Always ready to lend a helping hand, the ENFJ, or “The Protagonist” (or sometimes “The Mentor”) enjoys serving the community. They are socially aware, friendly, welcoming and patient and tend do dive into meaningful connections.
In this article, we will explore the ENFJ in detail. We hope that if you have tested as an ENFJ then this article will help you to understand yourself a little better!
The ENFJ, or the Protagonist, is one of the of the “16 personality types” that we see in several different models based on the work of Carl Jung. These models include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Keirsey Temperament Sorter, among others.
ENFJ represents an individual who is Extraverted, iNtuitive, Feeling and Judging. This indicates that they are a person who is energized by spending time with others, who focuses on ideas and concepts, who makes decisions based on emotions and values, and who prefers to be planned and organized.
Of all the 16 personality types, the ENFJ has the most wonderful people skills and truly cares about the happiness and well-being of others. People see the ENFJ as a giver. An ENFJs primary way to evaluate people and situations is externally and this means that they consider everything based on how well it fits into their values systems. This makes them incredibly patient, understanding and kind.
Because ENFJs have an outward focus on other people, they see possibilities where others see obstacles. They tend to have a natural ability to love, nurture, and care for others as well as bring out the best in them. ENFJs thoroughly enjoy seeing other people happy and having a good time. Most ENFJs are extremely unselfish, but some may use their natural people skills to manipulate others. This can be a difficult pattern to detect and change if it goes unchallenged for many years.
The ENFJ gets their nickname “The Protagonist” (and “mentor” or “teacher”) because they support others. They genuinely care about bringing out the best in others, and will use their skills to do so.
Strengths and Weaknesses of ENFJs
People with an ENFJ personality personality type will feel challenged by spending time alone. Being extraverted, this can seem like a punishment rather than the opportunity for rest and reflection that it really is. ENFJs may find themselves filling their life with non-stop activity and more relationships than they can reasonably handle to avoid this discomfort. It’s essential that they consider their own needs to avoid burnout and being taken advantage of by others.
Compared to other extraverted personality types, Protagonists have more difficulty expressing their opinions and letting people get to know them at an intimate level. When they do express their beliefs, it’s not likely that they will be too personal. The main reason for this is that ENFJs don’t want to alienate anyone. However, they then run the risk of feeling lonely even when constantly surrounded by others because it’s hard for them to reveal their true self.
ENFJ Cognitive Functions (Functional Stack)
Each of the 16 personality types has four cognitive functions, as introduced by Carl Jung. These functions are the two scales of Sensing-Intuition (used to process information) and Thinking-Feeling (used to make decisions), each of which can be expressed both in an extraverted manner (e.g., displayed outwardly/externally) or an introverted manner (e.g., displayed inwardly or internally). The ENFJ has a ‘Fe, Ni, Se, Ti” cognitive stack. However, they are called the ‘FeNi” due to their top two functions. This cognitive stacks means that:
- Dominant: Fe (extroverted Feeling) is an ENFJs core function and is what they use to communicate with the world around them. The Fe function is an ENFJs gut instinct about what they think of a person or situation.
- Auxiliary: Ni (introverted iNtuition) is running in the background, after Fe, to form information into constellations of data that merge to become and idea or thought.
- Tertiary: Se (extroverted Sensing) allows ENFJs to appreciate the world as a concrete thing. It makes them enjoy using their senses to understand and interact with the world around them.
- Inferior: Ti (introverted Thinking) is the ENFJs last cognitive function, which means it is not as strong as the others. This function allows ENFJs to examine and analyze the information, collected by the other functions, and determine whether it stands up to scrutiny.
ENFJ and Work/Career
The ENFJ is likely to be well suited to careers that serve others, since they are genuinely interested in their growth and well-being. Some possibilities possible careers that Protagonists may wish to consider include counselors, audiologists, teachers, fundraisers or occupational therapists. The Protagonists outgoing nature may also make them a good candidate for directing roles too. Jobs that are more solitary and quiet in nature are definitely not for you. Some examples include writer, reference librarian, and record keeper.
Check out our comprehensive page on ENFJ careers to see more job titles specific to ENFJs.
The Protagonist personality type is one of the less common personality types, making up only 3% of the general population. Some famous ENFJs include:
- Oprah Winfrey
- Abraham Maslow
- Martin Luther King, Jr
- Pope John Paul II
- Margaret Mead
- Nelson Mandela
- Joe Biden
- Tony Blair
- Alfred Adler
- Ralph Nader
- Gourmet cooking: watching videos, prepping, making their guests smile
- Socializing with different groups of friends; often a reluctant leader
- Binge-watching their favorite TV series when home alone
- Solving word and picture puzzles, escape rooms
- Hosting game party sessions: DnD, trivia night, etc.
“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
– Nelson Mandela
“No decisions should ever be made without asking the question, ‘Is this for the common good?'”
– Michael Moore
“I always try and give as much as I can, rather than get as much as I can.”
– Kate Winslet
“The desire to reach the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise and most possible.”
– Maya Angelou
“Science develops best when its concepts and conclusions are integrated into the broader human culture and its concerns for ultimate meaning and value.”
– John Paul II
ENFJ-A Versus ENFJ-T
Those who score as an ENFJ will sit somewhere on the identity scale, ranging from assertive (A) to turbulent (T). At one end of the scale, the ENFJ-A is confident, bold and independent. They can handle stress well and are strong and resilient leaders.
At the other end of the scale, the ENFJ-T tends to be far more self-conscious and less confident. But, they are far more empathetic, understanding and interested in the opinion of others.
The Career Project can help you find rewarding work that is well suited to your interests, talents and skills. Browse our career guides to learn about different career options. Or, check out our job profiles, which are informational interviews with real-world professionals sharing their “inside scoop” on what their job is really like.
To learn more about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, read our first post in this series.