These two types can often look very much like each other.
What would make the difference?
I’ve found many who had identified with ENFP for a long time, yet decided ESFP was a better fit.
Same Interaction Style.
ESFPs and ENFPs seek involvement of themselves and others and tend to have the natural facilitative attitude of the Get-Things-Going™ style. When I did the Interaction Styles research, I noticed all four types (ESFJ, ESFP, ENTP, and ENFP) with that style tend to easily fall into facilitative roles, not just those with NF preferences. Both tend to use informing language, but ESFPs will have a little more of a drive to immediate tangible action. ENFPs are more willing to talk about things for a while when talking is moving things along. Both want an upbeat mood and love to make others happy.
Differentiating Artisan versus Idealist is key. Often those with ESFP preferences will talk a lot about helping people so they relate to much in the ENFP (Idealist) descriptions. For the ENFP, there are always new potentials to be explored. For the ESFP there are always new possibilities for action and ESFPs don’t want to miss opportunities.
Very often the first clue in recognizing the ESFP pattern is pragmatism. Pragmatic means having autonomy and calling the shots on your own actions. It means taking a utilitarian approach to things rather than seeking consensus or adherence to norms—taking independent action.
It helps to listen for the abstract language of the ENFP, which is about meaning and purpose, using metaphors that many people can relate to while keeping their own unique meanings. ESFP language tends to reference tangibles with specific details when relevant.
---Interest in Motive.
Both types are interested in why people do things. The ESFP tunes in to what is in it for the other person, whereas the ENFP is interested in their deeper motives.
Different Cognitive Dynamics.
ENFPs lead with Ne—Interpreting meanings. ESFPs lead with Se—Experiencing and Noticing subtle changes. Both “read” the room. ESFPs notice physical clues to people’s feelings, picking up the actual physical energy. ENFPs may not even notice the physical cues and energy, but will just “know” the meaning of what is or has been going on. Both types will describe the experience as getting a feeling of what is going on. You have to probe a little to get identify which process is being engaged.