ENFJs' idealism, reliability, and warmth make them compassionate friends, partners, and leaders.
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So what’s behind all of the likable characteristics of the ENFJ? In this post, I’ll detail the underlying Big Five personality dimensions of the ENFJ, and describe how each dimension relates to areas like ENFJs’ interpersonal style, relationships, interests, and work preferences.
When talking about any personality type, it’s important to remember that types are simply shortcuts for describing a set of personality traits. No real person fits perfectly into a single type, and by only relying on personality types to understand ourselves and each other, we can miss the critical details about our personalities that make us unique.
So why bother with personality types at all? Most people simply more familiar with popular personality type-based systems like the 16 personalities or Myers-Briggs types, much more so than the personality trait-based systems used by professional researchers and scientists. Trait-based systems like the Big Five personality framework measure an individual’s precise location on several underlying dimensions, rather than lumping people together into broad categories.
However, it is possible to bridge personality types with personality traits, based on existing research comparing the two approaches. For any set of personality traits, TraitLab can translate that set into its corresponding personality type. Similarly, any personality type can be translated into an approximate set of scores on personality traits.
Using this same approach, we can translate the ENFJ type into its underlying personality dimensions to understand what ENFJs have in common, how they differ from each other, and how their combination of traits influences several areas of life.
According to personality type theory, every type has its own four-letter code, which tell how that type prefers to interact with the world: Introverted vs. Extraverted, Intuitive vs. Sensing, Feeling vs. Thinking, and Judging vs. Perceiving.
According to this theory, the ENFJ prefers:
Researchers have connected each of these four preferences to the Big Five personality dimensions, which have been studied scientifically for decades. By bridging these preferences to the Big Five, we can also connect the ENFJ to the existing research on the Big Five dimensions.
Using the Big Five framework, we can describe the ENFJ and all other types in terms of five broad personality dimensions: Openness To Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Personality types can be thought of as a very rough approximation of someone’s combination of underlying personality traits. Two people with the same personality type will be somewhat similar on these dimensions, but no two people will be exactly the same. ENFJs tend to share a similar combination of traits, so as a group, they also share some common patterns of thinking, behaving, and relating to other people.
In the graph below, you can see where ENFJs fall along each of the Big Five dimensions. Every dot is an individual ENFJ, and darker blue areas means more ENFJs fall in that area.
Take the dimension of Agreeableness. Most of the dots are crowded along the higher end of the dimension, meaning that most ENFJs fall on the high end of Agreeableness. There are a few outliers that fall below the average, but most tend to be well above average.
By analyzing where ENFJs fall along each dimension, we can build a picture of what kind of combinations of traits ENFJs are likely to have in general. This is useful for profiling a personality type, but for any particular individual, it is always more accurate to directly measure their personality dimensions, which is exactly what TraitLab’s free personality test does.
ENFJs are often high on Openness to Experience.
Most ENFJs are well above average on Big Five Openness to Experience. Openness to Experience describes a preference for seeking out new information and novel experiences, instead of the familiar.
Being highly open, many ENFJs will have a wide range of interests and enjoy learning new things. They will be more excited about trying new things, and may carry conversations towards more abstract and philosophical topics. They are also more likely to be absorbed by and deeply affected by music, books, films, and other art forms.
ENFJs tend to be highly conscientious.
ENFJs are often quite high on Big Five Conscientiousness, with a large portion of ENFJs falling at the highest end of the scale.
Conscientiousness describes our planning, organization, and regularity. Highly conscientious people, like most ENFJs, tend to create detailed plans to accomplish their goals and stick closely to them. They are less likely to be distracted by diversions or smaller short-term goals, and they excel at maintaining focus on the big picture.
Many ENFJs will have a regular schedules and routines to ensure that they can efficiently make progress on multiple goals. They will have little tolerance for disorganization and chaos, and will work diligently to create order out of a messy situation.
ENFJs are generally more extraverted, although there are a few exceptions.
Most ENFJs are somewhat more extraverted, but about 25% of ENFJs actually fall below average on Extraversion. Extraversion describes our social enthusiasm, positive emotionality, and assertiveness.
More extraverted ENFJs will naturally gravitate towards social engagement and generally show greater enthusiasm in social situations— smiling, laughing, and keeping the energy up and moving. They will be more likely to open up, share their point of view, and gently persuade others to see things their way.
The rarer, more introverted ENFJs will seem more emotionally muted and reserved compared to their extraverted counterparts. They will act and react more subtly in social situations, and will occasionally need to withdraw into solitary activities. They are more likely to sit back and listen, and act more passively around others.
If you think you are an ENFJ but are curious about exactly where you fall on the Extraversion spectrum, just try the free personality test to see exactly how extraverted you really are.
ENFJs tend to be very highly agreeable.
As a group, ENFJs are consistently very agreeable, with many ENFJs falling at the extreme high ends of Agreeableness. Agreeableness describes tendencies to create and nurture positive relations with others, a general sense of trust in other people, and empathy — the capacity to sense and feel the emotions of others.
Highly agreeable people, like most ENFJs, are highly sensitive to interpersonal issues, and will try to minimize any negative impact their actions may have on other people. ENFJs are more likely to put off their own goals if it could potentially disrupt or harm a good relationship, and if an ENFJ senses distress or other interpersonal problems, they will naturally jump at the chance to comfort and resolve it.
ENFJs can vary widely in their individual level of Neuroticism.
ENFJs can be almost anywhere on the range of Neuroticism or Emotional Stability. That is, one ENFJ may be very high (neurotic), another may be very low (emotionally stable), and others will fall somewhere in between.
Neuroticism describes one’s emotional volatility and tendencies under stress. More neurotic ENFJs will have wider and more frequent mood swings, may be touchier and more easily bothered by things in general. More neurotic people are more likely feel and express negative emotions, as well, such as anger, anxiety, sadness, and frustration.
Less neurotic ENFJs will be more emotional stable, will have more predictable moods, and generally react less to stressful situations. They will be more calm, collected, and less self-conscious, and will experience negative emotions less often and with less intensity.
You can always measure your own level of Neuroticism with TraitLab’s free personality test, along with the other Big Five dimensions.
You are more complex than four letters
No two ENFJs are the same. Learn about your unique blend of personality dimensions.
Roughly 5% of people are classified as ENFJ.
Unlike many other personality types, ENFJs’ take a wide view and seek deep engagement in a variety of areas of life.
ENFJs are often highly conscientious and highly open to experience, two characteristics which do not often go together.
This combination of high organization and planning with an interest in new ideas and experiences may lead to ENFJs tendency to develop and nurture complex interests and hobbies. ENFJs will be more likely to enjoy the intellectual challenges that come from a difficult book, a lecture on a complex topic, or by mastering an demanding new skill.
Most ENFJs are more extraverted and highly agreeable, which combine to form a trusting, friendly, and talkative interpersonal style. ENFJs can usually engage in social situations with ease and tend to warm up quickly to others.
While their higher extraversion leads them to be more expressive — more laughing, more smiling, more talking — ENFJs are often unusually agreeable, making them highly empathetic, trusting, and generally concerned about the well-being of others. ENFJs are much less likely to use their social skills and enthusiasm for their own gain.
Rather than dominating conversations or pushing others around, ENFJs often use social engagement with others for altruistic reasons: to build stronger connections, to comfort and console, or to share a good laugh.
ENFJs’ high agreeableness, conscientiousness, and extraversion combine to create a trusting, reliable, and friendly interpersonal style.
Most ENFJs are both comfortable with themselves and in their general perception of other people. Their natural self-confidence and trusting nature yields an optimism about new relationships, and this positive outlook allows them to easily create and maintain close relationships.
ENFJs tend to view themselves with healthy positivity and tend not to be overly preoccupied about how others see them, enabling ENFJs to comfortably take risks in starting up new relationships or ending unhealthy ones.
ENFJs’ warm and friendly nature tends to minimize many common interpersonal problems, but these same strengths can create issues in heavy doses.
Some ENFJs may report that they feel overly responsible for others, and they may notice that they are overly involved in other people’s lives, albeit with the best intentions. They may need to occasionally restrain themselves from trying to change others too much.
ENFJs naturally want to engage and relate to others around them, and they may have a difficult time simply holding themselves back. They may sometimes regret being too eager to create a connection with someone and catch themselves revealing a bit too much. Sitting on the sidelines, observing, or just being alone may be a challenge for some ENFJs.
How do other people see and describe ENFJs?
The wordcloud below shows the top 100 words used to describe ENFJs. Bigger words describe the more prominent aspects of ENFJs.
ENFJs’ blend of interpersonal warmth and careful consideration of others lead others to see them as considerate, dependable, diplomatic, tactful and respectful. ENFJs are also highly open to new experiences and intellectually curious, and may be described as sophisticated, idealistic, foresighted, articulate, and perceptive.
These words describe ENFJs as a group, but no single person exactly fits this description. To see the words that describe your own unique personality, try the free personality test here at TraitLab.
Which words describe you?
Cautious or impulsive? Combative or compliant? Sentimental or cynical? Discover 100+ words that describe your unique personality.
ENFJs fit well with careers that require a blend of leadership, creativity, and working directly with people. ENFJs’ tend to have a warm but diplomatic interpersonal style, making them well suited for dealing with people in delicate situations.
While working with people is often an important need for ENFJs, good career fits for this type should also offer a strong creative or component. Such careers may require creativity in the more traditional, artistic sense (e.g. visual designers) but also creativity in finding novel solutions to complex social issues (e.g., public relations, mediation, or coaching).
The chart below shows how the ENFJ personality type is related to eight core career interests: Production, Creativity, Erudition, Altruism, Analysis, Organization, Adventure, and Leadership. Your unique blend of these interests has a huge influence on how well a career feels like it “fits” with your personality.
ENFJs’ strongest interest in Leadership. They naturally take to roles that require being in the spotlight while leading and motivating other people.
People with strong interests in Leadership fit well in careers that enable them to influence, persuade, and motivate other people. Examples include sales and marketing directors, politicians and political organizers, and executives.
ENFJs’ also have a strong interest in Creativity. Many ENFJs will work well in situations that demand creativity and problem solving in less structured or unconventional environments.
People with strong interests in Creativity prefer jobs that require innovation through artistic and intuitive skills in less structured tasks and environments. Examples include artists, novelists, actor or actresses, musicians, curators, and designers.
ENFJs also have very strong interests in Erudition, meaning they are well-suited for roles that involve deep study or mastery of information to perform their tasks well.
People with strong interests in Erudition enjoy roles that require mastery of complicated or arcane concepts and information. Examples include translators, editors, research professors, literary scholars, interpreters, and foreign correspondents.
ENFJs have a fairly strong interests in Altruism, meaning they also enjoy careers that allow them to directly or indirectly help others through their work.
People with strong interests in Altruism fit well in careers that involve helping, comforting, caring for, and teaching other people. Examples include physical therapists, counselors, clergy, social workers, doctors, and nurses.
ENFJs have weak but positive interests in Analysis. This interest may not have a significant impact on the career preferences of ENFJs as a group, although some individual ENFJs may have stronger preferences in this area.
People with strong interests in Analysis enjoy roles that require investigating, researching, and explaining concepts and ideas. Examples include medical researchers, chemists, scientific reporters, and statisticians.
As with Production, ENFJs do not consistently have a preference or dislike for Adventure. Any individual ENFJ is likely to be different in their preference for this aspect.
People with strong interests in Adventure prefer careers that involve working outdoors, competition, excitement, risk-taking, and even danger. Examples include police officers, military officers, professional athletes, and bounty hunters.
ENFJs have a weak disinterest in Organization. ENFJs might not outright avoid roles that have some organizational component, but they are unlikely to seek out and enjoy careers that are primarily focused on organization.
People with strong interests in Organization prefer careers that involve categorizing, planning, and systematizing information and processes. Examples include financial officers, budget analysts, office managers, database analysts, and systems administrators.
ENFJs also have a weak disinterest in Production. ENFJs tend to not to prioritize careers with a strong Production component, but they may not completely avoid an otherwise fulfilling role with some Production aspect.
People with strong interests in Production enjoy careers that allow them to work with their hands or tools to create, repair, or maintain tangible products and things. Examples include farmers, builders, mechanics, forest rangers, and woodworkers.
ENFJs have an exceptionally diverse set of social, creative, and intellectual interests, which make them good fits for a wide variety of careers. A few examples that fit their combination of interests include:
ENFJs may be dissatisfied in roles that prioritize working within tightly bound rules, regulations, and systems, especially if the role requires working primarily with tools and machines rather than other people.
Examples of careers that ENFJs might avoid include:
ENFJs are outgoing, organized, and open to new experiences and ideas. Their blend of higher extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness make them trusting and reliable friends, companions, and colleagues.
If you’d like to see which personality types are similar to you, and learn exactly where you fall on all of the Big Five dimensions, try taking TraitLab’s free personality test.
Header photo by William Moreland on Unsplash