This is my brief personal experience of the different types and the roles they have played in my life. I am an INFP man, with an insecure attachment style, Enneagram 4.
ESTP guys. They had fun making me miserable in high school and are the reason I avoid high school reunions. They are also the car dealers who believe there’s a sucker born every minute and they’re right. Also, my accountant who I appreciate greatly is an ESTP. He’s the most strategic accountant I’ve ever met and I love him for it. In addition, I had a good ESTP friend in high school who might have been the shortest kid in the school. I watched in awe as he infuriated guys three times his size and then calmed them down within seconds. He never lost his cool the whole time. I was terrified he was going to get killed. ESTP women. In college they were kind of like this: “I might seduce you for the fun of it.” My response in college was usually, “Okay!” There are no rules for ESTPs, only opportunities. These are the people you want on your side of the bargaining table. They have nerves of steel. At their worst they are truly heartless and amoral, but at their best their lack of hangups can break the rest of us free from something that never served us in the first place. I don’t know any other type who can play other people the way this type can. It’s amazing and entertaining to watch unless you happen to be the one asking, “Where did my money go?”
ESFP Guys. Great entertainers. Super funny and sometimes just bizarre for the fun of it. I think of an incident with my ESFP friend Rob in High School: A bully throws gum at Rob. Rob picks up the gum, puts it in his mouth, relishes it, and smiles beatifically at the bully who is now thoroughly grossed out. The bully leaves Rob alone from this day forward. Rob was a genius. ESFP Women. Fun!! Wait, where did she go? All the world’s a stage and every moment is an opportunity to shine on that stage. ESFPs at their best have this way of funneling attention through themselves to something worthwhile. They’re natural attention-getters and if the show is good, it’s all good.
ISTP guys. My older brother. One day when I was a kid he took a knife, jabbed it at my gut, then turned the blade around at the last minute so his fist lightly hit my gut instead. He and his friend walked away laughing and I was traumatized. He would have also truly gutted anyone who tried to hurt me. My ISTP friend Matt is 5′5″, weighs about 130 pounds and is a martial arts wizard. I would bet on him in a fight with 99% of the guys in the NBA. Bruce Lee: ISTP. ISTP woman talking to me: “Are you a man, or what? I’m confused.” These are the people you want on your side of any physical conflict, especially if you’re an INFP.
ISFP men. Deep. Caring. They create beautiful things and seem to be very conscientious. Sometimes they are hard for me to talk to, but I consider them my brothers. ISFP women. Looking back, these were the girls in high school who would draw me in and enslave me with their startlingly deep and beautiful eyes. I was then trapped inexplicably in the friend zone for an eternity. These people bring beauty into the world in a marvelous way. My ISFP friends are often kind, considerate and conscientious helpers when it comes to household projects that I can’t, or don’t want to pull off by myself.
ESTJ men. I’m tempted to say something like this: ESTJs are control freaks who judge people by their ability to accomplish tasks and standards the ESTJ assigns without the benefit of clear instructions. I’m not a widget damnit! I’m hewwwman! For an INFP, this type of ESTJ is a workplace hell on legs. ESTJ women. They seem to be direct and to the point without rancor. Appealingly kick ass in nature while sporting high heels. ESTJs at their worst will appear to be super productive while alienating everyone else, but they’ll still come off as a hero while the organization implodes around them. At their best they are friendly, totally candid, respectful and great conversationalists. You can depend on them to say what they think which can be wonderfully freeing and sometimes devastating. More than any other type I’ve met, they know how to get things done.
ESFJ men. I’ve only met one that I know of; nice guy. ESFJ women. This is my mom AND my sister. They are loyal, steadfast, traditional and love me unconditionally. Then there are the social expectations…which I just can’t handle. At the best they are the cornerstone of any healthy society, a never-ending source of energy, pulling us all together for the right reasons and helping us realize how much we need each other. At their worst they become blackholes of need and can never be reassured enough.
ISTJ men. Surprisingly funny sometimes. Great friends until they take their rules too seriously. In college they were fun but then all the sudden they become strangely and totally adult, and almost Borg-like. ISTJ women. My first wife was an ISTJ. She was wonderfully dependent, steady, and intelligent. She often said things like, “But that’s not what the rules say, that’s not how I’ve done it before.” I would often think things like, “My life feels like I’m living in a tiny box with spikes on the inside.” Give them a rulebook and they’ll run things accordingly. Forever. They also can be the very epitome of dependability and loyalty. For instance, my ex-wife still helps my sister with her finances and still visits my mom, and there’s not much in the way of bad feeling between us.
ISFJ men. Terrifically nice guys. They love their traditions and have the best baseball card collections. ISFJ women. Deep. Caring. Traditional. Meticulous. ISFJs like doing all the work I hate to do and they’re so empathetic. What’s not to like? Like ISTJs they are dependable as they come, but they also need to do depend on you.
ENTP men. Here’s my impersonation of an ENTP I know well: “I have 60,000 ideas and they all need to happen right now. Oh my God, I can’t stand it!” They are hilarious, brilliant, insightful. They are Bursting, I mean BURSTING with intensity. Childlike. They are fun until I burn out or until they mistake themselves for a manager. ENTP women. I’m not sure I’ve ever met one. Wait, I have. She’s depressed: a brilliant inquisitive soul trying to get along in an IT department with ISTJs and ESTJs who don’t have a clue about what to do with her. ENTPs see the world at 36,000 feet and see time in a timeless way. Everything connects and everything’s debatable because everything’s relative.
INTP guys. My best friends. I love these people! Deep thinkers. Great intellect. No bs. Imaginations that span the universe. They can be funny because they sometimes come with no social filters. INTP women. Super intelligent and wonderfully thoughtful at the same time. Amazing combo. My oldest son is an INTP. Currently, he’s in kind of a relativity trap. He’s frozen solid with an IQ that most of us would gladly shell over a year’s salary for. He seems to be asking, “How can I move in one direction when there are infinite possibilities of where I could move?” Interestingly, it is the heart that ultimately moves the INTP out of relativity land and into action.
ENTJ guys. My father, “Jooohn, I am your father, come to the dark side, we can ruuule the universe togettther!” INFP me: Noooo, I will never join you! I must forsake your ways and find my own path.” My father, “I find you completely confusing. Don’t ever tell me what I’m feeling. I don’t want to know. I prefer it in the dark.” Me, “This is insane, I must keep my distance. You’re angry as hell and you’re not even aware of it.” My father, “You are waaayyy too sensitive to ever rule the world.” Me, “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. I love you but Holy God this confusing!” ENTJ women. Wow, they exist, and they’re a lot like ESTJ women, but they often have a stirring vision too. ENTJs are built to start empires and move everyone around them toward their goal. INFPs are moral and morale specialists. I could see my dad’s dark side, all his contradictions, plain as day; and I believe this troubled him to no end.
INTJ guys. My least favorite INTJ men sound like this to me, “Are you aware that I know absolutely everything and that your opinion doesn’t matter unless you can explicitly and objectively explain it through a logic-ridden 250 page thesis that I won’t read anyways because your opinion doesn’t matter to me.” INTJ women. Smart. Potentially dangerous. I'm thinking of one in particular who didn't seem to have any morals and had mighty political ambitions. With an intact heart, however, they're some of the most amazing people and probably should be running the world.
To me, the INTJ intelligence is amazing and foreign. When they integrate even a drop of feeling they become not just tolerable but fascinating human encyclopedias who are only too happy to share their vast knowledge with you and truly want to use that talent to help. As they integrate their feeling and sensing, they have the potential be truly great leaders. They can also seem to get trapped in a house of mirrors where no other opinion can possibly matter. When it gets like this all their actions become like a laser beam of disaster and they’ll likely remain completely clueless of the destruction they’re creating.
ENFJ guys. My musical partner of 10 years is an ENFJ. He’s one of the nicest guys you would ever hope to meet and has an amazing talent for gathering people around him. He just has this natural charisma that I could never muster. I would often introduce myself as, “his less popular friend.” His many friends would find that introduction hilarious. ENFJ women. One ENFJ woman I know sounds a bit like this, “I am so tired of being so right. It bugs me how right I am. It bugs me even more that people don’t just do what I say. Why is that?” It’s good that she’s so open about the issue. She also has a real gift for directing people and helping them understand whatever needs to be understood.
ENFP guys. My youngest son Eli, “Hey dad I just created a whole new music album today with my friends!” Me, “I thought that was yesterday.” Eli, “It was. By the way, I can talk you into anything but I won’t right now because I’d rather do something else.” Me, “Thanks for that. Have fun.” I am always in awe of how my son can eternally spit out one unique creative product after another. It doesn’t end. ENFP women. Cheerleaders, in the best sense. It's really difficult to be downhearted around them. I see ENFPs as the one’s who rally the rest of us together in a spirited way. They naturally spark you to do something you might not have done otherwise.
INFJ guys. Still learning about these. So far, really interesting. INFJ women. 2nd wife. The most interesting and magical human being I’ve ever met. But here’s a repeated conversation between my wife and I, “Do I have to ask you again?!” Me, “Absolutely no time has elapsed since you asked me the first time.” My wife, “Aaargh! Just make a decision already!” Me, “Why would I want to do that?” The worst I’ve seen with INFJs is that they can be vindictive and manipulative while justifying their actions as kindness. I don’t know that anyone, including INFJs, give the INFJ intuition it’s proper due. If our society honored it more, instead of worshipping productivity and gadgets, we’d be way better off for it. At their best INFJs give us a glimpse into a deeper, wider and interconnected dimension that many of us would rather deny because it freaks us out. Sorry, not everything in life is logical, material, or linear. INFJs can turn what you thought was reality into a two dimensional cartoon. This is a blessing.
INFP guys. Well, we’re mostly busy trying to be another type because being a guy and an INFP is, like, what has life done to me? Just kill me now. Sometimes I spot them as tortured artists like John Mayer. “I’m so successful and I’m still not happy!” Sometimes I spot them as incredibly wise elders like Richard Rohr who have transcended the male INFP trap. Where are you brothers? We need each other. INFP women. Aaahhhh. Gosh. Deep wells of effervescent femininity that can seem so fragile until there’s a full moon and suddenly you realize they know way more than you’ve ever given them credit for. They are wise to you. What you thought was your integrity is now laying on the floor, exposed as a sham. They’ve been tracking you the whole time. This is a real gift as it gives you an opportunity to be a better person. At our best we INFPs are North Stars for the world’s conscience. At our worst we’re puddles of depression feeling wronged for ever being born. Well, that’s actually not the very worst. But, better to save that subject for another article.