“ENFPs are the most optimistic of types—not because they’re determined to see the positive, but because they focus on hopeful possibilities. Like ENTPs, they grasp patterns very quickly, but their interest in them is decidedly personal. They see people’s potential for loving, for learning, for making a difference, and they look for ways to nurture and encourage it” (215).
“Whether they’re running a halfway house, teaching a class, mobilizing a task force, or waiting in line at a grocery store, ENFPs have a warm, empathetic approach to others, and they establish immediate affective connections. They have implicit faith in their ability to identify with people, and are often sought out by cowokers and acquaintances who have a problem to solve or need to confide in someone” (215).
“Even if they’re tired or have other plans, ENFPs are receptive to these interactions, and they’re unfailingly generous with their time and advice. Such types can find, however, that their deep personal engagement is sometimes misread. Although they’re capable of identifying with another so completely that they anticipate sentences and take on the person’s speech inflections, their exclusive attention is no indication of affective priority” (215).
“Like all Extraverted Perceivers, ENFPs are in the moment. They focus with equal intensity on whatever or whoever catches their attention. Indeed, because their experience of commitment is fateful and immediate, these types can easily burn themselves out. With each potential contact, the world becomes new again, and they’re reluctant to hold anything in reserve” (215).
“ENFPs are so alert to circumstantial potential that they can adapt themselves to almost any job that interests them. However, they’re usually drawn to professions that favor their immediacy, their social conscience, and their ability to forge common bonds—politics, sales, journalism, promotions, teaching, group therapy, the ministry, and so forth. Persuasive and charismatic, they’re at their best in all-or-nothing situations, where they can invest everything they have in making the sale, ensuring the vote, or motivating people toward a specific goal” (215).
“Whatever career they choose, ENFPs have little patience for administrative detail. They prefer to think on their feet, as a situation is happening. Moreover, they have a hard time sacrificing their options to an organized routine. A pundit once suggested that if Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, and Bill Clinton were doing yard work together, Dole would be telling other people how to mow their laws, Gingrich would be exploring a plan for mowing laws on Mars, and Clinton wouldn’t be able to decide whether to mow the front or the back” (216).
“If Dole illustrates the ISTJ’s inclination to manage life for others, and Gingrich the ENTP’s willingness to entertain the speculative, Clinton suggests the ENFP’s steadfast refusal to make absolute judgments. These types simply won’t declare that one option is inherently better than another.
“This is one reason ENFPs are so keenly aware of systemic injustice. They’re inclusivists of the first order, deeply concerned by standards or institutions that categorize people or limit their natural potential. If they have to make a decision, they want feedback from as broad a range of people as possible” (216).
“Although ENFPs can seem hesitant in this regard, unwilling to act until they’ve tested public opinion, it should not be supposed that they’re yielding to popular consensus. As dominant Intuitives, these types are looking to the future. They see how a change of circumstances will make life better for people, but they’re not sure yet about the means to realize their vision. ENFPs use their secondary function, Introverted Feeling, to make choices and to determine their agenda” (216).
“As a right-brain function, Introverted Feeling works differently from the Extraverted sort. Extraverted Feeling prompts us to reason in terms of prevailing social values. For example, when we say ‘You’ve been like a mother to me,’ we’re presuming shared standards about what mothers do” (216).
“Introverted Feeling, by contrast, prompts us to reason in terms of fundamental human values, whose meaning and importance are conditioned by our experience. We may believe, for example, that life is unconditionally sacred even though society sanctions military action. If we make choices in life of that value, we’re calling prevailing social beliefs in question and may anger or disappoint others” (216).
“Introverted Feeling helps ENFPs to take responsibility for the decisions they make, to accept the social consequences of their choices. It allows them to distinguish between an expedient choice, which circumvents others’ expectations, and an honorable one, which transcends them” (217).
“Although ENFPs usually develop Introverted Feeling quite well, it takes them a while to recognize what it asks of them in the way of personal accountability. The better their Intuition works, the more likely they are to use Introverted Feeling analytically to measure the prevailing structures of society against fundamental human values and to discern their potential for change. This is in an infinitely fertile field for speculation, and ENFPs generate many ideas about improving the institutions that determine people’s opportunities and experience” (217).
“When they seek feedback from others, these types are tying to gauge the relationship of their ideas to their immediate social resources. As they exchange information, they’re limiting their options in terms of the people around them—what’s important to them, what they bring to the task, what they know how to do” (217).
“This entire process is an important component of the ENFP’s power to inspire and mobilize large groups. As they link their vision to other’s hopes and aspirations, people feel that they’re collaborating with a driving archetypal imperative—a force of nature that will change everything in its path—and they’re led to accomplish extraordinary things” (217).
“Ultimately, however, the ENFP’s outward focus takes its toll. For one thing, these types spend a great deal of their time trying to cover all the bases. Without enough Introversion, they’re dependent on others’ stake in their ideas, so they devote their energies to wining people’s approval. Given their awareness that circumstances are likely to change, they try to make their case broad enough to incorporate all possibilities. In consequence, ENFPs can end up talking a better game than they’re prepared to play” (217).
“Indeed, because ENFPs have done so much work in selling their idea to others, they tend to overlook problems of implementation until they actually occur. They’re shocked and disillusioned when things don’t work out as anticipated. It strikes them that doing the right thing should work because it’s the right thing, so they have no recourse but to believe they’ve been thwarted by people with the wrong values” (217).
“ENFPs need enough contact with their Introverts side to appreciate the genuine diversity of people’s experience and beliefs. Unless they recognize the subjective nature of their own value system, they have no way of understanding people whose values are legitimately different from their own” (218).
“Moreover, an exclusive reliance on Extraverted Intuition ensures that its opposite, Introverted Sensation, plays no part in the ENFP’s self-experience, and it eventually works against the type’s acceptance of material imperfection. Under the unconscious influence of this function, ENFPs yearn for a lasting investment, invulnerable to chance or circumstance, and they begin to wonder if they’re tilting at windmills” (218).
“Like other types, ENFPs don’t recognize their inferior aims as part of themselves. They simply feel dissatisfied with what they’ve accomplished. If these Sensate impulses surface around midlife, ENFP become abruptly aware of the progression of time. They haven’t done what they were meant to do—maybe they haven’t even found themselves yet—but they’re also hemmed in by the many obligations of an established job or household” (218).
“In point of fact, by midlife ENFPs have usually accomplished a great deal, which is why their psyche is pushing them to grow beyond their dominant perspective. Their first instinct, however, is to reinforce their Intuitive frame of mind—that is, to change their present circumstances: to quit their job, go back to school, start a new project, have a baby, take a vacation, sell the house. One might recall the hitchhiker in the classic film Five Easy Pieces, whose dream was to reach Alaska. Having seen a picture of it once, she perceives it to be the perfect place to start over—white, clean, uncorrupted. ‘Yeah, well,’ says the hero, ‘I think that was before the Big Thaw’ (218).
“Sometimes ENFPs do need to start over and try something new; sometimes they need a quite place for thought and reflection. But it’s difficult for them to address this question until they get some psychological distance form their environment. They need to figure out how to honor their values into the everyday choices they’re currently making” (218).
“There is a most interesting episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which Worf, a Klingon officer raised by human parents, declines to defend his Klingon name—all that he possesses of his blood heritage—when his biological father is accused of treason. He endures the disgrace because unmasking the real traitor would plunge the empire into war. This is the kind of judgment that Introverted Feeling promotes in an ENFP: a recognition that some things are more important than Intuition can discern” (219).
“It should be emphasized that Introverted Feeling does not oppose Extraverted Intuition in this respect. It equips ENFPs to deal with questions that can’t be addressed with their dominant skills. For example, if Worf had used Intuition to understand his dilemma, it would have counseled him that his best option was not be in it” (219).
“Introverted Feeling told him, rather, how to be responsible to his situation—not because it was fair or his fault, but because it was happening to him, and its larger outcome depended on his hierarchy of values. Ultimately, he subordinated what was good for him (the name that connected him to his blood family) to what was good for his people as a whole” (219).
“ENFPs tend to make contact with their inner selves largely in their creative pursuits (in the music they love, the art they make, the poetry they write); their faith practice; or meaningful projects with like-minded colleagues. They make time for solitary walks in a natural setting or other sentient activities that foster communion with the larger fabric of life. When the psyche is pushing them to grow, however, wholistic experiences can take them only so far. ENFPs need to make a more deliberate effort to figure out how their values are influencing their life’s direction” (219).
“For example, ENFPs are often eloquent in their arguments for social institutions that recognize the dignity of all people. Introverted Feeling asks them to come at this question differently. It asks them to locate, in their individual relationships, their responsibility to acknowledge human dignity, even when circumstances dictate anger of self-defense” (219).
“ENFPs resist this Judging point of view because it seems so implacable. To see life that way would be impractical; it would keep them from responding directly to experience. Besides, living out their values one person at a time is all very nice, but it has no effect on the systemic problems that need to be solved’ (219).
“When ENFPs wrestle with this conflict long enough, they realize the enormous power Introverted Feeling actually confers. It gives them a way to embody their highest aspirations every day, in the world that really exists. And it offers self-awareness, helping them to set their own limits” (220).
“Types who resist their Introverted side eventually reach a point where they feel tired and overwhelmed, unable to flow through on much of anything. Too much seems to be coming at them, and they just can’t manage all the details. Every situation they’re in seems to require every bit of their energy, and no one seems to appreciate the pressure they’re under” (220).
“ENFPs are not mistaken about these perceptions. If they’ve resisted self-reflection, they are overinvested and overwhelmed. However, their ideas about why this is happening are misplaced. They aren’t overwhelmed because there’s too much to do or because people expect too much. They’re overwhelmed because they’re constantly changing in response to their circumstances” (220).
“When ENFPs develop Introverted Feeling, they short-circuit this receptive mode and come to terms with who they really are. If they don’t, Introverted Sensation gets so far from their conscious self-experience that they’re sure people are working against them, fighting their attempts to improve life for others. Under such conditions, the only defense they can muster is their tertiary function, Extraverted Thinking” (220).
“Given an adequate Introverted perspective, ENFPs use Extraverted Thinking very well. It helps them to set logical priorities and to respect the priorities of others. Marshaled to protect an Intuitive function under siege, however, Extraverted Thinking is egocentric. It convinces ENFPs that others should respect their priorities. From an Extraverted Intuitive standpoint, of course, a priority is whatever the ENFP is responding to right now” (220).
“The defensive utility of this strategy is clear. It allows ENFPs to maintain their immediate approach to life, but it also gives them the idea that people who want something different from them are being unreasonable and depriving them of respect. The important thing is to do what’s right for themselves” (220).
“In point of fact, ENFPs who are defending their Intuition against all limitations have no idea what’s right for themselves. They only know what’s immediately possible to them, and they want the freedom to respond as they life, without social consequences” (221).
“For example, if they miss an appointment or forget a promise, they have a hard time apologizing. They’ll point out how overwhelmed they are by their many obligations, how much they’re doing that isn’t expected of them. Before the other person knows it, the question at hand is not the broken promise or missed appointment, but the ENFP’s rights or well-being, or the absurdity of dismissing a relationship over one small issue” (221).
“Ultimately ENFPs need more than freedom and opportunity. They long for intimacy, relationships they can count on, people who will stand by them no matter what the circumstances. When they recognize that they’re responsible for creating the kind of life that makes these things possible, they came to terms with their Introverted side. If their secondary function limits some of their options, it also offers new ones—for example, the opportunity to change people’s hearts by being true to their own” (221).
“Once ENFPs are in touch with Introverted Feeling, they don’t lose their charisma and persuasive gifts. They become more aware of their own needs, less vulnerable to the approval and disapproval of others. Such types often find that they’re skilled at helping others to discover and cultivate their own values, and they make a consistent and positive contribution to society at large” (221).