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Portrait of an ENTP

ENTPs wish to exercise their ingenuity in the world of people and things. Found in about five out of every hundred people, ENTPs extravert intuition; thus they deal imaginatively with social relationships as well as physical and mechanical relations. They are very alert to what is apt to occur next, and always sensitive to possibilities.

ENTPs are good at analysis, especially functional analysis, and have both a tolerance for and enjoyment of the complex. Usually enthusiastic, ENTPs are apt to express interest in everything, and thus are a source of inspiration to others, who find themselves caught up by the ENTP's enthusiasm. This type is delighted over many things and so is easy to please, often showing the effervescence of their NF counterpart, the ENFP. The ENTP is the most reluctant of all the types to do things in a particular manner just because that is the way things always have been done. They characteristically have an eye out for a better way, always on the lookout for new projects, new activities, new procedures.

ENTPs are confident in the value of their pursuits and display a charming capacity to ignore the standard, the traditional, and the authoritative. As a result of this open attitude, they often bring a fresh, new approach to their work and their lives. The ENTP is a keen judge of the pragmatics of both the social and the mechanical, and may become expert at directing relationships between means and ends.

Where the introverted NTP sees design as an end in itself, the extroverted NTP sees design as a means; the end is the invention that works, the prototype that is replicable. Ideas are valuable when and only when they make possible actions and objects. "It can't be done" is a challenge to an ENTP and elicits a reaction of "I can do it." They are not, however, the movers of mountains as are the INTJs. Rather, the faith of the ENTPs is in their ability to improvise something, and they display an unusual talent for rising to the expediency of a situation. Superficially, ENTPs resemble ESTPs in their derring-do. But the focus of the ENTP is on competency and the sense of power this gives, rather than on the feeling of freedom of action experienced by the ESTP.

ENTPs can be fascinating conversationalists, able as they are to follow the complex verbalizations of others. They may deliberately employ debate tactics to the disadvantage of their opponents, even when the "opponents" are close associates and valued friends. ENTPs are the most able of all types to maintain a one-up position with others. They value adaptability and innovation and thus respond quickly and adeptly to another's shifting position. They may even be several jumps ahead. The ENTP, talkative and motivating, is often the life of an enterprise. The ENTP can be an entrepreneur and cleverly makes do with whatever or whoever is at hand, counting on ingenuity to solve problems as they arise, rather than carefully generating a detailed blueprint in advance. A rough draft is all that an ENTP needs to feel confident and ready to proceed into action, counting on the ability to improvise as a situation develops. Because of this tendency to depend on ingenuity and improvisation, they may neglect very necessary preparation at times. After repeated failures in situations where improvising has met with defeat, the ENTP may develop ways of avoiding such situations as a substitute to thorough preparation.

ENTPs can succeed in a variety of occupations, as long as the job does not involve too much humdrum routine. At this point, they become restless. If a project in which they are engaged is no longer challenging, they tend to lose interest in that project and fail to follow through often to the discomfort of colleagues.

Seldom are ENTPs conformists. ENTPs enjoy outwitting the system and use rules and regulations within the system to win the game whatever it may be. They understand well the politics of institutions and deal with these realities very well, always aiming to understand the people within the system rather than to judge them. ENTPs are good at innovative projects and can administer them well if dull routine is not involved. They usually are outstanding teachers, continuously devising new participative ways to make learning exciting for the students. As an employee, an ENTP may work against the system just for the joy of being one-up. For ENTPs, to be taken-in, to be manipulated by another, is humiliating this offends their joy in being masters of the art of oneupmanship. ENTPs are the natural engineers of human relationships and human systems. Their good humor and optimistic outlook tend to be contagious, and people seek out their company.

As mates, ENTPs tend to create a lively living environment. They are gregarious, laugh easily and often, and are typically in good humor. Orderliness in the routines of daily living is not apt to inspire them; they usually solve this problem by mobilizing those around them. Tom Sawyer illustrated this talent when he solved the problem of getting his Aunt Polly's fence whitewashed. Life with ENTPs is likely to be a daring adventure; they can lead families into physical and economic dangers. ENTPs improvise to remain unaware that they do not have the necessary knowledge of the situation to ward off such dangers.

If the mate of an ENTP is not competitive, he or she is likely to find the one-up/one-down transactions somewhat wearing. If the mate is competitive, the result might be conflict. Although usually good providers of economic necessities, ENTPs at times engage in brinkmanship with their careers, placing them in jeopardy and behaving as if unaware of the consequences; they may thus offer unnecessary challenges to those who have power over their professional success. When challenges elicit negative responses from superiors, ENTPs are apt to react with delight at having an opportunity to improvise a solution to the crisis and, more often than not, they succeed in doing so.

ENTPs are likely to have all sorts of hobbies and to be experts in unexpected areas, but they are not apt to share these hobbies with their mates or children in the sense of teaching them. In fact, ENTPs may be very inconsistent in the attention given to offspring. Usually, it is feast or famine. ENTPs have a lively circle of friends and are interested in their ideas and activities. They are usually easy-going, seldom critical or nagging. At their worst, they can show undependable, fickle characteristics and may be rather easily discouraged.