The Most Unexpected, Surprising Quality of Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type

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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can be a great tool to help you understand yourself and others. That said, if you’ve ever poked around the internet, you're probably aware of just how easy it is to pigeonhole the types, which can, in effect, hinder your deeper understanding of personality. (Meaning, just because someone's an ISFP doesn’t mean she’s flighty. And just because he's an ENFP doesn't mean he's an overly emotional human-interrogator). That's because we're all nuanced and have an array of personal qualities that make us who we are.

So, while typing can be great for the purpose of helping you to understand someone’s behaviors and motivations, make sure you don't fall into the trap of stereotyping that person based on their four-letter MBTI profile. Ready to flip some common misperceptions? Rounded up below is the most unexpected personal qualities of each type. (Don’t know what your MBTI is? Read this first!)

Read on to learn the most surprising personal qualities common to each Myers-Briggs type.

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ISFJ: fierce protectors

ISFJs are commonly painted as soft-spoken and shy, but they have strong values and a very protective streak (so don’t press their buttons or hurt their loved ones). They won’t stand for anyone trying to do hard and are the first to jump in and offer comfort to someone in need. Having an ISFJ in your life means always having a fierce protector—even if they’ll happily let you speak for yourself whenever you are able.

ESFJ: insecure

Most see ESFJs as social butterflies and the life of the party. While they do love to be around people, they also want to feel accepted. Even though they're typically gregarious and assertive, their lesser-known personal qualities include being perceptive and deeply insecure. They also tend to overthink and always appreciate direct acknowledgement that their friends see them as important, kind, smart, and talented.

ISTJ: big softies

ISTJs get a bad rap for being stuffy, straight-laced traditionalists, but they're actually fairly laid-back. They like to stay out of other people’s business, and they’re also huge softies when it comes to friends and family. They have a sentimental heart, love to feel noticed, and yet struggle to see themselves as worthy of notice. So the next time an ISTJ has a birthday, gets a promotion, or the like, keep this in mind—they are so touched by kind gestures of acknowledgement.

ESTJ: loyal friends

ESTJs are often painted as hard-working, ambitious types who don’t make enough time for play. But they’re often not given credit for how persistently they work to be good friends. They may not be constant in this endeavor, but they are consistent, always showing up for the big moments when their friends truly need them (after a breakup, at a wedding, a baby shower, etc).

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ESFP: deeply self-aware

ESFPs are realists; they see things for what they are, and they know their own strengths and shortcomings. Even though they’re frequently pigeonholed as carefree, short-sighted partiers, this is not usually the case. They often struggle to start their journey toward a goal because they know exactly how much work is required to bring it to fruition. Other more classically ambitious types might have a higher concentration of self-deception about how easily they can accomplish things. Growth, for ESFPs, starts in spite of the challenge.

ISFP: self-sabotaging

ISFPs are often viewed as flighty and mysterious. In reality though, they struggle with intimacy and have a tendency toward self-sabotage. They are a deep well of emotion, with complex thoughts, and they also struggle to articulate their feelings and personal hurt, even if they're fiercely animated about causes they back. They may run from the people they love because the idea of getting their heart broken is almost too much to bear.

ESTP: sensitive

ESTPs are the highly confident charmers of the MBTI, but most don't appreciate their personal qualities of being highly romantic and sensitive. When they actually fall for someone, they fall hard, and they do so in an almost childlike way. As the ultimate risk-takers, they're game to give all they have and open themselves up to the inherent risks of loving someone vulnerably. They hurt, deeply, if relationships fall apart.

ISTP: reliable

ISTPs are commonly seen as lonely wanderers (who like it that way). However, this is only part of the picture. Content on their own, they also crave the company of others. They almost never start conflict and are easy to be around. In this way, they are reliable friends—even when they’re off doing something happily solo, a part from hanging out with their group.

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ENFP: brilliance

ENFPs are regularly seen as overly energetic and scatterbrained. But this is just the cover story. Beneath the surface, this type is very passionate about the causes they believe in, with a highly analytical mind and almost scientific approach to accomplishing things. They are brilliant, and even if they do struggle to organize all the endeavors they’re working on at any one time, they're often among the highest achievers in the MBTI.

INFP: good under pressure

INFPs hate the idea of being pressured—to perform at work, to reveal their feelings, to complete a major project, to do or act or feel in any single way. But one of their most surprising personal qualities is that they're great at dealing with being under pressure. Not only are they very adaptable, but they also have the ability to think on their feet and imagine many possibilities for how things can be done. Usually INFPs put up an initial fight when pressure is applied, but they’ll almost always deliver that project on time, execute that surprise party perfectly, or find the right words to take action on their feelings.

ENFJ: ambition

ENFJs are generally highly empathetic, love their friends, and are always up for meeting new people—but that's not all they are. With their penchant for organization, their enchanting charisma and their general work ethic, these types are also incredibly talented and ambitious. People discuss the personable auras of ENFJ so much, their ambition often gets lost in the background. It should be in the forefront.

INFJ: lack of self-insight

INFJs are the most intuitive of the Myers-Briggs world. They know a lot about a lot and can typically foresee what’s going to happen before it happens—or at least make a really good guess. That said, they often lack insight into themselves, struggling to understand their own feelings. Since they're such empaths, they can end up feeling others’ emotions as their own. They'd benefit from taking a step back to analyze their emotional state.

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INTJ: deep feelers

INTJs are often seen as cold-hearted, detached, and objective—but they only appear as such on the outside. That's because they're not reactive, meaning they don't show emotion in front of those they don’t know well. Still, they feel their feelings strongly—perhaps stronger than any other type, and they have the capacity to be deeply hurt, feel intense anger, and embrace passionate love. Always remember the external facade of an INTJ is not indicative of their vivid emotional interior.

ENTJ: Unfailingly helpful

ENTJs are frequently painted as ruthless, cutthroat tacticians constantly trying to get ahead. In reality, they're ambitious but also care immensely about friends and family. They will always step up to help a loved one. Like INTJs, they carry a lot of feeling toward a select few people, and won’t hesitate if one of their tribe needs them.

INTP: socializing struggles

INTPs are usually a pleasure to hang out with, though they often have to work very hard to socialize with others. They feel like outsiders, even when their friends love having them around. This is partly because they feel a lot of pull toward their intellectual pursuits, and partly because socializing almost never feels natural. Give them credit for their efforts. Attending a party can be a huge labor for these introverts.

ENTP: Highly self-critical

ENTPs seem fairly self-assured given their high intelligence, individualism, charisma, and sheer number friends. However, they are usually extremely self-critical and hard on themselves. They can usually see the pros and cons of every choice and question. When they prioritize themselves and their needs over others’ desires, they wonder if they’re being a good enough friend or parent. If they hurt someone’s feelings or make a misstep at work, they can’t let it go for a long time. They might show off a happy-go-lucky persona, but that perception is not as true as it seems.

Want more Myers-Briggs intel? Here's how you prefer to socialize and have sex.

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