ENTP PERSONALITY (“THE DEBATER”)
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Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crack-pot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
Thomas J. Watson
The ENTP personality type is the ultimate devil’s advocate, thriving on the process of shredding arguments and beliefs and letting the ribbons drift in the wind for all to see. Unlike their more determined Judging (J) counterparts, ENTPs don’t do this because they are trying to achieve some deeper purpose or strategic goal, but for the simple reason that it’s fun. No one loves the process of mental sparring more than ENTPs, as it gives them a chance to exercise their effortlessly quick wit, broad accumulated knowledge base, and capacity for connecting disparate ideas to prove their points.
An odd juxtaposition arises with ENTPs, as they are uncompromisingly honest, but will argue tirelessly for something they don’t actually believe in, stepping into another’s shoes to argue a truth from another perspective.
Playing the devil’s advocate helps people with the ENTP personality type to not only develop a better sense of others’ reasoning, but a better understanding of opposing ideas – since ENTPs are the ones arguing them.
This tactic shouldn’t be confused with the sort of mutual understanding Diplomats (NF) seek – ENTPs, like all Analyst (NT) personality types, are on a constant quest for knowledge, and what better way to gain it than to attack and defend an idea, from every angle, from every side?
There Are no Rules Here – We’re Trying to Accomplish Something!
Taking a certain pleasure in being the underdog, ENTPs enjoy the mental exercise found in questioning the prevailing mode of thought, making them irreplaceable in reworking existing systems or shaking things up and pushing them in clever new directions. However, they’ll be miserable managing the day-to-day mechanics of actually implementing their suggestions. ENTP personalities love to brainstorm and think big, but they will avoid getting caught doing the “grunt work” at all costs. ENTPs only make up about three percent of the population, which is just right, as it lets them create original ideas, then step back to let more numerous and fastidious personalities handle the logistics of implementation and maintenance.
ENTPs’ capacity for debate can be a vexing one – while often appreciated when it’s called for, it can fall painfully flat when they step on others’ toes by say, openly questioning their boss in a meeting, or picking apart everything their significant other says. This is further complicated by ENTPs’ unyielding honesty, as this type doesn’t mince words and cares little about being seen as sensitive or compassionate. Likeminded types get along well enough with people with the ENTP personality type, but more sensitive types, and society in general, are often conflict-averse, preferring feelings, comfort, and even white lies over unpleasant truths and hard rationality.
This frustrates ENTPs, and they find that their quarrelsome fun burns many bridges, oftentimes inadvertently, as they plow through others’ thresholds for having their beliefs questioned and their feelings brushed aside. Treating others as they’d be treated, ENTPs have little tolerance for being coddled, and dislike when people beat around the bush, especially when asking a favor. ENTP personalities find themselves respected for their vision, confidence, knowledge, and keen sense of humor, but often struggle to utilize these qualities as the basis for deeper friendships and romantic relationships.
Opportunity Is Missed Because It Looks Like Hard Work
ENTPs have a longer road than most in harnessing their natural abilities – their intellectual independence and free-form vision are tremendously valuable when they’re in charge, or at least have the ear of someone who is, but getting there can take a level of follow-through that ENTPs struggle with.
Once they’ve secured such a position, ENTPs need to remember that for their ideas to come to fruition, they will always depend on others to assemble the pieces – if they’ve spent more time “winning” arguments than they have building consensus, many ENTPs will find they simply don’t have the support necessary to be successful. Playing devil’s advocate so well, people with this personality type may find that the most complex and rewarding intellectual challenge is to understand a more sentimental perspective, and to argue consideration and compromise alongside logic and progress.
ENTP STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
- Knowledgeable – ENTPs rarely pass up a good opportunity to learn something new, especially abstract concepts. This information isn’t usually absorbed for any planned purpose as with dedicated studying, people with the ENTP personality type just find it fascinating.
- Quick Thinkers – ENTPs have tremendously flexible minds, and are able to shift from idea to idea without effort, drawing on their accumulated knowledge to prove their points, or their opponents’, as they see fit.
- Original – Having little attachment to tradition, ENTP personalities are able to discard existing systems and methods and pull together disparate ideas from their extensive knowledge base, with a little raw creativity to hold them together, to formulate bold new ideas. If presented with chronic, systemic problems and given rein to solve them, ENTPs respond with unabashed glee.
- Excellent Brainstormers – Nothing is quite as enjoyable to ENTPs as analyzing problems from every angle to find the best solutions. Combining their knowledge and originality to splay out every aspect of the subject at hand, rejecting without remorse options that don’t work and presenting ever more possibilities, ENTPs are irreplaceable in brainstorming sessions.
- Charismatic – People with the ENTP personality type have a way with words and wit that others find intriguing. Their confidence, quick thought and ability to connect disparate ideas in novel ways create a style of communication that is charming, even entertaining, and informative at the same time.
- Energetic – When given a chance to combine these traits to examine an interesting problem, ENTPs can be truly impressive in their enthusiasm and energy, having no qualms with putting in long days and nights to find a solution.
- Very Argumentative – If there’s anything ENTPs enjoy, it’s the mental exercise of debating an idea, and nothing is sacred. More consensus-oriented personality types rarely appreciate the vigor with which ENTP personalities tear down their beliefs and methods, leading to a great deal of tension.
- Insensitive – Being so rational, ENTPs often misjudge others feelings and push their debates well past others’ tolerance levels. People with this personality type don’t really consider emotional points to be valid in such debates either, which magnifies the issue tremendously.
- Intolerant – Unless people are able to back up their ideas in a round of mental sparring, ENTPs are likely to dismiss not just the ideas but the people themselves. Either a suggestion can stand up to rational scrutiny or it’s not worth bothering with.
- Can Find It Difficult to Focus – The same flexibility that allows ENTPs to come up with such original plans and ideas makes them readapt perfectly good ones far too often, or to even drop them entirely as the initial excitement wanes and newer thoughts come along. Boredom comes too easily for ENTPs, and fresh thoughts are the solution, though not always a helpful one.
- Dislike Practical Matters – ENTPs are interested in what could be – malleable concepts like ideas and plans that can be adapted and debated. When it comes to hard details and day-to-day execution where creative flair isn’t just unnecessary but actually counter-productive, ENTP personalities lose interest, often with the consequence of their plans never seeing the light of day.
If there’s one thing ENTPs are good at, it’s coming up with a never-ending stream of innovations and ideas to keep things moving forward, and this is evident in their romantic relationships as well. For people with the ENTP personality type growth is key, and even before they’ve found a dating partner, they imagine all the ways that they can experience new things together, to grow in tandem. This can be an overwhelming process if their partner doesn’t match up, but when ENTPs find someone who shares their love of intellectual exploration, watch out.
Show Me a Satisfied Man, and I’ll Show You a Failure
From the earliest dates, ENTPs test their partners’ limits for this kind of potential, pushing boundaries and traditions, looking for open-mindedness and spontaneity. Dating ENTP personalities is hardly a boring experience, and they make use of their enthusiasm and creativity by delighting and surprising their partners with new ideas and experiences.
ENTPs’ idea of fun is often rooted in self-improvement, and people with this personality type bring their partners along the way, as much in a spirit of sharing as in a spirit of expectation. ENTPs see either growth or stagnation and don’t buy into the idea of a happy status quo, making them demanding as much as they are exciting.
Some may tire in the face of this constant improvement – while ENTPs’ vigor can be attractive, it can also wear down even the most patient partners. A little time to breathe and a chance to rest on one’s laurels for a moment is necessary for many people, but not something ENTPs are likely to appreciate. However, if their unwavering enthusiasm is met in kind, it can lead to a magnificent relationship characterized by its strength, depth, and spark.
Genius Is One Percent Inspiration and Ninety-Nine Percent Perspiration
This is perhaps most evident as ENTPs’ relationships progress into more intimate situations. All that exploratory curiosity and enthusiasm has a chance to be expressed in new ways when ENTPs and their partners come together, and they readily encourage their partners to try new things, to enjoy their intimacy without preconceived limitations.
For people with the ENTP personality type, this phase of their relationships is a chance to improve and develop in areas that are outside the realm of academia, though they approach it in much the same way – as a physical and intellectual process of striving towards excellence, rather than a spiritual or emotional expression of affection.
ENTPs’ desire to improve in this department makes them fantastic partners when the relationship reaches that point, but their attitude towards this process is also evidence of their most glaring shortcoming – their emotional obliviousness. While ENTPs are more open-minded than other Analysts (NT) about others’ perspectives, they are also more likely to express their disdain for such things as emotional sensitivity in cuttingly well-phrased and clear terms, easily hurting their partners’ feelings without realizing it. ENTP personalities may even ignore their partners’ feelings altogether, instead immersing themselves entirely in some distant idea or opportunity, inaccessible.
Where ENTPs’ unwavering desire for self-improvement comes in most handy is in their emotional development, as they may actually be willing to work on areas such as sensitivity and emotional communication with their partners.
As with other Intuitive (N) types, ENTPs’ best compatibility rests with other Intuitives, with one or two opposing traits which help to create both balance and opportunities for growth. If they are with a more sensitive partner, this can be an excellent way for them to find another quality that they can work on together, making this weakness yet another opportunity to be creative, challenge themselves, and to deepen the attractiveness that this sense of progression brings to their relationships.
Loyalty, support, emotional feedback – these are not what ENTPs look for in their friendships. The last thing people with the ENTP personality type want to hear is “you’re right”, not unless they have absolutely earned the distinction in a heated round of intellectual debate. If they’re wrong, ENTPs want to be told so, and they want every detail of the faults in their logic to be laid bare, partly in their quest for oftentimes arbitrary truth, and partly just so they have to work to defend that logic with counterpoint and parry.
It’s often easy for ENTPs to test compatibility with a potential friend – they just need to test combatability. ENTP personalities are quick-witted, and their primary means of expressing this is in the form of arguments and discussions, where they will easily spend an entire evening debating an idea they may not even believe in.
The epitome of ENTPs’ friendships is when someone can hold their ground in these arbitrary debates with valid, rational arguments.
These debates are never taken personally, no matter how heated they become or how striking the disagreement. Much as an athlete competes for the physical exertion and the spirit of competition itself, ENTPs debate for the sake intellectual stimulation and for the debate itself, and even in overwhelming victory or crushing defeat, it’s never about dominance, only inspiration to try harder next time.
When You Play, Play Hard
They know how to relax and have fun too, it’s just that “fun” to ENTPs – a bottle of wine and a discussion about the causes of and solutions to the European Debt Crisis – could be described as “an evening from hell” by many Observant (S) and Feeling (F) types. But ENTPs are a genial and enthusiastic personality type for the most part, and pretty much any situation that allows for conversation and a little wordplay is an enjoyable outing.
ENTPs are actually remarkably good at communicating with friends and acquaintances of other personality types. Their natural tendency to argue as effectively as possible means that ENTPs are accustomed to communicating in other people’s language and frame of reference, and this translates well into normal conversation. Where people with the ENTP personality type do have difficulty relating to others is in emotional expression, the Achilles’ heel of all Analyst (NT) types.
The Worst Thinking Has Been Done in Turmoil
Being inclined to suppress their emotions and feelings, when ENTPs are faced with a friend who, figuratively or literally, needs a shoulder to cry on, they have no clue how to handle the situation. They are perfectly willing and happy to offer a series of rational, reasonable solutions to the problem at hand, as ENTPs do for any situation where a problem needs to be fixed, but they are certainly not known for their sensitivity or outward affection, no matter how intuitively they may understand another’s position.
Worse is when ENTP personalities try to turn these emotional situations into something they find more comfortable: a debate. Given how remarkably good ENTPs are at debating both sides of a point, they are remarkably bad at putting themselves in someone else’s shoes from an emotional standpoint. ENTPs should avoid at all costs the temptation to turn a discussion about the causes of a friend’s recent breakup into competitive intellectual fodder.
So long as everyone understands not to take their words too personally, anyone who isn’t afraid to discuss new ideas – and have them converted into so much confetti – is likely to find stimulating and thought-provoking friends in ENTPs. It’s not a compatibility that clicks with everyone, but ENTPs don’t really care about being liked by everyone anyways. As long as they get to alternate between being the sounding board and the megaphone, ENTPs and their friends are bound to enjoy each other’s company for a long, long time.
One might think that the blustery and flighty nature of ENTPs would make parenting a particular challenge for them, and in many ways, they’d be right. However, one thing people with the ENTP personality type love more than just about anything is a good challenge, a problem to fix, even if it comes to addressing their own weaknesses. ENTPs take their roles as parents seriously, and they are bound to be affected profoundly by this development in their lives – if anyone is able to take an outside influence, like their children, and use that influence to address their own faults, it is ENTPs.
Be Brave, Have Faith, Go Forward!
From the beginning ENTPs’ distaste for rules and regulations is evident, and they are likely to give their young children the freedom necessary to explore on their own. Independence is one of ENTPs’ greatest needs, and they feel that no person is complete without an independent mind.
ENTP personalities create relaxed, unorthodox environments for their children, founded on enthusiasm and the joy of discovery through the development of reason, not heavily structured settings designed merely to be safe.
As their children grow and develop, ENTPs encourage them to think independently and voice objections, opinions and alternatives. But unlike Diplomat (NF) parents, who encourage their children to express their thoughts in terms of feelings and needs, ENTPs teach their children to approach these options from a position of impartiality and logic, to state what is more effective rather than what would make them feel good. As in other relationships, this quality of emotional inaccessibility is where ENTPs struggle.
As their children grow into adolescence and learn to find a balance in healthy emotional expression, people with the ENTP personality type may find themselves exasperated. While always up for a good debate on just about any subject, ENTPs often need their partners’ help in managing more emotional outbursts and arguments. ENTPs are more able than most, but even they have their limits and rules when it comes to vocal conflict.
There’s a Way to Do It Better – Find It.
Luckily, ENTP personalities recognize what’s at stake: they want their children to grow into smart, independent, honest adults. To convey those values, ENTPs know that they need, like with any other debate, to communicate in terms that are accessible to all sides. If that means learning how to use the tools of emotional expression and appeals, and in so doing becoming more emotionally expressive in real, personal terms as well, so be it.
In the world of careers, ENTPs have the benefit of being naturally engaged and interested in being productive and helpful. But rather than the sort of people-oriented helpfulness that Diplomats (NF) bring to the table, ENTP personalities are focused on developing solutions to interesting and diverse technical and intellectual problems. ENTPs are a versatile personality type, and while it may take time for them to get to a point where they can fully utilize their skillset and qualities, they are likely to find that those qualities translate well into pretty much any career that so much as piques their interest.
If there’s anything ENTPs love, it’s flexing their mental muscles, and any environment that lets them devise new approaches, new ideas and new projects, that allows them to push the limits of their creativity, will benefit strongly from what ENTPs bring to the table.
Not every career allows this level of unbridled brainpower, but there are those that demand nothing but: entrepreneurship, engineering, even acting and photography. So long as ENTPs are honest with themselves about their strengths and weaknesses, they can thrive in most any career that is in need of a new line of thinking.
The Value of an Idea Lies in the Using of It
All this intellectual power can be intimidating, but unlike their Introverted (I) cousins, people with the ENTP personality type have the added benefit of being excellent communicators, in the written word but especially in face-to-face conversation. Though they dislike the constraints of managing others (and of being managed), this social adaptability allows ENTPs to be natural leaders, showing the way forward and inspiring others with sound logic and intellectual prowess. While others may object to these plans with emotional considerations or general resistance to change, things ENTPs place little value in, these competing comments are usually outmaneuvered by ENTP personalities’ deft arguments and subtly shifting goals.
The best careers reward intellectual competency and curiosity, allowing ENTPs to utilize their never-ending flow of ideas productively by affording a degree of spontaneity in how they engage their intellectual pursuits. People with the ENTP personality type value knowledge, rational thought and insight very highly, and they make brilliant lawyers, psychologists, systems analysts and scientists. It’s even possible for ENTPs to thrive as sales representatives, as they rationalize purchase decisions that may otherwise seem discretionary – so long as their managers know to give them the space they need to work their magic.
Being Busy Doesn’t Always Mean Real Work
Really it all comes down to a sense of personal freedom, for ENTPs to know that they are allowed to apply themselves fully to understanding and solving the problems that interest them, without getting bogged down by social politics and trying to figure out what makes other people “tick”. Routine, structure and formal rules all feel like unnecessary hindrances to ENTPs, and they may find that their best careers yet allow them to engage their intellectual pursuits on their own terms, as freelance consultants or software engineers.
The key for ENTPs is to have the patience to get to a position that allows for these freedoms, to be in an environment long enough that not just their colleagues, but their managers and, in time, their subordinates, recognize what it is that they bring to the table. ENTPs have exceptional qualities – it’s quantifying their achievements and skills that presents the biggest challenge. But once they’ve got their foot in the door, once they’ve got a willing ear higher in the hierarchy, the sky’s the limit.
ENTP IN THE WORKPLACE
ENTPs have straightforward expectations in the workplace, but ones that aren’t always easy to meet. Strong believers in meritocracy, people with the ENTP personality type expect their ideas to be heard by those above them, expect robust debate among their peers, and demand that those they manage offer up new solutions and ideas regardless of their positions. While this isn’t always how things play out in reality, ENTPs know what to look for, and can avoid those strictly hierarchical institutions that they would otherwise struggle with.
This dynamic is clearest with ENTP subordinates, as they are comfortable challenging their managers’ ideas and have a strong (and well-expressed) dislike for restrictive rules and guidelines. ENTPs back this unorthodox behavior with their keen minds and curiosity, and are as capable of adopting new methods as they are of suggesting others do so. If something can be done better, it’s as simple as that, and ENTP personalities gladly take criticism, so long as it’s logical and performance-oriented.
The biggest challenge for ENTP subordinates is that it is often the fate of the “lower” positions to implement the details, do the dirty work and follow through on plans set out by their managers. This couldn’t be further from what ENTPs prefer to spend their time on – they can’t stand simple, routine work, and monotonous tasks are the stuff of nightmares. Things go over much better if managers are able to properly utilize ENTPs’ preference for tackling complex challenges and diverse projects.
It is as colleagues that ENTPs prove most polarizing, as their passions for brainstorming, debate and over-analysis drive more practical, task-oriented colleagues crazy, but serve as stimulating inspiration for those who appreciate the innovation ENTPs bring. Nothing bothers people with the ENTP personality type more than getting out of a meeting where everyone agreed with the first plan presented, only to hear everyone complain about how stupid the plan was ten minutes later – but they “didn’t want to make waves”. ENTPs strive for honest, direct and objective assessments of these ideas, so much so that they often earn reputations for their insensitivity and condescension.
Luckily ENTPs know how to relax too, and their witty wordplay, healthy sense of humor and outgoing nature win new friends quickly and easily. Always willing to draw on their repository of knowledge, conversations with ENTP personalities are informative and entertaining, which makes it easy for them to be the go-to person for tough problems that stump more rote approaches. Peer-to-peer relationships with ENTPs aren’t always easy, but it’s tough to argue that they don’t work.
While not always their goal, management is often where ENTPs are most at home, allowing them the freedom to fiddle with different approaches and come up with innovative ways to tackle new challenges without having to handle the tedious step-by-step implementation of these plans. ENTPs are open-minded and flexible managers, not just granting but also expecting the same freedom of thought that they themselves enjoy. This can lead to disorder, conflicting ideas and approaches being put forward, but ENTPs are also great at accurately and objectively assessing which plan is likely to be most effective.
This doesn’t always make friends, but being liked is less ENTPs’ goal than being respected and seen as intelligent and capable. And liked or no, people with this personality type hold firm ground in rational debates, making them fearsome advocates for their teams. The challenge for ENTPs is focus, as they may find themselves jumping from project to project in a quest for challenge and excitement before their teams are able to wrap up the details of their existing goals and obligations.
ENTP PERSONALITY – CONCLUSION
ENTPs’ intelligence, curiosity and sound reasoning skills are a force to be reckoned with. ENTPs will always be able to find just the right argument, the weakest chink in their opponent’s armor, or the way out of a seemingly hopeless situation. Their fearsome debate skills and impressive knowledge allow ENTPs to overcome many challenges.
Yet ENTPs can be easily tripped up in areas where careful and rational thinking is more of a liability than an asset. Whether it is finding (or keeping) a partner, connecting with other people, reaching dazzling heights on the career ladder or forcing themselves to focus, ENTPs need to put in a conscious effort to develop their weaker traits and additional skills.
What you have read so far is just an introduction into the complex concept that is the ENTP personality type. You may have muttered to yourself, “wow, this is so accurate it’s a little creepy” or “finally, someone understands me!” You may have even asked “how do they know more about me than the people I’m closest to?”
This is not a trick. You felt understood because you were. We’ve studied how ENTPs think and what they need to reach their full potential. And no, we did not spy on you – many of the challenges you’ve faced and will face in the future have been overcome by other ENTPs. You simply need to learn how they succeeded.
But in order to do that, you need to have a plan, a personal roadmap. The best car in the world will not take you to the right place if you do not know where you want to go. We have told you how ENTPs tend to behave in certain circumstances and what their key strengths and weaknesses are. Now we need to go much deeper into your personality type and answer “why?”, “how?” and “what if?”
This knowledge is only the beginning of a lifelong journey. Are you ready to learn why ENTPs act in the way they do? What motivates and inspires you? What you are afraid of and what you secretly dream about? How you can unlock your true, exceptional potential?
Our premium profiles provide a roadmap towards a happier, more successful, and more versatile YOU! They are not for everyone though – you need to be willing and able to challenge yourself, to go beyond the obvious, to imagine and follow your own path instead of just going with the flow. If you want to take the reins into your own hands, we are here to help you.