You may be thinking to yourself, “A care guide for ENTJs? Aren’t they stereotypically super motivated and self-confident?” Seeing that title honestly feels strange to me because even I think that way. However, we’d be doing any type a huge disservice to boil them down to two adjectives and assume we summarized them with any level of accuracy or integrity. The truth is that we ENTJs have just as much need for healthy personal interaction as any other type, though we often don’t show or say that. Here is some insight for you to better understand the ENTJs in your life (Who are probably not very forthcoming about their emotional desires or needs!). Or, if you’re an ENTJ, some insight into yourself and how you might be able to interact more positively with yourself and others.
ENTJs and Our Relationship to Emotions
The best way to illustrate the depth of emotion that exists in myself (and I imagine many other ENTJs) is to explain that I initially typed as an ENFP when I discovered the Myers-Briggs typing system. I related so strongly to the descriptions of feeler types that I told myself ENFP was the type I related to most. I have always wanted to champion for other people and make sure that injustices were addressed and corrected. I should mention that I grew up in a family composed mostly of ExFPs who have a strong connection to Fi or “Authenticity.” This undoubtedly influenced my development and caused me to have a strong connection to my Authenticity process. The weird thing is that my efforts to express my emotions to others almost always missed the mark. I didn’t word things tactfully, and I offended a lot of people as a result. I had no way of understanding why this was happening; I thought I was acting in the best interest of myself and doing justice to those around me. It felt like no one really understood my intentions and just heard a guy with a loud voice and no filter when I spoke. Many times I was called insensitive. The cognitive dissonance caused by that little comment affected me in such a profound way that I actually started to own that flaw and flaunt it because doing so was much easier than feeling like I was failing at interpersonal communication. If I couldn’t express emotions properly, why not capitalize on my strength instead?
For a long time, I lived that way. I bulldozed people in conversation and used my relationship to “objective” truth to invalidate arguments that were based on feeling. It wasn’t until I became close to someone who called me out for doing this that I started to turn back around and let myself explore the abyss of terrifying emotions I had put a cap on for so long.
In my exploration of that abyss, I’ve discovered a lot of things. I reflected on my life and realized that many of my unhealthy friendships were negatively affecting me because I didn’t feel understood. Though I put a lot of effort into making it clear that friends and family are important to me, it seemed that some people just wanted to focus on my challenges. While the average ENTJ is likely able to withstand a barrage of criticisms, it still affects us when we are not regarded with positivity by those who love us.
Prioritizing the mental processes
If you are reading this, you are likely familiar with the Car Model.
The ENTJ uses:
- “Effectiveness” (Extraverted Thinking) as their Driver function,
- “Perspectives” (Introverted Intuition) as their Copilot function,
- “Sensation” (Extraverted Sensing) as their 10-year-old function, and
- “Authenticity” (Introverted Feeling) as their 3-year-old function.
When these functions are all healthy, and the ENTJ is referencing them in the proper order, they will achieve a good deal of sustainable progress towards their goals and feel great. There are a few ways in which I have noticed my own functions getting a bit out of whack and I imagine you may experience or witness similar challenges.
The worst of these challenges is that my Copilot Perspectives, when left to its own devices, will subconsciously form predictions of the future and cause anxious feelings. To avoid this anxiety, I reference my Effectiveness Driver and attempt to solve the problem by getting something done about it quickly. The issue here is that my Driver becomes subservient to my Copilot. Perspectives would create anxiety and using Effectiveness to correct that anxiety often led to unintended consequences. When these two functions are in correct working order, Effectiveness comes up with solutions to issues, and Perspectives evaluates them from several different angles, and in a more future-paced way. I have two suggestions to prevent the Driver function from serving the Copilot.
The first suggestion is to make sure you are aware of and taking care of that Copilot function. It’s like a muscle – so long as it is being used properly, it will grow and begin to take in more territory. Being aware of the function and its tendencies should help alleviate any potential anxiety that comes from it.
The second suggestion is that Effectiveness should assess the validity of any concerns that Perspectives concocts rather than being used to solve the perceived issue immediately. While Effectiveness is an action-oriented function, it is also very in-tune with objective data. Don’t try to resolve the problem right away – make sure that the issue is real first. Effectiveness is the Driver… let it drive!
Black and White Thinking
Hoo boy, this one is big. If you are an ENTJ and you don’t struggle with this, you are LUCKY. This is likely my largest personal obstacle to overcome.
When I say “Black and White Thinking,” what I’m referring to is the tendency for Extraverted Thinking to value its own understanding of conflict and how to solve it and invalidate any grey area that is suggested. Effectiveness does not like the middle ground. It much prefers decisive, non-ambiguous action in one direction or the other. Often Effectiveness will come up with one or two solutions to an issue that will certainly get the problem solved, but which require one person to give up their side almost completely (and it’s usually the other person!). When discussing conflict with others this can feel like entrapment. It seems like the ENTJ refuses to find a middle ground or a win-win situation. I believe this is where most ENTJs get their bad rap. The worst thing you can do as an ENTJ is to let Effectiveness use its power for evil and bully others into solutions they are not happy with. Tap into Perspectives and use it to see yourself from someone else’s eyes. Once I started that, my relationships started improving drastically.
ENTJs can seem so emotionally independent that we are perceived not to need or want to be taken care of. Of course, I can’t speak for all ENTJs. Still, my experience has been that I become much closer to people who recognize my emotional depth without expecting me to externalize my feelings constantly. Our perceived emotional prickliness can be off-putting and, in some cases, make people believe that we are heartless. We value logic, but we still want others to view us as good people with values and morals.
While the average ENTJ is quite capable of handling high expectations, and the occasional ego hit from not reaching those expectations, we still want and need compassion from others when we are not our best selves. We are much more likely to express our emotions in healthy and helpful ways to those we know we can trust not to abandon us.
A helpful concept that is not exclusive to the subject of this personality type is “Unconditional Positive Regard.” Unconditional Positive Regard is an idea that was developed by psychologist Carl Rogers which encourages the perspective that all humans are inherently good and are worthy of being regarded with positivity regardless of their words or actions. This is used in a range of different therapies but is useful to all people. Having this level of compassion is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. It is hard to forgive people that say or do bad things to us. Unconditional Positive Regard helps us all to have patience in situations where we might feel someone has done wrong to us. For the ENTJ, it is important to be surrounded by people who are capable of this level of patience and forgiveness, or at the very least are trying to.
For those of you who are not ENTJs but are reading this because you have one or more of them who are important to you, here are some tips for interacting with them
- Please be patient! We don’t always know when we’re stuck in tunnel vision “achievement mode,” and we usually don’t mean to be rude. Our instinct is to be frustrated because something is blocking us from making progress
- We appreciate loving remarks and compliments as much as any other type. Please let us know what we’re doing that makes you happy. As a type that values outer-world feedback, it means a lot to us when we are told we are competent. It might feel weird to tell someone that they’re skilled at interpersonal interactions, but that’s our language!
- Because we enjoy making progress, we usually love to hear what we could do better. However, like anyone else, we are more likely to respond well if this is communicated effectively.
- To follow along with that – If there’s something you’ve asked of an ENTJ to improve your relationship with them, let them know that you notice progress. If there’s no feedback that our attempts are working, we may abandon the effort in pursuit of a more achievable aspiration.
- Unconditional Positive Regard. We may not make this easy for you. In fact, we probably won’t. Just know that we’re good people with good intentions, and you mean more to us than we are likely to admit.
- Issues/conflicts are usually received well if they make us think about/communicate our behavior and intentions. A good question to ask is, “Did you mean to hurt/disrespect me when you did this?”
If you are an ENTJ yourself, know that you’re not alone! We’re usually so busy getting stuff done that we miss opportunities to create meaningful relationships with others. Here are some tips that might help with that:
- Take the time to focus less on achievement and more on connection. Try and recognize that though people may sometimes seem like roadblocks to your goals, cutting off those connections is not going to help you in the long run. People often get jobs or other opportunities through the connections they have made with other people. I once had someone say to me, “Human connection is the most important thing we’ll do in this life.” That hit home. If you focus on connection, you will likely achieve more without having to put in any additional effort.
- Try to work through the discomfort you feel when expressing your emotions. In my own application of that effort, I have found that others are responding in an overwhelmingly positive way. If it is important to you that others see you as a good person, you need to show them that you are worthy of being considered a good person. Don’t be afraid to tell people that things they’ve done have affected you (but try not to express this through anger!). Vulnerability will take you far.
- In the same way that I am suggesting for others to be patient with you, you should try and be more patient with others. Slow down! Don’t try to rush to conclusions using objective considerations. Remember that every person believes their actions are justified in their own eyes. Give them space. Seek to understand – that’s something our analytical brains are very good at!
- Don’t push down your 3-year-old Authenticity process so much! You likely have a natural desire to make things better for every single person and want to champion them, and that process is going to assist you in that effort. It’s ok to take some time to sit and stew on your feelings. Being more in touch with your own feelings will help you to understand others’ feelings.
As I am writing this, the thing that keeps running through my brain is that due to our tendency to value achievement over connection or tact, ENTJs can be seen in a dehumanized way. ENTJs can see others in a similarly dehumanized way because of that tendency. My challenge to you as the reader is that you attempt to fight those perceptions. ENTJs – it is ok to recognize that people can be resources so long as you remember that they are human beings with feelings the same as yours. Other types – remember that there’s a soft interior under that hard shell and try to get to that. I promise you won’t regret it.