e all have that one thing. A trigger point. A metaphorical nail-on-the-chalkboard. That special, horrible something that we, personally, just cannot stand. But we don’t always know why it bugs us so much. If you consider your Myers-Briggs type, however, it might all make sense. It can also offer a bit of perspective.
For example, as an INTJ, I loathe surprises. But in fleshing all this out, I realized what entirely ruffles my feathers would leave another type completely unbothered. (I’m talking to you, oh-so-adaptable ESTPs.) Learning this made me think about how to better express my frustrations to loved ones, and I think it just might help me get a little less mad when I realize not everyone “gets” why a surprise might bug me.
Below are my observations about what sets each type off — and other revelations about how we might take all these annoyances with a little more chill.
You love to plan your life and you like routine. Everything gets penciled into your calendar weeks or months in advance so you know how to navigate your to-do list while still fitting in friends, family and hobbies. With that in mind, you HATE surprises that throw your entire daily or weekly “working model” off-kilter. You’ll be ruffled to no end if your friend says she’s in the neighborhood and wants to drop by, but also if your partner plans a surprise getaway for the weekend. Just remember: A lot of P-types operate better with spontaneous decisions and open-ended plans, so it’s good to practice give and take — and sometimes grin and bear it.
ENTP: Poor decision-making
To others, you can seem like a wild child at times. You’ll try anything once, test boundaries, stay out late and venture into the unknown. But all your quirks and visible emotions hide a deeply logical inner core. You only take calculated risks. You need to achieve, and you will put parameters in place to make sure that happens. All that is to say: You make smart decisions, and you can’t understand others’ poor decision-making. In teams or relationships especially, remember to be extra clear about what you need; not every type is as intuitive as you.
INTP: “Meaningless” activities
You do not squander energy; everything you do works into the bigger picture of your goals and dreams. Even if you’re science-obsessed, you might also take business classes to launch your own startup centered around an invention of yours; or maybe you’re reading self-help books to just get a handle on the human stuff a bit better, since you can feel hopeless at times. You can’t be bothered with what you deem truly “meaningless” activities, like staying on top of celebrity gossip. Remember that your brain doesn’t always need to chug along at a million miles a minute, though. Reality TV could very well be the break that will recharge your mental battery. Try it before you knock it.
You have intense drive. Of all the types, you have the capacity to accomplish the most due to your extreme willpower and seemingly boundless energy, which is why you have no patience for those without clear direction, drive and ambition. You just don’t “get” when people stop moving forward. But don’t forget that you’ve been blessed with special powers, allowing you to check boxes off any to-do list and climb the ladder at work. Not everyone wants or needs obvious markers of achievement to be fulfilled. Maybe start asking what fulfills those people you don’t instantly understand. Not only will those conversations fire you up (you love passionate people), but you’ll also get greater perspective on more intangible goals.
You don’t come to every social event, but when you do, you’re usually putting out fires between friends and smoothing the human dynamics at parties. You are the quintessential wise sage/therapist and have a knack for figuring out how people tick or where relationships are breaking down. You also can quickly suss out WHO’S STIRRING THE POT, which you hate. You want people to just get along! Your awareness is both a blessing and a curse. Thanks for helping humans live in peace, but remember that not every battle is yours to mediate or remedy. You can just enjoy a party because it’s a party and forget Jon’s passive-aggressive remark to Emily. Not your beef.
ENFP: Clashing values
ENFPs are defined by a very clear sense of self, as well as a deeply felt sense of right and wrong. You live by your moral compass, and you take deep offense to people who seem lawless or so carefree they’re constantly hurting others. While it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone values the exact same things you do, it’s also great to find “your people.” Surround yourself with people who share your worldview, and the stresses of trying to understand others’s (as you naturally do) will feel far less taxing.
You are able to read people in two ways: You pick up on their emotional energy, and then you interpret the most likely explanation for their feelings, behaviors and ticks. You can often get wrapped up in people you don’t understand, though, thinking that the more you learn the more you’ll magically “get it.” So when someone is inconsistent, and you seemingly cannot rely on them to keep plans or show up in big moments, it ruffles you; at your core, you want to deeply understand those you care about and only invest in people who are willing to love you back. While it’s good to realize humans are not inherently predictable (anything can change how we behave from day to day), it is okay to distance yourself from people who don’t seem to say what they mean, or mean what they say. That can drive you nuts.
INFP: Controlling behavior
You know who you are and what you stand for, unconventional though you may sometimes seem to others. You typically see the best in everyone and want to surround yourself with those who will let you be your truest yourself. You hate it when others try to dim your spark, whether it’s dismissing your argument or questioning your decisions. Just be careful: Since INFPs work hard at fully accepting others exactly as they are, you often lash out when you feel like someone’s trying to control you, or if someone put you down one too many times. If you do snap back, this can ultimately lead to regret, which INFPs are prone to — and that’s in addition to the original annoyance. To combat this: Try calmly, firmly calling out negative behavior early on to get the grievance off your chest (before you blow up); you don’t need to stand for that!
ISTJ: Tons of change
The ISTJ motto might as well be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” You like routine and the tried-and-true method, because there’s a precedent for success and therefore a low failure rate. You can deal with one change at a time if it’s truly needed. However, if your significant other wants to consider a move and kids, for instance, or your boss wants you to tackle a new project and travel out of state to wrap an old one, you get overwhelmed and frustrated: Is this really necessary? Maybe, maybe not. Although you’re introverted and would rather do than talk, make sure to articulate your desire (or need) to do one thing at a time.
ESTP: A snail’s pace
You can’t stand when someone wants you to fall in line. Your first instinct is to explore, try new things, break the mold, test the boundaries! As such, you often do…and, in the process, might accidentally stumble upon a new way to be. Which is awesome. But if you find a more efficient procedure at work or think you’ve got a solution for a perpetual relationship argument, you might get frustrated when it’s not immediately implemented. You are probably the most impatient personality type. But remember that you are often the earliest adopter of an idea or trend — and can even jump too quickly. Slowing down (a teensy bit) and hearing others’s concerns will help you avoid having to backpedal.
As an ISTP, you just want the bare-bones facts. You don’t need to know every gory detail of your friend’s latest fight with her partner or talk ad nauseam about who said what, when, to whom. You don’t pry, and you don’t like drama. But if you ask a question, it’s because you really think the answer is important to the dynamic of your friendship or understanding of a person in the larger sense. You’re fine with not getting an answer, but you are not fine with being lied to. Ever! To you, dishonesty is just inefficient. But remember, sometimes your pals might not be fully comfortable divulging emotional stuff to you because you so rarely want to get involved. Having honest, open relationships requires trust, which you often build during those mushy heart-to-hearts you struggle with. So, try emoting with your pals from time to time. You’ll get more honesty in return.
If your group is going on a big trip, you’re the one who emails everybody with travel arrangements months in advance. If you and your coworkers are tackling a big project, you’re the leader who makes sure the entire system hits all goals and checkmarks on time. You hate inefficiency because you have such a great mind for figuring out the best way to sail a ship. You will immediately notice why a line is bottlenecking at the airport or in what order you need to make each item on the menu to get out of the kitchen the fastest. While these insights make you a take-charge kind of person, don’t forget that it’s taxing to dwell on inefficiency — the world is full of it — and taking the scenic route (so to speak) can sometimes allow you to enjoy the experience more, rather than rush to the destination.
As an ISFJ, you’re pretty chill a lot of the time. Part of the reason for this is because you like things certain way and you work hard to keep everything organized and planned. Your biggest pet peeve is when everything gets jumbled and turned upside down, even if the chaos is prompted by a categorically “good” thing, like a potential job promotion. You just like when all is decided and safe; instability and loose ends tend to make your typically patient personality become seriously agitated. Leaning into others during these more unstable times is your best bet. Although you need your alone time, you benefit a lot from heaping doses of social comfort, even if you’re just calling your best friend for a good chat.
You like to live life on your own terms, and you really don’t like to be defined by a set-in-stone plan. When someone tries to get you to nail down a date, a time or a deadline, you start to feel like that person is cramping your style — and you may even push back. Although you do operate best with flexibility, remember that commitments and timelines will inevitably help you reach your most fulfilling goals. You don’t want to wake up one day and realize you missed the boat on your dreams; just think of your path to achieving those dreams as a map of loose guidelines toward your destination, not a single set of directions.
ESFJ: Arguing for no reason
You just want everyone to get along. Arguments that could have been avoided, nitpicking someone’s behaviors, or starting a heated debate? What’s the point? At your core, you want to help others connect and see friendships grow and thrive. So when people seem to inflame “drama” that might have been avoided with a simple sidestep, it irritates you. Just remember, though: Some personalities don’t argue to be frustrating or speak their minds to brew controversy. They debate to test ideas or get to know others’ perspectives better (truly) — and they get over it quickly. It’s okay to disagree!
ISFP: Ignoring the real you
You are fiercely independent and appreciate when others see you for your uniqueness. With your charm and aura of mystery, you have a line of people who want to be around your intriguing, vibrant spirit. But not everyone “gets” you on a deeper level, and that realization can lead to a huge letdown. Some people might even make you into more of a fantasy than reality, which drives you up the wall. While you don’t need any part of that, some people might actually be trying harder to understand you than you think. Before you lock someone out for not getting to know the real you, ask yourself if you’ve even been allowing them a solid chance for that.
Collage by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.