Dear Personality Hacker,

I have bought your Starter Kits to both the INFJ and ENFJ, and while I found both of them helpful in different ways, I still don’t know which type I am.

Briefly: I am 27-years-old now, but I tested as an ENFJ in high school on the official MBTI test. The last few years, I have tested as an INFJ on yours and multiple other sites.

  • Pro tertiary Ti, I can be quite objective/rational compared to some of my feeler-type friends, I like systems (psychology, philosophy), and I use deductive reasoning for my career all the time.
  • Pro tertiary Se, I am not quiet–I have no trouble speaking up in social situations as long as the conversation is interesting (otherwise, I zone out).
  • Pro ENFJ, while I do absorb emotions of others, I don’t live with pain from others’ psychic garbage as you talk about in the INFJ podcast.
  • Pro INFJ, I don’t run away from being in my head/retreating like the ENFJ typically struggles with. I love being in my head and was a nerdy, creative bookworm throughout my childhood/adolescence.

If I described myself as a child, I sound much more like an INFJ (except for blurting out answers when there was a tense silence in the classroom). In college, more of an ENFJ (except for all the awesome, weird conversations I had with my INTJ best friend). As an adult, it’s hard to say.

Nature vs nurture: I was raised by an INTJ and an ENTP in a very nurturing environment  AND I use my tertiary/inferior cognitive functions under service of my NF as a nurse practitioner all the time.

Questions I leave you with:

  1. Can an INFJ be more outgoing and vary in their absorption of others’ emotions?
  2. OR can an ENFJ be more sensitive, analytical, enjoy speaking truth to others, and hoard her alone time?
  3. How do I know if Ni or Fe is my “flow” state? How does anyone know his/her flow state?
  4. You use tertiary and inferior functions during stress, but how much stress do you have to be in to go to the inferior, as opposed to the tertiary?

If you could answer even one of these questions, that would be great. I know that you have a “Find your type” program, but if you could just answer one of these questions, I think I could figure it out myself…and I like figuring things out!

Thanks for both your WEBsite and INsight!” –Confused


Dear Confused!

Thanks for the email. Hopefully, the answers I provide can help you on your journey.

Question 1: Can an INFJ be more outgoing and vary in their absorption of others’ emotions?

Yes, INFJs can be outgoing. I’ve met a few INFJs who have very open energy, which I attribute to mastery of their “Harmony” Copilot (Extraverted Feeling – Fe). I also notice that INFJs vary in their absorption of energy. Some claim they don’t absorb energy at all. I personally don’t like using the energy absorption thing as a determiner of INFJs because a lot of NFs (and even some SFs) experience something similar, and some INFJs may not recognize it when it’s happening if they have spent a significant part of their lives shoring up against it.

Questions 2: OR can an ENFJ be more sensitive, analytical, enjoy speaking truth to others, and hoard her alone time?

Yes, ENFJs can be very sensitive and analytical. Do they hoard their alone time and enjoy speaking truth to others? That is an interesting question. They enjoy their alone time, but I don’t know that they hoard it like a scarce commodity — although any Extravert will hoard alone time if they don’t get enough of it. So, if an Extravert is always around people and never gets alone time I can see them craving it like an Introvert – but only for a limited time.

The question you need to ask yourself is, how much alone time do you need? Do you require alone time every day to function? Or can you go with only a few hours a week? Do you find yourself more productive around people? Or less?

I think INFJs have a love/hate relationship with radical honesty. They enjoy speaking it, but it doesn’t always bring them the rewards they believe that it should. This is mainly because they haven’t built enough skill with it to be a strength. It ends up usually showing up as a harsh subjective opinion that has only gathered enough data to reinforce its own viewpoint. Then when the INFJ fires it off with all the conviction of their limited perspective, they usually end up wishing they had gathered more data.

NFJs ‘enjoy speaking truth’ when they are doing it in service to Extraverted Feeling. Think of Oprah. She’s an ENFJ, and whenever she speaks truth, it tends to come from a place of love and a desire to help people solve problems.

This is what I have noticed about ENFJs in particular: they see the importance of speaking universal truths — truths that protect the greater good — like calling out prejudice when they see it. As an ENFJ grows, their “Accuracy” (Introverted Thinking – Ti) blends beautifully with their Harmony, and they start to realize that truth isn’t black and white. Instead of seeing people as on the side of truth or against it, they see each person as an orchestrator of their own truth.

INFJs relationship with Accuracy always seems to have a sharper edge. ENFJs are much softer in their use of Accuracy.

Question 3: How do I know if Ni or Fe is my “flow” state? How does anyone know his/her flow state?

The competency model is the best way to explain question #3. You can find the competency model described in this article:

When You Almost Know Your Type

Your Driver process will be so natural to you that you don’t even have to think about using it in most cases. You have built muscle memory with it. INFJs usually have to put a little thought into using their Harmony process. They have to remind themselves to do it until it becomes a skill. Whereas an INFJ has grown accustomed to engaging with “Perspectives” (Introverted iNtuition), and they can be found analyzing data and seeing patterns everywhere they look. An ENFJ will naturally have the needs of people on their radar and will predict those needs with incredible speed compared to an INFJ.

In our Profiler Training program, we train people to ask questions to help others figure out their best fit type. One of the first questions a Profiler asks their client is the “Flow Question”:

“What do you love to do so much that the only reason you stop is because you’re exhausted? Otherwise, you would go on indefinitely.”

Your answer to that question can clue you into your Flow state.

Question 4: You use tertiary and inferior functions during stress, but how much stress do you have to be in to go to the inferior, as opposed to the tertiary?

We are accustomed to going to our tertiary because it is the same attitude (Introvert/Extravert) as our dominant. So, it doesn’t take much to find ourselves in our 10-year-old. The 3-year-old requires a lot more stress to find ourselves there. Usually, there is some depression or instability that causes someone to go to their 3-year-old. It doesn’t feel as familiar as the 10-year-old, and there is an icky feeling or even guilt from engaging with it. For instance, an INFJ will usually turn to sensory indulgences (often seen as emotional eating/drinking) when the world is getting them down and will feel guilty afterward as a result. Whereas an ENFJ with Accuracy inferior will become extremely self-critical and when friends or family try to talk them out of this mindset they are so myopic they pick apart anything that contradicts their viewpoint.

You can read more about the tertiary and inferior functions for INFJs and ENFJs in these articles:

The ENFJ “Teacher” Personality Type
The INFJ “Counselor” Personality Type

If you still run into confusion, you can purchase a Personality Type Consultation and talk to a qualified Profiler who will help you find your best fit type.

Personality Type Consultation

–Charis Branson 


If you have a question, you think will be good for the PH community, submit them to [email protected] and put “Ask PH” in the subject line.


Additional Resources:

3 Biggest Mistakes in Self-Typing (aka “Help! I can’t figure out my type!”) 





**The information contained on our website, blog, guest blogs, e-mails, videos, programs, services and/or products is for educational and informational purposes only and is made available to you as self-help tools for your own use. We are not trained mental health care providers or certified therapists. If you feel you need the help of a licensed counselor or physician, we encourage you to take whatever action you feel is in the best interest of you and your family.

Showing 4 comments
  • The Confused One

    Thanks, Charis (and TJ). I’m still not 100% sure…but I’m starting to lean Ni. Here are some thoughts to anyone else trying to figure out his/her type.
    1) Ni at a young age: “Right now I think this, but next year, I’ll think something else…it’s a cycle and I’m going to keep changing.” I was about seven when I realized this.
    2) Fe gives me direction, and isn’t detrimental. Idealism, sensitivity, and perfectionism are usually my personal downfalls.
    3) The advice to the 15 year-old selves: I’ve written multiple journal entries practically quoting the advice other INFJs wrote to their 15 year-old selves. I started tearing up when reading, and this may be the biggest tell of all.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for checking in and sharing your thought process, Confused. I like how much personal research you are doing as you allow all the little pieces to fall into place. This is important. I think we have this tendency to believe that the right type will strike a cord at the very depth of our soul and we will feel understood for the first time in our lives. That is the way it happens for a lot of people – but not everyone. Some people have spent their lives trying to blend and as a result, they struggle to know themselves. With these people, it can take time to ruminate on the different aspects of a type and see how all 4 cognitive functions manifest — or don’t.

      It took me months to embrace my type. First of all, I had to do my research. Then I waited for clarity (introverts do a lot of post processing). The Aha moments came gradually, one by one — “Oh, that’s why I do that thing!” There were some aspects of my personality that were not typical for INFJs, so I figured out my Enneagram and that filled in the missing piece. And Bingo! The clarity arrived. But it wasn’t a blinding flash. It was a slowly erupting flame.

  • Tj

    Dear Confused,

    For some reason, after reading your post I felt so compelled to respond. I can speak from experience when you said that you purchased two personality starter kits. I only purchased one but because I did the consultation I received the other one and things are starting to make more sense. When I was my doubting my best fit type (Shawn) the profiler offered relevant examples and after reading your post I think that you are more of an INFJ than an ENFJ. Before I even got finished reading your post I can see the things that you are saying that you don’t seem like an ENFJ. Have you ever look at someone and see a piece of yourself in them? I see pieces of puzzles and I see a piece of my spouse in you but not to that extent when in the podcast it says INFJ’s can pick up psychic garbage. My consultation taught me that culture and life experiences can be the biggest influence in how you use your cognitive functions. Mrs. Branson said something about accuracy that made me conclude your type. Now ask yourself whether or not you extrovert feeling to the point of detriment of your mental health and I think you will have your answer. Even though it’s your words, I see a piece of my spouse in you but not of the same strength. I hope this helps you confused.

    • MI

      Thanks for sharing. It seems I am going through this process. I remember taking the personality test some time in either middle school or high school. My first result was ISTP, but I knew that wasn’t me because I answered questions as I wanted them to be.

      I retook the test, got INFP, and believed that to be me (drawn to the artistic ability and the description of INFP being among “the greatest artist” of all types.) I really wanted to believe that was me. I also didn’t think *pauses and looks at disorganized living space* that it could be even possible for me to be a judging type (tests seem to focus on the organization skills aspect). My tendency when testing, was to check off “Nah. Nope. Not me.” at any question having to do with organization or coming to conclusions, and “hell yeah” to questions to keeping options open and staying flexible.

      I went into art college as a part time student and noticed in the sophomore year something was off. I am creative. Very much so, but it has to be centered around an idea I believe in. Rather than coming up with random new ideas, I elaborate, expand and dig deeper into a dominant idea or two. What may seem random, redirects back to that key point I’m focusing on, or becomes a branch from that central point. There doesn’t seem to be the jumping around from idea to idea.

      When the teachers forced me to diversify my focus, that was when it fell apart. I couldn’t keep pace with my fellow students. I envied their ability to just come up with ideas, get the thumbnails out, and come up with truly creative ideas. Though I did well with the critique part (very mindful of giving positive feedback) it felt like a sting when fired at me.
      I tried to be more flexible, but then wondered why I got bent out of shape if a things I planned a week or more in advance fell through. It seemed like no matter what, I had to have a plan. If I couldn’t see the endpoint and potential steps along the way to achieve that endpoint, then I found myself frozen. Meanwhile other students could spin off all kinds of things. Sometimes I could, but it drained me more than it helped.

      In my early 20’s I ran into some situation where (without even knowing it) I fell into traps and ran into people who exploited my Fe online to humiliate me and create drama. It messed with my emotions for the better part of a year. I didn’t know what was going on and felt confusion. It seemed like the more I thought I was helping someone, the deeper the hole got, until finally I left that toxic community and focused my energy elsewhere. I decided from that point onward to guard that Fe. Take a step back and not put so much focus, also it taught me to be aware of how things made me feel.

      It is a bit of a surprise to consider the thought I might have a J, but when I looked into that and read stories from people like yours, this makes a bit more sense.

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