How compatible are ESFJ and ENFP patterns of communicating, thinking, and working?
Reading time: 5 minutes
In this article, you’ll find a comparison of ESFJs and ENFPs across five important personality domains: Interpersonal/Communication Style, Emotional Style, Intellectual Style, and Organizational Style.
One important note: the following comparisons cannot be made simply by comparing the cognitive functions (letters) of each personality type.
For this analysis, TraitLab gathered data about personality traits from thousands of participants who identified themselves as a particular type in the 16 Personality or Myers-Briggs framework.
The comparisons here show the average similarities and differences between ESFJs and ENFPs. However, remember that all personality types are oversimplifications. For an assessment of your unique position in these areas, you’ll need a personalized assessment that doesn’t rely on personality types.
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Your particular style of communicating and interacting with others can be described fairly well by two dimensions: assertiveness and warmth.
Assertiveness describes your tendency to assert yourself, lead, and influence others in social situations, while warmth describes your tendencies to empathize and put others’ needs ahead of your own.
People with the same personality type often share some similarities in assertiveness and warmth. In the graph below, you can see where most ESFJs and most ENFPs fall along both of these dimensions.
First, take a look at where people in each type, on average, fall in this interpersonal space.
ESFJs often agree, trust, and cooperate with others. At their best, they are friendly, affectionate, and bring out the warmth and sympathy in others. ESFJs may be too agreeable and quick to compromise. At their worst, they may seek approval and agreement too much, and be dependent on the approval of other people.
ENFPs often support, openly sympathize, and actively offer help to others At their best, they are gentle sympathizers, who are easily trusted and accepted. ENFPs may be overly revealing and have difficulty being alone. At their worst, they can require too much attention and admiration from others and be excessively involved in the affairs of others.
One aspect that you and many ENFPs have in common in their interpersonal warmth. Both ESFJs and ENFPs tend to be on the friendlier side and are attentive to the needs and interests of other people, sometimes at the expense of your own goals.
One important difference between you and most ENFPs is in your relative assertiveness or passivity in social situations. Like many ESFJs, you are often on the more passive, reserved side of the spectrum. In some cases, this is a perfect compliment to ENFPs’ more dominant, assertive style, and the two of you can make an effective team. However, you may find that you need to put extra effort into making your opinions heard when working with ENFPs.
Another characteristic of your personality is your emotional style — your tendencies towards different kinds of moods. There are two dimensions that influence emotional style: arousal and valence.
Arousal describes your relative energy level across different situations. Those with high baseline levels of arousal tend to be generally more alert, active, and engaged, while those with a lower baseline are more reserved, subdued, and inhibited.
Valence describes whether these moods tend to be positive (pleasant) or negative (unpleasant). People with a more positively valenced style are more likely to experience emotions like joy, enthusiasm, satisfaction, and serenity. People with a more negatively valenced style are more likely to experience sadness, frustration, dissatisfaction, and anxiety.
The graph below shows where each type, on average, usually sits in this emotional space.
Most ESFJs and ENFPs overlap heavily in their emotional style.
ESFJs and ENFPs tend to be energetic and enthusiastic across most situations. They take on new challenges with excitement, confidence, and a sense of adventure. ESFJs and ENFPs are usually more optimistic than most people, and they generally feel like they can handle what life throws at them.
Like most ESFJs, you and many ENFPs share a relatively high energy level. You both prefer to be in motion, actively engaged in something interesting, rather than sitting back and observing. In the best case, the two of you feed off the other’s energy and excitement, and there’s rarely a quiet moment when you’re together.
Likewise, both ESFJs and ENFPs are generally more positive than negative. They are more likely to express enthusiasm, satisfaction, happiness, and other positive emotions across most situations. Like everyone else, they occasionally experience negative emotions like sadness, anxiety, and anger, but they soon return to their usual pleasant state. Together, ESFJs and ENFPs tend to share an optimistic outlook and a resilience to stress.
Your intellectual style describes how you receive, process, and pursue different kinds of information. Differences in intellectual style are captured well by two dimensions: ideas and aesthetics.
Ideas describes your appetite for new information and your interest in complex, challenging material. People high on the ideas dimension have an appreciation for complexity and technical details. People lower on ideas are less interested in learning for learning’s sake, and they prefer to simplify complex topics down to the essential details.
Aesthetics captures your relative interest and sensitivity to aesthetic information and its emotional impact. People higher on the aesthetics dimension usually have strong artistic interests and a deep appreciation for beauty in many forms. Those lower on aesthetics tend to value practical application over artistic merit and usually adhere to more conventional standards of beauty.
In the graph below, you’ll see where ESFJs and ENFPs, on average, fall in this intellectual space.
ESFJs are practical realists. They focus on building practical skills and essential knowledge and are less likely to spend time learning for learning’s sake. In addition, they usually value conventional, tangible accomplishments over artistic expression and rarely feel compelled to develop a creative outlet.
ENFPs are idealistic, creative dreamers. They tend to be interested in the nuances of emotional and artistic experiences, looking for patterns and meaningful insights. ENFPs are comfortable with ambiguity and abstract concepts, focusing on the big picture rather than technical details. They often practice some form of creative expression and are likely to hold a few unconventional, eccentric beliefs.
As an ESFJ, you and most ENFPs are down-to-earth, straightforward thinkers. You’d both prefer to stick to the essentials and focus on practical issues, and you try to avoid overcomplicating matters. When you and your ENFP counterpart are together, your conversations are more likely to revolve around concrete details, facts, and conventional topics rather than theoretical or philosophical ones.
Another difference between ESFJs and ENFPs is their relative interest in aesthetic, artistic, and emotional experiences. As a ESFJ, you tend to be more practical and focused on tangible results, while your ENFP counterpart is more likely to be drawn into the emotional and artistic aspects of an experience. In addition, ESFJs and ENFPs often differ in their receptivity to unconventional and eccentric ways of thinking. Like many ESFJs, you often lean towards well-worn, conventional approaches and view new alternatives with healthy skepticism. In contrast, ENFPs are quicker to do away with convention and embrace a new approach.
Your organizational style describes your habits around organization and planning. Your organizational style influences how you structure your time and physical space. Differences in organizational style fall along two dimensions: industriousness and orderliness.
Industriousness describes your persistence, need for achievement, and intensity of focus. People higher on industriousness usually organize their behavior around a few important long-term goals. People lower on industriousness are usually more focused on the present and will more easily change their focus when new opportunities appear.
Orderliness describes your need for regularity, order, and structure in your environment. People higher on orderliness prefer tidy, organized physical spaces, detailed schedules, and reliable routines. People lower on orderliness can tolerate more disorganization and prefer a more spontaneous, unstructured approach.
The graph below shows the average position of ESFJs and ENFPs along these dimensions of organizational style.
ESFJs are usually systematic and highly organized. They like setting big, long-term goals and then creating detailed plans to accomplish them. ESFJs are generally good at ignoring distractions and making steady progress through consistent routines and habits.
ENFPs thrive in unstructured environments with fewer constraints and more room for improvisation and serendipity. They generally focus on enjoying the present rather than preparing for the future. ENFPs highly value spontaneity and the flexibility to change their mind, and they resist setting hard deadlines or rigid expectations.
As with most ESFJs, you and many ENFPs can clash over your need to set goals and use time efficiently. While you have an easier time getting down to work and staying focused, your ENFP counterpart may be more easily distracted and unpredictable. Working consistently with a narrow focus often comes naturally to many ESFJs like you, but you may find that ENFPs benefit from additional structure to keep them on track. While you enjoy planning and tend to mind the future, your ENFP counterpart helps you enjoy the present, injecting some much-needed spontaneity into your schedule.
A second difference between ESFJs and ENFPs is in their relative need for order, structure, and regularity. While you and most ESFJs thrive on well-defined systems and consistent organization, your ENFP counterpart often feels overly constrained and bogged down by too much structure. They are more comfortable with chaos and are happy to take life as it comes, whereas you try to create order, routine, and predictability. Your differences in tidiness, punctuality, and compliance with social expectations may occasionally create conflict, too.
Most people have complex personalities and don’t fall into a single personality type.
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For comparisons between ESFJs and other types from the 16 Personality typology, visit any of the type pairings below:
For comparisons between ESFJs and other Enneagram types, visit any of the type pairings below: