ENFJs are one of the rarest of the 16 Myers-Briggs Personality types, taking up only 4% of all other types. At first glance, they come across as affectionate and charismatic and they don’t hesitate to show it. They are bubbly, creative, and often considered wise, as their friends tend to look up to them for advice. This is all due to a set of distinctive personality traits, characteristics, and individual cognitive functions, specific to their profile.
But what exactly are those preferences? What determines the loving ENFJ personality type and all its peculiar characteristics?
We’re here to walk you through the ins and outs of the ENFJ temperament through its building blocks – the cognitive functions it expresses and the ones it suppresses. We’ll explain the notable strengths and weaknesses of this personality type, the dominant traits that form it, and whether there are any noteworthy differences between the male and female representatives of this MBTI type.
What is ENFJ?
The ENFJ personality type is also commonly referred to as “The Guide” of the 16 MBTI personality types. ENFJs are characterized as outgoing, gregarious, and selfless people. They have a tendency to prioritize other people’s needs over their own. They envision a world where they can help society reach its full potential. This makes them goal-oriented visionaries who respect their commitments. Plainly put, ENFJs are happy to be of help to anyone who needs assistance!
You’ll often find that ENFJs know a person for anything. They build a cobweb of connections through their friendships, and they value the creation of meaningful relationships. That is why, if their close friend Paul is stuck sorting out his tax refund, for example, an ENFJ would quickly recommend a great accountant, first hand. They’d meet for coffee the next day, sort it all out and the ENFJ would happily leave, carrying a sense of purpose and fulfillment. ENFJs are excellent to have around for exactly such matters. Barbra Streisand’s character Dolly Levi has a famous line in her song from Hello, Dolly that we think perfectly encapsulates the ENFJ personality:
I have always been a woman who arranges things,
For the pleasure–and the profit–it derives.
I have always been a woman who arranges things,
Like furniture and daffodils and lives.
But what is it that makes ENFJs act the way they do? What drives their selfless and altruistic personalities? It is no mystery, actually, and we can explain it all through the main traits that make up their personality type. If you want to know what ENFJ stands for, follow our in-depth breakdown of this empathetic MBTI type and learn the significance behind their main cognitive functions.
The 16 MBTI personality types are made up of concrete qualities, highlighting a person’s natural behavior in different contexts. When combined, the top four, most developed Preferences used by a person define their type. All in all, there are eight characteristics we need to note when defining an MBTI profile. Here they are:
- Extraversion vs Introversion – This describes how people direct their energy – either outward or inward.
- Sensing vs Intuition – This describes how people receive and process new information – either pragmatically or imaginatively.
- Thinking vs Feeling – This describes how people make decisions – either by logic and rationality or by subjective feelings.
- Judging vs Perceiving – This describes people’s approach to the outside world – either in a structured or more flexible manner.
ENFJs carry the Extraverted (E), Intuitive (N), Feeling (F), and Judging (J) preferences. That is also where the term ENFJ is coined. Let’s take a closer look at these four dominant characteristics.
Extraverted people tend to be naturally outgoing and easy to talk to, often without too many reservations. They don’t feel awkward in social interactions. In fact, extraverts seem to be energized by social events. They enjoy being the center of attention in a group of friends, and they shine brightest when showered with attention. Keeping quiet in a conversation is boring for extraverts, as they feel they have a lot of important things to share. Extraverts like to enjoy themselves and participate in fun activities, parties, and events. Talking helps extraverts voice their thoughts and conclusions.
Here are some of the main qualities of an extravert:
- Volunteers personal information
- Likes collaboration and group activities
- Energized by interaction
Intuitive people approach problems and situations with a keen perspective on the future. Questions like “How are we going to complete a project?” or “What are the steps to get to the final goal?” are instantly on their mind. They learn from situations and patterns experienced in the past, acknowledge any flaws and mistakes, and actively work to improve themselves. Unlike the logical and factual Sensor personalities, Intuitive people are more comfortable with ambiguous information and theories. Intuitive people like to sink into their imagination when looking for a creative solution to a problem. They may have deep and abstract ideas, and they value inspiration.
Here are a few Intuitive characteristics you can easily spot:
- Comfortable with fuzzy data
Rather than relying on objective logic in situations that require decision making, Feeling personality types rely on their subjective feelings. They can be quite sensitive and empathetic in most situations, which is the reason they despise injustice and strive for global equality. Combined with their intuitive nature, Feeling types value harmony and try to stay away from conflicts. They prefer to find a peaceful resolution to an argument or, alternatively, a compromise. They’re the sort of people who follow their hearts instead of their heads. They are also sensitive to people’s needs and reactions, so being liked and respected is important for their inner peace.
Here are a few common Feeling characteristics:
- Driven by emotions
- Easily hurt
Let’s not confuse this with being judgmental! When we talk about someone expressing Judging qualities, we talk about the way they interact with the world outside of the self. When it comes to planning certain activities, is the person more flexible or structured? People characterized with Judging qualities prefer a more organized approach to finishing their day-to-day tasks. They enjoy schedules and putting dates in their calendar, checking tasks off of a list, and they move toward achieving their goals through structure and planning. They’d rather not deal with the pressure of procrastination, or the potential conflict with a boss if they haven’t done their work on time. ENFJs enjoy structure in moderation. Because they tend to lean toward the more free-spirited side when it comes to the other four characteristics, having a job that is too detail-oriented would exhaust them.
Here’s a summary of some more Judging qualities:
- Loyal worker
- Leans toward closure
- Task focused
ENFJ Cognitive Functions
Each personality type has its own way of looking at the world – through four cognitive functions. These functions can either be focused on others and the outside world (Extraverted) or on the self, the person’s own thoughts and feelings (Introverted). The order they are in for each personality type determines which of the four is the most dominant, indicating it has the biggest influence on the behavior of an MBTI type. The auxiliary function also has a major role in a person’s decision-making processes. The remaining two functions – called Tertiary and Inferior – have their significance, but serve more as a garnish to the other two and aren’t as prominent in most situations.
For an ENFJ, the priority works like this:
- Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
- Introverted Intuition (Ni)
- Extraverted Sensing (Se)
- Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Each of these cognitive functions is significant, and their combination paints the colorful portrait of the ENFJ personality type.
Dominant Function: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
ENFJs use the Extraverted Feeling trait (Fe) most often, which they share with the ESFJ personality type. Both types would bend over backward to help a buddy out, but ENFJs specifically feel like it is their calling and duty. They are natural empaths and find it easy to relate to the difficult situations their friends are in. ENFJs feel the need to solve problems. It is no wonder ENFJs are such public relations specialists! This personality type can put themselves in other people’s shoes with ease.
Because they can understand both sides of an argument, they also have the power to improve morale and develop consensus in problematic situations. They feel especially sensitive if someone is excluded from a group, or worse if they are the ones being excluded. They love to discover what people have in common, in order to bring them together and make connections. At their workplace and in their friendships, they desire harmony and happiness and are willing to work to achieve them.
Auxiliary Function: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
Introverted Intuition (Ni) is the ability to gather information about the world and situations in a person’s life. MBTI types with the Ni Function can almost sense what the outcome of a situation will be. Often, they’d have difficulty describing how they arrived at a certain conclusion – but are right far more than they’re wrong. Unlike types with Extraverted Intuition (Ne), Ni is observant of the situation but doesn’t work too hard on understanding how they found their answer. What they probably don’t know is that they make these deductions based on impressions and patterns they subconsciously interpret. This can be an excellent quality, as it makes typically difficult information easy to process.
People who use the Introverted Intuition function are also said to live in the future because they use this trait to analyze situations that occurred in the past. That way, they have a better understanding of any potential issues when discussing concepts and ideas. For example, people using the Ni function can be good strategists, who learn quickly from their mistakes. Unfortunately, their focus remains on the big picture, making them feel distracted in the present moment.
Tertiary Function: Extraverted Sensing (Se)
It might sound contradictory, that a person can have both Extraverted Sensing and Introverted Intuition. Extraverted Sensors have a great sense of the present moment, they don’t dwell on the past or spend too much time stressing about the future. People with the Se function have developed their five senses and are great perceivers of what happens at the moment. They are likely to be in tune with their body, have good coordination skills, and excel at sports, martial arts, dance, etc. They make great drivers, focused on the here and now, as opposed to some other types who spend their time daydreaming about their future plans.
By now you are probably wondering if there’s a mistake in the text, or if you have misunderstood what you’ve just read. Don’t worry, that is not the case! Since this is not a dominant or auxiliary function, it indicates that it is not being used as often as the first two. For the ENFJ, Se can come into play only in certain moments, perhaps even in emergencies. For example, an ENFJ using their Ni can predict that their partner left in a rush for work this morning, because they have done it several times in the past week. But through their Se they hear that they didn’t close the front door properly on the way out and now the cat might run out, so they run to save the day.
Inferior Function: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
As an inferior function for ENFJs, Introverted Thinking (Ti) is considered the most underdeveloped of the four. It may also feel like, even though it is present from time to time, ENFJs have very little control over it. If we have learned anything so far, it is that ENFJs are not the most analytical or logical MBTI type. And yet, they still possess some precision and rationality. It may be more evident at work or in situations where it is required for them to act that way.
People who possess the Ti cognitive function create complex systems in their brains, aiming to explain how things work in the world. They compare incoming information to the internal systems they have invented in their brains. If they find the new information fits their model of thinking, they accept it. If it doesn’t, they analyze why and how and try to re-evaluate their thinking. These people can be particularly pedantic about correct language use, they may carry an extensive vocabulary, or they can be able to easily remember terminologies and their definitions.
ENFJ Strengths and Weaknesses
So far we have talked a lot about all the qualities that make up the wonderful ENFJ personality. By now you probably have a clear understanding of what these are and how they function. It is worth noting, however, that each personality type has its strengths, as well as its weaknesses.
- Phenomenal interpersonal skills
Yes, ENFJs are in fact phenomenal at making quick and meaningful connections with others. They are extremely likable and people are naturally drawn to them. They don’t mind small talk and they tend to be good at it. People enjoy their company because ENFJs understand the right time to listen and the right time to give quality advice.
- Unique salesmanship abilities
Being so easygoing and approachable, it’s not surprising that ENFJs are great salespeople. They make everyone feel special and appreciated, even strangers. They might even make a few friends in an attempt to sell them an item, and they might be quick to notice what their customers truly need. They can make spot-on recommendations based on their intuitive nature.
- Adept leaders and teammates
ENFJs are quick at reading others’ motives and feelings, and they know how to help people channel their positive skills. As leaders, they would guide and encourage their subordinates and their employees would follow them naturally, due to ENFJs’ noticeable sensitivity and charm. As colleagues and teammates, ENFJs are happy to teach newcomers the best way to do the job, and they are eager to assist and explain when it is necessary.
- Excel at organizing
Being such gregarious and open-minded people, ENFJs have just the right amount of organizational skills to help them make a good first impression. Managers are rarely reluctant to hire them because they sense their optimistic energy from a mile away, and they are just as impressed with their ability to honor commitments and stick to deadlines and schedules. Being this organized is mostly beneficial in a professional environment, where ENFJs can be recognized for their achievements.
You saw it coming, didn’t you! ENFJs can be great empaths, but this trait also comes with a negative side. ENFJs need to learn to be less affected by the awful things that happen to others. In tough situations, they should try to be a little bit more individual. Sometimes this is difficult for them because they understand being in touch with emotions as something positive, without looking at its potential detriments.
- Easily distracted
ENFJs have a lot of energy. They also have a tendency to get bored quickly, so keeping a strong focus on something doesn’t come easy for them. If they are highly passionate or interested in something, then ENFJs will be less prone to space out. ENFJs should try to minimize distractions. Taking a few short breaks, rather than taking a single long one, might be more beneficial for them, and it can train their focus.
ENFJs are quick to offer their assistance to others. They just can’t help it, and sometimes they offer their advice without being asked. They don’t feel like they’re doing anything wrong, because they’re helping a friend out, right? Well, ENFJs do care a lot about other people, and occasionally they cross the line, leaving their friends with no personal space. ENFJs need to notice when this happens, and give people a chance to solve their problems independently.
- People pleaser
ENFJs do care about being liked by their friends and colleagues. They might hate to admit it, but it is a fact. First and foremost, as extraverts, ENFJs have an outgoing personality and a great need to feel included in what people are doing. Sometimes other people can sense that, and use it for their personal benefit, by showering ENFJs with a lot of responsibilities they never signed up for. ENFJs should keep an eye out and try to stay away from people who would take advantage of their kindness.
- Tendency to manipulate
In an attempt to avoid conflict, an ENFJ may resort to manipulation. ENFJs are very aware of other people’s feelings and they have the natural gift of persuasion. As bosses and team leaders, ENFJs constantly think about the big picture and having a well-functioning team is important to them. That is why sometimes they may take advantage of people’s personal motivations in order to achieve professional goals.
Difference between Male vs. Female Personality Traits
There aren’t many huge differences between the male and female ENFJs. Studies show there are more female ENFJs than males. Which makes sense, considering ENFJs are Feeling personalities. 1 in 40 ENFJs is a male, with females outnumbering the males more than 2 to 1.
Men are more often the Thinkers of this personality type. They might be more in tune with their analytical side than women, while also struggling with being too emotional at times and attempting to suppress their feelings. Here are some traits of the ENFP male you might want to know:
- Overly idealistic at times
- Difficulty accepting constructive criticism
- More in tune with their Ti cognitive function
- May have trouble with self-esteem
- Occasionally blame themselves when things go wrong
ENFJ females can be considered stereotypically too sensitive, caring, and emotional. The truth is, they are just aware of their emotions and they validate sensitivity and loyalty. ENFJ females carry unexpected emotional depth toward others and themselves.
Here are some points worth knowing about the ENFP female:
- A little naive at times
- Too emotional with smothering tendencies
- Struggle to make executive decisions
- Too selfless
- They may care too much about people’s approval
- They are carefree and impulsive
- Tendency towards perfectionism
- Enjoy spontaneous activities