For many ENTP personality types, the corporate world can seem deeply alien. No amount of innovation or charm can mask the contrast between the traditional expectations of the workplace and the free-wheeling, wacky, inventor lifestyle that ENTPs often find most comfortable. If left unexamined, this incongruity can manifest in some unsavory workplace habits that only put more distance between ENTP personality types and their professional communities. 

So, what are the four qualities that are the most likely to endanger an ENTP’s reputation at work? Read on to find out! 

1. Distractibility 

This is the big one; the number one most commonly-cited workplace struggle for ENTPs. Ironically, it’s a trait that stems from all the wonderful and useful aspects of an ENTP’s personality: their creativity, flexibility and relentless hunger for knowledge. Left unmonitored, however, an ENTP’s curiosity can lead them dangerously astray. 

How many of you can relate to this situation? You start work and experience a sudden burst of motivation. You take on fifteen new projects and, super-keen and enthusiastic, you make a start on them all…..then promptly forget to factor in your ability to follow through on any of them. Soon, multitasking becomes disorientation, vision becomes impracticality, and fulfilling your potential becomes little more than a pipe dream.

The cycle of aiming too high only to spin out is not only exhausting—it’s also the precursor to a reputation for flakiness. This is precisely why it’s important for ENTPs to address these instincts head-on and develop systems for working productively alongside them. The fact is that some personality types can commit to executing tasks with tunnel vision-like focus. Others need extra time for their minds to wander. ENTPs are overwhelmingly in the latter category. Acknowledging this without passing judgment on it is the first step to transcending the burden it may carry in the workplace. 

Self-shaming is rarely an effective tool in combating this phenomenon. Instead, we must learn to recognize and minimize the factors that contribute to our distractibility. These may include variables as simple as sleep, diet and exercise, or as complicated as a poor employee-workplace fit. By paying attention to the patterns that occur before, during, and after a period of distraction, we can take steps to proactively prevent them in the future. 

Reframing our distractibility as something we can examine and prepare for makes the process of addressing this  issue empowering for knowledge-hungry ENTPs. Being armed with this information allows us to show up to every workday as our best selves. 

2. Argumentative Tendencies 

It’s no secret that ENTPs have a propensity for debate. After all, it allows us to engage in lively conversations and develop abstract theories—two of our favorite pastimes! On our best days, we remember to hash things out with diplomacy, clearly articulating our desire to service progress above all else. At our worst, our willingness to push buttons ends only when a peer definitively puts their foot down. This is how remarks that come from an earnest place end up sounding downright hostile. We forget to practice self-imposed boundaries until it’s too late.

Often, our tendency to argue can be a challenge to self-moderate. What ENTPs would themselves perceive as benign debate can seem confrontational to others. This is where having a support network comes in handy. Speaking to a close friend, family member, or mentor or a therapist can help us learn to objectively catch when our conversations start to take a confrontational turn. 

Others can offer perspective and accountability that we might be unable to access on our own. With our love of data-collecting, this method is likely to prove quite comfortable for ENTPs who are looking to improve their interpersonal skills. Seeking advice from others is one way to put our compulsion to brainstorm to good use. 

3. Insensitivity 

As open-minded as ENTPs tend to be, our nonjudgmental attitudes are not always so obvious in our behavior. What we think of as helpful commentary can come off as harsh if we do not speak deliberately. This is why it is important for us to remain conscious of the way we address our co-workers, especially when offering advice. It is not enough to simply speak to others as we would like to be spoken to. Other people are not always like us (nor should they be). While many ENTPs already believe this on principle, it is still helpful to continuously check our language to ensure that it reflects these values. 

For example, an improvement-oriented ENTP might want feedback that is decisive, thorough and frank at every step of the collaboration process. However, their gentle-hearted ISFJ counterparts would likely respond to an entirely different approach. This does not mean that coworkers of other personality types simply need to surrender to the ENTP way, of course. Dismissing their individuality would be an unfortunate waste of an opportunity to connect and learn from them. Losing sight of this, even for the sake of pursuing in-the-moment progress, can create divisions that ultimately hinder the group’s ability to reach their potential. 

Fortunately, there are many steps ENTPs can take to avoid misrepresenting their intentions. First, try to ensure that you express appreciation to coworkers just as explicitly and frequently as you express criticism. The ratio of positive-to-negative feedback should skew positively. 

Additionally, limit your input to only when it is explicitly requested or part of your responsibilities. These steps make it clear to others that your straightforward remarks are never a reflection of your belief in your coworkers’ potential. Ultimately, you should strive to consider the type of verbal engagement others need to feel supported. This is a universally beneficial demonstration of respect. 

4. Perceived Lack of Professionalism 

Okay, so we might not all agree on what it means to be professional. Just as workplace dynamics shift, so does the definition of professionalism. Formal uniforms, rigid title distinctions and aspiring to the corner office— once hallmarks of the professional organization—have become far less standard as new generations enter the workforce. 

For ENTPs, this trend towards a more bohemian work culture is wonderful. To us, the traditional formalities of hierarchy, rank and process can feel like arbitrary disruptions to our thought processes, our productivity, and even our fundamentally messy humanity. ENTPs crave freedom and novelty in all realms of life, and the workplace is no exception. 

That said, it is still helpful to set and honor some professional expectations even when they are not explicitly stated. An ENTP might know that he can party all night, show up to work late, shop online for a few hours, and technically still meet his deadlines. But what happens when he urgently needs the assistance of a colleague? Working under such chaotic conditions is not conducive to any kind of collaboration. Doing so too frequently puts coworkers and bosses out of the loop. Ultimately, they may see the ENTP as unprofessional and write him off as disconnected from the company’s way of doing things. 

This poses the question: how can we strike a balance between freedom and collective responsibility? For ENTPs, the answer might lie in mental framing. There is no reason to view these concepts as opposites. In moments when you are tempted to shirk traditional professional expectations in favor of autonomy, take some time to assess the long-term losses associated with this pattern of behavior. 

Is it possible that you are confusing a need for instant gratification with freedom? There are times when adhering to workplace norms can secure you a more flexible position in the future. Building trust and a solid reputation is part of what allows you to work on your own terms. 

By ensuring that we do not let our in-the-moment compulsions disrupt our overall professional standing, we demonstrate respect for our colleagues, ourselves, and the goals we are all trying to accomplish. And that can only mean good things for your career.

Jesse Carson
Jesse is a psych student, writer, and full-time ENTP from Cincinnati. She enjoys traveling, late night comedy shows, garage rock revival bands, and any restaurant that serves breakfast food in the middle of the night. Find her on Twitter @yungbillnye