ENFPs are people-centered creators with a focus on possibilities and a contagious enthusiasm for new ideas, people and activities. Energetic, warm, and passionate, ENFPs love to help other people explore their creative potential.
ENFPs are typically agile and expressive communicators, using their wit, humor, and mastery of language to create engaging stories. Imaginative and original, ENFPs often have a strong artistic side. They are drawn to art because of its ability to express inventive ideas and create a deeper understanding of human experience.
How ENFPs Think
Throughout their lives, ENFPs are always on the lookout for deeper hidden meaning. This personality type is absolutely certain that what we observe and experience only scratches the surface of reality. ENFPs don’t believe in coincidence because they know that we are all interconnected, and they know that everything we do has an impact on the world around us.
Science, religion, philosophy, mythology and pop culture analysis often attract the interest of ENFPs, who are constantly seeking the proper intellectual tools to further their ongoing study of people and society. It isn’t enough for ENFPs to just observe and collect data; they need to put it into the proper context, and they believe speculative, abstract thinking helps them to do so.
ENFPs are highly observant and notice many intricate details, so they always have plenty of facts available to fuel their journeys of the imagination. Once they settle on a belief system or ideology, however, ENFPs tend to become restless rather quickly. After the initial honeymoon period ends they will start to worry that their chosen perspectives aren’t comprehensive enough to explain everything. So ENFPs will change their belief sets from time to time, just to keep things fresh. ENFPs won’t abandon their past ideas completely, but will instead look to supplement them with new insights that can increase their ability to correctly classify human behavior and natural phenomena.
ENFPs believe in the infinite power of the human mind and are convinced that the range and depth of our understanding can always be extended. As extraverts they love to participate in discussions with others who share their interest in big topics, and ENFPs will expend great effort in trying to persuade their companions to change their minds and accept new interpretations. We all get excited when we experience one of those “a-ha!” moments, when something that had confused us in the past suddenly becomes clear. For most of us those events are rare and unexpected. But ENFPs believe they are a critically important source of insight and understanding.
ENFPs make a great effort to keep their eyes open and their minds alert, and their strong observational abilities frequently combine with their active minds to bring on those “a-ha!” moments exactly when they are needed. ENFPs experience these leaps of understanding as creative bursts, and they are very enthusiastic about translating those bursts into real-life activity. With their perceptive imaginations, ENFPs are experts at seeing the big picture. They can accurately calculate the long-term implications of just about any plan of action, and the advice they offer as a result is always sharp and to the point.
This ability to see into the future also applies to plans that ENFPs develop on their own, and they are able to anticipate how things will play out if they are given the green light to do what they want. ENFPs are humanitarians who believe in the importance of cooperation, and they have no desire to be the boss on every occasion. However, when the time comes to convert their inspirations into actual plans they almost always cast themselves in positions of leadership.
This is not because ENFPs have big egos; it simply demonstrates how much they desire to be close to the center of the action. ENFPs are idealists who feel a responsibility to do what is right. They enjoy seeing loved ones and associates find success and it is important to them to act in ways that can help bring that about.
ENFPs are hyper-aware and they know how other people will be impacted by their actions. This knowledge stays with them at all times, and as they set priorities and make evaluations their sensitivity and compassion are never put on the back burner. For an action or an idea to be right or honorable it must improve the lives of other human beings, and this consideration plays a vital determining role in many of the life choices ENFPs make.
ENFP in the Population
ENFP is a moderately common personality type, and is the fifth most common among women. ENFPs make up:
- 8% of the general population
- 10% of women
- 6% of men
Famous ENFPs include Bill Clinton, Phil Donahue, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Will Rogers, Carol Burnett, Dr. Seuss, Robin Williams, Drew Barrymore, Julie Andrews, Alicia Silverstone, Joan Baez, and Regis Philbin.
Motivating the ENFP
ENFPs tend to be curious about others and preoccupied with discovering the deeper meaning in people and ideas. They want authentic experience and often seek emotional intensity. ENFPs are easily bored by details and repetition and seek out situations that offer an escape from the mundane. Novelty is attractive to ENFPs, who often have a wide range of interests and friends from many backgrounds.
ENFPs prize individuality and often consider the pursuit of happiness to be the highest priority in life, both for themselves and for others. They place great importance on personal freedom and self-expression, and want to be able to go wherever inspiration leads.
What the ENFP Values
ENFPs are reflective and thoughtful and they hold a lifetime commitment to finding deeper truth and meaning. But ENFPs never become so absorbed in their own thoughts that they miss what is happening around them. ENFPs love to speculate and indulge their imaginations in large part because they believe it will help them become more effective advocates for societal change.
Careful thinking allows ENFPs to develop more persuasive arguments in support of their moral positions; and for this personality type, convincing others to see things from their perspective is always an important goal. ENFPs know that a hundred people fighting for justice will be far more effective than just one, and if given the opportunity they will work hard to rally others in support of a noble cause.
ENFPs are idealists but they are also optimists, believing that positive social change is desirable, necessary and achievable. In their one-on-one dealings with other people, ENFPs want to be seen as trustworthy, reliable and sincere. ENFPs believe that intentions matter a lot, and they insist that doing the right thing only matters if our motives are selfless.
ENFPs are highly intuitive and can usually tell when a person has a hidden agenda, and they have no respect for insincere Eddie Haskell types who pretend to be sympathetic and compassionate just to make themselves look good. ENFPs also can’t stand hypocrites and will refuse to associate with people who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. They don’t expect others to be perfect, but ENFPs do demand ethical consistency and they make a great effort to practice what they preach.
ENFPs have excellent verbal and non-verbal communication skills, which they are not afraid to use to get what they want. But ENFPs never use their personal charm and charisma to manipulate, or to convince others to act against their own best interests. As ENFPs plan and create they are always focused on promoting the greater good, and as they advance in their lives they want to bring their friends, family members and co-workers along for the ride. When ENFPs play the role of advocate, their enthusiasm is based on a belief that what they are proposing will benefit everyone, not just themselves.
What Motivates the ENFP
Even though they respect the creative visions of others, ENFPs are stimulated by their own ideas first and foremost. That is why they usually won’t participate in a project unless they are allowed to play a starring role.
ENFPs are not control freaks, and once their initiatives have been launched they are content to let associates see them through to the finish. But unlike Forrest Gump, they are not satisfied to just hang around in the background when history is being made and exciting things are happening. ENFPs want to be among the ranks of the movers and the shakers, gaining recognition by helping others find their way to a healthier and brighter future. In their personal and professional lives ENFPs want to be Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, writing, directing and producing their own blockbuster life stories and taking personal responsibility for each step of the process.
ENFPs are saddened and angered by human suffering. However, they are not the type to dwell on the negative. ENFPs have faith that the world can be changed and they believe each one of us has the power to change it. That is why they frequently involve themselves in campaigns for social justice, usually as leaders or organizers. ENFPs believe the glass-half-full philosophy can move mountains, and when they participate in social movements or work as non-profit volunteers they are known for their boundless optimism and never-say-die attitude.
When surrounded by like-minded souls, ENFPs feel empowered, and with the welcome assistance of hopeful companions they will give every ounce of energy they have to make the world a freer, fairer and happier place. Some people can dish it out but they can’t take it. This old saying most certainly does not apply to ENFPs, however, who enjoy dishing out compliments just as much as they enjoy receiving them.
ENFPs are approval-seekers who see the praise they get from friends, family and co-workers as an indication they are doing things the right way. They expect others to respond to compliments in the same way, so they are often effusive in their praise of those they appreciate and admire. Flattery will roll off some people like water off a duck’s back, but ENFPs soak it up and beam with pride at the knowledge that their contributions are being noticed and valued. Getting praise is never ENFPs’ primary motivation for action, but it will boost their energy and encourage them to keep pushing on when circumstances are at their most challenging.
Recognizing the ENFP
ENFPs love to talk about people: not just the facts, but what motivates them, what inspires them, and what they envision achieving in life. They’ll often share their own aspirations freely, and want to hear others’ in return. The ENFP is unlikely to judge anyone’s dream, and will discuss the most imaginative and outlandish of fantasies with warm, enthusiastic intensity. They love to explore creative possibilities, and nothing deflates them faster than talking about dry facts or harsh reality.
ENFPs often seem unconventional, and may come off as scattered; they don’t tend to be in touch with their physical surroundings. They often overlook the details, as they are more likely to focus on connecting with other people or on exploring their own imagination and self-expression. They have little patience for the mundane and want to experience life with intensity and flair. ENFPs often have an artistic streak, and may be artistic in appearance. Many have developed a distinctive and quirky personal style.
ENFP at Work
At work, the ENFP is concerned with using their creativity to express themselves and benefit others. ENFPs want to explore the possibilities for themselves and other people, and approach their work with vision and inspiration. They enjoy taking on creative or people-centered problems that call for an imaginative, original solution.
ENFPs are often motivated by their beliefs in humanitarian causes and want work that is consistent with their values. They are particularly interested in helping other people develop as individuals. They tend to choose careers that allow them to pursue ideals of personal growth and artistic expression.
ENFPs dislike routine work and want a variety of tasks and challenges. They prefer to set their own schedule and chafe when saddled with excessive regulations or mundane details. They seek out fun, novel tasks that allow them to be imaginative and relate to other people in an unstructured, supportive way.
The ideal work environment for an ENFP is relaxed and friendly, with few restrictions on creativity. The ideal job for an ENFP allows them to follow their inspiration, satisfy their curiosity, and develop solutions that benefit people in innovative and original ways.
ENFP on a Team
ENFPs are enthusiastic, involved team members who are interested in exploring the possibilities for innovation. They enjoy relating to people and hearing their ideas—the more imaginative, the better. Although they are open-minded, they are fundamentally grounded in a sense of values, and look for the principles and motivations behind their teammates’ ideas. ENFPs have little interest in rules, and will encourage their teammates to think outside the box to create a solution that is uniquely theirs. They want to encourage other people to be creative and find their own voice.
ENFPs are most focused on relationships and on ideas, and may have friction with more task-oriented teammates. They relish the task of brainstorming possibilities and options for a project, and are sometimes reluctant to settle on a course of action and move on. They typically shy away from taking on responsibility for details, and can best contribute to a team with their considerable interpersonal skills. They are energetic in their commitment to the group’s mission, and are often good at motivating others and encouraging them to use their talents.
ENFP as Leaders
In leadership positions, ENFPs convey enthusiasm and excitement for their ideas. Their leadership style tends to be democratic and flexible, with an eye toward developing human potential. They enjoy helping others grow as employees and as people, and grant plenty of freedom to their reports to develop innovative and unique solutions. ENFP leaders motivate with their passion for their ideas and beliefs, and they are often insightful in their assessments of people problems.
Because they are so focused on their ideals, ENFP leaders can sometimes neglect the practicalities of implementation. They are more focused on people than on process, and can lose sight of the ultimate goal as they explore relationships and human development. They may need to develop planning and organizational skills to ensure that their creative ideas become reality.