ASK PH: INFJ vs ENFJ
Dear Personality Hacker,
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:
- Can an INFJ be more outgoing and vary in their absorption of others’ emotions?
- OR can an ENFJ be more sensitive, analytical, enjoy speaking truth to others, and hoard her alone time?
- How do I know if Ni or Fe is my “flow” state? How does anyone know his/her flow state?
- 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
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:
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:
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.
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