image credit: Matheus Ferrero
Are you an INFP who thinks you might really be more of an ENFP, or vice versa? Maybe you’re trying to type someone you know and they seem like they could be one or the other. Well, I’m here to help! I can clarify how they are different quite simply: one is introverted and the other is extraverted.
…Oh, you already knew that? Okay, hang on, I think I can explain it further.
INFP and ENFP have all the same functions and so it really does come down to the fact that one is an introvert and the other is not. But since introversion and extroversion is on a spectrum, some people may not appear to fall clearly on one side or the other. Nobody is a pure introvert or pure extra extravert. We all have both sides to us but we generally have a stronger preference for one over the other.
In determining which side is dominant, it helps to highlight the specific way in which introversion and extraversion is expressed by INFP and ENFP respectively. Moreover, both types are verbally expressive, creative, empathetic, individualistic and often quirkily unique. Let’s look at the ways in which these two differ.
1. Reservation vs. Reactivity
Relative to an ENFP, INFPs tend to hold onto thoughts, and suppress their immediate or true reactions. This is not a contradiction of their authenticity but rather a feature of their sensitivity and desire to avoid conflict.
ENFPs on the other hand are less inhibited in their self expression. They are more willing to speak extemporaneously and pretty candidly about what they think and feel. They have less of a filter but are no less sensitive than the INFP.
2. Discreet vs. Direct
Under most conditions, the INFP will seek to avoid confrontation (even though they take a lot of things personally). Except for the times when they are filled with raging moral indignation, INFPs often appear passive. They may also get criticized for not being assertive enough because they don’t always stick up for themselves (at least not directly).
It is often the case that a transgression against them gets committed but the full significance of it doesn’t register with them until later. It festers in the subconscious until one day it is 3AM and they can’t sleep because that specific incident is replaying in their head on an endless loop.
ENFPs tend to be better at confronting on the spot and calling out those who disrespect or try to wrong them. However, they can easily go overboard if they let their emotions get the best of them. ENFPs, like other extraverted perceiver types, tend to speak their mind with less forethought or self-editing than the INFP. This of course can get ENFP in a lot of trouble but it also helps them avoid the bitterness that comes with holding too much inside.
3. Easygoing vs. Energetic
INFPs can be very expressive and performative when they choose to be. But for the most part, they don’t like calling unnecessary attention to themselves. They try to get by with as little resistance as possible. When it is their time to shine, INFP can really take others by surprise with how good or talented they are. INFP’s quirkiness and passion is often much less conspicuous than that of the ENFP who is more overtly whimsical.
ENFPs by contrast are basically WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). They tend to express themselves with more energy and enthusiasm up front. They are generally more emotive than the INFP simply because they enjoy showing off and being dramatic. They express themselves more unapologetically and are more bold in letting their freak flag fly. In this way, the ENFP displays a more overt form of authenticity because they seek to be themselves almost unconditionally.
4. Designer vs. Director
INFPs have the capacity to take charge and be a capable leader when they are motivated, but generally they prefer to operate independently or behind the scenes. They don’t crave the spotlight nor do they vie for positions of power and control over others. However, when given the opportunity to exercise their vision and ideals through a position of power, INFPs do so with a sense of humanity and integrity.
ENFPs are more comfortable assuming leadership roles and responsibilities. Because of the charm and social confidence they display, people naturally look to them to take charge in many situations. They are almost always ready to step in and take control, implementing their ideas and creative vision. ENFPs lead with energy and personality and they have a special ability to inspire others to believe in their vision and get on board with what they want to accomplish..
5. Perfectionism vs. Innovation
When it comes to overall approach, INFPs tend to be more perfectionistic than the ENFP. Because they lead with a judging function (Fi), there is more emphasis on control over the quality and outcome of the work they do. At least, that’s the case when the work in question stimulates their creative juices and is somehow meaningful to them. Moreover, INFPs can be very particular and hyper-critical of their work. They may struggle more with procrastination, but once they get started, it is a bit easier for them to bunker down and get it done. INFPs can get really immersed in the process of refining and tweaking their work until they have something they are satisfied with.
As for ENFPs, they find it easier to generate ideas and act on them in short order. They are more willing to just get things started and figure things out as they go rather than over plan. They shine in their ability to improvise and adapt to changing situations without getting hampered by overthinking. When they need to, ENFPs can also be systematic and find the discipline to handle more tedious and boring tasks. They however tend to operate in more sporadic, spontaneous bursts of inspiration. They are better at coming up with inspired ideas and handing off the task of implementation to more detail-oriented team members.
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