Type at the Family Conference Table: Extraverted Intuition

10 May 2016

Written by Mathew David Pauley, JD, MA, MDR

People with preferences for ENTP and ENFP are comfortable directing their focus and energy toward the future and what is possible. They generally see potential options, but when they cannot, they often are willing to create them. They can generate a sense of optimism in others due to their natural abilities to see connections and brainstorm different, creative approaches to problem solving. This is exactly what ENTPs’ and ENFPs’ favorite mental function, Extraverted Intuition, is all about—focusing on the future, and in many ways, hope.

For all of us, maintaining hope can be difficult when a loved one is critically ill, especially as viable options come off the table. Moreover, the devil is in the details—not just for the clinical aspects that a supporting friend or relative of the patient needs to become familiar with, but also the minutiae of the healthcare system in general. Lots of little things can add up to something quite overwhelming.

Take, for example, a mother with preferences for ENFP. Normally she is one of the more flexible, adaptable people you will ever meet, and she doesn't let herself get bogged down in the nitty-gritty. But right now she is in the ER with her teenage daughter, who has just been admitted to the hospital following a car accident. Her daughter is now within the hospital’s extensive system of diagnostics, assessments, and best practices created to improve her chances for a good outcome. The clinicians will diligently strive to collect all relevant data on which to base their future decisions.

For an ENFP like the mother, this can seem very bureaucratic and she may struggle with the health care iStock_Young Female Doctor_Smallteam’s constant focus on the “right now.”  Moreover, while “in the grip” of her least favorite and least used mental function, Introverted Sensing, she may tend to focus on small, singular facts to the exclusion of others. She is scared, as any parent would be, and she is frustrated.

It is very easy to shake the confidence of a person’s least favorite and least used function; where an ISTJ or ISFJ can embrace dealing with and organizing all the little details, doing so can unnerve an ENFP. We can all flex, but are less able to do so when we are in the grip of our least preferred function.  Giving this person room for hope and possibility and therefore allowing her to return to her favorite function, Extraverted Intuition, can be an important first step for her. From there, the clinical team can bring in details to help support and give context to the decisions that may soon need to be made.

Balancing the reality of facts and the importance of hope is tricky for care providers—which to begin with?  Figuring that out takes tact and often years of practice. If type can be a guide, and preferences identified, consider starting to frame the situation with facts for those with preferences for Introverted Sensing, and explaining possibilities for those preferring Extraverted Intuition. And always include both, as the person will need both perspectives to make the best decisions he or she can.

Want to read more? Check out my previous blogs in this series:

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