Extraverted Intuition (Possibilities Seeker)
Extraverted Intuition is primary for ENFP and ENTP types. It is secondary for INFP and INTP types.
Extraverted Intuition is the part of the psyche that perceives possibilities latent in every situation, whether that situation is imagined, historical, or happening right now.
As an Intuitive function, it is pattern connecting, theoretical, conceptual, interpretive, and mostly future oriented.
As an Extraverted Perceiving function, it is novelty driven, spontaneous, divergent, and takes cues from external sources.
- It asks, “What are the possibilities?”
- It tends to diverge out into multiple imagined scenarios for any given situation. Each imagined scenario can also branch out into sub-scenarios. For instance, here are some possible scenarios: We could go to the park, take a drive, or stay in and watch a movie. Here are some sub-scenarios for going to the park: If we walk in the park, maybe we’ll see the squirrels battle for nuts, or maybe we could watch the sunset if we stay long enough, or we could bring a Frisbee and play with the neighbor kids. Extraverted Intuition says any or all of these could happen, or maybe none of them.
- The possibilities are focused on people, information, and things in a way that can be ultimately utilized in the outside world.
- The seeking of possibilities can reveal patterns, connections, theories, and concepts that may serve as useful guides for how things work. Einstein’s theory of relativity is one example.
- It tends to be very fast in the way it gathers information and generates ideas.
- Everything in the outside world is a potential springboard for possibilities. One thing, like a dinner table, could also be put to use as a ping pong table, a platform for changing light bulbs, and a barricade in a pillow fight. These associations are not symbolic but utilitarian, even as they are nontraditional.
- It is primarily focused on idea generation, not follow through. What’s actually created is often multitudes of ideas that might be brought to fruition by others. Leonardo da Vinci is a famous embodiment of Extraverted Intuition. Even though he completed several masterpieces, his ingenious and often incomplete sketches were legion. Another example is the late comedian Robin Williams whose comedy often consisted of an amazing string of random ideas. Walt Disney was another famous Extraverted Intuitor.
- It is primarily future focused, although it can also be used to entertain possibilities in the immediate situation or in the past. It could ask, “What were the possible ways Napoleon could have won the Battle of Waterloo?”
- It tends to be quick at pointing out what is missing in a pattern because it can recognize all the possibilities in the pattern.
- The possibilities that come to mind from Extraverted Intuition are often sketches of what could be, to be filled out later if that possibility is pursued.
Extraverted Intuition is the part of us that says things like:
- What if? Let’s play with possibilities just for the fun of it. What if all cars disappeared from the planet? What might we do?
- Let’s change it up. Extraverted Intuition is energized by change in the outer world. With more change, more possibilities and patterns emerge. Why not take a different route home today? Why not sleep in a different room? Move the position of your favorite chair, sit somewhere else, or get a new one.
- What could the future be like? The future is a great place because nothing has happened there yet. It’s all possibilities. Pure potential.
- Life is a rough draft. It’s all about what could be and is energized by variety. If one approach doesn’t work out, that’s okay, there are lots of other approaches one can try.
- Let’s try it and see. Experimentation is a great way to explore cause and effect.
- Here’s a different angle. It helps others see things from different points of view, often tying together seemingly unrelated ideas for insights.
- Prolific brainstormer. This function specializes in quick spinoffs of multiple possibilities.
- Flexibility. Decisions and patterns are held loosely. Options are often entertained continually, even after a decision has been made. Therefore, they are usually ready to change approaches on a dime. Projects are brought to completion by a series of iterations rather than a fixed plan.
- Spontaneity. Extraverted Intuitors prefer not to work on schedules, as possibilities must be adequately explored if anything is to be done properly.
- Catalyst. Extraverted Intuition excels at getting unstuck by listing out possible actions. It can be incredibly inventive in exploring options. It generates multiple possibilities for action on the spot. It can also excel in chaotic situations, since it continually sorts out an endless array of options.
- Positivity. It’s hard to be downhearted when there are so many options to explore.
- Initiator. Extraverted Intuition excels at the initial sketch of a possibility. Finishing the details is not what Extraverted Intuition does. People who are oriented toward Extraverted Intuition may have to shift into sensing or collaborate with someone who is oriented toward sensing to follow through with extensive detail work.
- Humor. It’s seemingly random and also quick to point out what’s wrong with the picture. Some of the great humorists lead with extroverted intuition, like Mark Twain, who once said, “I have been told that Wagner’s music is better than it sounds,” “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society,” and, “Be careful of health books, you may die of a misprint."
Working with Extraverted Intuitors
- Allow an iterative rather than linear process.
- Honor that it is helpful to let the imagination roam, even if initial ideas may seem disconnected or unhelpful. Treat it as a warm up phase.
- Tasks need to entertain new ideas and concepts.
- Encourage exploration of better ways to do things. Allow that the present routine might benefit from improvement.
- If you’re working with someone that leads with Extraverted Intuition, find someone else to do routine maintenance or detailed tasks.
- Allow variety in ways of working, even if it doesn’t seem to have purpose.
When Extraverted Intuition is used by types for which it is primary (ENTP, ENFP,) and secondary (INTP, INFP) the whole brain engages in a unique pattern called the Christmas Tree effect, also called transcontextual thinking. During transcontextual thinking, the whole brain engages at different levels of intensity. Those levels change by the second, so on an EEG monitor one sees a random, flashing multi-colored brain diagram. So far, this phenomena is unique to types that use that use extraverted intuition as their primary or secondary function. It happens more often for ENTP and ENFP types than it does for INTP and INFP types.
This Christmas Tree effect is much different than the flow states that other types achieve when engaging in their primary functions. According to Nardi’s experiments, Extraverted Intuitors can engage in these flow states only in scenarios that are highly rehearsed. For instance, an ENFP who had been dancing for 15 fifteen years went into a flow state when she merely imagined herself dancing a familiar routine.
“I must be sincere towards what I am. ... Experimenting is the only thing that fills me with enthusiasm. ... It is the only sphere where I feel really honest and sincere.” - Orson Welles
“What [I’m] attached to are journeys into the unknown and discovering things that are completely unexpected and baffling and surprising.” - Brian Cox (physicist)
“I always say: ‘Don’t make plans, make options.’” - Jennifer Anniston
“Everything’s changing, everything’s dynamic. ... You get this idea, and you get another idea, and this doesn’t work out and you have to replace it with something else.” - Steve Wozniak
“I didn’t fail, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” - Ben Franklin
“There’s nothing I know for sure, because I know for sure that things change.” – Ellen DeGeneres
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” - Walt Disney
“Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.” - George Carlin
Try Extraverted Intuition
- Think of 10 possible ways someone could use a can opener, the manual kind with a pointy tip.
- How are soccer and American football alike? Think of 10 similarities.
- What are 10 other things you could be doing right now?
- Identify a routine you have and break it. Try a new way of doing something familiar.
- Think of a place where you feel completely stuck. Come up with 5 alternative ways to go about it.