ENTJ (TeNi) 8 Cognitive Functions Explained

by Lisa Sparrow

If you’re interested in learning about the ENTJ personality type, you might’ve realized that deciphering the four-letter “code” barely scratches the surface of this personality.

It doesn’t explain why exactly people with this personality type make excellent leaders, why they can seem quite aloof, and so on.

The trick to understanding the ENTJ personality type is learning about its cognitive functions, but let’s be honest—they aren’t always easy to understand.

Well, if you’re looking to find ENTJ cognitive functions explained thoroughly and straightforwardly, we’ve got you covered!

This comprehensive guide to ENTJ cognitive functions covers:

  • What Are Cognitive Functions?
  • The 4 Primary ENTJ Cognitive Functions
  • The 4 Shadow ENTJ Cognitive Functions
  • How Do ENTJ Shadow Functions Get Activated?
  • How Do ENTJ Cognitive Functions Affect Personality Development?

And more!

What Are Cognitive Functions?

Simply put, cognitive functions are internal processes that characterize each personality type.

In other words, every person has a preference for using some cognitive functions over others, and your cognitive function preferences determine which personality type you fall into.

Each personality type favors four functions known as its primary cognitive functions, or cognitive function stack. Meanwhile, the other four functions are known as shadow functions, as they are largely unconscious and underdeveloped.

There are eight cognitive functions in total, four of which are extraverted, while the other four are introverted. Extraverted functions mainly come into play when you’re interacting with other people and your surroundings, whereas introverted functions are focused inward.

Furthermore, these eight cognitive functions are divided into:

  • Judging functions (feeling and thinking), which determine whether you make decisions based on your feelings and values or facts and logic
  • Perceiving functions (sensing and intuition), which determine whether you process information through your five senses or intuitive insights

The 4 Primary ENTJ Cognitive Functions

Ready to learn about the cognitive functions that have the most impact on the ENTJ personality type? Let’s dig in!

Extraverted Thinking (Te)

As the dominant ENTJ cognitive function, extraverted thinking (Te) has a major influence on the ENTJ personality type. It is their preferred mode of action that enables them to make logic-based decisions that maximize efficiency. Since their thinking process is focused outward, you’ll often see Commanders contemplating their options aloud.

Not only that—thanks to Te, ENTJs are rather opinionated and don’t hold back from sharing their thoughts with others. However, since this cognitive function is concerned with facts, logic, and rationality, ENTJs don’t always consider how their words might affect others.

Because of this, they may come across as insensitive, although they usually don’t mean anything bad. In fact, most mature ENTJs are deeply aware of this weakness. In turn, they’ll take responsibility and apologize as soon as they cross your boundaries or hurt your feelings.

That said, Te brings ENTJs impeccable organizational and leadership skills and contributes to their competitive nature and solid work ethic. All these abilities help ENTJs succeed in their careers, whether they’re climbing corporate ladder or building their own businesses.

Introverted Intuition (Ni)

Introverted intuition (Ni) is the auxiliary ENTJ cognitive function, meaning that it complements and supports their dominant Te.

Thanks to Ni, ENTJ males and females have strong gut feelings. For example, even with limited information, they can tell whether a business idea has any potential to succeed. This “superpower” isn’t as mystical as it may seem at first—Ni works like an inbuilt pattern recognition system that allows them to accurately predict future events.

On top of that, Ni helps ENTJs see the big picture of the situation, which often helps them curb their tendency to jump to conclusions—the hallmark of dominant Te. The combination of Ni and Te cognitive functions, therefore, enables them to make well-thought-out decisions. By making them more future-oriented, Ni also helps ENTJs stay on top of their goals.

Extraverted Sensing (Se)

Extraverted sensing (Se) is the tertiary ENTJ cognitive function, which is mainly concerned with physical senses and experiences.

While ENTJs don’t typically subscribe to the Epicurean philosophy of pursuing pleasure, there’s no denying that Se often causes them to seek and value the finer things in life. ENTJs are known to have excellent taste in food, fashion, and similar. Although they aren’t shallow, they like to surround themselves with high-quality things that they find aesthetically pleasing.

Also, Se helps ENTJs stay grounded in the present moment. They may not be as in touch with their surroundings as Se-dominant personalities—ESFPs and ESTPs—but they are rather alert and aware of what’s happening around them. By helping them see how they could use the current situation to their benefit, Se helps ENTJs become more adaptable to changes.

Introverted Feeling (Fi)

Although introverted feeling (Fi) is the inferior ENTJ cognitive function, it still influences the ENTJ personality. This function explains why ENTJs aren’t that emotional—not only is their feeling function directed inward, but it also occupies the weakest position in their cognitive function stack.

Needless to say, dealing with emotions isn’t ENTJs’ specialty. Quite the opposite—witnessing open expressions of emotion can make them feel uncomfortable and incompetent. Since they prefer to deal with situations in a logical, structured manner, many ENTJs regard emotions as messy, inefficient, and unnecessary.

That said, Fi can affect ENTJs in rather understated ways, such as by giving them a push to clearly define their values and moral principles. For this reason, when their Fi develops, ENTJs often begin setting goals that have a deep personal meaning to them.

The 4 Shadow ENTJ Cognitive Functions

Now that you’re familiar with the primary ENTJ personality cognitive functions, we’re ready to explore the shadow side of their cognitive function stack!

Introverted Thinking (Ti)

Introverted thinking (Ti) is the introverted counterpart of the dominant ENTJ cognitive function—Te. Since Ti is their opposing role, ENTJs often find it difficult to understand its purpose. While Te is concerned with efficiency and strategy, Ti deals with deep analysis, which ENTJs usually see as a waste of time and energy.

For this reason, ENTJs may deem Ti-dominant personalities—ISTPs and INTPs—lazy and inefficient, as they seem to think more than act.

However, ENTJs are prone to impulsive decision-making. While sometimes this works, other times they will judge themselves for lacking attention to detail and failing to think through things properly. More often than not, such self-criticism is a manifestation of their underdeveloped Ti.

Extraverted Intuition (Ne)

Extraverted intuition (Ne), which is concerned with ideas, alternatives, and possibilities, is the second ENTJ shadow cognitive function, also known as the critical parent.

ENTJs prefer to rely on Ni, as it gives them a single focus on their goals and helps them swiftly achieve anything they set their minds on. They relentlessly follow their visions, so it’s only natural that they tend to find expressions of Ne rather distracting and frustrating.

When people present several alternatives to their plans and strategies, ENTJs may enter a defensive state. When this happens, they’ll often tap into their critical parent Ne to come up with multiple reasons why their plan or vision is the way to go. On top of that, they may criticize others for being scatterbrained or narrow-minded.

Introverted Sensing (Si)

Introverted sensing (Si) is the trickster of the ENTJ cognitive function stack. While Si is deeply connected to the past, ENTJs prefer to look toward the future. Logically, they don’t find much value in Si. They may even frown upon Si-dominant personalities, believing that they’re stuck in the past or old-fashioned.

The truth is that trickster Si prevents ENTJs from seeing the key benefit of retrospection—the ability to learn from the past. Without a doubt, developing with Si can help ENTJs grow and avoid repeating mistakes, as well as make them more cautious. It goes without saying that instead of holding them back, Si can get ENTJs closer to their goals!

Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

The last and most underdeveloped ENTJ cognitive function is extraverted feeling (Fe). This is the blind spot of ENTJs, as Fe is concerned with social harmony, which Commanders don’t put much value on.

ENTJs make decisions based on logic without considering how their choices might affect other people. Sometimes, however, this can backfire—their decisions and actions may hurt those they care about. When this happens, their demon Fe kicks in, causing them to feel guilt and shame over the situation.

As a result, ENTJs may try to compensate for their lack of consideration for others by being overly caring and accommodating. Not only does this often look forced, but it also wears them out.

How Do ENTJ Shadow Functions Get Activated?

By now, you should be familiar with the basics of ENTJ cognitive functions. So, let’s dig a little deeper and discuss why the ENTJ shadow emerges.

In short, the shadow side of ENTJs usually causes them to come off as unhealthy INTPs, as the dominant INTP cognitive functions correspond to ENTJ shadow functions. Usually, ENTJs enter their shadow when they are put under immense stress, such as:

  • Having to take other people’s orders
  • Being involved in situations that require a lot of emotional investment
  • Working alone for extended periods of time
  • Being surrounded by indecisive or incompetent people
  • Having their ideas or abilities questioned
  • Feeling guilty after being too harsh to others

Naturally, the most effective way for ENTJs to get out of their shadow mode is to leave the stressful situation that triggered it in the first place. Instead, they should focus on things that energize them—e.g., exchanging ideas with other people or achieving personal goals. Otherwise, it may eventually lead them to become unhealthy.

How Do ENTJ Cognitive Functions Affect Personality Development?

Every personality type develops its cognitive functions in a different order, which determines certain behaviors, tendencies, and characteristics.

With that in mind, let’s see how ENTJ cognitive functions develop throughout the years!

First Personality Development Phase

The first ENTJ personality development phase starts in childhood and, depending on the person, may continue into the early 20s. During this phase, extraverted thinking—the dominant ENTJ cognitive function—begins to develop.

As curious children, ENTJs seek to make sense of the world by relying on adults to explain to them how things work. It’s important to listen to their questions patiently and give them truthful answers—they won’t take anything along the lines of “that’s just how it is” for an answer.

Thanks to Te, ENTJs are ambitious since childhood. They usually do well in school, believing in the importance of education for their future success. Their leadership abilities also emerge early in their lives, as they tend to show initiative to lead school projects, clubs, and similar activities.

However, since their Te isn’t well-developed by this point, they may criticize people without good reason or jump to conclusions before hearing all sides of the story.

Second Personality Development Phase

Once their Te is strong enough, other functions from the ENTJ cognitive function stack will begin to develop. This marks the second ENTJ personality development phase, which should ideally last until their 30s.

During this phase, ENTJs will begin developing their auxiliary and tertiary functions—Ni and Se—to optimize their decision-making process. After all, relying purely on Te can cause them to make hasty, uninformed decisions.

While Se enables ENTJs to extract more tangible data from the world around them, Ni helps them assess different aspects of a problem or situation. Combined, these cognitive functions allow ENTJs to see the big picture, which greatly improves the way they make decisions.

Around this time, ENTJs will also begin to develop their inferior Fi, which helps them refine their morals, values, and beliefs.

Third Personality Development Phase

Lastly, we have the third ENTJ personality development phase, which involves finding balance between Te and Fi. It’s important to note, however, that not all ENTJs will successfully reach this phase, as it requires commitment to personal development.

When Fi begins its development, many ENTJs experience an internal conflict, and rightfully so—it’s the opposite of their dominant Te. They may feel that Fi clashes with their Te, slowing down their decision-making process and making them less efficient. Fi can also cause ENTJs to retreat into themselves—some may even begin to question their identity.

While finding a healthy balance between Fi and Te isn’t easy, it can help ENTJs become more emotionally expressive and compassionate. Not to mention, the introspection that Fi provides them may help them create a stronger sense of self.

Tips for Interacting with ENTJs

Now that you know all about the ENTJ cognitive functions, you should understand the ENTJ personality type better. To top it all off, let’s check out some tips that can help you create stronger relationships with ENTJs!

ENTJs as Friends

If you’re looking to build a long-standing friendship with an ENTJ, these tips will come in handy:

  • Initiate debates and discussions, as intellectual conversations energize ENTJs.
  • Be genuine—ENTJs would rather hear the harsh truth than a sweet lie, and they can easily tell when you’re being inauthentic.
  • ENTJs value their time and energy, so make sure to always show up on time to meet them or cancel the get-together in advance.
  • Learn to appreciate their bluntness instead of taking it to heart.
  • Share your long-term plans with them—not only do they like to surround themselves with ambitious people, but they can also give you valuable advice on how to achieve your goals!

ENTJs as Parents

If one or both of your parents are ENTJs, here are some tips you might find useful:

  • If you think the boundaries they’ve outlined are too strict for you, prepare rational arguments before negotiating what can be changed to accommodate your needs.
  • If you can’t find a solution to a problem, share it with them—while they may not be able to give you a shoulder to cry on, they’ll be more than willing to offer you advice and help!
  • Take their words into consideration, as they always have your best interest at heart.
  • Show that you have ambitions and want to become better every day—even if you don’t succeed, they’ll admire your efforts.

ENTJs as Romantic Partners

If you are in a relationship with an ENTJ, here’s how to make the most of it:

  • Show them that you respect them by attentively listening to their opinions and taking the time to learn about what matters to them.
  • Don’t play mind games—ENTJs have no time for them and will lose all respect if you attempt to manipulate them.
  • Although ENTJs enjoy being in charge, they appreciate initiative, so take the lead in planning dates and activities once in a while.
  • Support their goals to show love, care, and attention.
  • Don’t expect ENTJs—especially ENTJ-A personalities—to act lovey-dovey, as they often have trouble expressing their feelings.

Key Takeaways

Congratulations—now you know all there is to know about ENTJ cognitive functions!

Let’s see a brief recap of the key points of this article to help you memorize what we’ve learned:

  • Cognitive functions are internal processes that define your personality type, including how you make decisions and interact with the world.
  • The primary ENTJ cognitive functions are extraverted thinking (Te), introverted intuition (Ni), extraverted sensing (Se), and introverted feeling (Fi).
  • The shadow ENTJ cognitive functions—introverted thinking (Ti), extraverted intuition (Ne), introverted sensing (Si), and extraverted feeling (Fe)—are activated by stressful situations.

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