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How can I work less like an ESFP? And how can I get out more?

Tuesday June 14, 2022

Some personality type Q&A today….

How can I work less like an ESFP?

Jon writes,

When I’m in the office I work a lot like an ESFP. I like to feel that I’m constantly available and responding to issues as they come up. This is not ideal though, because it sets expectations poorly, among other things. Any pointers?

I know what you mean Jon. I’ve talked to a lot of INTJs who work in the same way. And it feels good in some important ways! But like you said, there are lots of downsides.

(Well, I guess unless you are looking for a fantastic way to reliably burn yourself out by 5 p.m.)

Some things to think about:

Scheduling action is taking action, and time is golden: It’s still helpful and responsive to say, “let’s discuss this for about ten minutes today, just before lunch”. This will give you time to think and let your thoughts settle (a huge one for introverts), and the same will be true for others. And maybe more importantly, that extra time can help you think in higher-level terms about the problem, for additional creativity and leverage.

You can personality-type the problem: In your downtime, break down your problems into problem-types, or groups of problems. Aim for 3-4 categories to start with. Then test different responses 1) in the moment and 2) when the appropriate discussion / problem-solving time has arrived. This will fold in some analysis and help you gain more leverage over the situation in general.

Start to bring others in on the solution: A huge ESFP issue is peacocking, and a huge introvert issue in general is making things all about one’s own perspectives. This combination can quickly turn against INTJs at work. It can also start to make others feel like they are being excluded. Try to find simple ways to show others you want to involve them, and that you trust them, even enough to make mistakes.

You may feel like you already know what they’ll say (Ni) or that you are constantly learning even though one else is (Te), or that you’re the martyr for the cause who must make all the difficult decisions (Fi). But IMO it’s worth it to start to learn to let others share your bad-decision space with you. :-)

How do I get out more?

Sarine writes,

I’m an INTJ and I don’t get out much, and that’s a problem. You’re probably just going to tell me to find balance in my life, but what can I do to get out more? I don’t like being outside. I like being in my apartment.

Sarine, first of all I would never, ever tell you to find balance in your life.

As a professional coach, I have come to really hate the word “balance.”

Balance is so overused as a (sloppy) mental model, and IMO is almost always easy to file in the category of discouraging, low-leverage advice (or self-advice!).

Whenever somebody tells me they probably need to find balance, it seems like they are signaling that they haven’t got a clue and feel like giving up. And I feel like saying, “blame that stupid word!”

So. With all that said.

Some ideas:

Make going out about your existing, favorite interests: Going out in this case should be as sweet as possible, in concept. It should be about going to shop for your favorite thing, for example.

Use your conceptualizing mind: Use your intuition (Ni) to visualize yourself coming home feeling good about what you just did, and then work backwards: What did you do?

Use your Fi and allow yourself to don’t-wanna: Embrace no-balance! Embrace I-don’t-wanna! Moan and BLEB about the issue and get that all out of the way. You’ll probably find that this turns some important gears behind the scenes.

Good luck Jon and Sarine!

Filed in: Productivity /119/ | Control /110/ | Te /36/ | Ni /42/ | Fi /34/ | Careers /39/ | Feeling /64/ | Energy /120/

Own your procrastination with Whole Productivity, a new system → Get my free INTJ COVID-19 Guide → Explore your gifts with my INTJ Workbook → Other Publications → ...and the fake word of the hour: "Ed." I think this is related to a lack of discipline.