Independent to a Fault – ENFPs loathe being micromanaged and restrained by heavy-handed rules – they want to be seen as highly independent masters of their own fates, even possessors of an altruistic wisdom that goes beyond draconian law. The challenge for ENFPs is that they live in a world of checks and balances, a pill they are not happy to swallow.
When it comes to relationships, there’s hardly anyone around who is more excited than ENFPs to share with their partners the bounty of ideas and eye-opening experiences that life has to offer. For people with the ENFP personality type, relationships are a joyous process of mutual exploration and imagination, a chance to connect with another soul. ENFPs take their relationships seriously, and are known for their uninhibited and unshakeable devotion to the people to whom they’ve committed their hearts.
ENFPs have the advantage of irresistible charm when it comes to attracting a partner – ENFPs’ warmth, excitement and passion are simply alluring.
In the dating phase, if ENFPs can be said to tolerate such a formal process to begin with, they will show these qualities by showering their new flames with affection, and will do everything they can to build a strong relationship by demonstrating their devotion and reliability by whatever means available.
You Cannot Live Without a Fire
Long-distance relationships are quite common among ENFPs, as they view physical distance as just another idea, no match for concepts like love. This gives them the chance to demonstrate their commitment, both by staying true despite the physical separation, and with overtures of effort to surprise their partners, crossing that distance on a whim. These are demonstrations of ENFPs’ mystery, idealism and deep emotion, and such efforts often keep the flames of a relationship burning bright.
People with the ENFP personality type express these ideals sexually as well, exploring the physical with imagination and passion, viewing these times together as a chance to let their feelings for each other shine, sharing their love and affection. ENFPs will willingly experiment with their partners, even early in a relationship, but they can also be oddly perfectionistic, believing that these physical acts are a representation of their deeper love, and as such should not be performed carelessly. This perfectionism is also a reflection of their sensitivity, their desire to not disappoint, and ENFPs appreciate a well-placed compliment.
Not everyone can handle the excitement, occasional neediness, and emotional ups and downs that this philosophy entails, whether long-distance or long-term, mystical or physical. ENFPs constantly explore new ideas and improvements, fantasize about future possibilities – in dating, this tendency to look at potential rather than the present can be self-defeating, and their spontaneity makes it harder to stay focused on their end goal of a long-term relationship. If their partners aren’t able to reciprocate these acts of excitement and devotion, ENFPs will likely end up feeling unhappy and misunderstood.
So, You Think You Know the Real Me?
ENFPs go all-in with their relationships, and if they fall apart despite their efforts, they can end up plagued with questions about why the relationship failed and what they could have done differently – without a buoy, these thoughts can crush ENFPs’ self-esteem as they sink into depression. It’s important for ENFP personalities, as with anyone, to remember that relationships are in all ways mutual – mutual interest, mutual growth, and mutual responsibility – and they can’t be solely accountable.
After a trial like this, ENFPs may be reluctant to open up and commit, and it can take years for a partner to navigate their bewildering depth and intensity, falsely believing that ENFPs’ enthusiasm and apparent openness means that they wear everything on their sleeves. The reality is that ENFPs’ spontaneity, the seeming inconsistency and erraticism the untrained eye sees, isn’t a product of flightiness or lack of depth, but the opposite – it is a drive to express ideas about a mystical, all-encompassing energy, in the confines of a physical world, and underlying it all is the uniting principle of love, expressed in many different ways, but unshakeable and infinite at its core.
If there is anything that makes ENFPs great parents, it’s the sense of wonder they have for all things new and beautiful, a sense that they will be able to share with their children every day as they learn and grow. Throughout their children’s lives, ENFPs provide a combination of almost overwhelming love and support, and an unstructured environment revolving around freedom and creativity. This in no way means that people with the ENFP personality type will simply leave their children to their own devices without guidance – rather, ENFP parents want to share in their children’s perspective, share in a world without bounds.
ENFP parents are playful and warm, and love to see their children excited, playing in and experimenting with the world around them. It is likely that ENFP parents will encourage this play and growth by suggesting activities and lessons.
ENFPs will embrace and encourage productive interests as they arise, sweeping away dolls and dinosaurs when interests shift to the oceans, and sweeping away the fish when tastes change again, to the stars.
While they often enough recognize the value of structure and predictability, ENFP parents are unlikely to have the heart (or as they may see it, the lack of heart) to establish these limitations themselves. They may need to depend on their partners to provide some necessary guidelines and discipline from time to time, but ENFP parents will always have the advantage of their open-minded and empathetic nature, making them not just parents, but friends who their children feel comfortable confiding in. They needn’t always depend on their children broaching the subject either, as ENFPs have a natural skill in spotting emotional disharmony or physical discomfort in others.
Go On, Spread Your Wings
As their children approach the teenage years, all this emotion and attention can start to cloy, and their children may seek a more private independence. This can be a challenge for people with the ENFP personality type – they have strong emotions, and invest those emotions heavily in the things and people they care about. While they may not be big on using proven ideas, ENFPs do like to see whether or not their ideas work, and this applies to their thoughts on parenting, too. As their adolescent children withdraw, they leave an unsolved mystery that can last for years, leaving their ENFP parents wondering if their ideas on raising their children actually work, actually result in happy, independent and creative adults.
Luckily for them, so long as they raise their children with a sense of productive independence, rather than an aimless, against-the-grain antipathy, ENFPs will find that their children have developed a strong sense of self and self-worth, going confidently out into the big, wide world at their own pace and in their own style, knowing that they have both themselves and their ENFP parents to depend on.
“Can’t I fly helicopters AND be an oceanographer who writes songs and cooks?” It’s a big world out there – perhaps even a little too big. ENFPs are fascinated by new ideas, both in terms of developments in fields they are already familiar with, and when new subjects come along. The trick for people with the ENFP personality type is to take advantage of this quality, this wonder with the magnificent breadth and detail in the world, and to use it to propel themselves further and deeper than others are willing or able to go.
If there’s a challenge ENFPs face when selecting a career, it isn’t that they lack talent or options or drive, it’s that there are so many things out there that are justcool.
The Opening of a Door Can Be a Wonderfully Joyous Moment
Chief among ENFPs’ talents is their people skills, a quality that is even more valuable now than ever. Even in traditional Analyst strongholds like engineering, systems analysis and the sciences, ENFPs’ ability to network and match the communication styles of their audience means that even as they explore new challenges on their own, they will be able to work with others, explore others’ perspectives and glean new insights into their projects. Much of modern progress stems from incorporating other studies into typically disassociated fields, and no one is better equipped to merge broad interests than talented, energetic and future-minded ENFPs.
And while Thinking types may be better at applying logic to systems and machines, people with the ENFP personality type are able to apply that same logic to human interactions and networks, using their exceptional social perception to find out what makes people tick. This lends ENFPs a solid foothold in any human science or service, from psychology, counseling and teaching to politics, diplomacy and detective work. All of these fields have another important similarity: they are in constant development, shifting, presenting new angles and new approaches. It’s simply not possible to be good in these fields and content with the way things are, and this is where ENFPs truly shine.
Too Many Bosses, Too Few Workers
Where ENFPs do not shine is in systems of strict regimentation and hierarchy, such as military service. ENFPs thrive on the ability to question the status quo and explore the alternatives, and if this is a quality that is not just unappreciated but actually frowned upon, this will not only make them unhappy, but it may even threaten their emotional stability. Repetition, predictability, boredom… while some Sentinel types may appreciate predictability and clear hierarchies, these are not selling points for ENFPs. People with the ENFP personality type need to feel like they’re pushing boundaries and exploring ideas, and should focus on interests and careers that encourage that.
Many more career options satisfy these needs, and not just the scientific ones – writing, journalism, acting and TV reporting all give ENFPs a chance to explore something new every day and stir the pot a little while they’re at it. It may come to pass though, that the best way forward for ENFP personalities is to establish themselves as entrepreneurs and consultants, blazing their own trails and taking on whatever project is most fascinating. So long as they get to use their people skills, identify and achieve their own goals and inspire their colleagues and followers, ENFPs will be happy.
There are two basic things that ENFPs seek most in the workplace: The chance to explore new ideas, and the chance to conduct that exploration alongside other people who share their excitement. These qualities show through at all levels of hierarchy, though much like other Diplomat personality types, ENFPs would prefer that there be hardly a hierarchy at all. People with the ENFP personality type possess warmth, creativity, and an open-mindedness that makes them excellent listeners. If these qualities are recognized by their employers, they will always be able to count on their ENFP employees to innovate and boost morale.
ENFPs are growth-oriented, and as subordinates they’ll impress their managers with their creativity and adaptability. People with the ENFP personality type are excellent listeners, able to analyze and understand others’ perspectives effortlessly. It’s perhaps this quality that most makes ENFPs intolerant of micromanagement – the way they see it, they understand what’s been asked of them, and all they require is the freedom to accomplish their task. If this need isn’t met, managers may find a quickly stressed ENFP subordinate.
To a certain extent though, some direct management is often necessary, as ENFPs are notorious for letting their attention slip from one project to the next before they’ve dotted their I’s and crossed their T’s. ENFPs love exploring new ideas and learning new things, and once something becomes familiar, its allure starts to fade. But, if managers are able to maintain a spirit of guidance and camaraderie instead of “bossiness”, they will find loyal and devoted contributors in their ENFP subordinates.
ENFPs are people-people, and as far as the workplace is concerned, this quality shows through best among colleagues. More than just coworkers, ENFPs view their colleagues as friends, people who they take a genuine interest in, providing support and cheer when they’re down or stressed. People with the ENFP personality type are warm and optimistic, always searching for and usually finding win-win situations for everyone.
Brainstorms among equals are ENFPs’ forte, and they listen to different viewpoints and suggestions not just with tolerance, but genuine excitement. Their ability to relax and have fun will always make them popular around the water cooler, but what sets ENFPs apart is that they can transition that popularity into natural leadership, instinctively picking up on colleagues’ motivations and pulling their teams together, pushing them forward towards whatever truth they’ve been tasked to find.
ENFPs are not great fans of heavy hierarchy and bureaucracy, and this is most evident when they take on the role of manager. As managers, ENFP personalities behave much like they do as colleagues – they establish real friendships, and use their broad popularity to inspire and motivate, taking on the role of leader, working alongside their subordinates, rather than shouting from behind their desks. ENFPs will tend to believe in the concept of intrinsic motivation, the idea that things are worth doing for their own sake, not because of some convoluted system of punishments and rewards.
Unfortunately, not everyone buys into this philosophy – challenges arise when faced with subordinates who actually prefer to be closely directed, with clearly defined objectives and timetables, people who are just doing their jobs. More challenging still are those rare moments when a reprimand is simply necessary – while ENFPs prefer to meet dissent with an open ear, and to use their excellent capacity for sensing mood and morale to preempt such an act to begin with, sometimes the carrot and the stick are necessary, and using them is the biggest challenge for the ENFP personality type. But ENFPs’ capacity for adjusting their communication to most any style will always shine through, helping to smooth things over and adapt to the needs of their team.
Few personality types are as creative and charismatic as ENFPs. Known for their idealism and enthusiasm, ENFPs are good at dealing with unexpected challenges and brightening the lives of those around them. ENFPs’ imagination is invaluable in many areas, including their own personal growth.
Yet ENFPs can be easily tripped up in areas where idealism and kindness are more of a liability than an asset. Whether it is finding (or keeping) a partner, staying calm under pressure, reaching dazzling heights on the career ladder or making difficult decisions, ENFPs need to put in a conscious effort to develop their weaker traits and additional skills.
What you have read so far is just an introduction into the complex concept that is the ENFP personality type. You may have muttered to yourself, “wow, this is so accurate it’s a little creepy” or “finally, someone understands me!” You may have even asked “how do they know more about me than the people I’m closest to?”
This is not a trick. You felt understood because you were. We’ve studied how ENFPs think and what they need to reach their full potential. And no, we did not spy on you – many of the challenges you’ve faced and will face in the future have been overcome by other ENFPs. You simply need to learn how they succeeded.
But in order to do that, you need to have a plan, a personal roadmap. The best car in the world will not take you to the right place if you do not know where you want to go. We have told you how ENFPs tend to behave in certain circumstances and what their key strengths and weaknesses are. Now we need to go much deeper into your personality type and answer “why?”, “how?” and “what if?”
This knowledge is only the beginning of a lifelong journey. Are you ready to learn why ENFPs act in the way they do? What motivates and inspires you? What you are afraid of and what you secretly dream about? How you can unlock your true, exceptional potential?