Students, Stress and the ENFP: Excerpt from an MBTI Webinar by Patrick L. Kerwin

“Students, Stress, and the MBTI,” is another fine 90-minute webinar from CPP–this time delivered by Patrick L. Kerwin, MBA. Rather than summarize my lengthy notes, I’ve decide to focus on my type–ENFP for self-help more than scholarship. Mr. Kerwin noted that he’s an ESFJ. At first in his college teaching career in San Diego, Mr. Kerwin gave advice most relevant to his type.He has divided this webinar into the following sections: (1)Avoiding Stress, (2)Function Preferences & the Pre-Interview Jitters, (3)When the Feeling (F) Preference Goes Wrong, (4)Preference Ranking (Dominant through Inferior), and (5) Conclusion.

On Avoiding Stress Pat Kerwin began by urging the webinar viewers to be mindful of your preferences in order to avoid stress. I’d like to add that it’s great to know whether your four preferences are mild, moderate, or extreme. The first part examined what happens to people when they use their opposite preference excessively. When Extroverts (E) spend too much time studying alone or something else introverted, they need to find a place to hang out in chat. Spending lots of time tracking data or doing one thing at a time drains Intuitives (N), activities preferred by Sensors (S). Intuitives can unwind by drawing, brainstorming, or journaling. When Feelers (F), do plenty of analytical work, such as logically organizing a paper or project, they need to do something like reflecting on the project or visiting a friend. Finally, Perceivers (P) become uncomfortable with Judger (J) activities, such as too many rules and regulations, or the pressure to get projects done in a hurry, so the next task can be started. Breaking routine can relieve the stressed or drained condition, perhaps by taking a different route home or making an unscheduled stop.
Preventive Measures Originally, Pat Kerwin gave advice for interns and job-hunters that matched his type: ESFJ. Then he examined what would work for his opposite, an INTP. Extroverts (E) need to start networking with lots of folks. Intutives (N) should brainstorm job opportunities and visualize what is great about them. Feelers (F) want to feel right in their new job, so they should check their support system and identify search techniques. Perceivers (P) should start with one of their options and see where it goes. That way the Perceiver isn’t paralyzed by a collection of choices.
Function Pairs and the Pre-Interview Jitters Function Pairs are the middle two preferences in one’s type–curiously overlapping with half of the preferences–both Intuitives. Thus,the Function Pairs are ST,SF,NT,and NF. NF Pre-Interview Jitters center around a fear of not making a connection with one’s interviewer and being dislike. To talk down your NF client, remind him or her of their ability to read others and knack for adjusting. The NF doesn’t have to become friends with the interviewer in order to have a satisfactory relationship. On Twitter during the webinar, I asked if certain MMPI profiles are correlated with preferences and types. Could the NF be more prone to a high scale 6-Paranoia, especially the Persecution subscale? Encourage the NF to be their most authentic self, for that’s most important to this function, type, and temperament. However, one should add that you can’t get away with being authentic in the wrong place for you.
When the Feeling (F) Preference Goes Wrong A Feeling (F) preference leads one to be intervention-happy. Jump in and make sure everything is okay. I call this tendency in myself playing “first responder.” Ask yourself if this would-be boss is good for your style through the right questions. If you bring something new to the interview, do your research. Administrators aren’t necessarily opposed to change, but they need to see research and specificity. The Feeling (F) job candidate should show examples of previous competence in earlier jobs or academia.
Preference Ranking Our preferences receive a rank: dominant, auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior. The inferior is the Achilles Heel. The ENFP are one of the Dominant Intuitives–along with ENTP, INTJ,and the INFJ. Let yourself brainstorm so you can see patterns and show your Intuitive (N) vision. Stress comes from too many rules and details (We’ve read this previously!) A focus on the present or past and constraints on brainstorming is stressful or draining. When stress leads to a Dominant Intuitive to overusing their dominant preference, they “see lots of possibilities, but nothing gets done.” A Dominant Feeler–our closest type relatives–will do anything for harmony when distressed. When Dominant Intuitives fall in the grip of their inferior function, they “overfocus on details and lose sight of possibilities.” Common Stress Reactions take two forms among Dominant Intutives. ENFP’s and ENTP’s are Obsessors while INTJ’s and INTP’s are Indulgers. During obsessing fits, remind the client of their competency. Give them permission to escape without asking for details or giving unsolicited advice.
On Stress by Others A couple of weeks after this webinar, I had a breakthrough regarding “frenemies” who cause one to stress. Classifying one’s competencies as the reason for downfall is particularly degrading. Imagine hearing how “book sense” is inferior to “common sense” and may even cause one to lose some of the latter. Actually, what passed for common sense was really the street sense of how to depress, bully and/or drain other’s money. Glad I changed my social circle! By the way, I won a big, beautiful MBTI coffee mug for finishing in the top six of tweets during this webinar.
Conclusion To conclude, Pat Kerwin urged his webinar viewers to examine their own type and see what they need to gain equilibrium. When students know their own type, they can better manage stress. Practical use of type and stress entails expressing what you need before it happens, when it happens, and asking what is needed. To improve as a counselor, practice giving others what they need during stress.