Thursday, August 21, 2008


Yesterday my best friend was telling me that an overheard conversation at work prompted her to revisit her Myers-Briggs personality profile. She said she took the instrument again and got the same thing she always has. I vaguely remembered taking it at some point, but I couldn't remember my profile, so she urged me to do it again. It turns out I'm an ENFP. That's Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving, in case you didn't know.

I'm not really one for the psychobabble, but I have to admit that some of my elaborated profile was jarringly accurate. It's a strange feeling to see things that I thought were part of my own unique world view spelled out almost to a T by a complete stranger who never even heard of me. And then, ironically, I was annoyed by the few things that I felt did not reflect the real me. Shouldn't I find those small miscalculations comforting?

Here's my basic breakdown:
moderately expressed extravert
distinctively expressed intuitive personality
moderately expressed feeling personality
moderately expressed perceiving personality

The first paragraph of my elaborated profile contains elements of both the startlingly accurate and the annoyingly unflattering incorrect:

ENFPs are both "idea"-people and "people"-people, who see everyone and everything as part of an often bizarre cosmic whole. They want to both help (at least, their own definition of "help") and be liked and admired by other people, on both an individual and a humanitarian level. They are interested in new ideas on principle, but ultimately discard most of them for one reason or another.

The part about everything being part of the bizarre cosmic whole is dead on. And I do like and try to help people. I do get intersted in new ideas and then habitually reject them as flawed. That's why I can't buy into any one system of religious or philosophical beliefs, even the few that I find mostly appealing. But I don't feel that I care about being liked and admired by other people, especially on a humanitarian level. I mean, not that I want people not to like me, but I accepted long ago that some people just won't. It has been my experience that I do not inspire feelings of neutrality in many people. They either like me or strongly and immediately dislike me. And I'm cool with that, really!

It's mostly the extravert stuff that I find to be a tad off in my profile. I am good with people, but I'm also good alone. My seemingly outgoing personality has more to do with a lack of social anxiety than with an inherent love of people. And there's a lot of stuff about having a short attention span in relationships which is obviously not true (exhibit A: my 20 year relationship with BD), and about "zany charm" and sponteneity, which I find laughable. Not so much with the zany, I don't think.

I scored lowest on the "Feeling" part, and I was actually surprised that it wasn't "Thinking," because I answered "yes" to all the logical and analytical questions. But when I read the ENTP profile, it's far less accurate then the ENFP, so I guess they know what they're talking about.

The work habits part was another bull's eye for me. See especially the part about follow through and procrastination:

ENFPs are pleasant, easygoing, and usually fun to work with. They come up with great ideas, and are a major asset in brainstorming sessions. Followthrough tends to be a problem, however; they tend to get bored quickly, especially if a newer, more interesting project comes along. They also tend to be procrastinators, both about meeting hard deadlines and about performing any small, uninteresting tasks that they've been assigned...ENFPs sometimes can be blindsided by their secondary Feeling function. Hasty decisions based on deeply felt values may boil over with unpredictable results. More than one ENFP has abruptly quit a job in such a moment. (Ahem, see numbers 87 and 88)

This part is especially true of me:

The physical world, both geos and kosmos, is the ENFP's primary source of information. Rather than sensing things as they are, dominant intuition is sensitive to things as they might be. These extraverted intuitives are most adept with patterns and connections. Their natural inclination is toward relationships, especially among people or living things.

That's where that bizarre cosmos thing comes in. The part I found most thought-provoking, because I recognize its accuracy even though it's something I have only just recently begun to realize, was this:

Introverted Sensing
Sensing, the least discernible ENFP function, resides in the inner world where reality is reduced to symbols and icons--ideas representing essences of external realities. Under the influence of the ever-present intuition, the ENFP's sensory perceptions are in danger of being replaced by hypothetical data consistent with pattern and paradigm. When it is protected and nourished, introverted sensing provides information about the fixed. From such firm anchoring ENFPs are best equipped to launch into thousands of plausibilities and curiosities yet to be imagined.

I have always recognized my tendency toward conceptual thinking, but only recently have I realized that I can become too quickly confident that I see the essence of a person's behavior and can predict what patterns they will follow. This isn't really fair to the people close to me, and it can and does cause problems at times.

It was also really eye opening to read my friend's profile and see that what it says is her dominant trait is one that I have never really seen expressed. It explained a lot about some things that have been frustratingly out of balance for her, both within our friendship and in the larger world. That's really why I wanted to post about the instrument; because I think it can be a helpful tool for understanding not only yourslf, but the people closest to you. Now go take it and tell me what letters you are!


Secret Agent Mom said...

Huh. Turns out I'm DMSR.

Chip said...

Hmm. ENTJ.

# slightly expressed extravert
# moderately expressed intuitive personality
# moderately expressed thinking personality
# distinctively expressed judging personality

I'm certainly a rationalist-- but a "Fieldmarshal"? Hmm. Other ENTJs: Steve Martin, Al Gore, David Letterman, Patrick Stewart, Steve Jobs. said...

Hi, congrats on the ENFP Score!
I run a Yahoo Group for ENFPs if you're interested.
Go here to join:

It's free.
You'll be asked to fill out a questionairre to join, but it's
only 3 questions long (for our short attention spans)

I took the official test 10 years ago with a trained MBTI administrator/career counselor and I felt exactly the same way you did when I took the test - "wow, someone knows me so well, it's scary!"
But, not all ENFPs are exactly alike. Our values (religious, cultural and other) can be very different.
All the best,
Joni in VA (enfp)

Stacey Greenberg said...

looking forward to CH talk!!