cannot force anyone to change. They must decide that on their own. :)

    3. Well, it's good to know that he's doing the typical thing. Maybe there is a reason why he isn't married yet, actually. I don't think he could squeeze her into his schedule. I'll just keep praying for him and occasionally remind him that he needs to slow down.


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