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Giving Life An Extra Squeeze
ENFPs are generally described as dynamic, enthusiastic, highly
skilled with people, affirming, and gregarious. The combined preferences
of Extraversion, iNtuition, Feeling and Perceiving give them an
exceptional capacity for dealing with a variety of people, events, or
challenges -- often simultaneously.
ENFPs prefer to perceive the world through its possibilites (N) and
translate these possibilities inter- and intrapersonally (F). All this
takes place in lively interaction with the outside world (E), and their
Perceiving attitude (P) keeps them open to a never-ending flow of
alternatives in any situation.
Need to please
The ENFP has a high need to be affirming of others -- and to be
affirmed. This drives them in such a way that they may appear overly
positive, even insincere, in praise of other people's simplest deeds.
Craving such affirmations, ENFPs will overexert themselves -- physically
and psychologically -- to please. They may also expend extra energy
giving strokes to everyone and trying, at times desperately, to get
strokes in return. It is not uncommon for ENFPs to work themselves into
exhaustion while following an inspiration or seeking an approving
response from someone important to them.
Can make people nervous
This ability to see the potential in people and be positive about
them gives ENFPs a decided edge in interpersonal dynamics, especially
when combined with their almost psychic awareness of what's going on
with people around them. Sometimes in their Extraverted enthusiasm,
however, they may share some of these iNtuitive insights and be so
accurate as to be intimidating rather than helpful to the people
involved. These unsolicited but freely offered insights can often win
them disapproval rather than approval, although that may only make the
ENFP try harder the next time around.
Lack of follow-through
Because of their enthusiasm for life, it is easy for ENFPs to rally
support around any number of exciting ideas or causes. Unfortunately,
somewhat like their first cousin, the ENTP, ENFPs make more starts than
finishes. So while a crowd may be attracted by an ENFP's charisma, it
may soon grow frustrated by the lack of organization and follow-through.
Gender differences can be significant for males because the qualities most
associated with ENFPs are more traditionally attributed to females: sociability, desire/need to please, intuition, spontaneity,
and concern for other people. As a result, when an ENFP male "plays"
into those natural preferences of his personality, he can find himself outside
the male "establishment." Ironically, this may set him up to
overcompensate and behave in ways atypical for ENFPs -- to be, for example,
competitive or overly argumentative. Seeking group approval, he may get
involved with contact sports or other "tough" activities, though
he would really prefer to be elsewhere. ENFP males, somewhat more than other
F males, may also fall into the trap of physical seduction as a way of
establishing their masculinity. Indeed, both male and female ENFPs can be
intellectually and physically seductive.
Can identify too strongly with others
By virtue of their enthusiasm and generally accepting nature, ENFPs
are highly resistant to categorizing and "putting people in
boxes," and they are equally resistant to being put in boxes
themselves, since they enjoy their own multifaceted personalities. With
a little bit of effort they can "get into another person's
moccasins" and identify with that individual's thoughts and
feelings so readily that they run the risk of virtually losing their own
identify. This beautiful quality of effortlessly taking on both the
characteristics and the problems of another type is seen by others as
very supportive and accepting. However, it can become a problem to the
degree that it leaves ENFPs adrift, wondering who they are and what they
should be doing. Obviously, this tendency has a restlessness to it, as
well as an unfinished quality that haunts ENFPs lifelong.
Keep trying to improve things
In a relation, ENFPs are rarely complacent. While highly committed,
they can never give up thinking that either "This relationship
could be better if I worked harder" or "There's a better
relationship, still out there waiting for me." Such ambiguity and
tension can be disconcerting for mates who are of a different type,
particularly Judgers and most especially Sensing-Thinking-Judgers.
Parenting is fun for the ENFP and with the ENFP. The home, while
often not the world's neatest, is a playground for fun, creative
explorations. "The more the merrier" is the theme and each
person and her or her differences must be affirmed. Expression,
affirmation, and growth happen all the time. All life is a party and so
even family chores must be converted to play in order to be worth
accomplishing. If there is a family or individual job to do, it must
either be put off (if it is boring) or involve others (so it becomes
fun). The ENFP home is a gathering place for the neighborhood and
friends. If the children are not ENFPs, they may not only misunderstand
such a social whirl, they may also be confused or affronted by their
parents' "immature," childlike behavior.
People should express themselves
The basic theme of the ENFP's life is self-expression.
The 1960s emphasis on self-awareness and group dynamics, the conversation pits
where talk of peace and love and "flower power" took place,
epitomize the values of the ENFP. The more that people can be themselves
-- and be affirmed for being themselves -- the more growing they will do
and the more that they will contribute to the good of society. ENFPs
believe that and will give their energies to help others achieve their
goals. It's possible, however, for their enthusiasm to lead them in so
many directions simultaneously that they can squander their best
intentions, leading to frustration and self-punishment.
Obviously, relaxation -- even in play -- does not come easily to ENFPs. In
fact, they almost have to "work at it." ENFPs go in fits and
starts, and so when they become excited, they lose all sense of time,
physical needs, and anything else. They follow their enthusiasm until
totally fatigued, then collapse. As a result, relaxation, unless
as part of a creative adventure, may take a backseat, sometimes even at
the expense of the ENFP's physical well-being.
As children, ENFPs are a delight and yet often thoroughly exhausting
and exasperating to parents. Everything around is material for
daydreaming about who they are and might be. So, an upright vacuum
cleaner becomes a radio microphone and the ENFP is a disc jockey.
Tomorrow, a tree house will be built, and the ENFP is an architect,
artist, painter, or interior decorator. Still another day, he or she may
be program director for a large playground, responsible for many
activities. All of this, while exciting for the ENFP, may be something
of a meryy-go-round for the parent, as the ENFP solicits parental
approval and help in implementing each of these activities. While
desperately wanting such approval, ENFP children, in their enthusiasm,
can sometimes do things in direct conflict with the affirmation they're
seeking: talking incessantly instead of listening, for example, or
losing something they were entrusted not to lose, messing up their rooms
in the name of straightening, or coming home later than promised.
Feelings get hurt easily
In their quest to be liked, ENFP children are hypersensitive to the
criticism of others, especially playmates. With a tendency to
personalize everything, they are easily crushed by a harsh remark, so
that their trademark phrase could be: "Everyone is so mean to
ENFPs approach learning as they do everything else: it is a creative
adventure that, if done well, will bring affirmation. They may be the
ultimate apple-polishers. They want to be liked and they want to like
the teacher, their classmates, the school, the administration, and
everything else. As Extraverted-iNtuitive-Feelers, they generally do
well academically and are people-pleasers. Interestingly, more
than other types, they may suffer test phobias, because even those who do
very well in class and know the material feel boxed in by fact-oriented
exams that have only one "right" answer. On the other hand,
they do well on essay tests, which give them the opportunity to
integrate their knowledge into a bigger picture.
Family events for ENFPs are parties. If they are not, the ENFP will
make them so. The Irish wake was probably designed by an ENFP who
preferred to celebrate a life rather than mourn a death. One of the
beauties of ENFPs is their ability to take an ordinary family event and,
with almost no planning, using only the people and materials at hand,
convert the occasion into a virtual work of art, an expression of
affection or family affirmation that will be long remembered.
Need to please
In this and many other ways, ENFPs are great improvisers. In the
pursuit of pleasing others, their capabilities can be boundless. They
may, for example, reach into the refrigerator and pull out whatever is
at hand, and transform it into an impressive, spontaneous dinner, served
with artistic flair. While this is clearly admirable, they still have a
tendency to be hypercritical of their own performance. So after the
dishes are done, they may decide that the dinner would have been better
had they only, say, planned a day earlier, or remembered to defrost the
brownies. Such "what-if" speculation can haunt ENFPs, turning
otherwise successful occasions into opportunities for needless
Work and career
For the ENFP, work, too, must be play or it is probably not worth
doing. Worthwhile tasks are those that affirm and enlarge the self and
involve more fun than drudgery. Like other EPs, ENFPs have a great deal
of difficulty settling on just one career, for three reasons: They truly believe they can do most anything they want;
the search for ever new fields to master is always more fun than remaining
in a career already conquered; and they usually can do almost anything
they set their minds to. Unfortunately, their career choices, like
so many other things, may result from trying to please others. To please
parents, for example, ENFPs may find themselves in careers involving the kinds
of skills that, over the long haul, may become frustrating or stressful for
them. They generally find more satisfaction and greater rewards in careers
that involve human services, such as family medicine, psychology, teaching,
and theology, than in such fields as engineering or accounting. As managers,
they are far more advocates and mentors than "bosses," believing
that their role is to help everyone achieve their individual goals.
Later in life
In later years, the ENFP may cultivate the more objective, grounded
(Sensing) side of life. In combination with the opportunity to take more
time for quiet reflection (Introversion), these preferences may give
greater stability to the ENFP's life of enthusiastic work and play. Good
growth will allow this settling process to take place in a way that the
ENFP will find welcoming.
Famous likely ENFPs include Will Rogers (who "never met a man I
didn't like" and whose entire performance each night consisted of
appearing onstage and responding to the audience); Tevye, the main
character in Fiddler on the Roof (whose life was one of hope and
possibilities in the face of austere oppression and unsettling change),
and Charlie Brown's dog, Snoopy (whose imaginative imitations range from
vultures through snakes to little kids; whose leadership style among his
bird friends consists of setting a good example; and whose great ENFP
lines include "I think I'm allergic to mornings" and "I'm
going to get organized -- tomorrow").
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