People who have only been around me in a small group that is not a work or other goal oriented environment tend to view me as an introverted person. I know this because they have often commented on this to my dear partner Still Here Too and to others. I can fully understand why I appear to be so because in such an environment I find myself becoming very quiet externally. I may be quiet externally but I am generally internally very observant of the people I am with and how they are interacting.
People who are have been around me in a situation that is work or other goal oriented environment view me in a very different way and usually as a very extroverted person. In these situations I am most likely to seek to take over the conversation. If the interaction involves problem solving I will strive to lead the effort, especially if the group is having trouble focusing of the goal. I thrive on public speaking.
I have long felt that Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) testing offers a appropriate method to help understand and discuss one’s personality and behavior. As I have discussed before, I have taken MBTI a large number of times. I have tested essentially the same way each time I have taken the test. Extroversion (E) over Introversion (I) but not very strongly, Intuition (N) very strongly over Sensing (S), Thinking (T) strongly over Feeling (F), and Judgment (J) strongly over Perception ( P); in other words, an ENTJ with a little leaning towards an INTJ. I have tested this way over decades. I recently took a StengthsFinder assessment that suggested I might actually lean more toward INTJ than ENTJ. But so many MBTI assessments have come up ENTJ.
My interpretation of my behavior, leaning toward introverted in some environments and extroverted in others was that I was in MBTI terms an ENTJ but only mildly E over I, i.e. an ENTJ who was close to being and INTJ. However I read what Thorgar posted in a discussion on the topic “What are some differences between ENTJs and INTJs?” on the Personality Café forum and his comment lead me to believe I really must be an ENTJ. What Thorgar posted is:
INTJs usually come off as a lot more nerdy than ENTJs, although ENTJs can be pretty nerdy behind their more approachable and polished exteriors. Although there are exceptions, many ENTJs can be pretty reserved such that you might think they are introverts until you see them give a talk or work a party. They can be as reluctant as INTJs to share personal details with people they don’t know extremely well.
I think INTJs more often fall in love with ideas, while ENTJs are pretty focused on what utility the idea has rather than its intellectual merit. If there isn’t an immediate application, they lose interest.
INTJs can get excitable under stress, while ENTJs get even more calm and deliberate. I think INTJs are better at creative and “out of the box” thinking, while ENTJs are better at choosing a course and putting things into action.
The ENTJs I know are all very “programmed” and not very spontaneous. Everything is planned out weeks, months, and years in advance. I realize this is a TJ trait in general but ENTJs seem much more entrenched in this than INTJs.
When I read Thorgar’s comment, three points really made me feel as if I must be an ENTJ
- “ENTJs can be pretty reserved such that you might think they are introverts until you see them give a talk or work a party.” – this one should be clear from what I said above.
- “I think INTJs are better at creative and ‘out of the box’ thinking, while ENTJs are better at choosing a course and putting things into action.” – When I was in academics, I believe that I contributed much to the research efforts that I worked. However, I must admit that perhaps my biggest weakness was identifying the initial approach to take. My strength was in closing on a problem once a glimmer of an idea was in place. I could fill in the pieces better than most. I have had my share of original thoughts, but I would not compare myself to the best that I worked with. On the other hand, during my career I have driven more problems to the path to closure than most that I know.
- “INTJs more often fall in love with ideas, while ENTJs are pretty focused on what utility the idea has rather than its intellectual merit” – If one thing drove me out of Academic research it was the thought of having to build a career focused on one area of study that was definitely never going to lead to an actual application. The problems I worked on were challenging and fun to solve but were of interest only because they furthered Humankind’s knowledge of the physical universe. When I left I got to work on problems that lead to implementation in products, and then I got to work on problems in Business Development, and then I got to work on problems in Finance, and then I got to work on problems in personnel management, and then I got to work on problems in Business Planning, and then … and all of them had to be driven to closure and completeness with real constraints and deadlines.
I guess I am an ENTJ (and have an ego appropriate for one). For what it is worth, Thorgar is an INTJ.
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