After tooling around in the ENFP Common Issues thread (which really helped me understand my own weak areas), it occurred to me that it might be equally insightful to consider ENFPs’ strengths and how to best leverage those strengths. So I tried to come up with a list of some of the strong points in the ENFP personality. Please feel free to comment, make additions, and give constructive criticism (whether you’re an ENFP or not). Oh, and I think it would be very interesting if other ENFPs posted their own lists.
Since I will be referring to the ENFP hierarchy of cognitive functions, let’s first recap ENFP function dominance. You can click on each function to see a detailed description of how that mental function operates. This will be important in understanding ENFPs’ strengths.
My Favorite ENFP Strengths (In No Particular Order)
- Genuine Interest in People. Like all Feelers, ENFPs are people people. But when you combine Fi (which values authenticity) and Ne (which loves to take in new information), you have a person who is curious to understand those around them, especially what makes someone tick (i.e., their true essence). I once read on this forum that ENFPs were akin to social scientists in that they loved to watch people and understand them both on the individual level as well as at the species level. ß And, I think this is very true of ENFPs. An ENFP’s secret weapon is their genuine fascination with all things people.
- Great People Skills. ENFPs seem to have a sixth sense about what makes people tick; and they can pick up on the subtle nuance of the social game play going on around them. This is due, in part, to their acute awareness of their outside environment (Ne) which is constantly scanning for new information combined with their desire for positive interpersonal relations (like all Fs). The result is a person who is keenly aware of the motivations and perceptions of others. When you combine this with an ENFP’s good communication skills and warm and affirming nature, it’s easy to understand why they tend to connect with people quickly and easily, and why they are generally well-liked.
- Unafraid to Be Different. Here again, we see where the combination of Ne and Fi is foundational to the ENFP experience. Ne looks at the world from the 20,000 foot view. This desire to get the big picture perspective is most concerned with understanding the big picture rather than being bound by minutiae like the social expectations of others. ENFPs are almost always aware of these expectations; they just don’t feel bound by them. Couple this with their Fi that seeks internal (instead of external) validation, and you’ve got a person who isn’t afraid to push the social envelope. This can come across as zany charm, boat rocking, or social cluelessness. But this ability to operate outside of societal norms can also be a tremendous advantage. If an ENFP feels that they are behaving in a manner that is consistent with their Fi values and is an authentic expression of their selves, then they are unafraid to act as their conscience dictates.
- Fiercely Independent. ENFPs don’t want to be in control, but they don’t want to be controlled either. Fi is all about authenticity and truthiness. Sometimes outside forces (like a boss’ direction, a task’s requirements, or a social group’s expectations) impinge upon Fi’s desire to express itself authentically and truthfully. When this happens, it’s easy for the ENFP to become hostile and obstructive to the perceived threat to their Fi. It also means that ENFPs have an amazing ability to live and think unfettered by outside forces.
- Ability to See Patterns & Connections. An ENFP’s dominant function is Ne. Extraverted Intuition looks outside oneself and tries to put all the things it sees into a big picture understanding of the world. Everything has meaning. And, everything is connected to everything else. Ne can feel like your constantly trying to put together a huge jigsaw puzzle. This lends itself to an ENFP’s astounding ability to see patterns and connections that others do not see… almost to the point of being painful. Take, for example, my personal experience of learning about MBTI theory. Whether I want to or not, I am constantly seeing how people’s behavior fits their personality type per the theory. And I regularly ruminate on the patterns in behavior I see… to the point that I can’t shut it off. While sometimes this is overwhelming, it also means that I do see patterns and connections in human behavior that allow me to navigate my relationships with aplomb. So while Ne can be overwhelming, it can also lead to bursts of creative thinking and powerful insights.
- Comfortable in New & Fluid Situations. ENFPs are Perceivers which means they have Pe-Ji or an extroverted perceiving function (Ne) and an introverted judging function (Fi). This means they tend to be drawn more toward observing and experiencing rather than deciding and taking action. (For a great article about Pe-Ji versus Pi-Je click here.) I once explained to an INFJ, what being a P was like in this way: “As an ENFP, I like to just sit back and soak it all in. Of course, I can and do make decisions. I do this everyday. But my default behavior is to observe and keep my options open.” Thus ENFPs tend to be very flexible, spontaneous, and open to possibilities. Of course there are downsides to being so loosey-goosey, but ENFPs can leverage their ability to change on a dime, succeed without a plan, and think on their feet, to great advantage.
- Getting Things Done. ENFPs are great thinkers with their heads oftentimes stuck in the Ne clouds. But they can also be great doers if they are able to tap into their Te. Since Extraverted Thinking is 3rd in the ENFP hierarchy of functions, it can take years of practice for ENFPs to be able to use this function in a nuanced and mature way. But an ENFP with mature Te is all about executing things in a logical and orderly manner. Take for example, how I’ve tried to organize this post into logical bullet points. This is very Te of me. And being able to work out the logical steps backward from an identified goal is also very Te.
- Seeing All the Possibilities. To me at least, this is one of those aspects of being an ENFP that is smack-you-in-the-face obvious. In fact, observing this trait is one of the first ways I type someone as an ENxP. This ability to see every permutation of every situation is the hallmark of dominant Extraverted Intuition. There is never just one answer for an ENFP. While it is easy to get lost in all the possibilities when your an ENFP, it also means you can see very creative solutions to any given problem.
- Intellectual Breadth. ENFPs are usually interested in all sorts of subjects and bring a wide variety of skills to the table in whatever project they are involved in. This breadth of knowledge is due to an ENFP’s dominant Extraverted Intuition which loves to learn new things. And because ENFP are Perceivers that like to observe and experience things, they tend to be very open to new avenues of intellectual exploration. The blend of these two traits means that ENFPs know a little about a wide variety of subjects. While sometimes they sacrifice depth of knowledge in the name of taking in new information, breadth of knowledge can be a great strength. ENFPs have a wide array of interests and experience that they can draw upon. This gives them flexibility in careers and allows them to connect with people from all walks of life.
- Able to Inspire Other. Inspiring others is a hallmark ENFP characteristic that is the culmination of several other ENFP traits. ENFPs really care about people and give high-priority to fostering positive personal relationships. They also tend to place great value on helping others and making their world a better place. They have a natural ability to read people. And, they are flexible enough to tailor their approach based on the needs of others. Finally, ENFPs have an almost spooky ability to see the potential in other people. All these traits combine into an uncanny ability to motivate and inspire others to do their best.
So what do you think are the best things about being an ENFP?