ENFJ Cognitive Functions: Primary and Shadow Functions of the Protagonist


ENFJ is a personality type identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which outlines 16 different personality types. There are specific characteristics to each personality type, but each type has four main cognitive functions that affect how a person thinks, feels, and acts.

This article looks closer at ENFJ functions and how they compare to other personality types. Read on if you are interested in learning more about the ENFJ Myers-Briggs personality type, including its functions and what careers and hobbies are best suited to each.

Primary Functions of the ENFJ Personality Type

The four functions of ENFJ are Extraverted Feeling, Introverted Intuition, Extraverted Feeling, and Introverted Thinking. People with the ENFJ personality type are nicknamed the “protagonist” personality type. They are described as givers or teachers and are known for being warm, affectionate, supportive, loyal, and driven.

Each function in the ENFJ personality type serves a purpose. To better understand these, it helps to break each one down and look at the specific roles and characteristics of each. To grant a deeper understanding of each personality type, the functions are then broken down further into their dominant, auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior roles.

Function Role
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) Dominant, Leading
Introverted Intuition (Ni) Auxiliary, Supporting
Extraverted Sensing (Se) Tertiary, Relief
Introverted Thinking (Ti) Inferior, Aspirational

Extraverted Feeling (Fe) Characteristics

Extraverted Feeling is the primary function, focused on helping or benefiting others. It determines how ENFJs interact with the world and make decisions based on instincts that are heavily influenced by others and the impact their decisions will have on them.

It is also characterized by the ability of ENFJs to be very in-tune with the feelings and needs of others.

Introverted Intuition (Ni) Characteristics

Introverted Intuition is an internal, background function that processes information that then becomes a thought or idea. It has to do with the preference of ENFJ to think about the future and bigger goals instead of the present.

This function is more instinctual and is used as a way to nurture and protect other people.

Extraverted Sensing (Se) Characteristics

The Extraverted Sensing function is responsible for taking in the present moment and gathering details and other sensory information from one’s surroundings and environment.

It causes ENFJs to seek out interesting experiences and be aware of their current environment. It can make ENFJs feel impulsive or distracted at times and is also known as a vulnerable area.

Introverted Thinking (Ti) Characteristics

The Introverted Thinking function is responsible for the enjoyment of structure and control and the struggle to narrow down a lot of information into an impersonal and critical perspective.

ENFJs feel a sense of control in having structure and a regular schedule, but because of its inferior status, this function is one that ENFJs may not have high confidence in and may require more work to develop.

Shadow Functions of the ENFJ Personality Type

The four functions described above are the primary processes used in the ENFJ personality type, but there are also other functions, known as “shadow functions,” that can be prevalent in ENFJs. These are not primary functions but can influence the thoughts and actions of ENFJs.

Shadow functions come out in times of anger or stress, and do not represent the best side of a person.

Shadow ENFJ functions include:

  • Introverted Feeling
  • Extraverted Intuition
  • Introverted Sensing
  • Extraverted Thinking

Introverted Feeling (Fi)

This opposing personality is the opposite of the dominant ENFJ function. It is more focused on the individual, more subjective, and prioritizes personal values and goals rather than those of others, which is something that ENFJs usually struggle with, even at the cost of their own needs and feelings.

Extraverted Intuition (Ne)

This is a “strict parent” function that is described as being self-critical, limiting, or becoming that way towards others.

It contradicts the planning and organization side of the auxiliary function Ni and can cause feelings of irritation or being overwhelmed.

Introverted Sensing (Si)

This is described as the trickster function. It opens up different options and can create disorganization or disorder in an attempt to protect the ego.

It can also cause a feeling of extreme responsibility or constriction.

Extraverted Thinking (Te)

This function carries bad emotions, and it is given the name “the demon.”

It is focused on objective facts to achieve goals. It is responsible for creating logical order and is not always a preferential function but is also necessary to meet other goals.

Characteristics of the ENFJ Personality Type

People with the ENFJ personality type only comprise about three percent of the population, making it one of the rarest of the 16 personality types. In this they are similar to the INFJ personality type, which is also one of the rarest types, though the two are quite different.

Known for being very outgoing, talkative, persuasive, warm, energetic, and charismatic, ENFJs are great at encouraging, helping, and supporting others. They are better than most at reading other people and other people’s emotions and feelings. ENFJs are also driven by a sense of empathy for others.

ENFJ Careers

The traits of the ENFJ personality type can be utilized in many areas in life, including some specific careers. Because ENFJs tend to work in cooperative environments where they can help and support others, they often choose leadership or mentor roles that allow them to help others to be better at what they do.

Ideal Careers for ENFJs

The superior problem-solving ability and strong intuition of ENFJs can also be put to good use in certain careers. ENFJs are strong assets as a member of a team or as a leader due to their ability to manage conflict and encourage cooperation, among others. They also thrive at promoting positive growth through teamwork.

Some of the many careers well-suited to ENFJs include:

Health educator Marriage or family therapist School or career counselor
Social worker Editor, reporter, or author Interpreter or translator
PR specialist Teacher or principal Child care center worker
HR manager Real estate broker Training and development
Actor, producer, or director Designer Cosmetologist
Fitness trainer Anthropologist/archeologist Psychologist/sociologist
Historian Lawyer or legal mediator Chiropractor
Dental hygienist Dietitian or nutritionist Nurse practitioner
Physical therapist Health services manager Customer service rep

Careers for ENFJs to Avoid

Regardless of your personality type, given the right amount of effort, skill, and motivation, it is possible to do well in almost any career. That being said, just like some careers are more well-suited to certain personality types, some careers may be more difficult or less enjoyable for certain personality types.

Some careers that ENFJs may want to avoid:

  • Electrician or electrical engineer
  • Carpenter or mechanic
  • Factory supervisor
  • Power plant operator
  • Systems analyst
  • Medical records technician
  • Auditor
  • Pathologist
  • Computer programmer
  • Engineering technician
  • Chemical engineer

ENFJ Hobbies

The outgoing, energetic, and social tendencies of the ENFJ personality type also mean that they like to keep themselves busy, and many prefer exciting or recreational activities in their free time. Several activities and hobbies are particularly fitting for ENFJs:

  1. Sports and exercise
  2. Mentally engaging pastimes
  3. Giving back to others and the community

From sports, exercise, and other physical activities to mentally-engaging pastimes, there are various pastimes that ENFJs will enjoy spending their free time on. Below is a list of five of them.

ENFJs enjoy sports where they can be outdoors and have potential for community.

Swimming or Hiking

Both of these activities are highly physical, making them perfect hobbies or recreational choices for ENFJs. They can be done alone or with others, which satisfies the desire of ENFJs to interact and socialize with other people and their personal enjoyment while working with and helping others.

Additionally, both are outdoor activities (though swimming can also be done indoors), which is another aspect sought by the ENFJ personality type when choosing a hobby.

Reading or Writing

Though reading and writing are usually solitary tasks, they are also ones that can be relaxing while also engaging the brain, which is a plus for ENFJs.

  • Reading lowers stress
  • Reading helps to improve concentration
  • Reading allows you to use your imagination
  • Reading allows you to improve writing skills

Writing, on the other hand, is a great method of self-expression. It enables the use of creativity and has endless possibilities, from journaling to blogging to writing a novel. Both also provide opportunities to connect with others, such as through a book club or by blogging online.

Music

Whether it is listening to songs or playing an instrument, music itself is something that ENFJs may find much enjoyment in. Most people enjoy music, and it is something many people are passionate about.

Learning an instrument or sharing new music you like with friends are some ways to incorporate music into your life.

Volunteering or Event Organizing

Giving back to others, working to make the world a better place, and helping others to grow and succeed are all key characteristics of the ENFJ personality type. This makes things like volunteering at or organizing social or local events excellent activities for ENFJs.

Many communities need local volunteers, so if you are unsure about where to start, do a little research into your community’s organizations, clubs, and events to find out where you can help. Not only is it a way to give back, but it allows you to meet and interact with people, which benefits everyone. Look into the following local organizations:

  • Commercial club
  • Rotary club
  • Lions club
  • Schools
  • Churches
  • Food shelters
  • Neighborhood service centers

All of these offer several volunteer options to choose from, along with some national volunteer organizations.

Cooking or Grilling

While these are two different activities, they both make good hobbies for ENFJ personality types. No matter how much experience you may have with cooking already, there are always new recipes to learn, new techniques to master, and different dishes to try.

Grilling is also something that takes practice and time to perfect, with plenty of opportunities to learn and improve while making tasty food in the process. Both activities can also be done with other hobbyists, for special events, or just as a way to pass the time.

By engaging the mind and requiring focus and skill, as well as the potential social aspect of these hobbies, cooking and grilling can make for great hobbies for those with the ENFJ personality type.

ENFJ Strengths and Weaknesses

There are several strengths to the ENFJ personality type. Some of these include ENFJs’ superior ability to work with and support others, their intuitive nature that drives their selfless decisions, and their warm, affectionate, loyal, caring, and energetic character. However, there are also some weaknesses to this personality type.

Below are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the ENFJ personality type:

Strengths Weaknesses
Perceptive/in-tune with the thoughts, motives, feelings, and emotions of others Can be unaware of what is socially acceptable
Good verbal communication skills Can be manipulative or controlling
Ability to encourage, work with, and bring out the best in other people Tend to ignore their own feelings and needs
Caring, warm, affectionate, supportive, and loyal with others Inflexible in some areas due to very strong values
Optimistic, energetic, often have a good sense of humor, and are fun to be around Inclined to blame themselves when things go wrong/do not take credit when it is due
Committed, preferring serious and long-term relationships Can be overprotective or smothering with loved ones
Driven by a desire to help others Tend to be critical of thoughts and opinions that differ from their own

ENFJ Compatibility

Personal relationships are very important to those with the ENFJ personality type, and ENFJs tend to put a lot of effort into and be heavily invested in their own personal relationships. Their ability to help others be the best versions of themselves makes them great friends, colleagues, mentors, role models, and partners.

As parents, ENFJs take their role as seriously as they consider their other relationships and hold their responsibility to their children in high regard. This can make them quite strict with high expectations, but they are also very warm, supportive, and encouraging.

Due to their strong values, specific interests, and overall perspective on life, ENFJs can be selective about whom they spend their time with. They are usually good at understanding and getting along with all personality types, but certain personality types tend to clash with that of ENFJ.

Some personality types that are compatible with ENFJ include:

  1. INFJ
  2. ESFJ
  3. ENFP
  4. Fellow ENFJs

ENFJ and INFJ

The shared traits of INFJ with ENFJ makes this one of the most compatible pairs, as the only differing function is the first of extraverted versus introverted. The world perspectives and approach to life of both are likely to have many similarities, and an ENFJ/INFJ relationship has great potential to be very caring and close.

However, due to the opposite nature of the first functions of each, some problems may arise. By being aware of each other’s feelings, preferences, and needs, these problems can be avoided or managed successfully. Thanks to the tendency of each to be aware of others’ feelings, conflict is not likely.

ENFJ and ESFJ

A relationship between ENFJ and ESFJ is one with great potential to be rewarding and eye-opening. Due to the different ways each thinks and views the world, spending time with one another can lead to new perspectives and ideas that can help each grow and learn.

However, these differences can also lead to disagreements or conflict. Where ENFJs believe in working toward change and personal responsibility in bettering oneself or the world, ESFJs value stability and prefer to keep things consistent. This is an area where conflict may arise, but also an area with the potential for growth on both sides.

ENFJ and ENFP

Both ENFJ and ENFP personality types are warm, energetic, and enjoy being around other people and helping others benefit themselves. They tend to have similar perspectives and ways of thinking due to their intuitive functions, making them a good match for personal relationships.

The goals and ideals of ENFJ and ENFP personality types are very similar, with a focus on helping others and bettering the world. This can make for a strong bond and a lasting relationship between the two. Additionally, the potential for conflict or disagreements between these personality types is quite low.

ENFJ and ENFJ

ENFJs tend to have good relationships with fellow ENFJs due to the shared perspectives and values each individual is likely to have. Such a relationship has the potential to be close and long-lasting, with a high level of commitment and effort on both sides contributing to the relationship in a positive way.

Owing to their similar main functions, the shared characteristics of two ENFJs reduce the potential of conflict or disagreements, as a difference in world view or opinions is less likely. Overall, ENFJs are likely to be drawn to other ENFJs due to their similar natures.

Conclusion

ENFJs are one of the rarest personality types and known for their people skills, warmth, loyalty, and strong values. They are driven by a desire to help others improve themselves as well as promoting positive growth and change in the world. They make great teachers, leaders, and mentors, as well as vital members of a team.

ENFJs tend to be drawn towards activities that are engaging and exciting, and they gain personal fulfillment from helping others, giving back, and making the world a better place. However, sometimes their tendency to focus on the needs of others leads them to ignore their own needs, and they can also be very set in their ways.

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