ENFJ? How to Take The Headache Out of Making Tough Decisions

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on February 05, 2018
Categories: Personal Growth, ENFJ

Altruistic, charismatic, compassionate, optimistic, reliable, willing to go the extra mile for the causes you care about - is it any wonder that ENFJs rank highly on the list of the nicest personality types? You're the first person I come to if I need a shoulder to cry on or have a relationship problem that needs sorting out.

But when it comes to making tough decisions that involve hard choices, I'm sorry, but we're going to have a problem. It's impossible for you to decide which jeans to wear in a morning, let alone whether you should get married, move house, or fire people to cut your business overhead. Your desire to please everyone seduces you to linger, fruitlessly, on all the options before you commit. You become paralyzed by the amount of input to the situation requiring a decision.

From your side of the fence, I'm guessing that it's confusing, the struggle you have with making the difficult calls. You are, after all, a Judger. You're driven to have things decided. But instead you're stuck in the decision-making loop of doom.

Here are some tips for taking the headache out of making those tough decisions.

#1: Set a deadline

You could spend a week harnessing opinions, considering all the options, talking about it over coffee ... or you could commit to making a decision within the next 15 minutes. Do you know which is more effective? It's setting the timer. When you're prone to flip-flopping between different viewpoints, giving yourself extra time just leaves you extra confused. The faster you can make a decision and move on, the better.

#2: Make smaller decisions

If you're feeling overwhelmed, commit to making a smaller decision, with minimal investment, just to get it over with. Making a decision - any decision - will reduce your anxiety and let you gather some forward momentum. After a while, you'll be practiced and ready to tackle the bigger decisions.

#3: Trust your best self

One of the major lessons about decision making is that it boils down to confidence. As an Extravert, you should have this in spades, but in fact you are more cautious about exposing yourself than other extraverted types. When you can't see right from left, listen to your best self. This version of you is generous and brave, an intelligent leader who can handle the consequences of throwing a decision out there and letting the world run with it. Your best self trusts that she can make the decision work out and is strong enough to deal with the consequences. So ask yourself, what decision would your best self make? Whatever the answer, that usually is the right decision.

#4: Get some personal space

It's one thing to care for the needs and opinions of others; quite another to take on these worries as if they were your own. To make the really tough calls, you need to clear your mind of others' opinions so you can focus on your own thoughts. Seriously, for once break the people-pleasing habit. By all means speak to others but, when it's crunch time, you have to quit going from person to person asking their opinion.

#5: Use the "take the best" technique

"Take the best" is a decision-making strategy coined by Newsweek, based on the work of psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer. As Newsweek puts it,

"Take the best" means that you reason and calculate only as much as you absolutely have to; then you stop and do something else. So, for example, if there are 10 pieces of information that you might weigh in a thorough decision, but one piece of information is clearly more important than the others, then that one piece of information is often enough to make a choice. You don't need the rest; other details just complicate things and waste time." ...

"Gigerenzer calls such decision making "satisficing," as in "satisfying" enough to "suffice." Satisficers don't feel the need to know everything, in contrast to "maximizers," who do want to weigh every detail imaginable in making even minor life decisions."

ENFJs are prone to maximizing; you have practice "satisficing" for easier decision making. 

#6: Accept that you can't please everyone

Your dominant mental process is Extraverted Feeling which means your strength is making sure others' needs are met. You regard decisions based on impersonal analysis - facts, not feelings - as a personal affront and react defensively when others make decisions that don't give a fair outcome for everyone. But in work and in life, unfairness is part of the deal. To get comfortable with this, you're going to have to accept that the right decision is not always the best decision. The desire for fairness, for perfection, is paralyzing. There's always a leap of faith involved.

#7: Deciding is no substitute for doing

Deciding is not the same as doing. When you decide something, you're setting a goal. When you do something, you start on the path toward achieving the goal. It's only the act of doing that can lead to results. As tough as decision making is, it's a waste of time unless followed by bold action. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." Decide. Then act. It's the only way to stay on course.

The Take Home

For ENFJs, it's hard to make a big decision. You're invested in others, you're compelled by fairness, and your empathy both facilitates and clouds your judgment. Sometimes you become so stuck, reluctant to make a decision until all the facts have been weighed, that the problem takes a life of its own. But there are strategies for decision-making success. Set a deadline, break it down, trust your best self, get some personal space,"satisfice," stop reaching for perfection and commit to action, and you'll come to your own best decision every time.

Jayne Thompson

Jayne is a B2B tech copywriter and the editorial director here at Truity. When she’s not writing to a deadline, she’s geeking out about personality psychology and conspiracy theories. Jayne is a true ambivert, barely an INTJ, and an Enneagram One. She lives with her husband and daughters in the UK. Find Jayne at White Rose Copywriting.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


1LMm28 says...


Oscar Myles Johnson (not verified) says...

Perfect newsletter, hit the nail right on the head! Thank you! 

Javz (not verified) says...

Thank you, this came in just at the perfect moment for me, always paying attention to any of your articles, keep it up!

Helen T (not verified) says...

The hardest decision I've had for a long time is deciding which personality type I am. Seriously! I've seen myself from so many perspectives it's driven me crazy. I have dived into my unconscious and found so many subpersonalities it's confused the hell out of me. The positive is that I've also been healing all the hurt parts that were completely hidden from me. 

This article is INCREDIBLY  helpful. It's so spot on for my agonising and analysis paralysis. As a stay at home mum who doesn't have to return to work for financial reasons I've contemplated what I 'should do' for a long time. What I can now see clearly is my habit of maximising instead of satisfycing.

My challenge now is to remain landed on ENFJ and not keep learning more to maximise and end up reading stuff I don't relate to and then undermine the certainty I feel now that I'm an ENFJ. 

The real challenge though is to make a decision and take action. I'm usually fiercely independent in not seeking professional help but I'm feeling very willing to seek career help right now to help keep me on track and guide me through returning to work.

Thank you SO much for this information. After 10 years of studying the enneagram and more recently MBTI this information feels like the missing puzzle piece. I'm under no illusion that the path ahead will be easy but at least I have a chance now of actually taking steps instead of treading water. 


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