“It’ll Be Five, Ten Minutes”: Enduring Delays by Personality Type

“It’ll be five, ten minutes.” So Jerry, Elaine, and George are told – repeatedly – in a classic Seinfeld episode, “The Chinese Restaurant,” in which the friends attempt to eat dinner out before going to a movie. For the duration of the episode, we watch the three characters’ agitation grow as the host of the restaurant continues to seat other parties ahead of them.

Jerry handles the situation the best, calmly saying of the perpetual “five-, ten-minute” wait time, “There seems to be a bit of a discrepancy.” Elaine, who is famished, tries to rationalize why she should be seated right away, complaining, “You know, it’s not fair people are seated first come, first served. It should be based on who’s hungriest.” George, who meanwhile is desperately waiting to use the phone to call his girlfriend, completely loses it (his usual MO), shouting, “We’re living in a society! We’re supposed to act in a civilized way!” In the end, having run out of patience, they abandon both the restaurant and the movie. (And, inevitably, just seconds after they leave, the host finally calls out, “Seinfeld, four?”.)

Aside from its humor, this episode of Seinfeld may offer insights into how different personality types react to the everyday situation of having to wait. While we will not attempt to type the sitcom’s quirky characters, it’s worth exploring some of the questions the episode raises. Why is it that some people are content to wait their turn, while others fly off the handle after just a few minutes? Does it make a difference if a delay is keeping us from something important or time-sensitive? And what role does personality type play in how we handle waiting?

To find out, we asked our community whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “You get impatient when you have to wait, even if you don’t need to hurry.”

The majority of respondents agreed (69%), but there were some differences among them, particularly when it came to the Nature and Identity aspects. We won’t keep you waiting – let’s take a look at the data below.


Analysts (79% agreeing)

Analyst personality types agreed more than any other Role that they get impatient when they have to wait, even if they’re not in a hurry. In some respects, this is because of their highly logical approach to the world, which is a function of their Thinking trait. Thinking types agreed with our statement at a rate of 76% – the single highest rate for an individual personality trait, and 12% higher than the corresponding Feeling trait. Thinking types tend to value efficiency above all else, and having to wait is a basic indicator that something is not working efficiently. These personalities may feel that many delays are thus unwarranted, especially when a problem causing a delay could easily have been avoided with a logical and obvious solution.

But Analysts’ impatience with delays can also be attributed to their Intuitive personality trait, which makes them imaginative and curious, always thinking up creative solutions to problems, including delays. Consider Elaine’s response in Seinfeld to having to wait for a table in the Chinese restaurant. She complains about the existing system for seating people – first come, first served – which is, of course, an entirely logical system, and instead proposes a new one – seating people based on who is the hungriest. We laugh at the absurdity of the suggestion (how would a restaurant host determine who is hungriest?), but there is a kind of creative logic to the idea, one that Elaine, in her hungry and impatient state, argues would be more effective.

Of all the personality types, Turbulent Commanders (ENTJ-T) (88%) were the most likely to agree with our statement. Incredibly strong-willed leaders, Commanders are used to running the show, and they will often try to bend people and circumstances to their will in order to achieve their goals. Any type of delay would be frustrating to Commanders.

This is amplified in Turbulent personality variants, who are more susceptible to letting their emotions get the best of them. Getting stuck in a heavy traffic jam when it’s not rush hour and there is no sign of construction or an accident, for example, would incense a Commander, especially a Turbulent one, even if they didn’t need to be anywhere by a specific time.

Diplomats (68%)

Diplomats share with Analysts the Intuitive trait, so despite the fact that they value cooperation and harmony, these personality types too are subject to actively imaginative minds that cannot help but be a little frustrated at being forced to wait.

Still, Diplomats were significantly less likely than Analysts to agree with our statement, indicating that their reaction to having to wait is perhaps tempered by their Feeling trait. While Thinking personality types like Analysts focus on logic and efficiency, Feeling types are emotionally sensitive and empathetic. They can imagine the people behind the delays and feel more empathy for their situation: road crews are working hard, a busy barista may be even more stressed than the customers in line, a doctor may be running behind because there are so many sick patients, and so forth. So even though they do get impatient, Diplomat personality types are more willing to accept delays if there are human reasons behind them.

Sentinels and Explorers (64% and 63%)

Given their reputation as followers of law and order who hate to rock the boat, we might expect Sentinels to handle delays more patiently, as long as there is a fair reason for them. But Sentinels were divided between their Thinking and Feeling members. Their Observant and Judging personality traits make them excellent planners and organizers, so they’re likely to get frustrated with situations that are unorganized or lack processes that could help alleviate the delay.

Moreover, if Sentinel personalities are being forced to wait because others around them are not following the rules or respecting the common courtesies that they so highly value, Sentinels will get upset, regardless of whether they’re Thinking or Feeling types. George’s response to having to wait in the Chinese restaurant is probably similar to what many Sentinels would think – he blames the situation on people failing to act in a civilized manner, which has caused society’s system of order and rules to lose its effectiveness.

Like Sentinel personality types, Explorers’ responses to our statement also showed a division between Thinking and Feeling types. Explorers’ shared Observant and Prospecting traits help them be more patient and flexible. Pragmatic as they are, they may realize that if there is little or nothing they can do to change the situation, they shouldn’t get too worked up about it. Explorer personalities are more comfortable going with the flow and adapting their plans – no harm done. That said, Explorers also tend to prefer a faster-paced lifestyle and get easily bored in tedious situations, so when they have to wait, a majority of them will feel some degree of impatience.

Assertive Adventurers (ISFP-A) (43%) were the single personality type least likely to agree that they get impatient when they have to wait. Self-confident and flexible, Adventurers may feel that unexpected delays are just a part of life. Assertive variants are particularly even-tempered and relaxed, which is essential to patience.


Social Engagement and Constant Improvement (76% and 73% agreeing)

We saw the greatest gap in agreement between Turbulent personality types (74%) and Assertive types (59%), a difference of 15%. Turbulent types, as previously mentioned, are more emotionally volatile and highly sensitive to stress. If something isn’t going their way – like being made to wait – they’re much more likely to have a negative reaction. And because they’re restless by nature, waiting will make these personalities impatient, even if they don’t need to hurry.

Extraverted Social Engagers agreed at a slightly higher rate than Introverted Constant Improvers. Although there was very little difference in the responses of Extraverted and Introverted personality types overall (69% vs. 68%, respectively), the fact that Social Engagers are more externally oriented may make them more impatient when they have to wait. They may find their attention drawn to whatever external factors are causing the delay, and focusing on those external stimuli may cause them to feel more and more irritated.

People Mastery and Confident Individualism (61% and 56%)

Assertive People Masters and Confident Individualists agreed with our statement at notably lower rates. Their Assertive Identity makes them much more even-tempered and resistant to stress than Turbulent personality types, and that certainly includes the stress of waiting. They have a core sense of security that helps prevent them from worrying too much about situations out of their control.

People Masters have excellent communication skills and may feel more confident that they can work out the cause of a delay with the people around them, for the benefit of all. Confident Individualists, on the other hand, agreed at a rate lower than any other Strategy, probably because of their natural independence. Often preferring to do things on their own than to be at the mercy of outside factors, Confident Individualists could be less likely to encounter delays in the first place.

Jerry’s reaction to waiting for a table in Seinfeld may be similar to how an Assertive personality type would approach the situation. Jerry was not particularly invested in eating dinner at the Chinese restaurant and was confident that he could find a faster or simpler solution, like just having popcorn at the movie theater, so he didn’t get impatient or upset when they didn’t get seated.


The majority of us are not patient when we have to wait, even if we don’t have to hurry. We value our time and personal goals, and delays and interruptions are annoying. Some of us, however, react with more impatience and stress, particularly those of us who are Turbulent, Thinking, and Intuitive personality types. 

Empathetic, practical, self-assured people, on the other hand, may be able to relax a bit more, knowing that all they can do is play the hand they are dealt.

So the next time we find ourselves having to wait, crying out, à la George Costanza, “What is it with humanity? What kind of a world do we live in?!” probably isn’t the best way to react. But perhaps by better understanding how our own frustration, and that of others around us, may be influenced by personality type, we can try to be a little more patient.

What about you? When does waiting make you the most impatient? Let us know in the comments below!