By Dr. A.J. Drenth
Feeling types use their Feeling function to weigh, evaluate, and analyze their affective responses to the world. They generally experience greater saliency, variability, and diversity of emotion than Thinking types do. For Thinking types, the Feeling function is less conscious and less differentiated, making them less equipped to notice emotional fluctuations or subtleties. For every emotion in a Thinking type’s arsenal, a Feeler distinguishes numerous different feelings or feeling tones. Because Feelers discern such a breadth of emotional variations and nuances, they may feel that words are often inadequate to capture and convey their experiences. This is why many turn to poetry, music, or the arts, searching for alternate ways of understanding and expressing their affective life.
The Feeling functions also relate to the development of various tastes. Tastes are qualitative preferences—likes and dislikes. This is another reason Feeling types are drawn to exploring arts and culture, providing them with plenty of raw material to engage their Feeling function. Working with people and animals can be stimulating for similar reasons.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is the dominant function of the ENFJ and ESFJ types and the auxiliary for INFJ and ISFJ types. Like Extraverted Thinking, Fe is considered an extraverted Judging function. Whereas the extraverted Perceiving functions (e.g., Ne) express things in an open-ended fashion (e.g., “What do you think about…?” or “I wonder if …”), the extraverted Judging functions typically utilize declarative statements (e.g., “I feel…” or “I don’t like…”). Such differences are also conveyed through expressional tone. Consequently, on occasions where J-types (especially EJs) feel it necessary to ask questions, their tone may seem insincere because their natural aura is one of decisiveness (J) rather than receptivity (P).
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) vs. Extraverted Thinking (Te)
While the content of an Extraverted Feeling expression need not be emotional, there is a discernible difference in its packaging compared to that of Extraverted Thinking (Te). Te comes across as rather dry and monotonal. It is often devoid of significant fluctuations in volume or expressions of feeling. Since its purpose is to relay factual information in a literal and explicit fashion, it is largely unconcerned about connecting with others on a feeling level. Because of Te’s lack of expressiveness, it can be difficult to read the emotions of Te users (i.e., TJs).
In contrast to Te, Extraverted Feelers (i.e., FJ types), are more apt to wear their emotions on their sleeves; one rarely needs to guess about what FJs are feeling. Even if they don’t come out and say it right away, their feelings are typically discernible through their mannerisms and facial expressions.
When FJ types engage with others, they are looking to create a bond of shared feeling, especially “good” feeling. This requires they not only express their own feelings, but also perceive and interpret those of others. The hope is that feelings will be understood and reciprocated in a way that allows all parties to enjoy a sense of emotional resonance and harmony. The satisfaction of creating rapport and emotional harmony also leads FJs to enjoy supporting and counseling others with emotional or relational difficulties. For similar reasons, friendships are generally of great importance to FJs.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) vs. Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Fe works broadly and extensively, while Introverted Feeling (Fi) penetrates more deeply and intensively. Fe is more concerned with collective morale, while Fi focuses more on the feelings of the self or a select few individuals. Like FJs, FP types (who use Fi as their dominant or auxiliary function) tend to prefer external harmony, but this is more reflective of their personal discomfort with conflict (i.e., their own disquieting feelings) than of a genuine concern for interpersonal harmony (see our Enneagram 4 post for more on this).
The following scenario can be useful for differentiating Fe and Fi. Imagine you are involved in a social gathering, hosted by someone else, involving six couples, three of which are new to the group. Now ask yourself the following questions:
- Would I feel responsible for ensuring that the newer couples feel comfortable and at ease?
- Would I go out of my way to reach out to them and help them assimilate to the group?
- Is helping newcomers feel welcome and comfortable in social settings one of my natural skills?
Generally speaking, FJs answer “yes” to each of the above questions, whereas FPs (especially IFPs) tend to answer “no” or feel more ambivalent in their responses. IFPs generally feel less responsible for ensuring the emotional comfort of the group’s newcomers. This makes perfect sense when we consider that FPs see themselves as managers of their own emotions, so it is only natural to anticipate that others will want to do the same. FJs, on the other hand, are more inclined to help others manage their emotions, as well as to turn to others for emotional support. It therefore seems important, from the FJ perspective, to get everyone on the same emotional wavelength.
Fe and Fi also differ with respect to emotional expressiveness. FPs, in being more emotionally independent, tend to restrain and conceal their emotions. They therefore present as more outwardly measured and less animated in their gestures and expressions. FJ expressions are more direct and feeling-laden, conferring a sense of greater urgency or conviction in what they are saying. At times, it can feel like FJs (especially NFJs) have fallen into a motivational speech or diatribe in the midst of an ordinary conversation.
To learn more about Fe, be sure to explore our latest eBook, My True Type: Clarifying Your Personality Type, Preferences & Functions, which takes an in-depth look at each of the 8 functions and preferences: