One of the things I absolutely love doing as an MBTI® practitioner is helping people to clarify their personality type. Sometimes people feel torn between two preferences or feel lost when they try to learn about the cognitive functions. Sometimes breaking down some similarities and differences can help to bring you clarity about how your particular mind works.
Today I want to provide clarity for individuals who are feeling stuck between the ESFJ/ENFJ personality types. I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any further questions in the comments!
5 Big Differences Between the ESFJ and ENFJ Personality Types
#1 – ESFJs Thrive on Stability. ENFJs Thrive on Change.
Because ESFJs back up their feeling process with introverted Sensing (Si), they tend to feel uncomfortable with a lot of changes and unfamiliar environments and experiences. They like getting into a steady routine and immersing themselves in a community. They are usually the types who find a “home” and enjoy staying there and coming back to it repeatedly. They enjoy creating a comfortable base where they can re-charge. Living a transient life is usually stressful for an ESFJ personality type.
ENFJs, in contrast, quickly tire of overly-familiar routines. While they enjoy having a structure and plan for their lives, a repetitive routine feels lacking in inspiration for them. Introverted Intuition, in contrast to introverted Sensing, is stimulated by the new and unknown. ENFJs want a clear plan, structure, and direction. But they can quickly tire of staying in one place.
#2 – ESFJs Look for Certainties. ENFJs Look for Unknowns.
ESFJs look to what they know and understand through experience when they make a decision. They look at how facts and observations line up with what they believe to be true. They enjoy certainties. ENFJs are more apt to notice what isn’t trustworthy or isn’t provable. Introverted Intuition is always looking for the unknown and the complex. Their insights often come from the “rattling around” of unknowns and sensory data synthesizing together to create a new theory or vision.
#3 – ESFJs Enjoy Reminiscing and Recalling. ENFJs Enjoy Envisioning the Future.
ESFJs enjoy post-processing experiences and recalling their favorite moments in detail. In fact, according to neuroscience expert Dario Nardi, Si-users can experience a “flow” state when they close their eyes and recall their favorite memories in detail. ENFJs, in contrast, experience a “flow” state when they can imagine the future and plan out how to get there.
#4 – ESFJs speak literally and sequentially. ENFJs speak using analogies and metaphors.
ESFJs use words as tools to connect with other people. They tend to speak using literal language, describing things as they experienced them in detail. They also tend to speak in a linear way, from beginning to end. ENFJs, in contrast, tend to use a lot of metaphor and analogy when they speak. They tend to use symbols as a way to define something or drive home a point. They also tend to start with the big picture when they are speaking and fill in with details later.
#5 – ESFJs and ENFJs “Loop” Differently
When stressed or hurried, EFJs both have a tendency to stay “looped” in their extraverted cognitive functions. For the ESFJ this becomes a feeling/intuitive loop, specifically extraverted feeling and extraverted intuition. They can start to catastrophize or develop unrealistic expectations or possibilities. They might have a hard time deciding on something because they see too many options. ENFJs enter a feeling/sensing loop, specifically extraverted feeling and extraverted sensing. They can become more focused on experience and become overly-impulsive and focused on action at the expense of analyzing implications. In a sense, ESFJs can seem like unhealthy intuitives when they loop and ENFJs can seem like unhealthy sensors when they loop.
Keep in Mind…
Every individual is unique and has qualities that they’ve picked up via their environment, family, and unique likes or dislikes. You might find nuances of both types in yourself, but the goal is to figure out which type resonates with you on a more consistent basis.
Find out more about your personality type in our eBook, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type.
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My name is Susan Storm, and I’m an MBTI® practitioner and all-out psychology lover. I’ve been studying Jungian typology as well as developmental & childhood psychology for over ten years. Along with blogging about personality type, I love taking care of my 5 children and staying up late reading Kierkegaard. I’m an INFJ personality type. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to find out more about typology!