How compatible are INFJ and ESFP patterns of communicating, thinking, and working?
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In this article, you’ll find a comparison of INFJs and ESFPs 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 INFJs and ESFPs. 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 INFJs and most ESFPs fall along both of these dimensions.
First, take a look at where people in each type, on average, fall in this interpersonal space.
INFJs often agree, trust, and cooperate with others. At their best, they are friendly, affectionate, and bring out the warmth and sympathy in others. INFJs 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.
ESFPs often support, openly sympathize, and actively offer help to others At their best, they are gentle sympathizers, who are easily trusted and accepted. ESFPs 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 ESFPs have in common in their interpersonal warmth. Both INFJs and ESFPs 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 ESFPs is in your relative assertiveness or passivity in social situations. Like many INFJs, you are often on the more passive, reserved side of the spectrum. In some cases, this is a perfect compliment to ESFPs’ 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 ESFPs.
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.
INFJs have a tendency to be quiet and inhibited. Compared to most people, they can easily drift into gloom and melancholy. They see the glass as half-empty and have a more skeptical outlook and a hesitant approach to life. For better or worse, INFJs tend to notice the negatives in most situations. In stressful times, they are more likely to withdraw quietly and retreat inward, rather than share their frustration with others.
ESFPs tend to be tense, concerned, and vigilant in many situations. They usually have a pessimistic outlook and are often looking for what could go wrong next. ESFPs are highly active and tend to juggle many tasks. When things go wrong, this energy can turn into frustration and impatience, and they are more likely to express their dissatisfaction to others.
As with most INFJs, you tend to be more reserved, inhibited, and quiet than most ESFPs. Between the two of you, you are more likely to need more personal space, solitude, and time to decompress. While you can tolerate long periods of calm and quiet, your ESFP counterparts often craves more engagement and excitement. In the best cases, an ESFP can pull you out of your comfort zone and get you out into the world, while your quiet nature helps to balance out their intensity.
However, INFJs and ESFPs often default to the negative side of the emotional spectrum. While you may not always express them, you are both more likely to experience negative emotions like sadness, worry, frustration, and impatience. It’s rare to find INFJs or ESFPs in a bubbly, cheerful mood. Like most people, they have moments of joy and satisfaction, but these dissipate quickly. They often point out the negatives in most situations and have a more pessimistic outlook.
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 INFJs and ESFPs, on average, fall in this intellectual space.
INFJs tend to be deep thinkers — bright, curious, and philosophical. They are highly receptive to new ideas and drawn to complex, abstract concepts. INFJs enjoy taking in large amounts of information and typically have one or more creative outlets.
ESFPs 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.
As with many INFJs, you tend to have a stronger need for information and complexity than most ESFPs. You are much more likely to become enamored with a fascinating new idea and dive head first into learning everything you can about it while your ESFP counterparts are focused on the practical matter in front of them. You may find yourself pulling the conversation to a more theoretical level when you’re together, while your ESFP partner resists and keeps things down-to-earth.
Another difference between INFJs and ESFPs is their relative interest in aesthetic, artistic, and emotional experiences. As a INFJ, you are more likely to value artistic expression and unconventional ways of thinking, while your ESFP counterpart is more practical and traditional. INFJs tend to reflect more on emotional experiences, looking for patterns and connections, and they are more receptive to eccentricity and fantasy. In contrast, ESFPs often avoid reading too deeply into their emotions, and they can be dismissive or skeptical about unconventional ways of thinking.
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 INFJs and ESFPs along these dimensions of organizational style.
INFJs are usually systematic and highly organized. They like setting big, long-term goals and then creating detailed plans to accomplish them. INFJs are generally good at ignoring distractions and making steady progress through consistent routines and habits.
ESFPs 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. ESFPs highly value spontaneity and the flexibility to change their mind, and they resist setting hard deadlines or rigid expectations.
As with most INFJs, you and many ESFPs 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 ESFP counterpart may be more easily distracted and unpredictable. Working consistently with a narrow focus often comes naturally to many INFJs like you, but you may find that ESFPs benefit from additional structure to keep them on track. While you enjoy planning and tend to mind the future, your ESFP counterpart helps you enjoy the present, injecting some much-needed spontaneity into your schedule.
A second difference between INFJs and ESFPs is in their relative need for order, structure, and regularity. While you and most INFJs thrive on well-defined systems and consistent organization, your ESFP 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.
To see which of the 16 types is most similar to you, try TraitLab’s free 16 Personality Types test.
For comparisons between INFJs and other types from the 16 Personality typology, visit any of the type pairings below:
For comparisons between INFJs and other Enneagram types, visit any of the type pairings below: