As an ENFP, being put into any kind of box is restricting and makes us feel misunderstood. Unfortunately, there are plenty of stereotypes out there about our personality type! Let’s take a look at some of the specific misconceptions the ENFP might encounter and whether or not they hold any water.
Your Happiness Is A Mask
First things first, let’s talk about being fake. Often, we hear from other people that we ENFPs come across as forcing our happiness. Others who see the buoyancy in our day-to-day outward interactions can sometimes incorrectly label us as “fake” and distrust the enthusiasm we display. As an ENFP, we love connecting with others as is evident in our lively interactions.
Truth or lies? While there are certainly people who do fake their vibrancy, I’m ready to argue that an ENFP is genuine in their exuberance. When I add exclamation points all over my emails and text messages, that is precisely how I want to come across. When I am listening intently to a conversation, wide-eyed and totally engaged, that’s honestly how I feel. If I’m disinterested in something, I still politely engage, but I am nowhere near my normal level of animation. This is a little foreign to other, more subdued, personality types, which is why we can sometimes come across as fake.
Tips for the ENFP: Alright, you fantastic ENFP, you – I’m guessing you’re pretty good at reading people, right? Generally speaking, you can tell when someone takes your interaction as fake. If you see this happening, take a step back to reiterate what the other person has said to you. Connect with them and give specific validation. This shows that you are indeed listening and involved in your conversation. If that doesn’t work, try not to take it personally! You are who you are, and others are going to be the way they will be. You can’t please everyone.
Can You Focus, Please?
Another stereotype with the ENFP personality is that we are tremendously scatterbrained. The Perceiver part of our personality would account for this phenomenon as we value spontaneity and flexibility. Combined with the Feeling trait, you can go from thing to thing feeling justified in your mind. To you, each choice is deliberate. An ENFP will spin an idea and if it resonates, there’s no turning back regardless of how it looks from the outside.
Truth or Lies? I believe there is some truth to this misconception. I have definitely come across as absent minded, especially to those who don’t know me well! However, it is important to note that perceived scatterbrained activity is different than someone who is actually all over the place.
For example, I once started a cosmetology program because I wanted to learn how to cut hair. As I went to school, I quickly realized that I didn’t belong in a salon. The program I attended allowed for students to drop out by a certain date and only pay prorated tuition before being penalized. I stayed until that date and promptly dropped out of the program. To me, it was a positive thing! I learned a practical skill, gained valuable experiences, all without too much strain on my finances. But I am still – to this day – teased about my willingness to jump into the cosmetology program just to drop out. I felt justified in the decisions I made. Others have perceived my choice as flaky and scatterbrained.
Tips for the ENFP: There are times when I am actually scatterbrained. I leave my glasses in the bathroom and walk into my bedroom to grab my shoes, only to abandon putting on my shoes to look for my glasses when I remember that I need to pack a lunch. I head to the kitchen and before packing my lunch, remember I need to find my glasses – and the process starts all over again.
When this happens, I take that as a sign that I’m too stressed out! ENFPs are easily overtaken if there is too much on our plates. If you find yourself behaving in a scatterbrained manner, take a step back and plan some good ol’ relaxation time. Determine what you need to recharge and make it happen!
You’re Such A Pushover!
Being perceived as a pushover can be the result of several traits we hold as ENFPs. That Feeling trait connected to our internal code of conduct can be to blame, or our big-picture attitude can cause us to agree to too much as we often forget little details. As an Extravert, we’re concerned with our relationships and we can easily let those connections leverage us into a choice we don’t really want to make.
Truth or Lies? This one is tough to pinpoint because it depends on each individual ENFP. Some with our personality type have a strongly developed value system that grounds them enough to say “no”. Others fall into one of the aforementioned categories and allow peer pressure to override that internal voice.
Once upon a time, I dated a guy we’ll call Steve. Steve and I were kissing and I pulled away. As I began to open my eyes I realized that his eyes were already WIDE OPEN! Honestly, it weirded me out. I asked him why in the world he was doing that. Was he just being funny? No. He replied that it turned him on to watch me while we were kissing.
Alright, regardless of your personal opinions at this point, I felt uncomfortable. I told him as much and he brushed it off saying he liked it and that was that. I never said anything else about it, even though I continued to feel on edge every single time we locked lips. We eventually broke up about a month after that discovery and subsequent conversation.
Now, I’m not saying we were a match made in heaven or that things would have lasted beyond that relationship hurdle had I spoken up. We definitely had our differences beyond the open-eyed kissing (still makes me shudder). But, it’s worth noting that I’ll never know what potential that relationship had because I never fully expressed my feelings. While this remains a slightly silly anecdote I enjoy telling, the principle remains the same: speak up and speak fully about an issue.
Tips for the ENFP: Start by identifying why you’re being a pushover. Are you worried about your relationships? Are you not considering all of the details? I find myself more easily pushed into things when I don’t take time to consider what is being asked. When applicable, I find it helpful to enforce the general rule of mulling it over for a night before giving an answer.
When your gut tells you no, say it. This takes practice! Through interactions with others, I have experienced that standing up for my own needs has garnered respect and a deeper relationship rather than deteriorating that connection. And if a relationship seems doomed or toxic when I stand up for myself, then maybe it’s not a connection worth having after all.
Have you ever fallen victim to one of these stereotypes? What tips do you have to battle misconceptions? We all experience life a little differently and I would love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!