The Mean Side of Every Myers-Briggs® Personality Type
Are some Myers-Briggs® personality types meanner than others? Are some nicer by virtue of their cognitive functions? Today I saw a graphic a major typology dating company had made listing the types most likely to be mean or “not mean.” This graphic, though probably meant to be a little funny, didn’t really make sense to me personally. When I got certified as a MBTI® practitioner, the teacher hammered into us the truth that “there are no better or worse personality types” and “no type is more or less moral than another.”
There are mean people and kind people, but there are no “mean” or “kind” personality types. Some types might look more stereotypically “nice” than others, but MBTI® doesn’t tell us anything about someone’s morality. The indicator simply gives us a look at the information that your brain prioritizes; what you do with that information will vary from person to person.
But what is “meanness”?
Mean can “mean” so many things to different people. But vocabulary.com defines mean as: “characterized by or indicative of lack of generosity.” Merriam-Webster defines mean as: “lacking dignity or honor” or “characterized by petty selfishness or malice.”
To say that certain types are inherently meanner than others implies that by virtue of inborn mental processes, some personality types are inherently less generous, more petty, and lacking in dignity or honor.
Content that aims to classify certain personality types as more moral or immoral than others is what gives Myers-Briggs® theory a bad name. So in today’s article, let’s even the playing field. We all have the propensity to be mean, but we also all have the same likelihood of being kind and honorable.
So today let’s take a look at the different ways each of the 16 personality types can show up as “mean” to other people. Keep in mind, that I’m not saying you’ll do these mean things automatically by virtue of your personality type. I’m saying that this is the way meanness tends to show up in immature versions of the different types. I’m also trying to show that any type can be mean, but they’ll demonstrate this capacity via the mental processes they naturally use. There are no better or worse, “meaner” or kinder types.
Table of contents
- But what is “meanness”?
- How Each Myers-Briggs® Personality Type Can Be Mean
- The ENFP
- The ENTP
- The INFP
- The INTP
- The ENFJ
- The ENTJ
- The INFJ
- The INTJ
- The ESFP
- The ESTP
- The ISFP
- The ISTP
- The ESFJ
- The ESTJ
- The ISFJ
- The ISTJ
- What Are Your Thoughts?
How Each Myers-Briggs® Personality Type Can Be Mean
ENFPs are definitely not the first type you’d think of when you hear the word “mean.” Full of energy and insight, they enjoy bringing out the best in people and exploring new possibilities and ideas. But like everyone, even ENFPs can have a mean side that shows up when they’re stressed, unhealthy, or immature.
ENFPs have a mental function called Introverted Feeling, or “Fi” for short. This function is focused on assessing one’s own values and going after what one finds meaningful in life. It asks, “What are my emotions telling me?” or “What feels right to me in my soul?” At its best, Introverted Feeling makes ENFPs authentic and purposeful. At its worst, it can lead to selfish behavior – putting one’s own desires and feelings over the welfare of others. At their worst, ENFPs may prioritize their own values and emotions while simultaneously denigrating others’ values or emotions. This is typically very rare for the average ENFP, but it may show up on bad days or with especially immature ENFPs.
Another way that meanness can show up in ENFPs is neglect of responsibilities. ENFPs are driven to explore many possibilities and ideas, but at times they can be so entranced by a new idea or opportunity that they leave other projects unfinished. They may also resist obligations or mundane duties to chase after something new and exciting. This can look as severe as neglecting your children because you’re chasing a new possibility or as benign as skipping flossing your teeth because it’s boring and you’ve got better things to do.
3 Ways for ENFPs to Grow:
- It’s important to make time for the extroverted and introverted sides of your personality type. Make time for socializing, brainstorming, and creating with others. But also make time to check in with yourself, learn, and reflect. When you take time to form connections with others while also becoming more self-aware, you become more mature and balanced. This leads to a more purposeful lifestyle.
- As an ENFP it’s natural to feel pulled by dozens of different possibilities and ideas. But before you jump to another project or distraction, ask yourself, “Will I feel good about this at the end of the day?” You can also look at your responsibilities or the people depending on you and ask yourself whether you are making a decision you can feel good about in your heart. Checking in with your heart and making sure you’re aligned with your values is crucial to making good decisions.
- Most ENFPs are open-minded and non-judgmental, but if you’re unhealthy, you can start to make snap judgments of others – especially if those other people hold different values from your own. Read books about people from different walks of life, communicate with a variety of people with different lifestyles, and continue learning about the varieties of human experience. The more you know and understand, the less you’ll be tempted to judge others harshly.
Find Out More About ENFPs: The Courage of the ENFP Personality Type
ENTPs are often the lovable although somewhat-tactless devil’s advocates. They bring an inventiveness and drive to the table that can be invaluable, but they can also have a certain meanness that shows up during immature moments.
ENTPs are driven to explore new ideas and possibilities. They have a restless need to experiment, innovate, and create. But their bodies can’t keep up with the dozens of ideas that their minds constantly concoct on a moment-to-moment basis. What results is they often leave projects half-finished or jump from one idea to another. Sometimes they use people to fuel their inspiration; using them to refill their energy and then moving on when things get monotonous or even a little mundane. They may also neglect responsibilities when they are chasing new ideas. This can look as minor as forgetting to make dinner because they got caught up in work or as severe as neglecting their children while they pursue a new business venture.
ENTPs can also be abrasive with their words, assuming others will be able to take a joke when it’s not always appropriate. What starts out as an attempt at humor can sometimes come off as hurtful or insensitive. They enjoy getting a reaction out of people, and at an unhealthy level, ENTPs may get reactions out of others by trolling them in hurtful ways. When people get their feelings hurt, they may brush it off in a condescending way, assuming the other person is oversensitive or a “snowflake.”
3 Ways for ENTPs to Grow:
- When you feel the temptation to move from one project to another, take some time to pause and assess things rationally. As an ENTP, you have a clever mind and a quick ability to make sense of things. But sometimes your hunger for novelty can pull you away from what’s rational. Does it really make sense to leave one project unfinished? Are you managing your responsibilities or getting carried away with a new, novel idea? Practice pausing whenever you feel the urge to leave something half-done or excuse yourself from a responsibility. Really ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time? Am I betraying any of my principles?”
- Sometimes it can be fun to get a reaction out of someone else. Sometimes it’s tempting to say a clever one-liner that will tease someone just a little too mercilessly. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself if a witty comment is hurtful or not. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it helpful? Humor should bring people together or make fun of things we all do or can relate to, it shouldn’t be mean-spirited. Think about your audience and their feelings.
- You have a thick skin and can often roll with the punches of banter or teasing. It can be easy to think anyone who is different is a “snowflake.” But in reality, everyone has their own unique sensitivities. It’s important to remember that everyone has different emotional needs and boundaries. Being aware of others’ needs and boundaries will help you to build better relationships and create a more inclusive environment. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, tease, or laugh – but know your audience before you make them the butt of your jokes. And don’t make the assumption that anyone who is sensitive to your comments is oversensitive. We all have different personalities. Before you meet someone they have encountered millions of stories and experiences that have shaped their sensitivities. You may not know the whole story.
Find Out More About ENTPs: The Unhealthy ENTP
It’s hard to imagine most INFPs being intentionally “mean.” Soft-spoken and imaginative, they are one of the most emotionally attuned of all the Myers-Briggs® personality types. But even INFPs can have an unkind side, particularly if they are immature or stressed.
INFPs possess a mental function called Introverted Feeling, or “Fi” for short. This cognitive function focuses on assessing one’s own personal values, personal feelings, and deeply-held beliefs. At its best, Fi gives INFPs a sense of conviction, purpose, and authenticity. At its worst, it can give unhealthy INFPs a flavor of self-absorption, hyper-sensitivity, and moral superiority. When INFPs are immature they may assume they have the moral high ground on everything; believing others to be less ethical because they have different values. This can look like a patronizing attitude or a harsh judgment that comes with little eye for context, nuance, or understanding. As an example, an immature INFP might make harsh black-and-white statements about people with opposing religious beliefs or political opinions while maintaining a nuanced view of their own political beliefs or religious opinions. They might imbue lots of ill intent or amoral beliefs to someone simply because they disagree on one thing or another.
Healthy INFPs are in touch with their intuition; and this gives them much more open-mindedness and context. It allows them to think of possibilities as to why people behave the way they do. It can fuel their imagination, thus filling in their mind with empathy and understanding for all the ways others might have come to hold values that don’t align with their own.
INFPs can also be mean with their words when they are in a bad place. During moments of extreme stress, they may become uncharacteristically critical; pointing out flaws in others’ behavior, logic, or values. Usually this feels overwhelming to the stressed INFP, as they typically are not like this and they tend to feel out of control and overwhelmed as it’s happening.
3 Ways for INFPs to Grow:
- The best way to be healthy is to make sure that you’re nurturing all the sides of your personality type. Get ample alone time, but also take time to connect with people from different walks of life. Read books about people from different parts of the world or people who hold different views from your own. As you grow in your understanding of a variety of people, you become more empathetic to those with different views. You develop more maturity, understanding, and perspective.
- If your life is highly stressful, take some time to assess where you’re putting your energy. Is there an area you can alter or change? Are there ways you can modify your day to make room for activities that bring you peace? Look for ways to reduce your stress as an INFP in this article.
- When you catch yourself feeling offended or judgmental of someone else, give yourself permission to take a break. During this time, relax your body, breath deeply, and calm everything inside of you. If you feel that this person is still worthwhile as a friend or family member, try to ask yourself what life experiences may have led them to having this particular belief. Ask yourself if their motivation was to hurt or if they did it without meaning to. Intentionally hurtful people should be called out or avoided, but if someone’s intentions weren’t hurtful, try to ask questions with curiosity or try to explain why you think differently. It’s important to remember that it’s possible to be both strong in your beliefs and open-minded.
Find Out More About INFPs: Understanding INFP Rage
INTPs are analytical, quiet people and many don’t like “rocking the boat.” Dealing with the emotional fallout of someone being offended or hurt by them is usually overwhelming to the INTP, so they often try to avoid it at all costs. But even INTPs can have a touch of meanness from time to time.
When they are immature, INTPs may let their sharp wit be a bit too cutting. They can sometimes say something in jest with the intent of being funny, but others may take it as an insult or criticism. This kind of meanness is usually unintentional, but because imbalancecd INTPs lack social tact, they may not realize the impact of their words until it’s too late.
INTPs can also be arrogant or condescending when they are unhealthy. They have an affinity for logical reasoning and analysis, and they probe the depths of various theories, trying to find truth or meaning. When they try to explain their interests or hypothesize about various theories, it can be hard for others to keep up. When they are in an unhealthy place, they tend to write others off as less intelligent than they are, not respecting the fact that others simply haven’t obsessed over the same theory for the same length of time and may need a more linear or sequential explanation of an idea.
Lastly, INTPs have a tendency to get wrapped up in their own internal world and forget to check in with other people. They can be so focused on solving their own problems and exploring ideas that they forget how what they are saying or doing might be affecting others. As a result, they may sometimes come off as self-centered or insensitive to the needs of the people around them. This can look like neglectful parenting or bailing out of commitments because the world inside their head is more fascinating than anything else. It can also look like ghosting someone because they don’t want to deal with the messy world of emotions or interpersonal demands.
3 Ways for INTPs to Grow:
- When you’re presenting your ideas and thoughts to someone, remind yourself that they may be beginners to all of this information. Try not to use jargon, and try to explain your theories in a sequential manner. If someone gets lost, don’t assume that it’s because they’re “stupid”. At your best, you have the potential to be an influential teacher of new ideas. Many INTPs excel as professors and teachers because of their ability to explore new ideas and explain them. But at your worst, you may rely on jargon and overly-complicate things so that people can’t follow what you’re saying.
- Take time to respect where other people are coming from emotionally. Check in with people you care about, ask them how they are doing, and really listen. Look at your relationships and see if there are any emotional needs that require tending. Listen to your kids talk about their day before they go to bed, check in with your partner and see if they need help with an issue, or send a letter or text to a family member letting them know they matter to you.
- Make sure that you’re finding time to nurture both the introverted and extroverted side of your personality. You need ample time alone to recharge and explore new ideas. But you also need time to test your ideas in the real world, brainstorm with others, and form meaningful connections. Too much time alone, or too much time with people can lead you to a place of imbalance.
Find Out More About INTPs: The Dark Side of the INTP Personality Type
ENFJs are the warm, caring people who sense the potential in others. They definitely aren’t the types you’d imagine being mean. In fact, they’re one of the first types to (usually) put other peoples’ needs or feelings ahead of their own. But just like all individuals, ENFJs are as capable of meanness as anyone else. This is especially true if they are stressed, immature, or imbalanced.
When they are stressed or overwhelmed with too many demands, some immature ENFJs may resort to passive-aggressive behavior. They may use sarcasm or subtle put-downs to express their feelings instead of just being honest and straightforward with the people in their lives. They can get moody and cynical, putting others on edge and not giving them the respect of honesty in order to fix things.
While ENFJs are typically very giving and generous people, they can also be socially controlling. They have their own idea of what “right behavior” is and, at an unhealthy level, can be impatient with any deviations from that. They may be quick to criticize or judge others for behaviors they see as inappropriate in order to try to maintain control or make sure that things are going the way they want them to go. Simultaneously, they may gossip and form cliques in their communities to solidify their own social standing.
Finally, ENFJs at their worst can lose touch with the thinking side of their personality. When this happens they feel threatened by people who question them, disagree, or otherwise make them feel the tiniest bit insecure. This doesn’t mean that they don’t think, in fact, they probably think a lot. But not all thinking is productive or rational. Unhealthy ENFJs think in order to justify their own opinions rather than to critically analyze them and sort out inaccuracies. Because of this, the unhealthy ENFJ can be maddening to argue with. They may latch onto one tiny detail of a position that doesn’t seem to fit, and invalidate the whole thing, even if the majority of what the opposing party said did make sense. During these unhealthy phases, they can also be reactive, accusatory, and impulsive.
3 Ways for ENFJs to Grow:
- Putting yourself last can ultimately lead to resentment, bitterness, and overwhelm. When you start feeling more critical, harsh, and irritated with others, take some time to get alone and recharge. Even as an extrovert you need to be able to get moments of unstructured alone time. Use this time to breathe, calm your body, and figure out what matters to you as an individual.
- You’re someone who values harmony, but sometimes you can be so focused on the harmony of the group that you lack patience for people with individual differences. Realize that you’re not responsible for everyone’s harmony. Make peace with allowing people to express themselves, even if feels like it could cause tension in the atmosphere. Remind yourself that it’s okay for people to have disagreements and work through them.
- Learn about logical fallacies. When you’re healthy, your thinking can be clear and logical. But when you’re in an unhealthy place, you may use a lot of logical fallacies to support your opinions. To bring out the best in you, and to avoid inaccurate judgments, learn how to process your thoughts in a way that values truth over feelings of moral superiority.
Find Out More About ENFJs: What ENFJs Do When They Get Really Stressed Out
ENTJs are known for their direct, in-charge personalities. They have no qualms giving tough truths and often put productivity before empathy. The unhealthy ENTJ is out of touch with their values, focusing on objectives and goals over things that are actually meaningful. This ENTJ can be pushy, bossy, and domineering. They may have little to no patience for things they deem unnecessary and may criticize or belittle others who don’t live up to their high standards.
When ENTJs are at their worst, they can become insensitive and harsh. They may put the emotional needs of their partners, families, and even themselves on the backburner, focusing on goals rather than the people involved in their lives. This can cause them to neglect the relationships that matter, or lose their temper when things don’t go their way or aren’t moving fast enough.
At an unhealthy level, ENTJs can also be rigid, uncompromising, and quick to anger. They may display a lack of openness when it comes to ideas they disagree with and respond in a condescending or patronizing manner to people with different viewpoints.
3 Ways for ENTJs to Grow:
- Recognize that everyone has a different personality type and way of interacting. As an ENTJ, you like to take charge and get things done quickly. But we also need people who are cautious and methodical, pinpointing errors and spotting problems that could crop up later. We also need people with emotional awareness or people with other talents. Just like a body has many parts, so the human race has many different personalities. And they’re all essential. Remind yourself of that when other people don’t operate like you. Realize that their input may still be valuable and necessary.
- Make sure you’re taking time to grow. As an extrovert, it’s natural for you to stay tapped into your thinking side. But you’re also an intuitive, and in order to fully tap into your intuition you need regular time for reflection, peace, and low pressure. Taking regular time to get alone and calm yourself down to explore your thoughts is crucial for your well-being.
- Practice slowing down your responses. When you feel a condescending or sharp remark on the brink of your tongue, pause and ask yourself whether what you’re saying is true, kind, necessary, or helpful. If it’s not, then don’t waste your time saying it.
Find Out More About the ENTJ: How ENTJs Say “I Love You”
INFJs are complex, deep individuals who look for meaning and connection. They have a gift for intuitively understanding human relationships and philosophies. At an average to healthy level, they are conscientious and kind. But when they are unhealthy or stressed, they can have a mean streak just like anyone else.
When INFJs are immature or unhealthy, they can make decisions based on very little data, coming to a sense of “knowing” with very little basis in reality. They may get hunches about people and dislike them for reasons that can’t be verified or proven. Sometimes their hunches are correct, but when they’re in an unhealthy place their intuitions can feed their own sense of paranoia. It’s crucial for the INFJ to balance the intuitive part of their personality with interaction in the world and an appreciation for real, tangible details. This way their insights are founded on something strong and steady. Certain unhealthy INFJs may take part in “us vs. them” cliques with others who take their side about people. They may also become overly righteous and judgmental, thinking they know what is right or vilifying people who see things differently than they do.
When severely stressed, INFJs can experience something called a “grip reaction.” When this happens, they become more impulsive, reckless, and reactive. Rather than taking time to think through their responses, they act on instinct and may say critical or harsh things only to regret them later. This kind of a reaction usually feels overwhelming to them, as it’s so out of character.
3 Ways for INFJs to Grow:
- Recognize that your feelings are real but they may not always be telling you the truth. Take time to recognize the roots of your hunches; are they based on truth? fact? worry? If they are not based on anything verifiable, then pause before truly buying into your hunches – especially if they could hurt someone else. Stay open for more data, be aware that there could be something to them, but take them with a grain of salt.
- Find some ways to reduce or relieve your stress. When you feel your stress levels heightening, take some time to get alone, focus on your breathing, and relax your body. You can find more stress relief tips specifically for INFJs here.
- Take time to tap into all the different sides of your personality. Remember that there’s more to you than just your four-letter code! You need ample alone time, but you also need time to connect with others. You should trust your values and listen to your feelings, but you should also spend time learning new things and challenging your mind. You should spend time theorizing and imagining, but you should also spend time in nature and interacting with the world around you. By learning to balance all the different sides of yourself, you can better cope with stress and develop into a healthier and more powerful version of yourself.
Find Out More About INFJs: How INFJs Say “I Love You”
INTJs are independent visionaries who have a drive to implement their ideas. Rational and complex, they think long-range and often sense patterns before others do. At an average to healthy level, INTJs are highly driven and creative problem-solvers who strive for excellence. But at a low or unhealthy level, their mean streak can show up in many forms.
When INTJs become emotionally guarded, they may seem harsh or unapproachable. They may also over-invest in work tasks, to the point where relationships suffer from neglect. Prioritizing tasks and goals over relationships and people can make them seem aloof and insensitive. They may act put upon when others come to them for emotional connection or support.
When INTJs seclude themselves too much from the world outside, they can also become detached from reality. As dominant intuitives, they are more interested in the abstract than the tangible. But if INTJs pull away from real-life experience too much, their once insightful predictions become baseless and ungrounded. And instead of seeing this error, they tend to blame others for not being “smart enough” to understand it. They are often critical of those who don’t grasp their ideas right away, but they fail to see that they simply aren’t explaining themselves in a way that is easy to understand. They may leave out important details, or be too terse in their delivery.
When greatly stressed, INTJs can become more reckless, impulsive and reactive than usual. At times like this, they may lash out at people more abruptly or make reckless decisions that put others in uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations.
3 Ways for INTJs to Grow:
- Take a step back and consider the feelings of those around you. As thinkers, your logical conclusions are valuable, but it’s important that you recognize when someone else’s feelings come into play. Even if you think your idea is superior, understanding the human element goes a long way in helping people accept or embrace it. Realize that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” and that a kind and sensitive delivery will help your ideas to be received more easily.
- Make sure that you are balancing your need for introspection and introversion with your simultaneous need for interaction in the outside world. Yes, you’re an introvert, but you also have an extroverted side. If you pull away from the world too much, your incredible insights will lose their connection with reality. You also may weaken your social skills and struggle to connect with people in a way that will make your ideas really work. Simultaneously, if you are too engaged in the external world and not getting enough alone time, you may burn out and deteriorate into a form of grip stress.
- Finally, try to recognize when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Take preventative measures like scheduling time for breaks, leisure activities and time in nature as a way of avoiding feeling so drained that your mean streak begins to show itself.
Find Out More About INTJs: 10 Things You Should Never Say to an INTJ
ESFPs are spontaneous, outgoing and social beings who find joy in the moment. At a healthy level, ESFPs are incredibly perceptive of their environment, loyal to their friends and loving toward others. But when an ESFP is unhealthy or stressed, they have a mean side that can show up in abrupt and disquieting ways.
When immature, ESFPs can be attention-seeking and scattered, looking everywhere for stimulation and struggling to sit still. They can be so fixated on finding fun in the moment, that they avoid responsibilities or anything that feels “boring.” This can mean that they get caught up in pleasure seeking rather than taking care of responsibilities that depend on them. They may also mock or tease people who try to confront them about it, bending logic to explain themselves or using charm to get away with issues rather than really looking at the impact their choices are having on others.
When imbalanced, ESFPs can get so caught up in an extroverted place that they aren’t making time for the introverted side of their personality. This can make them reactive and even harsh. They may lash out at people who get in the way of their activities or they may play blame-games when their feelings are hurt without taking the time to process their sensitivities.
3 Ways for ESFPs to Grow:
- When you find yourself tempted to chase a new experience, ask yourself if there a responsibility you should take care of first. Is someone depending on you? Will this come back to haunt you in the future? Being more mindful and responsible with your choices will help you to stay on a more responsible and healthy path.
- Try to take some time every day for introspection. This could be journaling, meditating, or even just lying in bed and thinking about life. Even if it’s only ten minutes a day, this kind of self-reflection will help you get in touch with yourself on a deeper level so that your actions are coming from a place of purpose and intention rather than impulsivity.
- Learn how to communicate honestly. When someone airs a grievance with you, don’t immediately jump into defense mode. Instead, try listening to what they have to say and recognizing their feelings (and your own) before responding. This will help them feel heard, respected, and ultimately more likely to hear your side of things. Give yourself time to process before reacting. This could be a few minutes, a few breaths, or even a few weeks depending on the situation. There are two sides of a story; your side and their side both matter. Focus on what’s true in those stories and try to be fair to yourself and the other person in the situation.
Find Out More About ESFPs: 7 Ways That ESFPs Make an Impact
ESTPs are active, quick-witted types who love adventure and figuring out how things work. At their best, they have a knack for seeing the potential in things and leveraging their knowledge to help them achieve goals. But they can have a mean streak that reveals itself when they are not maturing as individuals, when they’re stressed, or when they’re imbalanced.
When immature, ESTPs can be overly competitive, selfishly focused on winning or outsmarting others in any given situation. This could lead to behavior like cutting corners to get ahead, manipulating people or situations to gain an advantage and disregarding the implications of their choices on other people’s feelings. They may also adopt a sense of superiority over others which can lead to a dismissive attitude and harsh comments.
Other imbalanced ESTPs can be very manipulative emotionally. ESTPs are typically quick to realize others’ emotions and sensitivities and they can “play” with these emotions in order to get what they want. They can be dishonest, charming, and deceptive in order to make someone like them or make them agree to something that perhaps isn’t in their best interest. These ESTPs are mean in a sly, manipulative way rather than a condescending, harsh way.
ESTPs are known for their witty sense of humor. But unhealthy ESTPs can use their humor in hurtful ways. They can be argumentative and trollish just for the sake of it. When someone is trying to have a serious conversation with them they may simply make sly, teasing comebacks or argue pointlessly just to mess with the other person.
3 Ways for ESTPs to Grow:
- When you find yourself wanting to make a cutting remark, take a moment to consider the person who’s on the receiving end. Ask yourself, “Is this a kind thing to say? Will it help them or hurt them and does this reflect how I want to be seen in the world?” If you find that your comment is more about feeling superior than being helpful, reign it back and try responding from a place of understanding instead.
- Make sure you’re taking time for introspection each day. This doesn’t have to be hours spent meditating – just five to ten minutes can make a huge difference. Think about your purpose, principles, and relationships. Are you living in accordance with your principles? Taking some time for self-reflection can help you be more aware of your motivations and desires so that your actions are coming from a place of understanding.
- Finally, try to be open to feedback. No one is perfect and we all have the potential to grow and become better versions of ourselves. When someone gives you constructive criticism, don’t take it personally, mock them, or shut down. Instead, view it as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and use it as fuel for personal growth.
Find Out More About ESTPs: 10 Signs of an Unhealthy ESTP
ISFPs are creative, free-spirited types who live life with a deep appreciation for beauty and art. They are often gentle and kind souls, although they have a very reserved, often stoic exterior. They believe in authenticity, creativity, and finding their own unique identity and purpose in the world.
When ISFPs are imbalanced, immature, or highly stressed they can have a mean side that flares up. ISFPs who are too wrapped up in their own world can form very quick, black-and-white judgments about others, neglecting to look at the context of a situation or the nuances of a person’s behavior. They may decide they simply don’t like other people and cut people out of their lives, isolating themselves out of a sense of superiority. They may rationalize their feelings towards others, making logical leaps in order to justify their perspectives.
Imbalanced or immature ISFPs may also put their own desires above the responsibilities they need to carry out for others. This can look like selfishness, lack of commitment, or flakiness in relationships. Maybe they would rather watch television than help out around the house, or they’re constantly breaking plans or not following through on promises.
Deeply stressed INFPs may also show an uncharacteristically critical side to others. While they may have a hard time expressing it in words, their body language and facial expressions can be quite cutting. They can give off a superior or self-righteous attitude, as if they are smarter or more evolved than those around them.
3 Ways for ISFPs to Grow:
- Balance your need for alone time with time in the world outside. Get outside and explore nature, meet up with friends for coffee, or take a class about something you love. Time for introspection helps you to stay in touch with your values, while time with others gives you more balanced, realistic, and empathetic perspective.
- Practice patience and understanding with people who are different than you. Not everyone processes the world in the same way, and often times even small misunderstandings can cause conflict or hurt feelings. When interacting with others, remind yourself that they have hundreds of stories that preceded you and that understanding often comes with time.
- Are there responsibilities you absolutely hate doing? Try to find ways to make them more enjoyable. Have to wash the dishes? Listen to an audiobook while you do it! Have to get through an hour of work projects you hate? Give yourself a reward to look forward to when you’re done! Every time you feel tempted to ignore something important because it’s too mundane, use it as an opportunity to practice self-discipline and patience. Take time to realize why following through is one way of staying true to your values. If you’re drowning in too many responsibilities, take some time to look at your tasks and see if any are non-essential and can be canceled.
Find Out More About ISFPs: How ISFPs Say “I Love You”
ISTPs are highly observant, realistic types who enjoy figuring out how and why things work. They are often independent, living by their own set of principles and rules. Though they can come off as aloof or unemotional at times, ISTPs know how to be loyal friends and partners when they find someone they truly connect with.
When ISTPs are imbalanced, they can get so wrapped up in their own inner world that they lose sight of the people around them. They may neglect responsibilities and relationships, choosing instead to fixate on specific interests or hobbies. When they try to explain themselves, they can get impatient with people who don’t latch onto their train of thought right away. They may arrogantly assume others just aren’t up to their level or make sarcastic, dismissive remarks. Over time, they can become more isolated and believe that people would only hold them back from reaching their full potential.
ISTPs who are pushed into the external, social world too much can become reckless, impulsive, and irritable. They may make rash decisions that come back to haunt them (or others) later, or react too quickly in heated situations. When they’re overwhelmed from too much socializing, they may be especially cynical, negative, and critical with others; blurting out words they wouldn’t typically say if they were more recharged.
3 Ways for ISTPs to Grow:
- Too much time alone isn’t healthy, but too much time with people is also not healthy. Take time to study yourself and figure out when you need to be alone and when to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Make time to recharge, analyze, and tinker on your own. But also make time to connect with others, share ideas, and engage in the real world around you. This can help you to become more balanced and more fair in your assessments and treatment of people.
- If you feel yourself getting stressed and irritable, take some time to slow down and practice a few mindfulness techniques. Deep breathing, meditation, or exercising alone can help you re-calibrate when life around you is chaotic.
- Finally, realize that everyone is wired differently. It can be easy to judge people who are more effusive or more emotionally-driven as less competent or capable than yourself. But in truth, different types bring valuable skills and important perspectives to the table. Recognizing this can help you make more empathetic connections with others. Approach people who are different from you with curiosity rather than judgment and you’ll find yourself having more positive interactions.
Find Out More About ISTPs: 24 Signs That You’re an ISTP, the Vigilante Personality Type
ESFJs are warm, loyal, and community-minded people who care about the emotional and practical needs of others. They often put the needs of others ahead of their own and strive to make sure their values are reflected in their communities. These types are often seen as the epitome of friendly, so it’s hard to imagine them being mean. But as with all types, even ESFJs can have their moments of meanness.
ESFJs crave harmonious connections with others and enjoy social situations where everyone is on the same page with the same values. However, just like any other personality type, they deal with negative feelings. Unhealthy ESFJs avoid directly discussing their grievances with others and instead may gossip about others behind their backs. This can result in them hurting the reputations of people who don’t know what they did wrong and can even lead to them creating “us vs. them” dynamics between people.
Immature ESFJs may feel that everyone needs to get on board with their deeply-held values. People who disagree are simply “wrong” to them, and they may use logical fallacies to try to convince others of their point of view. If people persist in disagreeing with them or living against a value they hold dear, they may seek comfort by forming cliques or being part of cliques who gossip about the other person or ostracize them in some way. This can be small or large scale depending on the situation. The difficult thing about this dynamic is that the immature ESFJ often believes themselves to be socially blameless, incapable of actual meanness or cruelty. If someone is hurt by something they said or did behind the scenes, they will often take a self-righteous stance rather than owning up to their mistake.
Highly stressed ESFJs may experience something called a “grip reaction.” This happens when they’ve exhausted all their normal resources and are at the end of their rope psychologically. When this happens, they become more critical, not only of others, but themselves. They may start tearing others down and criticizing their weaknesses. Or, conversely, they may start beating themselves up for not being perfect.
3 Ways for ESFJs to Grow:
- Take time to reflect on your values and motivations. You are someone who believes in taking care of people. Sometimes the best way to help someone is to go directly to them about a grievance you have. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it can have a much better outcome in the long run than gossiping or refusing to express yourself.
- Practice self-compassion and empathy for yourself. This process can make you more compassionate and empathetic to others. Realize that you have many different experiences and influences that have shaped you. Get in touch with the history of who you are and then realize that everyone else has their own specific history and story. Rather than trying to mold others into your value system, approach them with curiosity and open-mindedness. Respect the fact that they are coming from a vastly different place than you are and their values also deserve respect.
- Make sure that you are taking care of your own emotional, physical, and psychological needs first before worrying about others. This will help ensure that you don’t become overwhelmed or exhausted from constantly doing things for other people. It’s also important to have healthy outlets where you can express yourself and your emotions. If you’re dealing with a lot of negative emotions, but you want to avoid venting them to someone, try writing them down. Then read them back to yourself. If you still feel like you need to talk to someone, then do so. But this process can help you to analyze and process your feelings so you can avoid blurting out something you later regret.
Find Out More About ESFJs: 10 Stress-Busting Tips for ESFJs
ESTJs have a commanding, decisive presence and a desire to organize projects, tasks, and procedures to get things done. At their best, they are conscientious and dependable and hugely helpful to their communities. But at their worst, they can have a domineering mean streak that is intimidating!
When ESTJs are imbalanced, they can spend so much time focusing on output and productivity that they lose sight of the human element in a situation. They can become tactless, pushy, and overly critical of others. At moments like this, they make terrible listeners, and may even roll their eyes or check their watches when people are talking to them. Their impatience can make people feel small and insignificant, but they may not realize how they are coming across.
Immature ESTJs have a hard time respecting the values of other people unless those values align with their own. They may appear condescending and confrontational, over-valuing their experiences and perspectives while under-valuing others’ experiences. They may not see that there are flaws in their own perspective because they are so emotionally invested in the particular value at stake.
Stressed ESTJs can feel deeply resentful of others and bitter about the amount of work they’ve taken on. These types tend to be very hard working , so when they don’t feel like their contributions are appreciated or rewarded, they may withdraw into themselves and become hypersensitive. Later they may explode at others, accusing them of not caring or being selfish.
3 Ways for ESTJs to Grow:
- Be aware of your body language and facial expressions. When people are talking to you, make sure that you give them your full attention and avoid the urge to check your watch or your phone.
- Take strides to improve the extroverted and introverted sides of your personality. Spend time working on tasks and interacting with people, but also spend time reflecting, reading, and getting in touch with your personal feelings. Make time to take care of yourself so that you don’t erupt into a stressed out, blaming state.
- Read books about people from different walks of life. This can help you to develop more empathy for people who look different than you, believe differently than you do, or operate in some way that contrasts with your own.
Find Out More About ESTJs: A Look at the ESTJ Leader
Quiet and considerate, ISFJs are rarely mean in an overt or confrontational way. These individuals at their best are cooperative, thoughtful, and practical. But at their worst, they can be unkind in unexpected ways.
Like other Feeling-Judging personality types, ISFJs crave harmonious interactions. They detest conflict and prefer a comfortable, calm atmosphere. When faced with disagreement or tension, ISFJs may outwardly acquiesce or even avoid confronting the issue. They may hold in anger towards others, only to vent their frustrations to others. This can result in them talking about people behind their backs, giving a story that the other person has no ability to defend themselves from.
Immature ISFJs struggle to come to terms with change. This makes them resistant to new ideas and can make them highly critical of those who don’t also conform to their idea of what’s normal or “right”. They may express a lot of judgment subtly, in the form of sighs, eye-rolls, or gossiping behind the other person’s back. Face-to-face, they may seem friendly and courteous, but they otherwise may ghost a person or talk badly about them without their knowledge.
When highly stressed, ISFJs can become paranoid and obsessed with possible catastrophes. During these moments, they may appear distrusting of others, skeptical, and anxious. They may take comfort in cliques, institutions, or authorities. While this isn’t mean in and of itself, it can lead to negative behavior in immature ISFJs such as taking part in us vs. them dynamics, talking badly about people outside of their chosen institution, or pushing people away who share different values.
3 Ways for ISFJs to Grow:
- Take time to process and understand the perspectives of others. Make an effort to listen and consider different points of view, even if they don’t match up perfectly with your own convictions. Read stories about people with different lives and viewpoints than your own, watch movies about different types of people, and explore different cultures through documentaries, museums, or classes. The more you realize the variety in the world and take in different perspectives, the less likely you are to demonstrate narrow-minded or limited views.
- Practice expressing yourself in direct yet compassionate ways. Talk openly with people about difficult topics, but strive to do it in a way that leaves room for understanding on both sides. When you don’t agree with someone, talk about the issue without attacking them personally or accusing them of wrong-doing.
- To avoid reacting poorly when stressed, take time to take care of yourself. Many ISFJs take on so much for other people that they neglect themselves in the process. Make time to take a break and practice self-care. Regularly decompress by taking part in activities that you enjoy, such as listening to music, writing in a journal, or going for walks. This can help reduce your anxieties and make it easier to maintain positive relationships with people around you.
Find Out More About ISFJs: The ISFJ Personality Type and the Enneagram
The ISTJ is a dutiful and detail-oriented type with a hunger for stability and integrity. They are driven by a deep sense of responsibility and often have a strict sense of right and wrong. At an average to healthy level, they seem calm and dependable, ready to do the right thing even if it’s hard. But when unhealthy, imbalanced, or stressed, they can have a mean side that flares up unexpectedly.
Imbalanced ISTJs can get so wrapped up in their inner-world that they lose sight of the people and relationships that matter. They can get lost in their own comfort zone and refuse to step outside of that, feeling intruded upon by people who need them. This kind of ISTJ can be neglectful of others’ emotions and their impact on those emotions. They may also be absent and dismissive as friends, parents, or partners because they want to stay fixated on their own hobbies and interests. It can be difficult for them to pick up on other peoples’ feelings or realize when they are being harsh or dismissive.
Other ISTJs focus too much on the world outside themselves. They are exhausted, overworked, and unable to get the alone time they desperately need. These ISTJs can be so focused on getting things done and achieving objectives that they lose sight of their own and others’ feelings. They can be pushy, demanding, critical, and rigid. Often they believe that others’ must align with their own personal rules about life and are nitpicky about how things should be done. This can lead to micro-managing, controlling behavior, or bursts of uncharacteristic rage.
3 Ways for ISTJs to Grow:
- Recognize that your inner world and outer world need to be in balance. It’s important for ISTJs to make time for themselves and their own interests, while also recognizing the needs of those around them. Developing a system to balance them is key.
- It can be easy to get into a “zone” when you’re doing your own thing and pursuing your own hobbies. The hours flit by and you enjoy diving deeper into the details of your interest. When you find yourself in this place and time has passed, take a moment to pause and consider the people you love. Should you check in with them? Should you help out in some practical way? Is there a way you could show them you care about them in an emotional sense? This could be as simple as writing an “I love you” on a sticky note and putting it on their mirror, or it could be as big as taking one of your kids out to dinner to talk about life.
- When you find yourself inwardly dismissing someone’s emotional experience, pause and take a moment to practice empathy with them. See it as an essential quality of emotional intelligence that you can potentially master. Even if you can’t understand their feelings, practice validating their experience. You don’t have to agree with the emotion they’re feeling, but you do have to recognize it as an important part of who they are. This could be as simple as saying, “I understand you’re feeling frustrated right now” or even just, “That must be tough”. If you think the other person needs a different perspective, share your opinion in a way that isn’t condescending or dismissive. Sometimes this can be done by asking clarifying questions in respectful ways.
Find Out More About ISTJs: 7 Things ISTJs Experience in Childhood
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you have any experiences, insights, or thoughts to share? Let us know in the comments! Your story could be just what someone else needs to read to be encouraged, motivated, or inspired.
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
An excellent post – thoughtful, and worth reading in its entirety. First INTP comment very good – I am past the worst offenses (considering others to be “stupid”) due to experience/age/cognitive and personality development, but I still communicate somewhat cryptically and consider it adequate. It often is not.
A couple of observations…as an INTP I don’t think of others as stupid but more often, impatient or inconsiderate. They don’t care about details or thoroughness but are more interested in getting something “done” (even if it’s actually not) and moving on, or otherwise make choices with consequences that affect me more than them (i.e., leave me “holding the bag”, as it were). I will acknowledge that I spend a lot of time in my own head, however – but partly because it’s difficult to find commonalities with others.
I also have to disagree that certain personalities aren’t inherently “mean”. I’m fairly new to the MBTI universe and am more familiar with the traditional four Hippocratic types, but looking back over my life I can see a pattern in which the meanest people in my life – males and females of all ages – have had Choleric temperaments. These are the people who are outwardly impatient, dismissive, snobbish, snarky or temperamental, hot-headed and even toxic. Jobs that would have otherwise been enjoyable for the work itself were made unpleasant because of these people. From what I’ve read the ENTJ type most closely fits this temperament, but there are likely others that are similar. Listing ways they could improve is more or less pointless because to them introspection is irrelevant, everyone else is the problem and they don’t need to “grow”. It seems that they only survive because a)they are so good at their jobs and b)they manage to find partners who enable and validate them (and help them reproduce). Fortunately many cholerics (like my mom) are tempered by either sanguine or melancholy traits so that the public is not subjected to the full force of their wrath; but the “purest” cholerics imo are beyond redemption and not worth investing personal or professional time in.
I read ISFJ and pretty sure I do #1 all the time. It doesn’t work because the other people remain close-minded and the more inclusive I am of everyone’s viewpoints, the more that they think they are indisputably correct.
The INFP section pretty much describes the difference between me and my Dad. I was pretty sure we were both male INFPs despite the statical unlikelihood. One major area of doubt was his seemingly non-existent interest in opposing views (except to denounce/mock them). His perspectives showed little regard for context or nuance. He did ask why they thought that way, but it was always in a patronizing spirit rather than genuine speculation. He was definitely mean with words too. However with my dad, that was pretty much the norm; not uncharacteristic of him.
I think his Ne was never really nurtured growing up. I suspect his attempts to utilize it were always seen as trying to cause trouble or make things difficult.
Typo in last paragraph of ISFP section (*ISFP; not INFP).