Dear Personality Hacker,
I’ve been going through a reflective crisis for the past year, and it’s coming to a head. Just over a year ago I noticed that I struggle to make and then keep friendships. Those few I do make don’t always seem to fit and when they do they fizzle out. I feel really unlikeable and need some meaningful, long lasting connections in my life and more palatable day to day social interactions. I accept not everybody can be liked by everyone. But I see others with close friends, people who are sought out and don’t have to ‘chase’ friends, who get invited to the party, selected as bridesmaids, etc.
I’ve been soul searching for a while now, trying to come up with strategies and ENTJ info has made me feel less alone, but no one seems to offer up solutions.
If you could offer some advice, it would be appreciated.
My name is Kimberly, and I am an ENTJ. Your note describes a personal struggle we share. The few things I am going to share here are only based on my anecdotal experience, but you may find something useful among my thoughts on the topic.
Focus on finding places to go where you will likely find people you enjoy based on a shared activity. I used the military and mission trips in the past and more recently, martial arts and learning to profile using MB. The shared learning, the struggle, and being focused on a similar goal makes it easier. Sit me in a room to simply hang out, I am awkward and frequently unlikeable. In a group where my strengths are valued, I’m in motion toward a goal with a group, I am on FIRE. I’m still rough around the edges. I figure being myself from the start weeds out a few of the connections that will ultimately “fizzle out.” It saves me from wasting my time.
Once I am in a relationship, I work on asking more questions. I tend to jump into action or advice fix-it mode too fast. It’s a struggle for sure, but asking for what the person needs, helps me to be a better friend. Because I don’t always read people well, asking “Do you need me to listen?” has been useful. Also, asking for permission to get into action or enter troubleshooting mode prevents me from seeming as pushing or bossy. “Can I tell you what I am thinking?” or “Would you like me to help you troubleshoot?” I think giving unwanted “help” might be one of the reasons some people push me away. Oddly enough, they frequently come back when they are in a tight spot. Not sure if you have had this experience. I am the person people come to when they find out their spouse has been hitting the kids.
Here is a mindset that I have found useful in conversation. I recently read that one of Nelson Mandela’s strategies was to speak last. To only ask questions until everyone else was done talking. I have been giving this a go. MUCH harder than I thought it would be. But it allows me to hear people better and form a more palatable response before talking. This angle appeals to me because of the obvious strategical advantage involved.
What’s the best ENTJ type advice I can offer? Sink into your Copilot Ni (Introverted iNtuition) and be curious. Be interested in others, and they will find you interesting. I find people love talking about themselves. It’s one of the reasons I love MB. Profiling has given me a way to be fascinated by others, a line of questions to ask, and I find I am genuinely looking deeply into the person I am talking to in order to sort out their MB type. People have become a never ending puzzle. Turn that curiosity on yourself as well. See yourself with compassion. I tend to be harsh with my self-talk. No one wants to be around someone who doesn’t like themselves. You might have this down already, and this line of advice is TMI. Finding my self-compassion and treating myself as I would treat someone I was coaching through life was a game changer. Use the power of your Ni to see yourself and others more clearly.
If you can make a couple of solid connections, that would be amazing. If you have been lonely for a while, go slow. Let people gain your trust. Don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable until they earned the right to hear your story. Expect to fail. Try again. Fail better. No friendship is going to be perfect, but connecting has been worth facing my demons, and I hope your journey lands you in the same place. Face this challenge with all your ENTJ determination and grow into your curiosity. What do you have to lose?
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