By A.J. Drenth
The INFJ and ENFJ personality types share three of four personality preferences (N, F, J). They also use all the same functions (Ni, Fe, Ti, Se), differing only in their respective ordering. We should not, however, underestimate the implications of this different functional ordering. Namely, due to the fact that their Introverted Intuition (Ni) function is dominant, INFJs are best understood as “inner Perceivers” (see my post, Rethinking Judging and Perceiving, for more on this). Their primary purpose is to take in the world and understand it, rather than trying to shape or control it.
By contrast, ENFJs use Extraverted Feeling (Fe), which is a Judging function, as their dominant function. Thus, their foremost objective is not to understand the world, but to change or influence it, most commonly through their influence on people. Consequently, ENFJs tend to be quicker to judge and, at least initially, are apt to be less accurate in their perceptions than INFJs. Like all types with a dominant Judging function (e.g., all IP and EJ types), ENFJs sacrifice some measure of accuracy for speed.
INFJ vs ENFJ Personality Types
Because of these differences, the INFJ and ENFJ personality types can be critical of one another. ENFJs are apt to criticize INFJs for struggling to act. Since INFJs’ Se function is inferior, they are less inclined to act upon or be “proactive” with respect to their judgments. Those unfamiliar with how INFJs work might be inclined to dismiss them as overly emotional or melodramatic, doing little beyond complaining about or forecasting doom for the world. To make matters worse, because INFJs often see problems that are imperceptible to others, making them susceptible to the accusation that they imagine or create problems where none exist. If INFJs are repeatedly accused of this (which is not uncommon), they may begin to question their own sanity (i.e., “Maybe it’s not the world that is deranged and crazy, maybe it’s me?” This tends to be less of an issue for INFPs. Since INFPs are generally less “otherworldly” than INFJs are and tend to keep more of their opinions and misgivings about the world to themselves, they are less likely to be faced with concerns about their own sanity. It can also be easy for others to confuse INFJs’ negative prognostications with an inability or reluctance to “be happy” or “be content.” In reality, INFJs are less concerned with being personally happy, positive, or pragmatic than they are with accurately reflecting what they see happening in the world around them. In many regards, INFJs feel their own happiness is out of their hands and all they can do is try to understand and critique their experiences.
While INFJs’ observations and complaints may be spot on, ENFJs may point out that complaining does little good without reformative action. In response, INFJs may critique ENFJs tendency to make overly rash or premature judgments. From the INFJ’s perspective, action is worthless if based on inaccurate perceptions or insufficient information.