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ENFJ and Graphology

ENFJENFJs are often described as gracious, imaginative, congenial, energetic, idealistic, supportive, and curious. Their dominant function is extraverted Feeling Fe (aka harmonizing) supported by introverted Intuiting Ni (knowing). We had two ENFJs in the room, both Gemini (!), and I was one of them.

Apparently, many ENFJs enjoy writing with a pencil or a light ballpoint. The writing instrument will give you information about the person as well, and in this case ENFJs like to apply only little pressure. Full lower loops in the g's and j's indicate a sociability. If letters are connected and the writing is fluid, that's an indication for making connections with other people.

My sample showed a slightly larger letter size and a script that was not overly right-slanting. In fact, my slant and writing in general was very variable, indicating changeability and chameleon-like qualities. This really resonated because I tend to be who I think the person / client / situation needs me to be. At the same time, the sample showed original thought, creativity, and healthy word spacing.

Many of my letters have straight lower lines instead of lower loops. The straight line, e.g. in the y's indicate that it's ok to be alone, and in fact I enjoy being alone. That resonated, too.

Both our samples showed clear communication in that our capital letters don't have much of a preamble or lead-in stroke. We basically start our conversations like we start our letters: jumping right in.

I hope you've enjoyed the little excursion into graphology this week! I had a great time at the meeting, and if you're open to programs that examine Jung's Type and the MBTI(r) and all their correlations and applications, I invite you to check out your local Association for Psychological Type Chapter. Some of us advertise in meetup groups as well. Either way - join the conversation!


Think Like A Traveler


Think Like A Traveler

When you visit a new place for the first time, your perception processes are on high alert. You're more aware, more in-the-moment, more tuned-in. In terms of type processes we're looking at your Sensing or Intuiting function, where you're looking to experience your new surroundings (extraverted Sensing Se), review similarities to other places you've visited (introverted Sensing Si), infer deeper meanings and universal themes (introverted Intuiting Ni), as well as foresee potential opportunities and connections (extraverted Intuiting Ne).

What if you could keep that higher state of awareness switched on all the time?

Ok, not ALL the time, because we all know our brains have to filter out many things to help keep us sane. But when you want and need it? Say, when trying to come up with innovative solutions?

Because if you can do that, if you can have a higher state of awareness that people around you have, you will spot more opportunities and those opportunities will have value for you.

This is a quote from Tom Kelley, CEO over at IDEO - A Design and Innovation Consulting Firm. These are the guys who transformed patients' experiences in hospitals by actually lying on a gurney and realizing that staring at an artificial light-strobed ceiling is more conducive to worrying than relaxing. He gave an "entrepreneurial thought leader lecture" at Stanford, and this 4-minute video just really stood out. Love this guy, his energy, his passion, and his experience shine through.

You see, it all goes back to awareness. Observe your surroundings. Know what your perceiving function is, and then check back to the type processes linked above to learn how to practice switching them on.

Whether you're an expat, national, or international traveler - have some fun along the journey. Yes, the destination is going to rock, but the time you spend getting you there can give you great insights and valuable knowledge. After all,

You are the world's undisputed expert of your own experiences.

Use them.

Image by Patrick Ng, Flickr, Creative Commons License.



Introverted Intuiting Ni

Ni doodle You are using introverted Intuiting or Ni when you're envisioning the future. You may experience flashes of insight and just knowing what's going to happen. Those images come from inside, you may not know how you know, but you know. You have a certainty about their truth and validity. According to Jung, this is when you're tapping into the collective unconscious and make good use of universal symbols.

In a recent webinar, Linda guided us through a little meditation: close your eyes and think of a small problem you have. Not a big one, just a little thing. See it there in front of you. Now take yourself up to the 10,000 feet perspective and see the solution to your small issue appear. Maybe it'll arrive through a door, maybe you put your question in an envelope, send it away, and another envelope comes back to you with the answer in it. That's Ni. It's hard to make it happen, but when you let go of a tight control grip, disengage, it might come more easily.

INTJ INFJFor people with Ni as their dominant function, they cannot ignore these insights. They are likely to see how events will play out and then work backwards to make it happen, or take corrective measures.

Expats preparing for an assignment using Ni are likely to trust their vision of what it is going to be like abroad, anticipating potential challenges. Since an international relocation is a very uncertain process with many variables, this may lead to stress and anxiety. It is helpful here to be self-aware and recognize when an image is coming out of a place of fear or of abundance. Allow yourself some rest away from outside influences to help the flow from that inner voice.

If Ni is in different positions in your type dynamics, below is an overview pieced together with only a few items taken from Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to the Personality Type Code, by Linda V. Berens and Dario Nardi. Let me say this again to be very clear: the description of how Ni can be expressed in the different positions is not exhaustive and only meant to give you an overview. I would love to have you comment below how it shows up for you.

Introverted Intuiting Ni

If you'd like to practice your Ni skills, meditate. Or pray. Take time to be still, put some earplugs in, turn off the TV, the laptop, put the phone on mute - no vibrate. And listen. Keep track of insights you've had that worked out the way you thought they would to help train your brain trust those intuitions.



Function Attitudes 101

8 functions flower doodleJung used the term "function" to explain ways we use our brain to gather information and make decisions. Sensing and Intuiting are his "irrational", perceiving, information-gathering functions; Thinking and Feeling are his "rational", judging, decision-making functions. Jung described our direction and source of mental energy ("libido") as an Extraversion or Introversion "attitude". Since all functions can occur in both attitudes, we end up with eight function-attitudes (a term probably first coined by Henry L. Thompson).

They are:

Extraverted Sensing Se; Introverted Sensing Si; Extraverted Intuiting Ne; Introverted Intuiting Ni; Extraverted Thinking Te; Introverted Thinking Ti; Extraverted Feeling Fe; and Introverted Feeling Fi.

Over the next 8 days, we'll go into a little more detail about each of these.

You have access to and use all eight function-attitudes, but they show up differently according to where they are in the hierarchy of your personality preferences.

I got four letters on this test, but I don't remember what they are...

If you have taken the MBTI(r) or another personality type indicator, you probably received a four-letter code. Your type code is short-hand for the type dynamics and patterns that lie within. For example, someone with ESFJ preferences has Fe as their lead, dominant, first function; someone with INTP preferences has Fe as their inferior, aspirational, fourth function; someone with ENTJ preferences has Fe as their demonic, eighth function.

Type describes the patterns that those mental preferences bring to who you are and how you behave. Don't break the code into its segments (e.g. to describe someone as a "Sensor" or a "Feeler"), because it's only the context of the whole type that accurately reflects your personality and mental processes.

I can do all functions equally well

Congratulations! Sadly, you're probably kidding yourself.

The function you develop first as your dominant is usually the one you are most comfortable with and most skilled at. It is also the one that is most under your conscious control. The further we go down the list, the less ability we generally have, right down to the eighth function that we probably use with least effectiveness. Until we become aware of the processes and work at improving them, of course.

Dr. John Beebe, noted Jungian analyst, developed a model where he charted the eight function-attitudes to archetypes. Archetypes are universal images that represent the human experience. He calls the first four function-attitudes ego-syntonic, or experienced as part of the self, and the last four ego-dystonic, or experienced as foreign to the self. In other words, those are behaviors and attributes we may project onto something or someone else without recognizing that they are part of us, inside us.

My favorite Jung quote:

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.


Here's an overview of the terminology, and how the functions show up(1).

Function Attitudes Overview

Understanding what these functions mean for your particular type can have tremendous impact on your personal development, how you deal with stress, with change, your leadership and communication style, and it can certainly improve personal relationships as well. I have found them most helpful in my own analysis of how I dealt with expatriation challenges, and I've successfully used it with some clients as well.

What's the difference between conscious and unconscious functions?

You have the most conscious access to your first two functions. Your preferred functions are what comes most naturally to you. This is you in flow, at your best, on a perfect day, when things come easy. These two functions give you strengths and abilities that you probably take for granted and can't believe others don't have the same. These first two functions are the ones that you will have developed during childhood and adolescence, and - in an ideal environment that nurtured your gifts - got to practice the most.

The third function comes into play in or around mid-life, and the fourth function after that, if at all. This is why we have so many people in "mid-life crisis". It's their third and fourth function demanding attention - a completely normal and healthy process on the road to "individuation", becoming your whole self. Again - once you're aware of your type dynamics, you can start consciously working on developing all functions so you get comfortable using them eventually. With some you may never attain a level of grace, but at least you'll notice when they're working you.

functions conscious energy doodle

Because guess what: you're not in control of all the functions all the time, some take control of you. Particularly those that are more unconscious. Especially at times when you are sick, or tired, or stressed, or all of the above.

When those unconscious functions take over, and even when you try to consciously use them more effectively, it takes mental effort. When you're stressed, you may feel quite literally beside yourself. "Was that really me?" is a title of a book dealing with type and stress, that's how common that question is.

When you're unhappy with who you are and think you have to change for some reason, you will have to overcome your natural preferences and force yourself. It's not easy pretending to be someone else, and it's certainly tiresome.

Thankfully, type awareness helps. Or as Linda puts it:

"When you know who you are, you are freer to be who you're not."

(1) Understanding Yourself and Others - An Introduction to the Personality Type Code, Linda V. Berens, Dario Nardi



So you think you're creative


So you think you're creative

Photo by fmpgoh
Photo by fmpgoh

According to MBTI statistics(1), about 60 % of the US population have Sensing preferences. That means taking in information through the 5 senses, usually in concrete, detailed, present-focused ways. In type language, its opposite preference Intuiting has often been described with terms like future-focused, comfortable with ideas, themes, patterns. Creativity is often inferred from these descriptions, and here's why I think there's more to creativity than ideas. 

Creativity to me means bringing something forth that is new, an unexpected combination, something that may not be alive but that makes me feel alive, infuses my senses, makes me think, feel, be. A blog post, a poem, a picture, a sculpture that touches my soul.

Creativity is often called "right-brain", because the left hemisphere supposedly deals more in concretes. From Dario's research we've learned that neatly dividing the brain into four quadrants of Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking, and Feeling is simplistic and, I might add, disrespectful of the complexities that are human nature.

In Type language, every function comes in two ways or attitudes. Let's look at Intuiting. We all have both of these functions: Introverted Intuiting Ni and Extraverted Intuiting Ne. Different types use them in different ways, and we all have them.

What is Ni?

Think of a big library with millions of clips and notes that you've accumulated throughout your whole life. The librarian has given up on the index card system a long time ago, and yet magically, new information still gets filed where it belongs. Ni takes a lot of knowledge and stores it until you need it again. You won't know where it came from, but it's there, it feels right, and it often is right, too. You use Ni when you're foreseeing the future, when you just know, when you see how this or that is going to play out. When you grasp the meaning of something and can summarize its essence.

What is Ne?

To stay with the library image, Ne is the scribbler that takes your notes down and gets more and more excited the more he scribbles. New ideas, connections, relationships, themes, patterns keep bubbling up and it's hard to keep 'em down! They're so exciting! You use Ne when you're envisioning the future, when you're improving on an idea, and find new connections.

Knowing the significance and having thoughts and ideas about how to improve the future isn't creativity. It is probably the first part of the process, but it's not actual creation in the sense of the word. The differentiating factor is actually doing something with those ideas.

And that's where Sensing and other functions come in.

Albert Einstein (INTP):

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

In my opinion, creativity is a combination of all functions. There isn't one without the other. More on that tomorrow.

(1) MBTI(r) Type Tables International, CPP Inc 2009, Schaubhut, Nancy A. and Thompson, Richard C.

Image by glans galore, Flickr, Creative Commons License.