7 Signs You‘re Not ENTJ, INTJ, INFJ, or ENFJ
One of the biggest mistypes of Myers Briggs: S’s as N’s
A lot of S’s mistype as N’s in MBTI
And a lot of SJ’s, in particular, as NJ types. Meaning:
Many ESTJ, ISTJ, ISFJ, ESFJ’s misidentify as ENTJ, INTJ, INFJ, ENFJ.
But the thing about mistypes is that behaviors don’t add up…
First of all: a word on cognitive functions
I know we’re all introduced to Myers Briggs as a dichotomy of four sets of letters: extraverted vs introverted (E vs I), intuitive vs sensing (N vs S), thinking vs feeling (T vs F) and judging vs perceiving (J vs P)… but that’s not actually how it goes.
In reality, the 16 “types” are categorized with the middle two sets of letters (S vs N, F vs T) defined as either external or internal (E vs I) orientation— extraverted sensing (Se), introverted sensing (Si), extraverted intuition (Ne), introverted intuition (Ni), extraverted thinking (Te), introverted thinking (Ti), extraverted feeling (Fe), introverted feeling (Fi) — these are called “cognitive functions.”
And each MBTI type is defined by a specific order (“stack”) of functions.
In this piece, we’re only focusing on two: Si vs. Ni
They make up what we’ll call the “SJ” and “NJ” types*.
Introverted sensing (Si) = SJ. It’s in all “xSxJ” types, the “dominant” (first) function of ISTJ / ISFJ; the “auxiliary” (second) function of ESTJ / ESFJ.
Introverted intuition (Ni) = NJ*. It’s in all “xNxJ” types, the “dominant” (first) function of INTJ / INFJ; the “auxiliary” (secondary) function of ENTJ / ENFJ
*Note: it’s not common to say “NJ;” I’m doing it anyway for the sake of this post.
What does Si (SJ) and Ni (NJ) mean? Well, my dear, that is the essence of this piece…
Many SJ’s identify as NJ’s — but they want both
So some of the biggest “tells” are:
a.) An SJ will continue to identify with (even defend) inherently-SJ values and strengths that NJ’s don’t really want or need
b.) An SJ will also often only identify with the “positive” characteristics of NJ, but not the “negative” ones
In other words:
The SJ who misidentifies as an NJ tries to have “the best of both worlds”
And part of this is because, societally, we tend to value some of the things that are also reflected in surface-level descriptions of “NJ.” But what SJ often doesn’t realize is that many of the things they themselves value most are things that the NJ inherently does not care about (or even actively violates.)
Here’s how the differences play out, and how SJ vs NJ looks…
“You wanna know how I know you’re SJ?”
1.) You live in the real world
This is a fundamental difference between sensing (S) and intuition (N).
This has nothing to do with being “in your head” or “overthinking,” but rather what you’re thinking about.
At a high level (both extroverted and introverted):
“Refers to our immediate experience of the objective world, a process that… perceives objects as they are — realistically and concretely. It… attempts to represent, factually and in detail, the information that is available.”
“Perceives (without clear evidence or proof)… by reading things into the situation.”
Both SJ’s and NJ’s internalize — but it’s totally different things
SJ’s: categorize the real world.
Carl Jung, father of MBTI, asserted that intuitives (N’s) have a “remarkable indifference” to “anything outside their unconscious pursuit,” and NJ lives in the abstract,
“Without establishing any connection between the phenomenon and himself.”
And as a result,
“An intuitive type acts not on the basis of rational judgment but on sheer intensity of perception.”
Which, as Jung also pointed out,
“Is of course fruitless from the standpoint of immediate utility.”
And as this becomes a way of life overall,
“Intuition naturally often results in an extraordinary aloofness of the individual from tangible reality.”
“The intuitive is never to be found among the generally recognized reality.”
“Reality has no existence for [Ni]; he gives himself up to fruitless phantasies.”
The Ni function (especially Ni-dominant, INxJ) is rarely tied to or invested in the “real world” — which fundamentally and directly conflicts with the SJ’s primary needs and strengths; it’s a way of life that SJ would never want. Above all else, SJ values what’s “practical,” not “fabricated.”
And, as expert Susan Storm wrote,
“We need sensors to remind us of what is real.”
“Isn’t this just introversion?”
No. Both Si and Ni are introverted functions, and all Si- and Ni-dominant types (ISxJ and INxJ, respectively) are introverts. So of course SJ can get inside their heads and overly-analytical, too, but what SJ and NJ “internalize” is almost opposite — one rooted in the real world; one in the subconscious.
“Or ‘feeling,’ maybe?”
“Are you sure you haven’t misunderstood N vs S?”
I mean, it’s possible — but I’m confident I haven’t. (And either way, I am sure that I’m the one quoting Jung here.)
“But what about all these NJs who do ‘great’ work?”
First of all: many, many people we admire are S’s, not N’s; we’ve just mistyped them (see: this entire post.) And for those that really are N’s: the “greatness” comes from applying it — to “people” or “things.”
Ni isn’t “great” on its own. It does no “real work.” It is more often, on the contrary, a total vacuum; it is white noise. And as Carl Jung wrote, the Ni-dominant (INxJ) in particular is “frequently… a sort of wise simpleton,” a “voice of one crying in the wilderness” who “remains unintelligible.”
2.) You are detail-oriented
Sensors in general are “keenly aware of all the details around them,” and SJ’s are even moreso, internalizing all details for safe-keeping and future use.
They just don’t deal in details.
You cannot simultaneously see the forest and the trees. In their focus on “the forest,” all N’s, extraverted and introverted alike, lose sense of everything else:
“Intuitive perception ignores the details.”
This frustrates many S’s — especially SJ’s — who often (unknowingly) write NJ’s off (especially Ni-dominant, INxJ) as: absent-minded, scattered, inattentive, inexact, careless, irresponsible, etc.
And, as expert Susan Storm wrote,
“We need sensors… to help us keep track of details that intuitives are more likely to miss.”
“Isn’t this just J over P?”
No. We often define “J” incorrectly — as largely “SJ” qualities — but NJ is still “exacting,” it’s just regarding the abstract, not details. (Which may sound confusing, but Ni is, as I’ve been saying, a weird function overall.)
3.) You like things clearly-defined
Because of their deeply-rooted need for clarity and categorization, SJs are very uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity (and change), especially regarding their immediate environment, and are the first ones to seek clarity.
SJs very often ask: who, what, where, when, why, and how? e.g.,
Boss: “We’re making some org changes.”
SJ: “What’s the new org chart? When will this happen? Who will be impacted?”
They are also more likely to categorize based on binaries: bad vs good, right vs wrong, etc.
In fact, NJs want the literal opposite of this. They prefer the abstract — “concepts, symbols, archetypes, and ideas” — and the amorphous.
In short: N’s are “excited by the unknown.”
They are energized by the undefined — and as such, feel unengaged with what’s already defined, and exhausted by the process of defining.
This means that if you ask an NJ, especially an Ni-dominant (INxJ), for clarity on “real world” things, they might not have it, because they may not have even thought to ask. They’re content to “get the gist” of something in the real world and then move on — something SJs are very unlikely to do.
4.) You have a good memory
SJs may not remember everything (like what their spouse said two weeks ago or what they had for lunch yesterday), but overall, they remember a lot — it is one of their absolute greatest strengths.
As expert Susan Storm wrote, SJs:
“Absorb and place importance on proven facts, which they can recall swiftly.”
In Neuroscience of Personality, Dario Nardi, PhD wrote:
“Si types may get ‘in the zone’ when reviewing past events…ISTJ and ISFJ easily enter an expert flow state while recalling… reliving it in rich detail”
They are amazing at it, and,
“Have a vast memory bank of stored impressions, facts, and details that give them unshakeable ideas and viewpoints. Si-dominant personality types can easily recall details and experiences from the past… They can easily pull from their memories to give you all the details that are so necessary to know before deciding what step to take next. They aren’t the types to make forgetful blunders because they are very careful, responsible, and attentive to all the practical facts.”
They just don’t have strong memories.
Julie Moore wrote,
“A person who is high in iNtuition usually remembers general impressions of events rather than the specific details Sensors are able to recall.”
And, as Storm wrote, N’s,
“Have a harder time remembering concrete… details.”
And Jenn Granneman agrees: intuitives are less likely to remember “the actual details of what happened.”
(And, perhaps contrary to assumption and at risk of total confusion: this is probably apt to be more true for NJs than NPs, as NPs have Si in their “stack.”)
SJ’s “excellent memory” is one of their greatest strengths, and something they deeply value in others. As such, the N — especially N-dominant —lack of “steel trap” can drive SJ crazy, a frustration with others that’s one of their biggest “tells.”
Bonus: You honor “the past,” history and/or tradition
Not always but often, SJ is the type to uphold traditions, dig into history, and look to what was done before.
It just doesn’t do much for them, overall.
5.) You are practical and pragmatic
Si is widely regarded as the most practical function (including according to Isabel Briggs Myers research in her book Gifts Differing), and Si-dominants (ISxJ) the most practical types.
They are down-to-earth and outwardly matter-of-fact. They enjoy tried-and-true techniques. They are grounded.
Carl Jung wrote that SJ is,
“Very detailed in what it detects, thus creating a level of conscientiousness and procedure in their work… It wants things to be pinned down and concluded.”
Indeed, as Storm wrote,
“Si-dominant types are not impulsive, but careful in all their decisions. They consider what they’ve learned, from mistakes, from memory, from their education, and they take all that accumulated knowledge and apply it to their decisions. They create stability for the people in their lives, and crave stability in their own lives.”
They don’t care about what is — they care about what isn’t. They don’t want tomorrow to be an extension of yesterday or even today; they want what’s “not” yet, and they have to operate outside of what’s “practical” to get it.
As Susan Storm wrote, NJ’s
“Have a stronger belief in the ‘impossible.”
And what’s “impossible” cannot simultaneously be “practical.” It may eventually evolve into something more pragmatic, but the pursuit of the former fundamentally will not uphold the latter. All N’s will chase “impractical” things in a way that exhausts and frustrates SJ.
Carl Jung wrote that an N,
“Can never exist in stable, long-established conditions of generally acknowledged though limited value: because his eye is constantly ranging for new possibilities, stable conditions have an air of impending suffocation.”
This would never be the case for an S, especially Si-dominant (ISxJ.)
(See also: first point.)
6.) You are dutiful
Once SJ’s understand what’s expected, they are likely to deliver on it. They are reliable, responsible, and they show up.
“Si-users place great importance on keeping their word and forming relationships with people who keep their word and are consistent and dependable. Si-users believe in being responsible, in following through and completing projects, and they tend to be rattled by change and unpredictable or unfamiliar situations because they can’t compare these situations to past collected data.”
They don’t have as strong of a sense of “duty.”
Ni-dominants (INxJs) in particular “are extremely individualistic and independent,” and “less interested in authority, credentials, and past experience.”
Carl Jung wrote that the N,
“Seizes hold of new objects and new ways… only to abandon them cold-bloodedly, without regard and apparently without remembrance, as soon as their range becomes clearly defined and a promise of any considerable future development no longer clings to them.”
N’s “get in trouble” all the time for this, and the only ways around it are a.) take on SJ characteristics at work, or b.) overcome Ni with extraverted functions (Te or Fe), which is the case of ENTJ or ENFJ.
But N-dominants (INxJ, ENxP) will often face the wrath of higher-ups, who often see “insubordination.”
7.) You like to know “the process”
SJs prefer to know “tried and true” techniques and standards, and one of the first things they ask when trying to learn about something is,
“What’s the process?”
And if there isn’t one, an SJ is likely to point out: “we need one.”
They prefer working with what’s ambiguous and uncharted, and “the tried-and-true technique bores them.”
Which means, of course, that they’re often unaware of the process or outside of it, making others wonder why the N-doms in particular don’t “have their shit together.”
Bonus: One or more of the following words gives you warm fuzzies:
Plan. Process. Procedure. Agenda. Organization. Clarity. Structure. Stability.
At best, these words do nothing for them. At worst, they elicit a deep discomfort very similar to how an SJ feels when s/he doesn’t have them.
Bonus Bonus: You say one or more of the following things
“I like to know what I’m getting into,” “best practice,” “I like to have a plan,” “it is what it is,” “how it’s done,” “pull rank,” “who has the authority,” etc.
Is one type (SJ or NJ) better than the other?
Absolutely not! (I mean, seriously — didja read the first section?)
Look around most any work environment and you’ll notice that it’s the SJ’s more than any other type that keep the thing well-oiled and afloat. It is no small stretch of the imagination to suggest that civilization as we know it would crumble apart were it not for SJ efforts.
“These all just seem ‘Judging’ (J) to me”
I mean, both Ni and Si are J. So.
“MBTI is fake”
Maybe. But whether it is or isn’t, that’s pretty rich from someone who clicked on (and presumably read) this article.
Is this what you do all day?? Get a hobby, Ti.
I mean, me, for one. I care. Obviously. Because I wrote this.
(And you as well, presumably. Because here you are.)
“Why does this matter?”
You know what? It doesn’t.
See first point I guess.
Things that are both SJ and NJ
I want to end with this. Because if I learned nothing else from all the reading I did as I put this together, it’s that the two are very, very similar…
Introversions and internalizations (doms)
I mean, this one goes without saying, because these are both “introverted” functions.
Whereas extraverted functions, by their nature, exist “in the real world,” all introverted functions pertain to our internalizations and, in Carl Jung’s own words, a degree of what he called “subjectivity,” meaning we like to touch and hold and feel and chew on things, categorizing (Si) or abstracting (Ni.)
SJ internalizes actual reality, NJ internalizes abstract.
“Convergence” and Focus
They both filter, funnel, and seek to make sense of things.
Analytical and “Associations”
Being “particular” — even “perfectionist”
I mean… they are both, after all, still “J’s.” And they’re both going to be discerning.
But the N will focus the perfectionist efforts on abstract and/or subconscious, while the S will focus the perfectionist efforts on the tangible and real-world.
They do it differently — the SJ from “what’s worked in the past;” “what’s tried and true,” the NJs being a bit more nebulous. But they both do it.
But for different reasons — for the SJ, it’s a sense of security. For the NJ, it’s because they can have an underdeveloped Se and feel a bit put out with “day to day decisions.”
A bit “useless” and “fruitless” without extraverted expressions
Jung acknowledges that both the introverted intuitive and the introverted sensation type are, from an extraverted and rationalistic standpoint, “indeed the most useless of men.”
Harsh. But important to understand, if we want happiness and fulfillment. (And we usually do.)
The only thing that makes either of these functions useful is if we use our extraverted judging function — Te (things, xxTJ’s) or Fe (people, xxFJ’s).
Which is the real way that either type — NJ or SJ — wins regardless.
Hitch your horse up to your extraverted function and go outside.