Friday, April 23, 2010

Getting Into Character: The ENFP (Extravert, Intuitive, Feeler, Perceiver)

Today we continue our specific look at the sixteen types in the MBTI line-up. This is going to be so fun, because even if this is not your particular label, more than likely you will recognize someone you know and love revealed on the page. I need to let you know that this is NOT a professional opinion or blog--I am just teaching you what I've learned over more than ten years of studying personality.

I’m not going to repeat my description of the dominant preferences and such, but if you haven’t been following along, go back and read the beginning of the first week’s post (The ESTP). I’ve highlighted it in green, so you can easily catch up.

Again this week, we will change just one of the letters—the Thinker to Feeler—but look at the difference this makes in the personality of these two individuals!

My cousin tells me this is her label, so here I am waving--let's get started.

Living Life with an ENFP: ENFPs are people-oriented by their Extraversion type and the other three letters deal in feelings, hunches, and sensing things not seen on the surface. You will notice the ENFPs in your life as being extremely others-centered. They are those who know everyone and everything going on. If they don't know it, it probably hasn't happened yet. They are warm and appreciative and excel in understanding the needs of others so they draw friends like kids to the ice cream truck. They inspire those around them and have a zest for life. ENFPs enjoy variety, flexibility, and newness and will probably be much more excited to start projects than to see them through to completion. They are spontaneous, charismatic, and can easily change directions. They are curious and enthusiastic which makes them often restless.
Career/Service Area Choices for an ENFP:  ENFPs are often seen as free spirits and their love for people make them suitable for jobs and ministry or volunteer positions that give them stimulating and challenging opportunities, while keeping rules to a minimum. They are sensitive to work relationships and work to promote harmony in their relationships. They like to be included in decision-making and would rather focus on ideas. ENFPs often look for jobs in the service industry, especially those that allow them to help humanity in some way. They will thrive in situations where they have flexibility and novelty. Some careers or ministries that often appeal to ENFPs are: artist/entertainer, public speaker/evangelism, clergy/counselor, consultant, journalist, social scientist, nurse, writer/editor, teacher/trainer, youth worker, missions, public relations, social worker, advocate for the less fortunate.

Free Time for an ENFP: Whatever ENFPs do in their free time, it usually includes other people. They join activities that include others or they will invite them to attend with them. Often they explore new hobbies, sports, or places. They sometimes like to include their play in their work and may have more flexible boundaries here than other types. ENFPs also like to read and travel as this gives them opportunities to see, learn, and do new things. ENFPs can be dreamers so their free time might include thinking up new schemes and plans. Many ENFPs enjoy sports.
Warnings for the ENFP: Too much of any good thing can be a bad thing, so here are some things ENFPs need to beware of: Since they love new and changing opportunities, they often only stick with things for a short period of time. ENFPs also have a tendency to over commit in their quest for the next best thing. Be careful to commit to things you really have a passion to do and finish what you started before moving on. ENFPs had a wide variety of knowledge but sometimes come across as just knowing enough about everything to be dangerous (or annoying). ENFPs are such people-persons that they can often get caught up in the lives of their friends and family. ENFPs need to learn their limits so they don't neglect taking care of themselves. On the flip-side of that, ENFPs often do things big--they overextend to the point of saturating themselves with the good things in life. As a result, they may completely wear themselves out or develop an unhealthy lifestyle.
Spiritual Helps for the ENFP: ENFPs might enjoy worship arts--singing, dancing, artist expression, drama. They also may enjoy worship in the natural world. Time for self-reflection will benefit the ENFP in allowing them to explore their own feelings. Because they enjoy being with people, they often relish study, discussion, and prayer in small group settings. But ENFPs may also enjoy methodical spiritual disciplines, often switching their focus between prayer, meditation, worship, and study, among others.
What Others Say about the ENFP: People enjoy the encouragement and inspiration they get from spending time with ENFPs. If you have one in your life, you will likely admire their quest to help those less-fortunate. They will be a steady source of insight and ingenious ideas. You will notice their tendency to dream about the future and to enjoy a changing and fluid existence.

Okay, who do you know that is an ENFP? Let me hear from you if you are!

Next week, join us as we change it up and switch ALL four letters. We will look at the personality opposite of the ENFP and see if they truly are completely different. And it's not too late to send me your personality type if you want to see it here.


  1. i am an enfp! and i can actually relate to every bit of it except in the past one year i seem to have lost my ability to sense other people's feelings. it has left me very stranded and i was trying to look for myself when i found the MBTI. but it still hasnt helped me get my ability to sense others back.

  2. That's really interesting,fieryfaery. Good for you in trying to learn about and understand yourself. I'm no expert on personality, but I do know that sometimes life effects how we live. I know Extraverts who are alone a lot b/c of their life circumstances or their jobs. So when they get w/people, they tend to go overboard, talk too much, and sometimes annoy everyone else. Or the Introvert who is a hair dresser, so after a day at work she is totally "peopled" out. She is really quiet all night, but how much so didn't register w/ her until after she got married.

    I wonder if there hasn't been some change that's made it more difficult for you to sense people's feelings. Are you busier? Are you not able to have deep conversations like you once did? Maybe you are in a deeper relationship with someone else that is taking much of you time and energy that you used to have to invest in more people?

    One last thing--ENFPs have a tendency to over-stretch themselves in their relationships. If you are spending so much time and energy investing in other people and not taking time to renew yourself, you won't be the best at anything. Maybe you need to step back and fill you our soul so you can then pour it out into others.

    I'd be interested in hearing what you think. And thanks for reading and taking the time to write.

  3. I just want to thank you for this article. I am an ENFP and at age 25 I am starting to learn things I never knew about myself... It is a very strange thing for me to grasp, and I have been running into a lot of challenges lately. Reading your work made many things clear for me. Thank You.

  4. I don't know where to start. I'll try to keep this as brief and simple as possible, but it's going to be a challenge.

    Okay, I'm an ENFP, and knowing that suddenly makes my life make more sense. I'm the free-spirited, let-life-take-me-where-it-will type. Which is great! But, I can't do that anymore, considering that I'm a parent.

    I'm a single mom of an almost-two-year-old, and I feel this urgency to get my life figured out, right now. Granted, I have three jobs and go to school full time, so that's not the problem. I'll make it-- I always do. But what bothers me is that I don't have a direction for the future.

    I keep finding these interesting career paths that I could *probably* do and not be miserable, but I can't make any of them stick. It's like being surrounded by a million beautiful shoes, and trying all of them on, just to discover that none of them fit quite right. (You could make it fit with a bit of tissue paper in the toe, but it wouldn't be the same).

    Granted, I've found some careers that I would absolutely *love* to pursue-- but I would be sacrificing time with my daughter. I can't bring myself to do that. And I know that I don't have to have all the answers right now, but not having a plan is literally making me panic. I'm having trouble compromising my free spirit and the realities of being an adult. I always knew it wouldn't be easy, but I never thought it would be this hard.

    So, related to the ENFP (which is where I was going with this in the first place)-- how does someone with this personality type negotiate their unfettered spirit, with the need to be responsible and grounded? I think that's what I'm trying to ask. Words are simply not my friend today-- I believe that more coffee is in order.

    If you've read this far, thanks. And I look forward to any advice you could offer. :)


  5. I am in the same boat KeelHolly. I cant decide what career to pick. I wanted to be an accountant but having kids now I feel that I cant because of the time requirements. So I don't really know what to do. And like you I cant do something that I only half like so I keep looking for something else. But I haven't figured it out yet. I don't really know what I want to do with my life and honestly the list of careers above make me cringe. I cant see myself being a teacher or a writer or a nurse. But I do agree with the flexibility and novelty of a career. I don't want to feel held back or bored while working. But then I think what job isn't gonna be boring after a while? I am so unsure of what to do.

  6. Dear Anon.~

    I'm so glad that you are discovering things about yourself and that your personality is becoming more clear to you. Twenty-five isn't so old, so you have many,many years ahead of you, God-willing, to explore who you are.

  7. Dear KeelHolly

    First of all, let me say congratulations for beginning to discover who you are and how you were created.

    Next,let me assure you that there are parents of all sixteen personality types, so you are not alone. The trick to to find your parenting personality. Your daughter was given to you b/c you are the perfect mommy for her. Your style does not and will not look like that of other moms. I am an INTJ, so my parenting style is much more structured than yours is likely to be. I like routine and that is how I parent. You will likely have lots of variety in your parenting. Like a lot of things in life, one is not better than the other--they're just different.

    Your urgency might be just a restlessness in getting on with your future. Or a lot of people begin to re-prioritize and question things when they become parents. Remember that this is just a season. The rest of your life will not look the same way it does right now. And I have a hunch that maybe the pressure you feel with your jobs and routine might stem at least in part b/c it is so highly structured and that goes against your personality.

    Your choice of a career is big, but you need to remember that your daughter will not be small for very long. It might be that you can't do what you LOVE for a few years, but then your baby is no longer a baby and you suddenly find yourself with more time. This is not an exhaustive list, so do some more research on jobs opps for ENFPs and maybe talk to someone at your school and get some career counseling. There are online tools you can use to help narrow down options, too. Check into Career Direct. I've used it and it was great.

    My advice for you would be to take a step back, take a look at what you need and want in a career, the time limits you have, and your values and gifts. Ask others what they could see you doing. Maybe there is a great fit that you just haven't seen yet.

    And remind yourself that whatever it is you choose, you don't have to stay with it for the rest of your life. That lack of change may be stiffling you some, too.

    Hope this helps a bit. Thanks for reading!

  8. Dear Bridget~Similar to what I said to KeelHolly, I wonder if your hesitancy to commit is b/c of your free spirit. The thought of being tied to a job is hard for you to swallow. Just remember you don't need to stay in the same position forever and once you find a job that is a good fit, you may find other avenues in the same field that are a better fit or give you more of an opportunity for diversity. Our children grow up faster than we imagine and your main focus won't always be just on them.

    Blessings on your journey. Thanks for reading!

  9. I'm an ENFP and this was really cool to read. Thanks.

  10. Michelle,

    You're welcome. Thanks for reading!

  11. I am Charmi n enfp....wateva this says z sooo true fr me. it seems i m knwng myself more n feel I am really enthusiastic and nt crazy person. nxt thng I knw tht nw I cn be good teacher...evn being a dentist...a dental teacher.
    Thanks tons!!!!!!!!

  12. Thanks so much for this!! I've been having trouble deciding what I want to major in while in college, and, ever since I've directly identified my personality type, this article helped me decide I'm interested in being a PR officer. My only thing is that I'm a bit of a pessimist. God has helped me become more appreciative of the positive things in live (I write down three good things about each day each night) and this has helped me guide myself down an interesting career path.

    Thanks so much again!

  13. Dear Anonymous, thanks for reading and leaving a comment! We all have faults or weaknesses and by knowing what they are, it helps us learn to counteract those things that might not be so great about our personality. Sounds like you have learned a lot about who you are and that you are taking the steps to make yourself the best version of you that you can be. God's blessings on your career search!