By Michael Pierce
David Keirsey nicknamed ENFJs the “teachers”, and as far as I have seen, they are often perceived as louder, more energetic, more social INFJs; in short, as the socially extraverted INFJ. The description isn’t completely wrong, but is it misleading and doesn’t grant the ENFJ a personality in its own right. As I’ve emphasized before, Jungian extraversion does not have to do with loudness or social skills; therefore, ENFJs are not necessarily any louder or more apparently outgoing than INFJs. In fact, an ENFJ I know very well often demonstrates great shyness in social situations. The distinguishing preferences of ENFJs run much deeper.
As with all of these articles, I aim to describe the core of the ENFJ profile and the typical ENFJ as an individual just as capable or incapable of becoming a hero of the history books as any other personality.
As always, let’s break down what constitutes the ENFJ functionally.
They are a Judging type, meaning that they prefer extroverted judging and introverted perceiving. This means that they base their judgment criteria on objective outside information, while simply observing and drinking in their subjective information and experiences. You could say that they are more aggressive towards the outside world and more receptive towards their inner experience.
Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted feeling and introverted intuition. Extroverted feeling is accommodating. It adapts to objectively understood values, becoming whatever is appropriate, harmonizing or desirable for a given situation. Meanwhile, introverted intuition is contemplative, in that it has no real interest in reality, but perceives the possibilities of ideas within their own mind, developing more and more compelling and delicious intellectual ideas, theories and understandings.
Third, they are very similar to the INFJ; both prefer Fe and Ni. The ENFJ, however, prefers Fe more than Ni. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call NFJ types the “Teachers”, because they both develop compelling ideas and understandings of the world and seek to convey these visions to people in an accommodating and objectively desirable and engaging fashion. Of course, “Teacher” is merely a nickname to help me remember the NFJ nature and does not mean NFJs are more likely to have an interest in teaching as a career.
The ENFJ, then, is a “teacher” for whom communion with others and communication of their ideas takes precedence over contemplating the ideas themselves. They are primarily concerned with helping “men rise to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood” through compelling communication of their vision.
Thus, the word I like to use for ENFJs is “persuasion,” in the noble sense suggested above. The ENFJ, preferring dominant Fe, sees all sentimentality as objective, and therefore common. In other words, we are all family, derived from the same source, and by tracing back to that source we find a universal language. It is to this source that the ENFJ unconsciously appeals; they seek to reunite a now divided humanity and raise it towards their intuitive vision of a better world. They have no need of force or power to convince people of their vision, but make expert use of communication, whether in language, art, film, music, or other forms of presentation. They charm and persuade and evoke people to the light of their vision. “I have a dream,” Dr. King once said.
Like the INFJ, the ENFJ has a strong Fe empathy and sympathy for their fellows because of their preference for common sentiment. However, while the INFJ’s empathy is intense and individually focused, discovering uncanny psychological insights, the ENFJ’s empathy is broader, experiencing the suffering of the whole of humanity. What it loses in individual intensity it makes up for with its wide-open arms and charismatic amiability. It was said of Erasmus of Rotterdam, “Where is there someone whose heart Erasmus does not occupy?” ENFJs love all humanity at once, and therefore they want to reach as many people as possible. This drives them to higher ground where they may appeal to large audiences.
When communicating, the ENFJ is very socially and emotionally sensitive. It is actually for this reason that some ENFJs are shy in social situations; because they are so sensitive to what they feel could reasonably happen. But when in a more promising situation, they tend to be very expressive, strongly extroverting their feeling and unconsciously, but harmlessly, trying to persuade and affect the emotions of those around them.
Fe is focused on objective emotions and tries to affect them for the better, adapting to the changing moods of others. They can appeal quite skillfully to the warm fuzzy feelings in all of us, trying to touch humanly shared sentiments and evoke similar emotions to theirs. To commune with people and sense a shared and common feeling and unity is especially powerful and moving for the ENFJ. It is, to some degree, their psyche’s goal.
Their tertiary function is Se, and this provides one of the strongest divides between the ENFJ and the INFJ. Where the INFJ represses Se and fears to live life to the fullest, the ENFJ does not share this fear, but has a much clearer perception of reality and more direct connection to objective data. One effect of this is that their psychological intuitions are much easier to trace to concrete observations. Another more noticeable effect is their enjoyment and more natural control over sensual or thrilling experiences. The ENFJ rides the roller coaster while the INFJ watches and contemplates. The ENFJ is willing to let loose a little and have a good time. It also helps them connect with the masses, giving them quicker social reflexes, as it were, because they are more sensitive to what’s really going on. They can handle a lot of noise, people, cheering, crowding, colors and what not without becoming overloaded, allowing them the ability to more warmly and naturally interact with their audience.
However, in exchange for this the ENFJ represses their Ti function. Fe is responsible for their charismatic communication and adapting to objective sentiment, and it is the direct opposite of Ti, which holds fast to internal logical principles despite changing objective sentiments. In short, Fe cares how people feel, but Ti only cares about what is true. The repression of Ti often results in the ENFJ devaluing or even forgetting what is true for the sake of what sounds good. For instance, an ENFJ may be tempted to exaggerate the truth to have a better sentimental effect on their audience. This can also apply to their expression of emotion; without immediately realizing it, they may exaggerate laughter, sadness, or pain for the sake of sentimental effect. In these cases, it is not that the ENFJ is lying; they are just saying what is essentially true, editing details to better express the core idea to the audience.
So in summary, the ENFJ is persuasive, with a heart open to all men, seeking to unite humanity to a common cause. Their Se provides them with a proper appreciation for sensual experience and adaptability to reality, but their repressed Ti can make it easy for them to exaggerate the truth to tell a better story.
Thanks for reading, and for all the ENFJs out there: thanks for loving us and trying to show us a better path.
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