18 Telling Differences Between ENTP And INTP Personality Types

There are a striking number of similarities that exist between the introverted INTP personality type and the ambiverted ENTP personality type. Both types share four cognitive functions in only a slightly different order – making them difficult to distinguish from one another. In case you’re having trouble deciphering which category you or someone you’re close to falls into, here are a few subtle differences that exist between these two look-a-like types.

1. ENTPs lead with Extroverted Intuition – a function that explores, invents and seeks to manipulate its environment. INTPs lead with Introverted Thinking – a function that seeks to verify, rationalize and understand its environment without bias.

2. ENTPs show their goofy and lighthearted sides to the world. INTPs show their goofy and lighthearted sides to the people they know well.

3. ENTPs are usually able to pick up on how others are feeling, even if they don’t make others’ feelings a priority. INTPs often struggle to pick up on how others are feeling and may worry about misunderstanding signals.

4. ENTPs rebel against traditional ways of structuring their lives. INTPs see the value – and often find comfort in – traditional forms of structure.

5. ENTPs brainstorm first and analyze second. INTPs analyze first and brainstorm second.

6. ENTPs are highly invested in personal development and growth. INTPs are highly invested in developing an unbiased perception of themselves.

7. ENTPs tend to leap before they look. INTPs tend to look before they leap.

8. ENTPs tend to identify as ambiverts. INTPs tend to identify as definite introverts.

9. ENTPs are more at risk of losing touch with their rational, grounded side when they get carried away with a new idea. INTPs are more at risk of losing touch with their inventive, creative side when they get absorbed in logical analysis.

10. ENTPs are charismatic and persuasive – seeing convincing others to do things their way as a fun challenge. INTPs dislike having to persuade others to do things their way, and wish that others would just intuitively know what they wanted.

11. ENTPs enlist others to take care of the details when they want a project accomplished. INTPs are more likely to tackle the details themselves – in the name of accuracy – when they want a project accomplished.

12. ENTPs tend to appear energetic and outgoing to others, even though they experience long periods of introverted focus and analysis. INTPs tend to appear laid-back and reserved to others, even though they have bouts of excitement and enthusiasm.

13. ENTPs like to be alone with other people nearby – so they can share new ideas or thoughts if they come up. INTPs prefer to be completely alone when they’re alone, so they can ensure their thought process won’t be interrupted.

14. ENTPs form an idea and then seek to manipulate the world around them to concede to their idea. INTPs evaluate the logic at hand and then form an idea that best corresponds to that logic.

15. ENTPs jump on new ideas and wish to explore them as soon as they come up. INTPs entertain new ideas only once they have considered how the idea fits with their existing schema of understanding.

16. ENTPs enjoy debating and discussing ideas as a means of considering alternate perspectives and better understanding the topic. INTPs prefer independently reading and reflecting on a topic in order to gain a thorough understanding of it.

17. ENTPs are often excited by personality theory and may immediately consider or ‘try on’ different types for size. INTPs are often skeptical of personality theory and will only begin to trust it once they consistently test as an INTP across various tests and assessments.

18. ENTPs are on an eternal quest for possibility, backed up by logic and accuracy. INTPs are on an eternal quest for truth, backed up by possibility.

24 iNtuitive Thinking Women Explain What They Wish The World Understood About NT Females

When it comes to the distribution of Myers-Briggs personality types, the breakdown of introversion and extroversion, iNtuition and sensing and perceiving and judging is relatively equal across gender. However, 65.5{67b9dc46c2005a2d6d0dc9e883ab6bdb9c47365a25e8ad24adf59fc11de2db4a} of women identify as Feeling types in the MBTI system. While intuitive personality types are already significantly rarer than sensing types, intuitive thinking personality types are particularly rare in women – with NT females making up only 7{67b9dc46c2005a2d6d0dc9e883ab6bdb9c47365a25e8ad24adf59fc11de2db4a} of the population. This week, I asked iNtuitive thinking women what they wished the rest of the world understood about female NT personalities. Here’s what they had to say.
Benjamin Child

1. “Women often get a bad rap for ‘over-thinking things’ while at the same time being characterised as ‘irrational’. This is clearly problematic for all women in society, but as an NT this is especially frustrating. NT women will immediately lose respect for the person who dismisses one of their key strengths, analytical thinking, in this way. If you encounter an analytical women, make sure to respect this side of her, including her ability to explore emotional/psychological areas. If you give her this respect, she might just share her wisdom and teach you more about yourself, women and the world than you thought there was to be taught.” –INTJ, 25


2. “As gross and high-school as it is to say, we are not like other girls! Literally… there are just fewer of us. This doesn’t mean we are like men and don’t want to be treated like your dudebro friend. We are Rational first but still have feelings. Real ones. And they can get hurt.” –ENTP, 34


3. “It’s not that we don’t have emotions. In fact, NT females have lots of emotions. It’s just hard to share them, and we look at emotions as barriers to success at times.” –INTJ, 19


4. “As an INTP woman, I would just like the world to know that we exist and we are interesting. It seems INTP women in particular, over any other NT female, are absent from film and other media. We don’t assert ourselves but we are not weak willed. We don’t control others but we are not easily controlled ourselves. And because the media generally has a simple outlook on women, they want to show either strongly assertive women or strongly submissive women. The INTP is too complicated for either of those roles. But, I am optimistic about people — I hope someone in the media world realizes the audience is ready for INTP women.” –INTP, 24


5. “I really resent when people make the suggestion that I am actually wired ‘like a man’ or that there is something masculine about my approach. As an ENTP, I feel that people come down on me harder for my weaknesses like details, logistics, etc. than they do with my male counterparts like my INTP husband. Women are not supposed to be spontaneous thinkers, but are supposed to hold all the pieces together and be emotional. This is a frustrating expectation.” –ENTP, 28


6. “I’d like to let everyone know – especially other NT women out there – that NO, you are not completely heartless and cold like others may say you are, and YES, it’s okay to be you. It’s not like we don’t have feelings, we’re just more comfortable using logic and rationality to view the world as well as make our decisions. Sometimes we’ll do certain actions that might come off as cold to others, but it might be because we have thought deeply about the future consequences, delved into all possibilities, and have finally come to a decision that we believe is best for all. My general takeaway message for everyone is: love the NT women in your lives, stop pressuring them into being ‘feelers’ or anything they aren’t, and let them shine the way they are!” –ENTJ, 22


7. “As an NT woman, it’s exhausting when everyone expects you to always act warm and friendly and to smile all the time. It’s just not natural for me but women are pressured to project that otherwise we have ‘resting bitch face’ or ‘have an attitude.’” –INTJ, 28


8. “As an NT woman, many of the stereotypes and descriptions online are quite unfitting. Although I can relate to much of what is said of my type, being raised within the social constructs of society make it hard to identify with the ‘Thinker’ label for women, especially an Intuitive one. I, as well as other NT women I have met, am not as cold, calculating, technical or uncaring as NTs are made out to be descriptive wise. As women, I believe we are encouraged to develop our Feeling function much earlier than men. Men share in this societal based upbringing in that they are encouraged to utilize their Thinking function, and/or to bypass their Feeling function. As a female Intuitive Thinker, it is difficult to discuss or debate theoretical and philosophical principles without people referencing my ’emotions getting the best of me’ or that I’m getting ‘too into it/heated’… Another favorite of mine is that I ‘have no clue what I’m talking about’ (especially engaging with S’s). I can usually laugh it off, because I have to say, I cannot remember the last time I debated a topic and got emotional in the middle of it, or made it personal. I discuss issues/ideas to expand understanding, either my own or another’s – not to emotionally blind side people into agreeing with me. That being said, I wish others understood that NT women are not rigid or ‘bitches’ for caring more about the world of theory/psychology/philosophy/possibilities than about traditional structures, such as being ‘a lady’ who only speaks when spoken to and never challenges the popular opinion. I can’t speak for all NT women, but I would like to be accepted, or at the very least respected, for how I choose to interact in my daily life, no matter how much it differentiates from the ‘ideal.’” –ENTP, 23


9. “We come off strong but we still feel and care deeply. I care about you and your opinion but expressing those issues don’t always translate in the way others may expect. But I would love for if you call me on it so I can have a chance to better explain.” –ENTJ, 40


10. “Please understand that we can see right through the crap. We hold the people we love and associate with to a higher stand, and if we think you’re giving or doing less than your best we’ll call you out on it. Also, just because we want to be alone doesn’t mean we’re mad at you, we just want to be alone and recharge. Don’t get offended if we’re not texting you everyday, we just really appreciate uninterrupted alone time.” –INTJ, 19


11. “A lack of blatant sentimentality does not equate to an absence of empathy.” –ENTP, 68


12. “Yes, we understand things intuitively and can think quickly on our feet, but don’t let that intimidate you or make you fear us. We want appreciation and love, and your willingness to try and keep us is enough. (Also, we probably know we are a little terrifying and have been told to tone ourselves down our whole lives.)” –ENTP, 22


13. “We are not heartless or emotionally inept. We understand the feeling too and its not okay to say outright that we can’t actually comprehend feeling. We just think with our brain to get the solution instead of being a drama queen.” –INTP, 20


14. “You can’t assume that I will act like a ‘typical female.’ Although I have worked hard at becoming more accepting of emotion, it’s still hard work. Most of the time I am logical and into problem solving and deep thinking. Also, don’t assume that if I’m quiet that I’m angry or hurt. If I am, I’ll probably let you know. Quiet just means I’m busy inside my head.” –INTP, 46


15. “I’m actually very sensitive and caring of others’ feelings. But I may process and display those feelings in my own unique, logical way. You may see me comforting a close friend, but that intj problem-solving stuff is gonna be mixed in there as well. It’s part of how I show I care.” –INTJ, 32


16. “I’m a deep thinker, and super rational about almost everything. But because I’m such a deep and rational thinker, I’m able to open my mind, see through different perspectives, and understand the world and my loved ones. My Ni helps me out to understand people, on a deeper level and connect with people.” –INTJ, 17


17. “I wish people would stop expecting me to be feeling driven just because I’m a female.” –INTP, 23


18. “I wish people would more regularly ask how things are going emotionally. I think it doesn’t happen that often because it’s hard for me to emote (it’s easy to communicate emotion, tertiary Fe ftw, but rarely does the display of emotions communicate my actually demotion; it’s more of a means to get a general idea across than to let anyone know anything about me). Furthermore, I rarely know what’s up with my emotions until it’s too late but I’m forced to focus on it when someone asks, which helps. And, if something is really going on and I’m aware of it and trying to hide it, asking communicates to me that the other person is willing to be there for me, which increases the chances I’ll reach out.” –ENTP, 21


19. “We are not scary. Those expectations I have of you, I also apply to myself. I am not a hypocrite.” –INTJ, 42


20. “I understand men are attracted to women they can help or provide for and impress. No matter what I do or say (or don’t do or say), NO men I have ever known has felt compelled to be my true partner – to step up and take over doing anything to make my life easier. In fact, I get the opposite. They expect me to improve their life. It seems men just don’t believe I could ever need help. Ok, I might not NEED it but it would still be nice to experience once in a while.” –INTJ, 45


21. “Yes we over analyse everything. Yes it is aggravating to us, never lone you. (How many times have i rewritten this comment?) Personally speaking I am constantly struggling with emotions. I have them. I have them all the time, but i am too busy analysing them internally to understand how that presents, or doesn’t, to others. While logic rules my external world, chaos and the edge of insanity rules my internal dialogue. This seemingly immovable dichotomy rules all aspects of my life from work, kids, love and philosophy. I have so much to say and do but don’t have the patience to invest in it. And yet, i am convinced i am just seen as the crazy nerd with a cute smile and constant quizzical look.” –INTP, 36


22. “I may be an INTP, but I am no unfeeling robot. I can be extremely emotional and irrational at times.” –INTP, 18


23. “I just wish it was socially acceptable to be an NT. I feel like women are ‘supposed’ to like and be outwardly friendly toward everyone they meet. Just because I don’t warm right up to you or care about making small talk doesn’t mean I am a bitch, and it doesn’t mean I don’t like you. I probably don’t care enough to have an opinion of you right away.” –INTJ, 28


24. “NT women are caught in a conundrum. There’s the stereotype of the overly emotional woman and a type of dread that lingers around dealing with her emotions, but when confronted by an NT woman – whose primary view of life is not through an emotional lens – our very womanhood is questioned. Some people wonder why women ‘just can’t be more rational/less emotional,’ and then they finally interact with an NT woman and call her ‘frigid’. Women as a whole just can’t seem to win! NT women actually have a surprising level of depth to their emotions; we are still human after all! I find that my natural inclination towards seeking all viewpoints, outcomes and opinions leads me to have an overwhelming sense of understanding of our interconnectedness. I feel very deeply because I have an acute awareness of the effect that just one action can have on an entire group of people or a personal situation. This makes me cautious in social situations, aware of my impact on my loved ones, and provides me with a strong sense of wanting the people in my life to feel complete and fulfilled. I’ll run myself ragged trying to help a close friend or family member accomplish their dreams – and also feel personally responsible if they fail somewhere along the way. (Because of course, I should have seen that problem/hurdle coming, right?)” –INTJ, 31

14 Things To Know Before Dating An ENFP

1. We are naturally enthusiastic and curious.

I recently spent some time with a friend I knew growing up, who I haven’t seen much socially for many years. While we were out exploring a city that is still new-ish to me, she said. “I forgot just how curious you are. You haven’t changed much.” Curiosity and enthusiasm are one of the things we are probably most known for.

ENFPs have a genuine excitement for life and are full of natural curiosity about the world and the people in it. I have met older ENFPs who easily appear 20 years younger because of the zeal that they continue to have for life. It is one of the things that stands out most about our type and something that we value most about ourselves. We are fascinated by so many things. We are also easily amused.

How to love this part of us: Engage us in new thoughts or ideas. Engaging our minds is one of the quickest ways to really connect with us. Tell us what things you are currently wondering or thinking about and ask us the same thing. Throw scenarios our way or challenge us with new information. Knowledge is power and we love people who help us grow.

2. We like to take care of others, but struggle to be taken care of ourselves.

But please do it anyway.

We are seekers of people. We love them and when we connect with someone, we are often the first to go out of our way to initiate conversations, check in to see how their day/week has been, and make sure they are doing okay. We feel fulfilled when the people in our daily lives are happy and we try to find ways that we can add to that. The truth is though, we are often on the giving end of those things. Sometimes we need to be taken care of, but we will never ask you to do it. We hate asking for help. This can end up being a really lonely place for ENFPs to be.

How to love this part of us: Few things make me feel more special than knowing when someone is thinking of me or goes out of their way to help me or check in on me. Make it a point to make contact with us. Texts, small handwritten notes, or unexpected pop-ins (although not always welcomed at home) are all acceptable forms of checking in on us. We think so often of others, that we will notice when the cards are reversed.

3. We really, truly are not flirting with the waiter.

It will hurt us if you make the insinuation that we are. ENFPs are constantly accused of flirting (with everyone), and while it’s true that most people will never have as much love and attention thrown their way by others as ENFPs often lavish, it really is only our curiosity that pushes us to engage in and interact with others as forcefully as we sometimes do.

How to love this part of us: Accept the fact that your world has collided with someone who absolutely loves people and shows genuine interest in just about everyone. But also know that our loyalties run deep, and if we have chosen you, we will invest in you fully. ENFPs are very much all or nothing types. If we’re not fully invested in you, you’ll know it.

4. We have layers.

And lots of them. It will take us quite a bit of time (and some gentle prodding) to actually open up to you. This is probably one of the most surprising things about ENFPs. While we come off as being incredibly warm and open, we can actually be very private. We rarely share personal things about ourselves with others. This is a juxtaposition of sorts, because what we crave most are meaningful conversations and interactions. The clincher is that while we want to know ALL about you, we will often hold back in sharing much about who we are and what we need from the people we do life with. Growing up and even today, I’ve often felt that many people feel closer to me than I do to them. There is nothing wrong with that, however, it’s important to know that while we are external processors, we are internal feelers.

There is a lot going on in my heart and mind on an ongoing basis that I might never feel that I am able to process externally with someone I love, unless they ask the right questions. There are very (very) few people who know me deeply, and those who do have really taken the time to invest in me. If you take any time to observe an ENFP, you will notice that they are usually focused on other people.

How to love this part of us: Love us through the layers. Ask open ended questions to encourage us to dive deeper with you. And realize that if we are volunteering personal bits of information with you, it’s a big deal.

5. We need time to process and we’re probably going to do it out loud.

ENFPs are external processors. What this means for the people who share space with us is that we are often coming to revelations about things while we are speaking. Unfortunately, this also means that half the time that we are talking, it can seem nonsensical, because our brains don’t do the whole, “processing and compartmentalizing what is share worthy and what is not” thing. I have about 18 conversations a day when I immediately regret the words coming out of my mouth because my brain just hasn’t caught up yet. Luckily, for mature ENFPs this isn’t usually too much of a problem, however, it does mean that our thoughts often seem scattered.

How to love this part of us: Listen. Have patience for our whimsical way of sharing what is going on in our minds and understand that just because we might be venting, problem solving, or thinking out loud, it doesn’t necessarily mean we want you to fix anything for us. Be understanding of how we process and don’t judge us for the lackluster way that our thoughts can sometimes come together. Some of the people I have felt the safest with in life have been those that I can sit beside and think out loud with. It is one of the ways we make sense of life and having someone willing and unassuming enough to help us by listening to us process is gold.

6. Verbal praise is everything.

This is a hard one to admit, but it’s true of every ENFP I’ve ever known. We are over-analyzers and we know that we have big personalities. Because of this, we have a tendency to feel insecure in relationships if we aren’t told exactly where we stand or how you feel about us. I often feel like I am just too much for people and since I was young I have always wondered if I’m encroaching on people’s space, just by how I love them. Human connection is something ENFPs thrive off of and it is something we not only crave, but something we need to feel balanced. We need to know that you see us and appreciate us. ENFPs are people who need verbal praise often, especially from the people we care about. We need to know where we stand with you.

How to love this part of us: This is a difficult one to write about without seeming really needy. This is an area where we have the potential to feel the most loved, if your comments are sincere. I guess the best way to love us in this respect is to be cognizant of the fact that this really is a consistent need of ours. Be specific in your praise and tell us when we do something that makes you grateful or proud. And remember that just because you told us on Monday how much you appreciate us, doesn’t mean we won’t need our tank filled again by Friday.

7. Go with the flow.

An ENFP friend of mine recently got out of a long relationship where the deal breaker was the difference in which she and her partner approached the speed of life. He was too regimented and she was too free and they had a tough time meeting in the middle. ENFPs go with the flow of life. We like not knowing where a day might lead us or what adventures we might find along the way. We don’t mind making plans but we don’t always feel like we need to stick to them. As my mother would say, sometimes we just like to “fly by the seat of our pants.”

How to love this part of us: Keep us on our toes. Be willing to go into a weekend or a vacation without having a schedule and surprise us by your willingness to seek out new experiences with us.

8. We crave consistency.

Luckily for my friend, our natural relationship partners (in life and in friendship) often tend to be INTJs or INFJs. Some of this probably stems from the steadiness we find in those types. ENFPs have a tendency to be all over the place, but once you really learn our patterns, we are actually very predictable. Still, we are idea people who often have our heads stuck in the clouds. We need the gentle grounding of a person who is reasonable, steadfast, loyal, and dependable. Hot and cold personalities are among the hardest people for us to connect with because we never really know what to expect or know where we stand with them. If you are warm and friendly one minute and cold the next, we will take it personally.

How to love this part of us: Be consistent, especially in your interactions with us. Because we don’t open up to everyone, if you are in our inner circle, we will likely desire contact with you on a routine basis. Knowing that we are an important part of your life validates our relationship and helps us know what to expect from you. I have often joked about this before, but it’s true: there is nothing more charming to me than reliability.

9. Be willing to engage in parallel play.

Parallel play is known as the stage in development when small children play beside another child without engaging with them directly. ENFPs are the most introverted of the extroverted types. Being so, we crave time alone to think, process, regroup, and reflect on current happenings and wonderings. While we love people, we can become easily overwhelmed or overstimulated and need quiet time to re-energize. Especially at the end of a long day, there are few things that I love more than being beside someone who allows me to just be. My old coworker, Kathi, and I used to parallel play our way through report card comments, weekly planning, printing/filing/stapling, and so much more. Being in the presence of someone we love, even if we aren’t talking, is comforting for us.

How to love this part of us: Spend a Saturday curled up on the couch reading with us or in a coffee shop writing or getting work done. We crave time alone with the people we really love and quietly sitting in your presence will be a good balance of giving us time to regroup while also helping us to feel like we aren’t alone.

10. Don’t put us in a box.

ENFPs need room to grow. More than most types, we see life as a journey and believe we are (and should be) constantly evolving through it. We are very quickly drawn to new adventures and ideas and while we do sometimes need to be pulled back down from the clouds, we also really value people who understand our need for consistent growth and new experiences. We see them as opportunities to learn more about ourselves.

How to love this part of us: Encourage our personal growth and hair brained ideas. Find opportunities to help us try new things. Sometimes we do need to snapped back to reality, but learn us well enough to know when to gently tug us back to earth and when to encourage us to spread our wings and fly.

11. Include us in your adventures.

We love seeing the world through the eyes of people we love. If there is something you love doing, take us along on the journey. It will help us to feel like we are seeing another side to you and we might also learn something about ourselves along the way.

How to love this part of us: While this is really more about you than it is about us, anytime we feel like a person has opened up a piece of themselves to us, we take that seriously. Being trusted with another person’s dreams and adventures makes us feel like we are an important part of your life.

12. Criticize lightly.

ENFPs throw our entire selves into life. We try to live rather than exist, so 95{67b9dc46c2005a2d6d0dc9e883ab6bdb9c47365a25e8ad24adf59fc11de2db4a} of the time we pour our whole hearts into our work, relationships, art, hobbies, etc. We have a very difficult time separating who we are as a person from who we are professionally or who we are in a relationship. Despite how long I’ve been alive or how much I’ve tried to train myself otherwise, I will always be a little bit sensitive to criticism.

How to love this part of us: Be gentle. We really do want to be the best version we can be of ourselves and the only way of doing that sometimes is to know what we can do better. Don’t avoid confrontation with us. We are likely to do enough of that all by ourselves. Instead, choose your words kindly and come at us from a point of love. If we know that your aim is to better us or our relationship, we will really try to take it in stride. And if we’ve hurt you, please tell us.

13. Inspire us.

I have never been drawn to someone I wasn’t inspired by. I also couldn’t ever be in a relationship with someone who wasn’t passionate about what they do. The ability to inspire is probably one of the things I appreciate most in others. It is the kind of person I hope to be and so I seek the same in the people I hold in my inner circle.

How to love this part of us: Share your ideas with us. ENFPs are types who often fall in love with a person’s mind. We want to encourage growth in you as much as we want you to help us grow. By sharing your dreams with us, we will know how to support you in not only your future plans, but also in your every day life.

14. Be a safe place for us.

The world is noisy, and we are often adding our own form of noise to it. At the end of the day, security is everything for us. We need to know that we have a retreat or escape from the rest of the world when things seem just a little bit chaotic or on days when we feel too much. Knowing that we are a safe place for you to land is equally important to us.

Why Introverts Make Great Leaders

When I was younger, I thought it was important to be successful. So I worked hard to make sure that it happened. I did well in school, engaged in multiple social and service-oriented organizations, and I tried really, really hard not to seem like an introvert.

I’ve always known I was an introvert. I was the kid who told her mom to make up a reason I couldn’t go to a friends house so I could stay home and finish reading Little Women instead. I seriously thought I was going crazy during my first year in college until I figured out that this was because I was not allowing myself any alone time, ever. But even though I knew this, I had this idea that being an introvert was a bad thing, and if I wanted to be a successful leader someday, I would have to overcome it.

Then one day I discovered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. I obsessively started reading about personality psychology, extroversion and introversion, and specifically my personality type, INFJ. I started realizing that being an introvert wasn’t a curse, and it could actually be a strength if I accepted it as part of who I am and stopped pretending to be someone I wasn’t.

Several successful leaders of the past and present have been and are introverts. Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, Eleanore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, to name a few. But great leadership has nothing to do with extroversion or introversion (although I think some of the extroverted leaders in my first post-college job in marketing and sales would tell you otherwise — I ran out of fingers to count the number of times they told me how much potential they saw in me, if only I would talk more).

However, there are several qualities that introverts share, that if utilized in their professional life, can help them excel as leaders.

1. They embrace alone time. It’s pretty much a given to anyone who understands introversion and extroversion that introverts need time alone. Not only does this recharge our social batteries, but it is often when we do our best thinking, planning, strategizing and creative work. Just as extroverts may thrive in a big brainstorming session with others, introverts thrive in solitude. This quality actually makes introverts a great and necessary part of a team, because we often recognize initial ideas as more than what they are, and we like to spend a lot of time on our own working out how to make them even better.

2. They are always prepared. Because introverts typically dread things like big client meetings, special events, or giving speeches, we always make sure that we are more than a little prepared for those situations. I have worked with several extroverts who have more of a go-with-the-flow approach, which often works great for them, but occasionally a question or comment came up that caught them off-guard, and then the introverted young employee in the corner (i.e., me) would shuffle through her notes and help them with the answer. This quality serves as a great leadership skill for introverts as well.

3. They are often great diplomats. Because many introverts have experienced situations in which they felt unseen and unheard, they try to make sure that others don’t feel that way. Especially in leadership roles, introverts make it a priority to ensure that everyone on their team has a voice, and they often recognize qualities in their team members that others might not.

4. They are incredibly knowledgeable. No, I do not believe that all introverts are smarter than all extroverts. But introverts who thrive in leadership roles do so based less on charm and charisma and based more on their high mental and/or emotional intelligence. It’s not like introverts spend all that alone time just staring at the wall. Truly successful introverts spend it reading, studying, and thinking of ways to improve their craft, which makes them a great source of information and guidance for other employees.

As an introvert, what qualities do you have that help you to succeed in your career?

Image Credit: Flickr

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an Introvert


Reckless or frugal? Introverts, how do you allocate your energy budget?

In a couple of weeks, I will spend four days at a music festival sleeping in a tent, attempting to cope with a bombardment of people, noise, and shall we say, the “earthy” facilities.

I will be performing there, as I have done a few times over the past ten years.

It’s one of the most energy-draining weeks of my year. It completely beats every ounce of energy from my being, and I end up a useless shell of a man for a long time afterwards.

I know what you’re thinking… why the hell do I do it!?

It has been extremely useful to discover why events like festivals leave me drained and shattered. Over the past three years I’ve learned more about my introverted and highly sensitive temperament, which has given me a new understanding of how I function effectively.

But while having a sense of context for how I know I will feel, I won’t stop doing it unless and until I no longer gain the deeper, big-picture creative energy that I get from doing work like that.

The black and white notion that tells us “people/social situations drain us, spending time alone re-energizes us” is not as clear cut as it might initially seem.

Relationships Underpin All Human Experience

I spend a lot of time working alone, and I do so very happily. But as someone who comes out as 100 percent introverted on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (click here to take a similar personality test — it’s free) even I have moments when extended creative periods on my own deplete my energy, leaving me craving and even needing the company of other people to get me going again.

Humans are relational by nature. Everything we do happens within a social context and no choice or decision, however small, is ever made completely free of an impact on others.

It’s really important for us to remember that even if we mainly renew our physical and mental energy during time spent alone, we will still need stimulation from other people and situations from time to time in order to ignite a deeper creative spark. I sometimes find it useful to think of this in terms of the potential “return on energy investment.” Because even though it might not feel immediately obvious, splashing out and spending your energy on certain things/people can have enormously positive implications.

“Writers are first and foremost observers. We lose ourselves in the watching and then the telling of the world we find. Often we feel on the fringes, in the margins of life. And that’s where we belong. What you are a part of, you cannot observe.”  Lisa Unger

I believe that all creative types are first and foremost observers. We see the world around us and feel a deep longing and compulsion to transform little aspects of it.

The link between creativity and being an observer is why it is such a natural fit for many introverts and highly sensitive people. As observers on the fringes of life, it is often true that we seek creative ways to express, communicate, and bring change to a world in which we don’t always necessarily feel at home.

Creativity happens when we soak up the energy of the world around us. It can be painful. It may be overwhelming. It will more than likely temporarily deplete our physical and emotional reserves. But it is necessary because we find a deeper energy that we can use to create, grow, and develop ourselves and our work. And it all starts at a point of observation.

The Baby and the Bath Water

It’s important to acknowledge that not all relationships are created equally.

Yes, there are people who will suck your basic energy and your deeper creative energy — those who are not good for either. They are the people who leave you feeling drained, uninspired, and without motivation to do what you feel put on this earth to do. And it’s important to recognize these relationships so you can minimize the effect that they have on your life.

But there are other people. Positive people. Those who inspire, challenge, and provoke us to do our work, to become the best versions of ourselves, and to constantly seek growth and development. They are the people we need to make plenty of time for.

And it’s not just people either.

There are also activities and places that, while they might drain us of our immediate resources, they bring life and long-term nourishment to our lives.

For me this happens when I attend the festival I mentioned, or certain conferences; when I go traveling, and when I watch a live sport in person. While I find them largely overwhelming activities to do for long periods, after the stimulation hangover clears a few days later, I am usually left feeling renewed, creative, and more inspired than I would if I hadn’t done them.

So be on the look out for the things and people that bring you deeper soul-quenching energy, and make time for them. No excuses. It’s a vital part of our life-long creative process.

If you are like me, as an introvert, you may well enjoy extensive and deep conversations with certain friends or family members — those with whom you tend to “put the world to rights.” And if you’re anything like me, these conversations are draining. Yet they also nourish me and serve a deep need for that kind of interaction.

It’s important not to allow how we think we should manage our energy dictate how we spend it 100 percent of the time, because we can end up allowing the baby, and lots of creative inspiration, to slip out with the bath water. We must genuinely consider the implications of how we manage and budget our energy, especially if we want to properly “lose ourselves in the watching and then the telling of the world we find.”

Over to You

Are you a saver or a spender? What and who do you spend your energy on? Do you find yourself energized more deeply as a result, or are you left drained and uninspired?


10 Secrets of the INFJ, the Rarest Personality Type

The INFJ is the rarest of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, making up only 1-2 percent of the population. People who identify as INFJs are deeply complex, highly sensitive individuals. They ask the questions that others aren’t asking, such as, “Why are we here?” and “What is the meaning of this life we live?”

In relationships, INFJs can be warm and friendly. They are generally well-liked by the people who are privileged to know them. Yet at other times, they can be distant and analytical, retreating into themselves. INFJs often grow up feeling profoundly different from other people. They care deeply about others and like being a part of a community. Yet because of their “big picture” perspective on life, they may always feel like an outsider looking in.

(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)

Like a rose, an INFJ has many layers. They will probably not reveal all those layers to you right away. However, the longer you are in an INFJ’s life — and if the INFJ trusts you — the more petals you will discover, all the while moving further inward toward the core of the INFJ’s true self. Sometimes even INFJs don’t fully understand themselves. So let’s take a look at some of the “secrets” of what it means to be an INFJ personality type.

Secrets of the INFJ Personality Type

1. INFJs feel profoundly misunderstood.

INFJs, do you feel like people rarely “get” you? When you start to talk about something you care about, do you notice others failing to grasp why it really matters? If so, you’re not alone. Many INFJs feel deeply misunderstood.

The reason many people are not on the same wavelength as the INFJ is because the INFJ’s dominant function is Introverted Intuition (Ni). (A personality type’s “dominant function” is the primary way that person takes in and processes information. It’s the main way a person interacts with the world.) Ni subconsciously notices patterns; specifically, INFJs notice patterns related to human nature, because their secondary function, Extroverted Feeling (Fe), orients them toward people. Ni works mysteriously and subconsciously. It allows the INFJ to know information without knowing why or how they know it.

Their “sixth sense” can be difficult to explain to other people, says personality profiler Antonia Dodge, who co-owns Personality Hacker. Often INFJs give up trying to explain their ability. Or they don’t try at all, because they know how unusual it sounds. This leaves them feeling isolated and misunderstood.

2. INFJs absorb other people’s emotions.

INFJs, has this ever happened to you? You’re going through life, feeling fine. But then, a close friend calls you. She’s really struggling with something — she and her boyfriend broke up, or her boss insulted her. The more you talk, the more you feel your own mood deflating. When you get off the phone, you’re rattled and preoccupied with anxious thoughts.

This situation happens frequently to INFJs, says Dodge, because they tend to take on other people’s emotions. No other Myers-Briggs personality type has this unique ability. Some INFJs even report absorbing the emotions of strangers. An INFJ may suddenly feel grumpy, only to look around the room and discover a grumpy-looking person has just walked in. The closer the person is emotionally to the INFJ, like a spouse or best friend, the more likely it is that the INFJ will absorb that person’s mental state.

To feel not only your own strong emotions, but those of other people, too, can be overwhelming. But the INFJ’s ability can also be used to bring emotional healing and comfort to others. “The ability to unconsciously absorb other people’s emotions with very little information to go on — how is that not a super power?” says Dodge. “INFJs have the ability to get inside the suffering of others and tell them it’s going to be okay.”

3. INFJs have amazing long-range forecasting abilities.

Sometimes INFJs may feel like prophets or fortune-tellers. That’s because Ni helps them see the big picture, notice patterns, and make predictions for the future based on the patterns they’ve observed. For example, let’s say an INFJ meets a new love interest. Right away — possibly within minutes — they start predicting where the relationship could go. Could they see themselves marrying this person or would it just be a fling? If they don’t think the relationship will bring the desired outcome, “they may immediately cut themselves off from that relationship,” explains Joel Mark Witt, co-owner of Personality Hacker. However, INFJs are not actually psychic. They see what could be — not necessarily what will happen with absolute certainty. But mature INFJs have honed their forecasting abilities well.

4. Though they are Feelers, INFJs can easily access their Thinking ability.

INFJs often mistype as INTJs, the “Thinking” twin of the INFJ. Although INFJs are indeed people-oriented, due to their third function, Introverted Thinking (Ti), they are also analytical and scientific. They may enjoy careers in technology, the sciences, and research. Because Fe is second in their functional stack and Ti is third, these two functions are fairly balanced in the INFJ. Indeed, INFJs don’t outwardly appear as emotional as an ENFJ or ESFJ, whose Feeling function is their dominant function. An INFJ might lament that they are “too emotional for the Thinkers but too logical for the Feelers.” But this common sense comes in handy, making INFJs generally balanced and well-rounded.

5. One of their greatest strengths is their ability to create intimacy.

In the presence of casual acquaintances, INFJs might come across as quiet and reserved. Remember, they usually don’t open up to people right away. But INFJs are actually extremely relational. Because they can feel other people’s pain and joy, they are able to truly walk in another person’s shoes like no other personality type can. This ability to empathize creates strong bonds of intimacy, says Dodge.

6. INFJs are true introverts.

INFJs are sometimes called the “extroverted introverts” or even ambiverts. They get this nickname because they can be passionate, enthusiastic, and talkative when they are in the presence of someone they feel comfortable with. Likewise, when they are fighting for a cause they believe in — like asking people to sign a petition to end animal abuse — they may come across as extroverts. However, INFJs are true introverts who prefer to have a small circle of friends. And introverts by definition need plenty of downtime to recharge their batteries.

7. INFJs are sensitive to conflict.

Fe makes INFJs seek harmony in their relationships. They strive to create good feelings whenever they interact with someone. So when conflict arises — especially in close relationships — INFJs can become extremely distressed. They may have trouble sleeping or lose focus at school or work. They may even feel the stress of the conflict physically in their bodies, getting headaches, muscle aches, upset stomaches, etc. This does not mean INFJs should avoid conflict by becoming passive pushovers or constant people-pleasers. INFJs should set boundaries and stick up for their own needs. They can do this in a way that’s diplomatic, using the warmth and understanding that flow naturally from their Fe.

8. INFJs know a lot about people.

Ni and Fe work together to gather information about people. But INFJs don’t just remember when someone’s birthday is or how they take their coffee; INFJs use Ni to penetrate below the surface. They get into other people’s heads and figure out what makes them tick. For example, they understand that the emotional pain their friend is experiencing stems not just from their ex’s recent unkind words but also from a deep fear of not feeling valued. They often know when someone is lying even to themselves. INFJs are not consciously aware of how they know so much about other people, and they rarely reveal the depth of their knowledge.

9. Many relationships are one-sided for INFJs.

INFJs tend to be great listeners because they truly care about other people. Likewise, they enjoy helping others understand their emotions and grow. They’re nicknamed “the Counselor” for a reason. Unfortunately, this may result in the INFJ’s relationships becoming one-sided. Other people come to the INFJ when they need to vent. Or they may take advantage of the INFJ’s desire to help. One day, the INFJ wakes up and wonders why their relationships are so draining. The people in the INFJ’s life are getting so much out of the relationship but the INFJ is getting little in return. What INFJs need is relationships that are a two-way exchange of fulfillment, support, and understanding.

10. INFJs are looking for their soul mates.

INFJs desire to connect deeply with others. Shallow, one-sided relationships won’t do. Likewise, because they are introverts, they have limited social energy. So INFJs look for friends or a partner who are their “soul mates.” These are people who truly click with the INFJ and can feed their very real need for authentic connection, intimacy, and meaningful conversation. However, INFJs often struggle to create the kind of relationships they desire. When they do find people with whom they truly connect, it feels like a miracle.

More INFJ Resources

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How INFJs and INFPs make decisions differently

In the Myers-Briggs family of personality types, INFJs and INFPs are like siblings. Both personalities are highly emotionally intelligent, and it seems they were put on this planet for the same purpose: to help everyone else understand the human condition in a profound way. These two rare types are so similar that it can be hard to tell the difference between them. Many INFJs mistype as INFPs, and vice versa.

At first glance, it looks like the INFJ and INFP have everything in common except the last letter of their four-letter type name. But really, these types are like opposite sides of the same coin. One of their biggest differences is how they make decisions.

Similar letters, but opposite functions.

These two personalities don’t share any of the same functions, explains INFJ blogger Megan Malone in her post, Type Analysis: INFJ or INFP?

“Functions,” in Myers-Briggs speak, are the preferred ways of thinking a given personality type uses to gather information from the outside world and make decisions.

From MemeGenerator.net
From MemeGenerator.net

The INFJ’s functions, in order of most dominant to least dominant, are:

  1. Introverted intuition
  2. Extroverted feeling
  3. Introverted thinking
  4. Extroverted sensing

INFPs use:

  1. Introverted feeling
  2. Extroverted intuition
  3. Introverted sensing
  4. Extroverted thinking

These two types are similar in many ways because they’re both introverts who use feeling and intuition as their top two functions.

Their differences come down to the order and the direction of their functions — the INFJ’s intuition is introverted and feeling is extroverted, while the INFP’s intuition is extroverted and feeling is introverted.

Both types look inward to make decisions.

Because they’re both introverts, INFJs and INFPs look inward to make decisions, but they look at different things.

INFJs make decisions by waiting for introverted intuition to make things clear by providing them with sudden “aha!” moments, explains personality profiler Antonia Dodge, co-owner of Personality Hacker, in her post INFP vs INFJ: 5 Surprising Differences to Tell Them Apart.

INFPs make decisions by checking their “emotional temperature.”

They use different functions in the decision-making process.

Introverted intuition, the INFJ’s dominant function, is a learning process that works by watching one’s own mind form patterns.

After years of use, introverted intuition sees the “pattern of patterns,” so to speak, and INFJs understand that what is happening inside them cognitively is also happening for other people.

The INFP’s go-to function is introverted feeling, which works by being deeply in touch with how events emotionally impact the INFP.

Both can struggle to make decisions, but for different reasons.

The INFJ’s introverted intuition is a perceiving process, which means it’s a function that gathers information. Decisions are made using a judging process  — either a feeling or thinking function.

So, INFJs must use their second function, extroverted feeling, to make decisions. Using a secondary function is not as easy as using a dominant function, so INFJs may struggle with indecisiveness if they haven’t developed extroverted feeling well enough.

INFPs want every decision they make to align with their personal values and identity. A decision as simple as what to order at a restaurant can become a frustration if, say, their relationship with food has become a part of how they define themselves, explains Dodge.

It can be grueling for INFPs to be pressured to make a quick decision, because they haven’t had time to evaluate how the situation fits with their values.

It’s only through checking their own visceral emotional reaction that INFPs know how a decision aligns with them, so usually they don’t know if a decision is right for them or not until after they’ve made it.

However, each decision and its emotional impact is catalogued in the INFP’s mind, and little by little, decisions get easier and faster.

Because INFJs are more removed from their decision-making process, they don’t struggle as much with day-to-day decisions, because not every decision is a reflection of their identity.

Thanks to introverted intuition, INFJs can see problems from many different perspectives. Being able to see too many sides of an issue, however, can make it difficult for INFJs to make a final call.

Further complicating the INFJ’s decision-making process are the feelings of other people involved in the situation. INFJs take other people’s emotions into account just as much as — and sometimes more than — their own emotions. INFJs strive to make decisions that are win-win not only for themselves, but also for any other people involved (although this isn’t always realistically possible).

As always with personality psychology, keep in mind that your own experiences, circumstances, and willpower shape who you are, and no two INFJs or INFPs will be exactly alike.

Image credit: Deviant Art (la-child)

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an Introvert


How INFJs and INFPs deal with emotions differently

Are you an INFJ personality type? Or maybe you’re an INFP. Unless you understand the subtle differences between these two Myers-Briggs personality types, it can be hard to decide which one you are. Both types are sensitive, creative, and compassionate. They care deeply about humanity and seem to possess an almost magical ability to understand and empathize with others. However, one difference is the way they deal with emotions—both their own feelings and the feelings of others. (Not sure if you’re an INFJ, an INFP, or one of the other 16 personality types? Take this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker to find out.)

INFJs absorb emotions.

If you’re an INFJ, you might feel like you’re a sponge who soaks up the emotional energy of other people. Empathy has been described as “your pain in my heart,” and for the INFJ, this description couldn’t be more true. Whether it’s a friend, a foe, or even a stranger you encounter in a restaurant or while walking down the street, you have the uncanny ability to detect and empathize with the emotions of others. Sometimes you feel others’ emotions so strongly that you experience them in your body as if they were your own. You may not even realize that you do this, because you’ve been doing it automatically your whole life.

INFJs use their dominant function, introverted intuition, to understand other people’s perspectives (the “dominant function” of any personality type is that type’s preferred way of thinking, gathering information, or interacting with the world). The INFJ’s secondary function (or second most-used way of thinking) is extroverted feeling, which puts other people’s emotions on their radar all the time.

Literally. All. The. Time. INFJs often report not being able to turn off this super power even when they want to. They’re always aware—sometimes hyper-aware—of how the people around them feel. This is especially true when INFJs are physically close to someone, like in the same room.

From INFJ Doodles
From INFJ Doodles

“This isn’t post-processing emotional experience,” explains personality profiler Antonia Dodge, co-owner of Personality Hacker. “It’s an emotion hitting the INFJ due to energetic proximity.”

In part, this explains why even though INFJs tend to be very social, they frequently retreat from others and spend time alone. This can surprise and hurt those close to the INFJ, who feel the INFJ is withdrawing from them and withholding time and attention. In reality, absorbing other people’s emotions is draining, so INFJs must get away from others to stop this process for a while and recharge. Being bombarded by other’s emotions also means it can be difficult for INFJs to tune into their own feelings. Spending time alone allows INFJs to reconnect with their own emotions and reflect on them.

As an INFJ, your ability to absorb others’ emotions is a super power that inspires incredible compassion and empathy for others. However, with great power comes great responsibility, or in your case, great opportunities to become overwhelmed and exhausted. Make sure you care for yourself and make decisions that are respectful of your own feelings and needs. Stay in touch with your own feelings by getting them out of your head. When you feel strongly, try talking about your emotions with someone you trust, and if no one is available, write about how you feel, then read your own writing. Whatever you do, don’t internalize your strong emotions, as introverts and INFJs tend to do. Because of your extroverted feeling function, you’ll feel at your best when you can, appropriately, release your emotions by expressing them outwardly.

INFPs mirror emotions.

On the other hand, if you’re an INFP, you’re extremely in touch with your own feelings because of your dominant function, introverted feeling. You don’t absorb other’s emotions directly like INFJs, but instead, you put yourself in other people’s shoes and imagine how you’d feel in a similar situation. Mature INFPs do this with incredible accuracy, because they’ve been mapping feelings within themselves their entire lives, explains Dodge. Because internally mirroring other’s emotions is so easy for INFPs, they may be surprised to learn that other people can’t come close to doing what they do. Furthermore, because of their introverted feeling function, INFPs are more private about their feelings and reactions, believing that their emotional experience is something very personal and sacred. They don’t share their feelings with just anybody.

Unlike INFJs, INFPs don’t have to be with someone in real time to reproduce their emotions. In fact, INFPs often have a special relationship with art, music, movies, and literature, because they can easily recreate within themselves the feelings of the characters or actors. They’re incredibly moved by artistic works in a way that few other types experience. This often propels INFPs to be quite artistic and creative themselves. They use writing, music, or art to recreate their own feelings for the world to experience—and they do it with surprising depth and accuracy.

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Why Intuitive Introverts Need Meaningful Work

If you’ve ever dreamed of more than just earning a paycheck — and instead embarking on your life’s calling — you’re far from alone. That’s because many introverts, especially intuitive ones, have a strong need for meaningful, intrinsically-rewarding work that allows them to act authentically.

Of course, many extroverts also crave meaningful work. However, for introverts, that feeling is often even more intense. That’s likely due to introverts being more sensitive to the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine than extroverts. As a result, they just don’t crave the same things that extroverts chase, like popularity, money, and status. Sure, they want a good paycheck, too, and they’d love to get that promotion, but introverts tend not to seek these things out in and of themselves.

What makes matters worse is other people may not understand the introvert’s need for authenticity on the job. This may lead well-meaning friends or family members to pressure them to take the faster or more traditional route to financial success. (“Why don’t you become a lawyer like your father!”) Once again, introverts are left feeling alone, isolated, and misunderstood.

What role does personality type play in the introvert’s need for meaningful work — and how can introverts discover authenticity on the job? Let’s take a closer look.

The Role of Personality Type

The need for meaningful work tends to be especially strong among individuals who identify as one of the four introverted intuitive personality types in the Myers-Briggs system, i.e. an INFJ, INFP, INTJ, or INTP.

Intuitive introverts have an innate need to identify and hold firm to their own preferences and convictions. They’re wary of “selling out” or “selling their soul” just for the sake of a paycheck, explains Personality Junkie blogger Dr. A. J. Drenth.

This isn’t to say that ISFJs, ISFPs, ISTJs, and ISTPs (the “sensing” introverts) don’t want their jobs to be meaningful as well. Sensing introverts want to know that what they do matters, too — and SJ types especially want to know that they’re getting results. The key difference is, sensors don’t have as high a need for authenticity compared to intuitives, according to Dr. Drenth.

(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)

Of course, when it comes to personality type, always keep in mind that a system like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator only describes a person’s general characteristics, so things may be different for you, depending on your circumstances. You might be an INFJ who’s completely content with her traditional 9-5 job because you see how your routine work helps advance a greater cause. Or maybe you’re an ISFP who feels stifled in your career and dreams of a job that allows you to pursue your own creative interests. Personality type is only one factor in explaining why some people strongly crave meaningful work.

Look Inward to Find Direction

Finding the right career can be a difficult, drawn-out process for intuitive introverts. It’s not unusual for them to choose one, settle in, then later change their minds and decide it wasn’t the right path for them after all. Often, this cycle repeats many, many times before they’ve found their calling.

Especially at a young age, intuitive introverts tend to feel they must discover exactly what it is they have to offer the world before they can choose a meaningful career path. As introverts, they turn inward, trusting themselves and their convictions more than they trust the external world.

“They see self-knowledge as a prerequisite to authentic action,” writes Dr. Drenth in his eBook, My True Type. “Without an adequate map of themselves, they feel lost and aimless. For them, external circumstances are far less important than self-understanding and self-direction.”

But once they have a strong sense of who they are and what they should be doing, they feel they can be happy almost anywhere.

Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to look to the external world for inspiration and direction. Many of them are naturally more concerned with fitting in or keeping pace with what others are doing. As a result, extroverts are often quicker to choose a career path — and may be quicker to reach certain financial milestones.

Self-Knowledge Takes Time

If you’re an intuitive introvert, you know the downside of trying to discover who you are — it can take a long time. Clearly defining yourself and your career path can feel like stumbling around in the dark or shooting at a constantly moving target.

Eventually, many introverts are feel forced to make certain choices or settle for a job that’s far from ideal.

They may experience a sort of divided life comprised of their “day job,” on the one hand, and their true passions on the other. This situation is common and often unavoidable, but it’s still extremely frustrating for intuitive introverts who want their inner self to be accurately reflected outwardly, where it can be seen, appreciated, and validated by others.

Without that external validation, intuitive introverts may feel incomplete, being unable to reconcile their inner self with the persona they show to the world.

Meaningful Career Ideas for Introverts

So what’s an intuitive introvert to do?

Unfortunately, there’s no quick answer or even one definite path to success. But if you’re looking for your calling, one solution is to consider a creative or entrepreneurial career that gives you plenty of independence. Many introverts thrive in self-made positions that involve writing, music, design, technology, coaching, or consulting — really, anything that allows them to share their inner world and interact meaningfully with others.

Creative work allows individuals to “harness their emotions without getting lost in them, not only producing something beautiful but discovering who they are,” suggest Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, authorities on the Enneagram and authors of the book Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery. “In the moment of inspiration, they are, paradoxically, both most themselves and most liberated from themselves.” 

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3 Reasons It’s Hard for Introverts to Find Meaningful Work

Finding a meaningful job or career is of great importance to introverts. Perhaps more than anything else, they seek work that allows them to be their authentic selves and to “do what they are.”

They want their career to incorporate and embody their personal values, interests, talents, and personality. In order for them to feel whole, introverts want their outer life to reflect and represent their inner life. As long as others can’t see them for who they really are, they are apt to feel incomplete and dissatisfied.

It is therefore unfortunate that many introverts struggle to translate their inner life and talents into a career that is both personally satisfying and financially rewarding. In this post, I will explore what I see as the top three career challenges for introverts.

1. The Self-Knowledge Problem

Since introverts want a career that reflects and builds upon who they are, the first step, in their minds, is to clarify their identity. Indeed, finding a career and “finding themselves” is, in many  respects, one and the same thing for introverts.

Unfortunately, many discover that finding themselves is not as easy as one might think. In today’s complex and pluralistic world, clarifying one’s identity, values, and worldview is no small task. In my recent article, Introverts’ vs. Extraverts’ Career Paths, I refer to this as introverts’ “self-knowledge problem.”

This problem is really twofold in nature. Not only does it point to the inherent challenges of understanding oneself, but also the problem of having to act with incomplete knowledge. Unlike extroverts, who may ignore the “look before you leap” dictum, introverts want to know in advance if they are headed in the right direction. They may thus go about gathering information ad infinitum, feeling they are never quite prepared to take decisive action.1

Because their search for self may consume years, even decades, of their lives, introverts are often forced to settle for a “day job,” hoping that one day they will find their true self, and along with it, their true calling. Settling for a day job is never entirely satisfying to introverts, which can feel like a waste of time, or worse, like “selling their soul.”

Fortunately, there are a few ways introverts can expedite their search for self, one of which is to identify and understand their personality type. While it is true that all introverts have some measure of personal uniqueness, they also share many important similarities in the form of their personality type. It is for this reason that knowing their type obviates the need to completely “reinvent the wheel” with respect to understanding themselves. My latest e-Book, My True Type, focuses specifically on helping individuals identify and understand their personality type (e.g., INFP), as well as their type’s preferences (e.g., I, N, F, P) and functions (e.g., Fi, Ne, Si, Te).

2. Reconciling Authenticity and Marketability

Introverts and extroverts take opposite approaches to life. In seeking direction for their lives and careers, extroverts look outside themselves. They are moved and directed by the winds of the world. If the winds start blowing in a new direction, the extrovert will naturally change course accordingly, especially the EP personality types.

An ostensible advantage of this approach is popularity and worldly success. By attuning to the needs and desires of others, extroverts can more readily modify their approach and products to maximize desirability, as well as profit margins.

Introverts, by contrast, are guided by their own inner compass. Focused largely on their own interests, they can be somewhat oblivious to the world around them. Their primary objective is to follow their own interests wherever they lead. Thinking about what others want from them is usually more of an afterthought. This can lead to high levels of self-awareness, as well as to the development of specialized knowledge and skills.

While the introverted approach has its advantages, because of its highly specialized or idiosyncratic character, introverts may struggle to find a market for their work. This is especially true for intuitive introverts (INFJs, INTJs, INFPs, and INTPs), whose products or services are often ideational and therefore harder to attach a price tag to.

And it is here we encounter the proverbial “starving artist.” Starving artists are often introverted and may suffer from the fact that:

  1. The specialized nature of their work may be difficult for others to understand or appreciate, and/or
  2. They put too little thought or effort into marketing or popularizing their work.

They desperately want to believe that their work will “speak for itself.” And while there is certainly some validity in this idea, the fact remains that if only a few people are exposed to their work, its influence will be limited.

But what about the Internet and social media? Aren’t these the great levelers for introverts? Can’t introverts simply publish their work and wait for it to spread like wildfire? Perhaps to some extent. Any introvert can now easily publish or advertise his or her work with just a few mouse clicks.

But to say that the Internet is the great equalizer is to overlook the more fundamental truth that introverts are often ahead of, or on a different wavelength than, their contemporaries, and are less interested in catering or peddling their work to others. Like it or not, the internet is still dominated by the most popular and the most powerful, many of whom are extroverts (or large institutions).

Introverts who are keen to this reality are faced with some tough choices. One option is to simply follow their bliss and hope for the best, acknowledging the possibility of forever remaining starving artists.

Another option involves joining forces with a company or institution that can take care of certain extroverted matters, such as sales and marketing. While this option could be an ideal one if the organization were to afford the introvert full creative freedom, this is rarely the case. Both for-profit and non-profit institutions realize that certain types of ideas or projects are apt to sell better than others. This means the introverted employee will, at least to some extent, be asked to conform to the needs and objectives of the organization. So although joining a company may solve some of the introvert’s extroverted problems (e.g., monetizing their work), it may require an undesired compromising of their introverted ideals.

Another option for introverts is to select a specialty area with good prospects as far as popular appeal or earning potential. The problem with this approach is it puts the extroverted cart before the introverted horse. Remember, introverts strive to fashion a career around their personal interests, not the other way around. The exception to this might involve introverts whose primary goal is to achieve fame, wealth, or power. For them, looking around for the optimal market would ostensibly align with their inner values.

In light of the above, it is probably fair to say that most introverts never fully resolve the fundamental problem of staying true to themselves, on the one hand, and finding a way to secure rewards and recognition for their work, on the other. While often frustrating, this tension is not always a bad thing, but can serve as an ongoing source of challenge and motivation.

3. Valuation and Promotion

Extroverts display ample confidence when dealing with others. Indeed, they are at their best when they “lose themselves” in external affairs. They rarely hesitate to charge “the going rate” (or more) for their products or services. Seeing the market as the primary determinant of value, if others are willing to pay top dollar for something, they see no reason to stop them.

While introverts typically understand the intrinsic value of their work, they may fail to see how, or to what degree, it is important or valuable to others. Even when they do sense its larger importance, they may feel anxious or guilty when it comes to pricing or selling it. Rather than pricing their own work, many feel it more authentic to allow others to decide what it is worth to them.

Hence, introverts may shy away from direct selling, which to them, not only feels inauthentic, but somewhat manipulative and smarmy. In this sense, introverts can be their own worst enemies when it comes to reaping material rewards for their labor.

This is undoubtedly why so many introverts are happy to pass the baton to others with respect to sales and marketing. Introverted authors, for instance, have long been content to publish their work through publishing companies. Without denying certain advantages of using a publisher (or record company, etc.), what seems to happen, more often than not, is introverts end up being severely undercompensated for their work, receiving only a meager percentage of total sales. This is another way introverts ostensibly “shoot themselves in the foot,” unwittingly allowing others to over-indulge in the fruits of their labors.3


1. This is highlighted, for instance, in the Enneagram type Five, and to a certain extent, the Four, both of which are characteristically introverted types.

2. Among introverted types, the desire for material wealth is most common among ISP types and is largely attributable to the values associated with Extroverted Sensing (Se).

3. And this is precisely why the idea of having an agent was born. Paying an agent, who is incentivized to work as the introvert’s advocate, is in many cases a better bet than simply accepting the first offer from a publisher, record company, etc. This points to another career option for the introvert, one which I failed to mention earlier: partnering with an extrovert. A potential downside of this option is that the extrovert may not fully understand the introvert’s work and thereby runs the risk of misrepresenting it. Hence, introverts may feel compelled to spend ample time educating or vetting their extroverted sidekick to ensure their work is accurately portrayed.

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Read this: Why Intuitive Introverts Need Meaningful Work


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