The MBTI® Test: Are You In The Grip?

In MBTI, Personality Type by Jonathan Bollag, Owner and Founder

"Image courtesy of stockimages /"

“Image courtesy of stockimages /”

MBTI® Test

We have mentioned numerous times in our blogs the importance of knowing your MBTI® Personality Type, though we have spent less time discussing the other side of your Type known as your less preferred functions, also known as your “inferior functions”.  Your less preferred functions are the parts of your personality that you do not use as often, and that you are less comfortable with.  For instance, if you are an introverted type, one of your less preferred functions would be your extroverted function.  It is important to point out, however, that even though we have certain personality preferences that are stronger within us, we still have all the parts of The MBTI Personality Types within ourselves; we are simply more comfortable utilizing certain aspects of Type more so then others.

There are situations in which our less preferred functions come to the forefront, our inferior function, which is the opposite of the strongest part of our personality; our Dominant function. Your inferior function depends upon your personality type, and it varies, as does a person’s MBTI Type.  For instance an ISTJ (Introverted-Sensing-Thinking-Judging) MBTI Type’s dominant function would be Introverted Sensing, while their inferior function would be the opposite, an Extroverted Intuitive function.

Each of The Myers-Briggs® 16 Personality Types are different and therefore react differently to stress and have different stress triggers.  These stress triggers are explained for all of the personality types in the text, “In the Grip. Understanding Type, Stress, and The Inferior Function” (Quenk, N. 2000. CPP).  “In the Grip” is when a person gets out of their natural personality type and into a state of their inferior function, which is usually predetermined by stress factors, making these people act differently then they normally would as a result of a high stress environment.  As an exercise, and to give you a glimpse of what can cause people to be “in the grip”, we will list several personality types and their work situations energizers and stressors, in the grip reactions, and ways these Types can return to equilibrium through resources and remedies.  The following information is abstracted from the text “In The Grip. Understanding Type, Stress, and The Inferior Function” (Quenk, N. 2000. CPP).

The INTJ & INFJ Personality Types and Stress

            These types are Introverted Intuitive Types, which means they introvert their intuition and go inward with their intuition side of their personality. Their Introversion and intuition are the dominant parts of their personalities.

 Work Situation Energizers

  • A flexible schedule with control over work methods and results
  • Maximum Autonomy
  • Clarity in role definition and limits of responsibilities and expectation
  • An organized, structured, and predictable environment
  • Co-workers who communicate directly and honestly
  • Ability to achieve closure on tasks and projects

Work Situation Stressors  

  • Dealing with details mostly things in the outside world
  • Working under illogical people
  • Too much extraverting
  • A loud, unorganized work environment
  • Being asked to go against their standards and principles or deal with deceit
  • Little follow-through and lack of performance by co-workers and peers

“In The Grip” Reactions To Stress

  • Intense anger, agitation, irritability, and fatigue
  • Exaggerating sensory activities, such as eating, cleaning, repairing, and exercising
  • Negative physical symptoms such as muscle tension
  • Seeing external details as major as major obstacles that slow progress
  • Obsessive attention to perceived sources of stress and difficulty refocusing attention
  • Sleeplessness due to persistent reviewing of problems

Returning to Equilibrium

INTJ and INFJ Personality Types can best get out of the grip and stressful modes using the following resources and remedies: 

  • Withdraw, find quiet time to reenergize, walk or exercise
  • Focus on hobbies and recreation
  • Schedule in unscheduled time and take time off from work
  • Engage in simple, non-pressured activities
  • Change the work schedule and accept help with over activities that involve over-whelming details
  • Receiving non-intrusive forthright concern from others

(Quenk, N. 2000. CPP).

ISTJ & ISFJ Personality Types and Stress

These types of people are Introverted Sensing Types, which means they introvert their sensing function, going inward, using what they can measure by their senses and processing this inwardly.

Work Situation Energizers 

  • Organizing facts and details to accomplish a goal
  • Reaching closure before moving to another task or project
  • A quiet workspace with few interruptions
  • Clear and stable structures, procedures, and expectations
  • Adequate time and support to perform to their own standards
  • Being in control of their work schedule

Work Situation Stressors  

  • Deadlines
  • Others’ incomplete or sloppy work that affects the quality of their own work
  • Being asked to change something with no good rationale provided and dealing with sudden change
  • Requirements to do things in an inefficient, ineffective way
  • Being asked to “wing it”, brainstorm, or imagine outcomes

“In The Grip” Reactions To Stress 

  • Global negativity and pessimism
  • Alternation between accommodating others’ requests and withdrawing or resisting
  • Blaming and accusing others
  • Decreased efficiency and productivity
  • Sleepless night with obsessive thinking about problems
  • Shut down; do not work for extended periods; then become depressed

Returning to Equilibrium

ISTJ and ISFJ Personality Types can best get out of the grip and stressful modes using the following resources and remedies: 

  • Getting away, having time alone in a pleasant Sensing environment
  • Concrete and specific validation of competence, worth, and previous positive outcomes
  • Not being offered advice and help from others
  • Organizing and accomplishing small projects
  • Help with priorities
  • Others’ concrete support to accomplish required goals

(Quenk, N. 2000. CPP).

ESTP & ESFP Personality Types and Stress

Work Situation Energizers 

  • Variety and flexibility in tasks required and use of available time
  • Freedom to interact with people
  • Being able to make good use of their memory for specifics
  • Having options in the ways tasks are accomplished
  • Clear structures, specific tasks and goals
  • Working as part of a team

Work Situation Stressors  

  • Deadlines
  • Having to conform to a rigid routine with little free time
  • Long-term planning
  • Inability to control circumstances
  • Vague directions and unclear guidelines
  • Binding commitments with no allowance for contingencies

“In The Grip” Reactions To Stress 

  • Reading negative implications between the lines
  • Withdrawal, distancing from others
  • Looking for meaning in trivial events or comments, seeming slightly paranoid
  • Sense of incompetence at work and at home
  • Distractibility, “spinning one’s wheels”
  • Chronic anxiety and sense of impending doom

Returning To Equilibrium

ESTP and ESFP Personality Types can best get out of the grip and stressful modes using the following Resources and Remedies: 

  • Change of focus by reading or engaging in other distracting activities
  • Consciously ignoring or avoiding distractions while working
  • Asking others for help with tasks
  • Being reassured about their own mental stability
  • Help in identifying, organizing, and delimiting overwhelming information

(Quenk, N. 2000. CPP).

Discovering your MBTI Personality Type is the first step to understanding yourself, though this can be taken a step further by understanding your stressors and how to return to your natural self when you find yourself in stressful periods. The MBTI Stress Management Report can give you great insight into yourself and how you manage stress, while The MBTI Interpretive Report and MBTI Profile Reports can be great starting points in getting to know who you are and your personality type and what “makes you tick”.

To Learn More or purchase an MBTI Interpretive Report  Click Here

To Learn More or purchase an MBTI Profile  Click Here


In the Grip. Understanding Type, Stress, and The Inferior Function (Quenk, N. 2000. CPP)