Surviving Personality Type

By Jack Speer | July 31, 2016

Here is your first Survival Guide to Types! You know the value of personality type in learning how valuable your type is to your life and career. Type helps you manage differences and form relationships.

But personality type must also be survived! Here is your Survival Guide!

Each personality type has its gifts—but there are parts of people’s personalities in family, work and life of which we need to be forewarned—we’ll never be able to avoid them, and we need to know how to survive them.

First click on your own four letter type below, and see what people may need to survive in you. Then look for your boss, your colleagues, and your friends to find out what you need to know to survive them.

Click on personality types below to see how to survive!

 ISTJ – 11% of population

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

The Cop on the Beat”

It may be difficult, but you have to survive the ISTJ “cop on the beat”

ISTJ’s are everywhere —accounting, legal, HR, purchasing, project management. In each of these areas and more, they are the “cop on the beat.” The ISTJ is a powerful personality type.

How can the ISTJ’s hurt you? In organizations, the ISTJ cops can stop anything dead in their tracks. Accounting says there’s no money, legal says you’ll get sued, and HR says it’s against policy.

How can the ISTJ’s can help you? If you have to make a quick hire, buy equipment or take a risk, the ISTJ can tell you how that can happen. Otherwise, they can handcuff your effectiveness.

How to Survive this Personality Type

How do you survive the ISTJ?

You can’t beat them—so join them! ISTJ’s can irritate you and frustrate you. But they are a power to be dealt with—they know where the money is and the bodies are buried. People in organizations often want to deal with the ISTJ at the last of the transaction. Begin dealing with them in the beginning.

Understand ISTJ’s values—they seek to protect the system and obey the rules. That’s their
foundation. To you, it may be the system and the rules getting in the way.

The key to surviving the ISTJ is developing personal trust. Maintain contact on a regular basis, not just when you need some special concession. The ISTJ will trust you if they believe you know what you’re talking about. You must present a fact-based presentation in order to convince the ISTJ.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

Don’t get voted off the island by the ISTJ by undervaluing data!

If you want to get voted off the ISTJ’s island, present a sloppy, opinion based presentation. Playing fast and loose with the facts will lose their respect, and that that will be difficult to regain.

As an NT (ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP), data is important to you, but your vision of the future guides your direction.

The ISTJ can undervalue what they consider unsubstantiated direction not based on fact. If you dismiss making your case based on data, you could get voted off the island. You could end up losing the respect and credibility of the ISTJ.

ISFJ – 13.8% of population

“The Smother Mother” (or dad)

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

How do you survive the ISFJ’s “smother mother” tendency to love to the point they smother those around themselves?

They take care of people, and people around them value them and listen to them—but the ISFJ may not easily let them go.

The ISFJ is often seen as the “Smother Mother” of the organization. They are incredibly admirable because they are those who take care of the most vulnerable among us—the patient in the healthcare system, the child learning to tie their shoes, the person in HR who runs the employee grievance function.

But the ISFJ can be St. Francis feeding the birds or someone who clips your wings.

You can drift into a co-dependent relationship with a Smother Mother becoming overly dependent on the service they often give.

How to Survive this Personality Type

How do you survive the ISFJ, a very loved and respected type?

If you are going to survive the ISFJ Smother Mother they need the love and appreciation they’re looking for and deserve.

You need to realize that the ISFJ can be worn out from all the people they’re working to help, and are becoming frustrated with their being overburdened. As you get frustrated because you don’t know what they expect of you, their resentment increases.

Draw some boundaries around being helped and falling into helpless behavior.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

Don’t get voted off the island by trying to convince the ISFJ that they are investing too much in a person or situation you feel is a lost cause.

Don’t yield to the temptation of being direct. No matter how much you’ve been taught to be frank, don’t do it with an ISFJ. They live in an indirect world.

Don’t even think about criticizing the ISFJ directly or to others. It would be less dangerous to shoot Bambi. All who are dependent on the ISFJ will wonder how you could be so callous.

Escaping entanglement with the ISFJ should be made simple. Thank them for what they’ve done for you, let them be an occasional resource, and move on. Escaping co-dependency is something you will have to do.

INFJ – 1.5% of population

Surviving “the Vision Collision”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

How do you escape the “vision collision” with the INFJ when their vision is not your vision and you believe their vision is wrong?

The INFJ focuses inwardly through introverted intuition and has a vision of themselves and the people in the world around them. They may have a great vision for themselves, but it can clash with the organization, and with you.

The INFJ is generally cheerful and amicable, but you may find yourself shut out of their world because they let few people in. They do not purposely exclude you, but their inward focus does not allow them space for a lot of people, and building a relationship with them takes time. They are truly loving people, and they often have a vision to serve people. They may find it difficult to serve on a team that requires rapid responses to changing conditions.

How to Survive this Personality Type

In order to survive the “vision collision” with the INFJ, you have to understand that the vision the INFJ has is not just today’s idea, as it may be for the NT or SJ. It is rather it embedded into the personal identity of the INFJ and a part of who they are. Change for them is not based on a verbal exchange with you. They need to process what you’re saying and to integrate it into their own vision.

In order to impact the vision of an INFJ you must build trust over time. You must relate any
discussion with the INFJ to their system of values.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

Don’t get voted off the island by the INFJ by attempting to convince the INFJ that something you feel important is just a good, useful idea. Your idea must connect with their vision. Once committed, the INFJ will be incredibly loyal.

INTJ – 2.1% of population

“Surviving the Nose Bleed of the Ivory Tower”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

You must survive the “nose bleed ivory tower” of the INTJ.” The INTJ is most often articulate and quite brainy, but can be so committed to their personal intellectual pursuits to the point that they can be quite absent—away in their ivory towers—to be present for routine commitments that make an organization run effectively. They can brush off any arguments that their physical or mental absence jeopardizes the ongoing mission of the organization. Your appeal to loyalty and creating value long term will not impress them. They can leave the field of battle quite abruptly at a critical times.

How to Survive this Personality Type

In order to survive the INTJ, you will want to benefit from his or her brilliance, but not place them in positions where their abrupt departures or mental withdrawals can jeopardize a project, where each team member is a vital component in the operation. This is a rule that must be followed. Getting a verbal commitment to stay on a project and to stay engaged before beginning is often easy to obtain from the INTJ, but they really don’t realize that they are unlikely to keep the commitment.

INTJ’s are excellent teachers and often are gifted writers. They often play key leadership roles in organizations, but can struggle with the demands of leading and managing people.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

INTJ’s are often some of the most interesting and brilliant conversationalists. In order for someone not to be voted off the INTJ’s island, they should be intelligent, witty, and temporary to the INTJ.

ISTP – 5.4% of population

Surviving “the unengaged observer”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

You’ll want to survive the ISTP, “the unengaged observer.”

ISTP’s are mechanically inclined, great at solving issues, and get along well in teams.

ISTP’s have a keen ability to watch and observe, and that’s useful in times of crisis, or when the team is stuck. But day in and day out they may observe more than participate, and may not pull their weight. They can limit their active participation which may take up too many resources.

How to Survive this Personality Type

You can survive the ISTP by being sure that they are effectively deployed. An ISTP on a technical team whose job is troubleshooting will be invaluable. In a time of crisis they can find a solution to an issue before others have defined it.

But you won’t survive the ISTP when they are in a steady maintenance role without the opportunity to display their problem solving abilities.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

Don’t get voted off the ISTP’s island by pressuring them into a long-range planning role. They won’t be impressed if you try to impress them by your rank, education, or superior experience. They value being in an environment of equals. They prefer a team that has flexibility and has little to no hierarchy.

ISFP – 4.4% of population

Surviving “the Mystery Artist”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

You must survive “the Mystery Artist,” whose values may be mirror opposites to your own. For you, art and beauty is what you do in spare moments.

You must survive the ISFP, who finds art and beauty to be what they do all day long. Their life is about experiencing and creating beauty and caring for living things. The spare moments are what they use to do the things you think are central to productivity.

How to Survive this Personality Type

In order to survive the ISFP, you can use the opportunity to grow in your understanding that those around you like ISFP’s don’t necessarily care about what you care about—and that it’s OK. The ISFP’s value system is not your value system.

The ISFJ can’t be prodded into working on your agenda to keep keep the organization running. The ISFP wants to create something beautiful and savor moments of connection, and the schedule is not the important part. Art is your part time passion.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

It’s great that art and connection to nature and humanity is the ISFP’s fulltime passion. You never want the ISFP to vote you off the island. The ISFP brings beauty, art, compassion and charm to life—which you might not be able to do, even if you could find the time.

You may have a place for a person in your organization that focuses on art and beauty. If not you might find roles for them to create beauty in your organization.

INFP – 5.4% of population

Surviving “your Best Friend who all too Often Disappears”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

You have to work to survive“ your Best Friend who all too often disappears.” It’s amazing that you need to survive the INFP, who is an incredible personality with charisma, intelligence, and charm, connecting with everyone with ease— when they wish to.

INFP’s are a most impressive personality type. They can do technology, analysis, research,
marketing and public relations—to perfection the first time. They will not fail you in times of emergency.

Because the INFP completes tasks according to their internal compass, in day to day work the INFP will go silent and unresponsive, can be difficult to contact, and simply ignore something that isn’t a priority to them.

How to Survive this Personality Type

Surviving the INFP is a mission that is tricky, but possible. You are engaging with a person who is multi-talented, skilled and knowledgeable, who can be a great asset to reaching your goals.

Yet you may be frustrated in your working relationships because the rhythm of your work day and the pace of the organization may not mesh with the INFP.

Engaging with the INFP is not for sissies, but here are some guidelines. INFP’s hate conflict and criticism. Forget all you’ve read about open and direct communication. First, establish a rapport with the INFP by understanding what he or she is passionate about and find how your values connect with those of the INFP. Impromtu meetings in crisis moments are always successful. You can establish milestones and deadlines, but build a lot of flexibility into the progress plan. Values and relationships are the most important ways to connect without conflict with the INFP.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

It’s not difficult to find yourself voted off the island by the INFP. They won’t do it directly and may not know they’ve voted. They become disengaged and disappear more often. They can more likely want you to vote them off the island, because they do not like conflict. It’s better to be rejected than to reject.

Patiently building a common workstyle with the INFP is well worth the effort, although at some point both of you may not think it is.

Once you engage with an INFP you will have a friend and colleague who will be there for you.

INTP – 3.3% of population

Surviving “the Let’s Start Again Guru”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

You need to be able to survive the INTP, “the let’s start again guru,” who has an amazing ability to see flaws in detail.

The INTP never believes it’s too late to start over again—“to take a zero based look.” He or she will keep your project from ever getting successfully launched.

INTP’s are most often intellectual, educated, often with advanced degrees, and are very articulate. They get chosen to be key project leaders—and that is often a great mistake.

INTP’s believe that every issue should be resolved before a project is released, and months and years can pass before anyone realizes the project will never launch.

How to Survive this Personality Type

You can survive the INTP by stacking the team with a number of very strong personalities who will override the INTP compulsion to go for yet another round of analysis. In this case, the INTP can often make a very good contribution to the team.

INTP’s see fatal flaws—and they are often right—but they don’t have the last word. Starting over is not a strategy that will ultimately be successful.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

It’s difficult to get voted off the INTP’s island. They rarely sense the turmoil they generate around themselves. As long as the conceptual, theoretical side of something is discussed, they will be happy. If criticized they will attribute the criticism to the ignorance and incompetence of management.

ESTP – 4.3% of population

Surviving “the King of Improvisation”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

You’ll want to survive the ESTP, “the King of Improvisation.” They generally have great charm and move through life adapting to the people and situations they encounter. ESTP’s are quick, capable, and skilled.

Because their prime mode is speed of action, they may lack fundamental knowledge of the situations they’re handling. This can jeopardize organizational strategy when improv is not an option.

They are keenly aware of their surroundings and are excellent observers who are quick to address crises. They can struggle with stopping long enough to understand the bigger picture or theory.

How to Survive this Personality Type

The ESTP is quick, witty and charming. They have good self-concepts and are not averse to the give and take of relationships. They love the good things of life. If you have an issue with the ESTP, you can generally address it directly in a respectful way.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

ESTP’s may leave the island before they can vote you off of it. They’re moving fast. If you can catch up with them, they make great relationships.

ESFP – 8.5% of population

Surviving the “Joy and Good Humor” Team Member

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

When we talk about surviving the ESFP, it’s as if you’re getting over a great vacation and teaching yourself to get back to normal. ESFP’s are great to work with and be around. Why would you need to survive these experiences?

It just seems downright morally wrong to the more driven types that the ESFP’s have the ability to be in the moment and to make enjoying their day a priority.

Yet sometimes you need survive the ESFP’s joy in living a life of intense sociability with almost no conflict and as little stress as possible. Organizations create stress and conflict as a natural byproduct of making things happen. Surviving the ESFP is the task of putting the sunny day of the ESFJ into a tornado, which is often the environment of the organization.

How to Survive this Personality Type

Surviving the ESFP is really tricky in the organization. It’s like being against chocolate birthday cake. The ESFP may take what you consider as an objective evaluation of a situation to be a personal attack. Since the ESFP is universally loved as someone who organizes everything social, they have a broad and deep constituency in any organization that you don’t want to alienate.

The best way to survive the ESFP is to deploy them where you need to lower tension and to boost morale and not in an environment where they must communicate bad news or negative numbers.

Being direct with the ESFP will produce no positive results. The best strategies are to distract and divert. If the ESFP finds themselves traveling in the wrong direction, reassign them and divert them to more positive actions.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

It is not easy to get voted off the ESFP’s island because their tendency is to like you and to get along. They can become a negative force when directly confronted or when their role is changed or diminished.

When that happens keep in mind that the ESFP will most likely have more support from others than you do. In that case, embed change into organization policy so that change is not attributed to a person, but rather an organizational change.

ENFP – 8.1% of population

Surviving the ENFP “New Shiny Object Syndrome”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

Surviving the ENFP “new shiny object syndrome” is one of the most unexpected and serious challenges that organizations and their leadership teams face.

The ENFP is one of the most pivotal leaders, especially in startup organizations and organizations in change. ENFP’s craft the organization’s message in a way that members of the organization feel confidence in change. They find themselves in management at the highest level.

Usually unaware to the ENFP themselves, they begin to “lose altitude,” drive, and interest, and they may drift. The ENFP begins by being excited over “new shiny objects,” but can lose interest, sometimes remarkably fast, when new possibilities arise.

Once past the “shiny new object” phase in the present organization, the organization settles into new routines—and the ENFP dislikes routines. Endless meetings with constant new information to be learned and digested begin to wear on the ENFP. Finally the people and the organization can bore the ENFP.

Suddenly the ENFP finds himself or herself moving on—or in some cases getting fired because of the eroding quality of work.

How to Survive this Personality Type

Surviving the ENFP is partially a process of not becoming too emotionally dependent on the ENFP. They are such strong players that the organization puts its future hopes into their hands. An organization that depends heavily on an ENFP should have a back-up plan, and bench strength.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

The ENFP won’t vote you off the island. They are the most inclusive people. You will most likely see the distant form of their figure in a boat sailing into the distant horizon.

It would be wonderful to be able to explain to the ENFP the wisdom of sticking where they are until they’ve learned what they need to learn, but because when ENFP’s make decisions about relationships, they are not apt to change.

ENFP’s unfortunately do much better in their early careers, when everyone sees them as rock stars, than later. Time takes a toll on their resumes, their references, and they reach the point where the are not ready for larger assignments. They will usually tell you that they have followed the pathway they wanted to follow, but there is regret.

ENTP – 3.2% of population

Surviving the “Whip Lash Cowboy”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

It’s important to survive the ENTP “Whip Lash Cowboy.” The ENTP is the most versatile
cowboy/cowgirl in the in the rodeo. The ENTP can almost do anything—anchor a television show, deploy themselves as gurus of technology, work as a trial attorney, bankers, or as an entrepreneur, and this is just a beginning.

Yet you must survive the ENTP leader who tends to change his vision and agenda with frequency, give out mixed messages, can be verbally combative, and zig zags through multiple initiatives, always ready to try something new.

How to Survive this Personality Type

In order to survive the ENTP, you have to be quick of mind, able to follow leaps of thought, and to stand up to them when you don’t believe they’re making sense. You have to be very comfortable with yourself to mirror the ENTP’s confidence.

ENTP’s tend believe they’re wrong about as often as the century plant blooms. They can be good friends, but frustrating in terms of your thinking you really got heard.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

ENTP’s can definitely vote you off the island, and when that happens, go without regret. The ENTP, in spite of often being a verbal bully, can be quite brittle. The ENTP, for all their bluster, often suffer from depression, and lack a central philosophy for their lives.

ESTJ – 8.7% of population

Surviving the “Cookie Cutter” Leader

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

Surviving the ESTJ “cookie cutter leader” is critical to organizations when industries are in the midst of disruptive change.

The ESTJ is one of the most important leaders within organizations. They manage people and resources to maximize efficiency. They hold leadership positions for decades in organizations in such industries as retail, banking, and manufacturing.

ESTJ’s are best in organizations that have cookie cutter templates, where there is regulation and long held standard operating procedures.

In times of change, the ESTJ is not ideal to take organizations through transitions where the organization needs to go through reinvention. This includes a great many organizations in the 21st Century.

How to Survive this Personality Type

Surviving the “cookie cutter leadership” of the ESTJ can be quite difficult. They run organizations based on past experience and data, and are often brilliant at understanding how the mechanics of the organization work. But the ESTJ can be weak at the global picture and lack a sense of vision when the past data doesn’t apply to the future.

Some ESTJ’s have a sense that they must ally themselves with intuitive leaders that can see the organization from a global perspective and understand the shifts that it must make.

The ESTJ doesn’t easily create groundbreaking forward vision, but often they do see the need for it. They can only be convinced by showing that people and strategies that are being suggested have been done successfully in other environments.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

ESTJ’s can vote you off the island if you are incompetent, disorganized, unethical, or refuse to give your best. ESTJ’s are loyal to people who are loyal to them. If you are competent, they will work with you.

ESFJ -12.3% of population

Surviving the “Don’t Tell Me Why Strategy

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

Organizations get to the point where why is just as important as what. At that point you must learn to survive the ESFJ, the “don’t tell me why” strategy. Telling them why slows down the process of getting things done.

The ESFJ is the best weapon of warfare that an organization possesses. The ESFJ knows how to move an organization forward, round up the stragglers, and take care of details—and keep everyone happy. The ESFJ wants to know what and when, but may have little desire to know why.

How to Survive this Personality Type

An ESFJ is most usually easy to survive. They take care of logistics and getting things accomplished on the field of battle.

You need to form a good alliance with the ESFJ in which there are clear definitions of roles and processes. Survival may entail minor annoyances on everyone’s part, but it will eventually be easy.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

ESFJ’s care deeply about people and their welfare. The have great patience with people they work with. ESFJ’s also value efficiency, organization, and order.

ENFJ – 2.5% of population

Surviving “the Control Monarch”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

Surviving the “Control Monarch” is a tall order. The ENFJ is the most skilled negotiator and mediator of all types, but must ultimately be survived because of their unique way of controlling.

No other personality type has the ability to walk into a room where you need a chain saw to cut the tension, and walk out a few hours later with trust and a deal, as well a plan to move forward. The ENFJ is a great group facilitator and people are drawn to their leadership.

If you work with an ENFJ, you must survive one of their basic interpersonal beliefs: “People like me and therefore I’m right.”

You have to understand that the ENFJ has some basic fears you must survive, fears that you will never see unless you work with the ENFJ.

One is the fear of conflict. The ENFJ believes that no good thing ever happened when two people are arguing. If you can’t quickly come to an agreement, the ENFJ will want to know why you can’t get into a good mood and quit jeopardizing the organization.

The other is the fear of losing control—and the ENFJ must control something at all times. An ENFJ in the grip will obsess about schedules, rules, regulations, and finance. Even if you agree, they will return to the same point as if you don’t agree with them.

How to Survive this Personality Type

When the ENFJ is in a good place, you will never need to survive them—they’ll be your lifeline to survival.

Since no one works better with high level teams, ENFJ’s are promoted to the top. Surviving the ENFJ once promoted can be a tricky. Since they always serve people, they are assured of being the center. The ENFJ can become addicted to people’s loyalty. They simply believe that things move much better when people follow their lead—everyone gets along and relationships are good. ENFJ’s continually check the pulse of the group. They identify the well-being of the group as being their well-being.

In order to survive the ENFJ as the “Control Monarch,” you’ll have to convince them that the royal court does not coalesce well around an absolute monarch. The ENFJ, with their famed negotiation skills, may often not listen well to direct reports. New plans and strategies can frankly take away attention from the ENFJ. People love what the ENFJ does well, and they are lavished with constant praise. Understanding how different skillsets work together can be a difficult process.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

You never want to get voted off the island by an ENFJ. The ENFJ is a priceless asset. Once voted off the island by the ENFJ, it is difficult to be welcomed back. Not only are they good at interpersonal relationships, they have powerful minds, and they have a vision for people and their possibilities. The ENFJ has a powerful ability to manage details as no other type. They are worth the alliance.

ENTJ – 1.8% of population

Surviving “the General Whose Only Command is ‘Charge!”

Danger! What to Survive in This Personality Type!

Surviving “the ENTJ General whose only command is “Charge!” can be a crisis situation in which you might find yourself.

ENTJ leaders lead best in desperate situations. They achieve what few can achieve, and are often CEO’s of companies. But they all too often overplay their hand and find that they have a general mutiny among those who follow them. Their leadership style is often not successful in the long run.

WWII General Douglas MacArthur, an ENTJ type leader, was a powerful General who was fired by President Truman for not following orders.

ENTJ’s can be the only successful leaders in some situations—they can be the organization’s only hope .ENTJ’s may be the most skilled strategists of all the personality types. They create successful pathways to success by their ability to read markets and predict future actions.

How to Survive this Personality Type

You must survive the ENTJ because he or she is very comfortable with “the nuclear option.” The ENTJ has a value system that believes that achieving an outcome is worth any effort or sacrifice. They often do huge collateral damage to those around them. People sense that they believe that organizational outcomes are more important than individual survival.

In order to survive the ENTJ general, you have to be sure there is really a war going on. If someone is needed to run the organization and to keep it stable, you probably don’t need an ENTJ. If the organization is in crisis—if there is a huge opportunity or threat—you need an ENTJ. You need an ENTJ if you are convinced that you need change that requires the force of an ENTJ personality.

The way to survive an ENTJ is to convince him or her that they won’t be around forever. Once large objectives are accomplished, you may need a kinder gentler type personality to move the organization forward.

How to Not Get “Voted off The Island”

The ENTJ doesn’t have a great many people on his or her island. The ENTJ is critical and
demanding of himself or herself and they turn their laser beam onto everyone around them. They are always judging the mettle of the person nearby. It may seem contradictory, and personality types are contradictory, but if the ENTJ commits to you, he will be the most lifelong loyal friend ever.