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Studying personality types helps us better understand ourselves and others, which can improve communication, deepen relationships, and reduce conflict. In addition, knowing your personality type can help you better understand your behaviors and motivations, allowing you to make choices that improve your chances of success and happiness.
The ENTP personality type is clever, strategic, and willing to challenge social norms. They have an open mind capable of big thoughts and dreams but don’t always realize their vision. Let’s explore ENTP strengths and weaknesses.
What is the ENTP Personality Type?
In psychology, the classification of different personality types goes back to the early Greeks but began to be formalized into different systems and theories in the 1950s. For example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was developed in the 1960s, based on the work of Carl Jung, and popularized the idea of 16 basic personality types.
Today, the MBTI 16 personality types are also used in other personality type theories, so the 4-letter MBTI acronyms are widely used in different systems.
The ENTP personality type is defined by these characteristics:
The E in ENTP stands for extroversion, which indicates where you put your attention and get your energy. An extrovert prefers to spend their time in the outer world of other people and external activities and gets energy from active involvement with the world around them.
They get excited by generating action and making things happen. They often understand problems best when talking them through with others.
The N in ENTP stands for iNtuition, which describes how you learn and gather information. An intuitive personality type process words, ideas, and symbols, looking for patterns and connections.
They think things through and form theories before they act. They gather impressions and make predictions with a mind that focuses more on the future than on the past.
The T in ENTP stands for thinking, which indicates how you prefer to make decisions. A thinking personality type prefers to make decisions based on universal principles and values, looking for impersonal solutions that apply to anyone, anywhere.
They are thoughtful and analytical and try to make rational decisions without being influenced by the emotions of themselves or others.
The P in ENTP stands for perceiving, which describes how you prefer to appear to others. A perceiving personality type likes to live an open, flexible, and adaptable life. They prefer spontaneity to scheduling and are more casual than controlled.
They may have bursts of energy and enthusiasm that come and go or may struggle to meet deadlines or make firm decisions.
Altogether, this combination of characteristics gives the ENTP personality type the nickname “The Debater.” The Debater is innovative and expressive, full of clever ideas, and with a gift for strategy. They easily engage with others and love a good conversation.
They like verbally exploring new ideas, discussing different perspectives, and finding new solutions, and this can sometimes take the form of verbal sparring.
Their tendency to enjoy debate so much that they sometimes switch sides and play “devil’s advocate” is one of the defining characteristics of this type.
You can see the ENTP love of debate in some of history’s most famous ENTPs, including Socrates and Catherine the Great. While this personality type is highly represented among philosophers, writers, and politicians, their gregariousness and playfulness also lead many of them toward careers in comedy.
Unsurprisingly, humorous commentators like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Amy Poehler, Steven Colbert, and Joan Rivers are ENTPs.
The ENTP is one of the rare personality types, with just 2-5% of Americans represented. However, it also has a more balanced gender representation than many other personality types and includes approximately as many women as men.
5 Strengths of the ENTP Personality
Here are the key strengths of the ENTP personality type:
1. Innovative and Creative
The ENTP is not attached to custom or tradition and is inspired by new ideas, which makes them incredibly creative and innovative. They see things differently, make new connections and combinations, and aren’t afraid to think big.
Of course, not all of their ideas work out, but they are more interested in generating and exploring new avenues than finding practical solutions.
2. Excellent Conversationalist and Communicator
The ENTP loves to talk and loves to talk with people who also like to talk. They excel at drawing out quiet people, asking deep and insightful questions, and genuinely interested in other experiences and perspectives.
While they love to debate and discuss, they are genuinely interested in two-way communication rather than just sharing their point of view.
3. Values Truth and Knowledge
The ENTP cares deeply about truth and understanding, which is why they are so good at pursuing new information and points of view. Part of the value of debate and discussion is that they perceive it as a way to reach better truth and understanding.
Therefore, they will quickly discard their ideas if they find them false.
4. Courageous and Confident
The ENTP is bold and fearless. They are happy to pursue big goals and ideas, take risks and fail, speak unpopular opinions, and challenge tradition and convention. They dare to act on their ideas and have the confidence to bounce back from setbacks.
The quick wit and genuine interest of an ENTP win them many friends and supporters. They can be entertaining, informative, challenging, funny, and warm simultaneously, which is a scarce combination of skills, making them exceptionally popular.
3 Weaknesses of the ENTP Personality
Here are the most significant weaknesses of the ENTP personality type:
The ENTP dislikes practical considerations, which can make them unreliable despite their good intentions. As a result, they struggle with organization, scheduling, procrastination, and focus.
They do not want to disappoint others with their unreliability, but their preference for abstract thought and open-ended structures can impair their ability to follow through.
ENTPs love to generate many big, new, creative ideas and pursue their thoughts wherever they lead. However, they are interested in ideas for their own sake and not for any solutions or outcomes that may arise from them.
They do not like figuring out how to implement their plans and ideas practically, and most of them are not workable solutions to immediate problems.
There is a fine line between debate and argument, and the ENTP is prone to crossing it. Because they don’t value customs or tradition and are so fearless, they may often debate with authority figures like teachers, bosses, parents, law enforcement, etc.; this behavior can be seen as disrespectful and confrontational.
With this set of characteristics, the ENTP would do best to choose work and a career that plays to their strengths and downplays their weaknesses. ENTPs prefer continual growth and challenge and dislike routine and repetitive work.
They are unlikely to be successful at jobs that require continual attention to practical details, especially if those jobs are on tight schedules and deadlines. Some great careers for an ENTP include:
When ENTPs are given independence and flexibility, they can be incredibly hard workers and productive contributors. However, they are unlikely to reach their full potential without consciously addressing some of their weaknesses.
For an ENTP to achieve the greatest success at work and greater happiness in life and relationships, they need to work on their reliability and follow through.
No one wants to work with someone who consistently misses deadlines or live with a partner who forgets commitments, and the ENTP won’t be able to achieve their own goals without more persistence.
Tips for People with ENTP Personality
So here are some ways for an ENTP to become more reliable while remaining true to their personality:
Limit Your Commitments
Getting caught up in the moment's enthusiasm and over-promising things you can’t truly deliver is easy. Develop the habit of saying “I’ll check” instead of saying “I will” and not making promises in the heat of the moment.
A day later, look at your calendar, consider your workload, and then consider what you can commit to. Make specific commitments, like “I will bring the boxes tomorrow” instead of “I will help you move,” and then set a reminder for yourself.
It can be challenging for an ENTP to complete a task once the initial enthusiasm has passed. This can lead to a long list of barely-started or incomplete tasks, which kills motivation and invites more procrastination, which worsens everything.
So instead, break tasks down into manageable steps, and complete the steps now, not later.
While an ENTP will never love scheduling and list-making, if they can manage to limit the number of things they commit to and then complete more of their commitments on time, they will have made progress toward being a better partner and team member and achieving more of their own goals and ambitions. It’s a win-win!
Final Thoughts on the ENTP Personality
The Debater is a remarkable personality, and their quick wit and creative ideas easily win fans, friends, and followers. They are eager to dig down to the root of a problem, and explore all its aspects and implications, even if that means switching sides mid-stream. This allows them to find unconventional solutions and have truly original ideas.
For more information about ENTPs and other MBTI personality types, check out our guide to the 16 personalities. See our favorite online personality tests; if you don’t know your Myers-Briggs personality type and want to find out, see our favorite online personality tests. And if you know an ENTP, settle in for a great debate.
Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.