ISTP and ENTJ: How TPs and TJs clash

An ISTP woman was having a problem communicating with her ENTJ husband.

She writes:

First he tends to justify dumb policies that he has to abide by. For example, today he is going to a business meeting at Ford Headquarters and couldn’t drive his car because they won’t allow non-Ford vehicles in their parking lot (yes, even for visitors!) – so he took my Ford truck (which sucks because we have 2 ft of snow). So I said something like, ‘just another example of the stupid old-fashioned, blue-collar mentality within this industry that’s killing this town.’ My husband said, ‘that’s just the way it is!, get over it.’ It’s just one recent example that comes to mind – it’s seems like because he must go along with it or live with it – it’s OK. But it’s not like he sees the world through rose-colored glasses – he’s very critical of the world in general. But I guess he thinks it would admit weakness on his part to go along with it if he didn’t support it.

Response:

Your post describes a core TP/TJ dynamic in my experience:

A TP will often criticize something simply in order to state that that is how they see it and see whether the other person agrees. If they meet disagreement and it is argued satisfactorily, then they learn something; if they meet agreement, then they bond (yes, really!) with the other person over the shared judgment. A TJ, on the other hand, generally criticizes something in order to change it. We are more interested in the expediency of the result than we are in the integrity of the process, and unless we are careful not to project this bottom line mentality onto others, we all too easily read a nonexistent purposefulness into the criticism of a TP.

Could your husband be interpreting your criticism as requests that he do something differently when in reality you are just seeking to share how you see things and hear his point of view to reassure yourself that your worldviews are indeed compatible (even if he is not, ahem, burdened with the need to always act in accordance with his principles)?

When he says “that’s just the way it is!, get over it” it sounds to me like he is (annoyed and) either refusing what he imagines to be a passive-aggressive request from you that he not borrow your car (I say passive-aggressive because I assume you were officially okay with him borrowing it) or requesting that you quit being so negative. Based on our previous interaction you don’t strike me as a downer to have around so my money is on the former.

Methinks talking to him about this could go a long way toward improving your communication and thus your happiness with each other. In trying to understand his priorities you just might rediscover what attracted you to him in the first place.

Suzanne responds:

Who needs a counsellor when we have you! ;) This is completely correct and this is how we communicate every day. But generally it works OK but sometimes get annoyed with each other over certain principles. See, I just want to know that he thinks it’s as stupid as I do – he doesn’t care when he knows it’s a means to an end.

I think what annoys me (yeah, I know this is quite petty) is that when he worked for Ford he complained about some of their ‘games.’ Yet now that they are his customer – he’s perfectly happy to play along and he won’t ADMIT that he’s going against what he used to complain about. Now that he’s making money doing it – it’s OK with him! At least if he said ‘yeah, that’s silly that I have to borrow your truck to please them’ then I’d be OK with it.

Eva closes:

I don’t think that’s petty at all. I’m afraid we’re prone to that kind of rationalization, unless our lack of integrity compared with you TPs is felt to be acceptable. That is, we are more likely to acknowledge our inconsistencies (to ourselves as well as to you) when our priority to strategically deviate from our principles is respected. So use disclaimers: If you make it clear that you’re not trying to get him to act differently, you’re more likely to get a consistent answer. The criticism he reads into your comments gives him cognitive dissonance, so make it clear that there is no conflict. Explicitly allow him to optimize his result, and he’ll have no problem sharing with you his honest evaluation of the process.

1 Comment

  1. I disagree.

    I believe I’m an ENTJ, and I completely get your annoyance at a stupid system made by stupid people. I’d probably have agreed with you and we’d have bonded based on that like the response said.

    I don’t think this has much to do with TP vs TJ.

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