I adapted the following insights from Lenore Thompson’s Personality Type book. If you wish to learn more, I recommend it as an excellent, in-depth resource with far more insights than alluded to here.
The EFJ’s dominant function, Extroverted Feeling (Fe), is an objective function that focuses attention on people’s behaviors and interprets them in a standardized way. It disregards their own immediate emotional preference to meet conventional standards of behavior, setting aside Self for appropriateness. They organize data by relatedness to the Self, and their categories of relationships it maintains in the outside world. Fe measures opinions against external behavioral standards. Unlike the facts that govern ETJ types, Fe’s relatedness involves human beings. These categories of relationships result in a myriad of assumptions about appropriate behaviors. EFJs use these categories to set priorities, make decisions, understand their obligation to others, and anticipate others’ behavior toward them.
EFJs focus on their role in the community and what the individual shares with the collective—the things people have in common that makes them all human. They believe social values have a strong moral component and pass beyond one person’s experience to affect the whole community. Their Fe provides a stable social framework by which to make decisions. Their values are tied to the specific values that maintain them, which link the EFJ to a time, a place, or a society. Because of this, EFJs identify with their social roles. They want things settled and organized by an external guide they can rely on. They are pragmatic, disciplined, and inclined to take on too many responsibilities. Their primary focus is on people. They need to consider people’s reactions and opinions to make objective decisions. Extreme EFJs ignore their own feelings and focus only on people’s social obligations.
For EFJs, talking is doing. They find it hard to understand how people get together without exchanging information about their lives. Without enough factual data about people, they don’t know how to relate to them. They want specific dialogue that feeds them this info, and have no time for idle chitchat. Unlike IFJs, EFJs have a broad range of social interactions and obligations. They are coordinators who anticipate and handle the needs that raise in dealing with others. They know their way of organizing the situation will benefit all concerned, and are good at making decisions and delegating tasks. They prioritize and remember things of importance to others.
They laugh and cry easily, are there for people in trouble, referee arguments, soothe egos, and are nurturing, concerned, and attentive. Their behaviors are the vocabulary that signals their concern and attention. They are fluid in this language, which makes them easy to offend if a social gesture is not extended to them. (For example, if they live in a culture where it’s expected for a visitor to bring the hostess a gift, and the visitor does not, or is unaware of this tradition.) They need expressions of social relationships made in the expected way to genuinely experience them.
EFJs are highly alert to the signs of pleasure and displeasure in others, so they generally consider the effect their behaviors have on those around them. Young EFJs can be awkward socially, until they know how to gauge people’s expectations well enough to gain confidence. They may want to know how “things are supposed to be.” They may be uncomfortable with any internal state they cannot harmonize with the values of the group to which they belong. EFJs are concerned about the meaning their behaviors have for others. They feel guilty expressing needs and impressions that might casts doubts on their values and commitments. For an EFJ, a relationship is evidenced by outward behaviors. They will deny negative thoughts or opinions for the sake of relational social harmony. They are masters of ritual declarations, whether they are cultivating a friend, reassuring a partner, or making children feel important or special. Displays of ongoing interest and devotion are a primary means of communication for them. Their absence in a partner or friend persuades them the other person is not fully invested in the relationship.
They orient their second function to acquire information about others’ reactions and expectations. EFJs may find their subjective thoughts negative, self-critical, or disapproving. The EFJ thinks such thoughts are unworthy of them and shouldn’t be entertained. They want to live above their negative thoughts and reactions, hoping to inspire themseelves to do better. Without lower functional development, the EFJ sees the messy, wild side of life as something to be controlled. They may sacrifice personal needs to maintain a harmonious relationship, and then feel resentful about it. The growth challenge they face is learning to take circumstances into account and know receiving is sometimes a more responsible choice than giving.
EFJs anchor their reason in the people who depend on them. They dare not tolerate putting their well-being above people counting on them. Developing their inferior function, Introverted Thinking (Ti), makes them aware of a situation’s many variables. Ti understands which variables to exploit in a situation to turn it to their advantage. Such impassive curiosity strikes the EFJ as cold and inhuman. Often, their Ti remains primitive and egocentric, a source of prejudice and stereotypes against others. In these cases, if a situation forces them into functional development, they may react badly. Stressed by their need to grow, they may become defensive and blame others’ selfishness, lack of consideration, poor judgment, or negative opinions for the current situation. They may consider themselves authorities on relationships and tell others how to run their life. Then get offended when they don’t follow the EFJ’s advice. They work hard to set up rules and systems to guard people against “dangerous influences.” They think they are taking action on others’ behalf, rather than deciding for others, thus not allowing them to take responsibility for themselves. They feel a need to control all the variables of situations that matter to them. They are never satisfied, hold unrealistic standards, and feel others aren’t doing their share of the work.
Unhealthy EFJs are socially motivated but self-protective and insecure. They focus all their energies on controlling their relationships. They need constant reassurances of their importance. Others’ independence or interest in something they don’t approve of seems like a betrayal. They are jealous, possessive, and oblivious to others feelings. They become victims in their own eyes, obligated to carry all the burdens of a relationship. This results in them feeling morally superior. Without them correcting the problem, their judging and perceiving worlds can become polarized—in public, keeping up all appropriate behaviors and rituals, while in private devolving into petty arguments, the silent treatment, or blaming others for everything that goes wrong. They constantly talk about their self-sacrifices, while controlling others’ behaviors.
Without functional development, the EFJ’s self worth is dependent on their social roles, rather than who they are. Unless they get in touch with themselves, they aren’t really sharing themselves with anyone and won’t feel truly appreciated, no matter how much they do for others. The greater their reliance on Fe, the less in touch with their own feelings these types tend to be. They need to spend time alone in creative pursuits or in cultivating their inner life. That allows them to accept others for who they truly are, and embrace their natural capacity for warm-hearted leadership.
ESFJs have a natural sense of community that informs all they do. They are constantly busy across a wide variety of interests. They live by the values they have taken on, to be defined by their “right” relationship to others (a good… parent, friend, neighbor, etc). They have a strong sense of how thoughts “ought to be” and are offended by deliberate deviations. Their ability to talk things out makes them outstanding at networking. They have an innate understanding of people as members of a larger community. They know what to wear, do, or say to make a statement within the context of others’ thinking. They notice the atmosphere of other people’s homes and may have a flair for decorating theirs in ways appealing to others’ sensibilities.
They are likely to surround themselves with people who share their approach to life. Without acceptance of their lower functions, they cannot perceive the unpredictable, uncontrollable aspects of life expect as something to ignore, eliminate, or avoid.
ESFJs without sufficient Introverted Sensing (Si) development over-define things categorically and become defensive to avoid information that doesn’t fit their rigid framework. Without Si, they cannot experience criticism except as a threat. Si enables them to consider the source and context. They will defend themselves by listing all the good things they’ve done, rather than addressing the criticism itself. Or they will discount the person’s qualifications to make a judgment, by demeaning them in some way (this person is an alcoholic / slob / etc., why should I listen to them?).
They do not believe it is appropriate to air grievances in public. When threatened, immature ESFJs fear everything that could go wrong, and blame it all on other people. Healthy ESFJs entertain new possibilities with their intuition, and see that traditional values look different in different life contexts. When acting defensively, ESFJs apply their Extroverted Intuition (Ne) to self-destructive pursuits. They are frantic to change things, no matter who gets hurt. Si development will help them avoid the impulse to tear down whatever they have built, lending them the patience to change things in a more constructive way.
When ESFJs accept the gap between human nature and ideals, they become more honest with people. They can separate people’s opinions of their outward behaviors from their emotions, and be less wounded by criticism. They also learn to accept others’ ways of looking at life, and have a genuine love for life itself.
ENFJs focus less on people’s immediate, material needs and more on the unseen elements of their life—by patrolling life’s detours and alternate routes, rescuing lost drivers, and giving them decent maps. They are psychological in their focus, interested in the journeys people are on, and how they negotiate them. For this reason, they prefer the “care of souls” and often seek professions such as psychology that allows them to deal in the abstract improvement of others’ inner lives. They have a strong need to improve the systems that determine human relationships and help people find meaning in their lives. Because they focus on systematic improvement, they may mistype as ENFPs.
ENFJs don’t inspire world-changing visions so much as life-changing decisions. They are interested in the way people see things and the possibility of seeing things from another, better perspective. ENFJs want to make people aware of their inner scripts (prejudices) so they can get past them and develop more realistic ways of acting in the world. They value social relationships over self-experience, unlike the INFJ, who values the opposite. Because ENFJs are counselors and motivators, they may find themselves the recipient of people’s problems whether they intend that or not.
They trust their sixth sense about how a group can operate as a crucible for individual growth and development. They genuine believe deep down, people want to contribute to the system supporting them and they’re certain that the right communication, understanding, and identification will ultimately bring one under the judgment of collective values. Their idealism is so strong, ENFJs have a hard time saying no, even when their time and energy are in short supply. They see the potential good in anyone’s point of view, and feel guilty if they don’t nourish it or bring it into being. They may devote endless time and energy to projects that mater to other people, because they do not want to let them down.
Because of their ability to see the positive aspects of anyone’s position, ENFJs can be indecisive, without a firm position of their own, or inadequate due to their personal standards being too high. They believe in shifting the focus of a disagreement onto the person’s position,to mine it for information and take control over the situation by changing the focus of the disagreement to an abstract principle. In so doing, however, the ENFJ may not realize their habit of bringing alternative views into harmony with their own makes them un-grounded. They focus on understanding life’s irrational aspects, and ignoring immediate experiences in favor of reformulating perspectives.
They focus on the larger, abstract questions of life (Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is life the way it is? Why do we make foolish choices?). But some questions are not answerable in rational terms, and those ENFJs find themselves contending with the limits of their Fe skills. They kick into inferior Ti, which is ill-equipped to rationalize, and instead shifts to either eliminating the aspects of life that seem alien to human values, or harmonizing them with Fe.
In a culture short on collective values, ENFJs offer standards, strategies and a common vocabulary for the kinds of relationships they regard as decent and worth pursuing. They want to bring order to the otherwise random course of human events.
Without Introverted Intuition (Ni) development, the ENFJs cannot recognize pursuing rational ends doesn’t take the whole self into account. They’re prone to mistake eliminating conflict for intimacy and a good relationship, and run into new variables that threaten their idealistic nature. The more they focus on idealized relationships, the less they recognize people as individuals. They generalize about human behavior, unable to appreciate the unique nature of another’s experiences.
Their tertiary sensing function, Extroverted Sensing (Se), in a well-balanced ENFJ encourages them to engage in pleasurable pursuits, make art and music, and enjoy their effect on others. If they use Se defensively, however, they focus all their attention on others’ painful experiences, attempting to preserve their position as advocates and counselors. They are overwhelmed by others’ difficulties but try to control their reactions. They believe they should be able to handle anything that arises with calm reasoning and understanding, and in so doing, they can become unable to tolerate negative information, particularly about the group or social system they represent.
ENFJs need Ni to realize perceptual experiences are not just part of the past, but a part of every situation we are in. They tell us about the aspects of life that don’t ‘fit into our conceptual frame. They are so used to using Ni to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, they struggle to turn it on themselves and their own experiences.
Out of control Se can prompt the ENFJ to have frustration with their accomplishments. They may be dissatisfied by their relationships, finding them not stimulating or exciting enough, then feel guilty about those feelings. They are unsure of who they are or what they want. By resisting the aspects of life they cannot control, ENFJs trap themselves into being the person who takes care of others. They depend on social admiration and approval but do not share themselves with anyone. In avoiding dealing with these feelings, or simply skipping out on people randomly (prompted by Se’s desire to escape), they only compound their problems rather than solve them.
Mature ENFJs become aware of how subjective experiences can shape their approach to others, and grounds them into feeling at home in the world. They become more honest about their feelings, able to tolerate disagreement with others, and capable of self-awareness. They see people’s genuine possibilities and have the drive and energy to bring them out in a way that benefits society.