Megan Leigh McDonald
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'Don't make me think.' Steve Krug

Megan Leigh McDonald

Confessions of an ENFJ

“Dear Diary…Today I made introverts the world over nervous when I stopped by their desk to chat, irritated some fact-driven people by saying ‘I just know it’, smothered my little sister and made someone cry by being honest; but then I apologized and almost cried myself because I hate the idea of hurting anyones’ feelings.”

This is the life of an ENFJ, which is what I am, according to Myers-Brigg. I am big-eyed, full of wonder and find inspiration in idealistic people, things and events. The good thing about being an ENFJ is that I’m also the one who introduces people at parties and work functions. I’m confident and comforting and often correct in my intuitive assessment of people and situations. My feelings show in my face and flood over a crowd of people, often influencing them in a subtle way, making parties more fun and bad times better. I grease the wheels and give people a necessary piece of humanity that often isn’t part of our everyday experience. And I use my judgment, a double-edged sword to distinguish between right and wrong, healthy and unhealthy, good and bad and all the grey in between.

Yes my enthusiasm sometimes is unwanted. Yes my confidence appears arrogant at times. Yes I could stand to think more and collect facts. Yes I could stand to consider someone’s feelings before I joke about something personal. And you bet I should probably tone down my emotions or ‘passion’.

A really smart and very skeptical person I know half-jokingly compares Myers-Brigg to an astrology sign. What do you expect an INTF to say…? (Only teasing.) Score or not, though, I value people who are stronger thinkers than me. And I need to be reminded of the value of thinking in my life, so I’m glad that I have people around, who give me reason to pause. Too often, I get a ‘bright idea’ and I’m off and running without thinking it through or collecting enough facts.

So the question that my friend’s comment begs, though, is do these labels stick? I validated my score twice and it remains the same. One thing I do know is that it’s consistent. And it did aptly describe my life experiences. Even if that’s just looking at the past through a reparative lens, it gives me a starting place to make sense of where I fit into the whole scheme of things and people in this world. The point of going through an exercise like taking the Myers-Brigg test is to recognize that each of us are similar but vary in some significant ways.

No matter who we are, it can be difficult at times to accept that others don’t always see the world or a joke or a business requirement the same way. It is challenging and I know I’m not alone in struggling to tell my story in a way that the listener will ‘get it’. I make mistakes, sometimes everyday. But it is the reality and it is the only way to access other people, their support or opinions.

What it takes is being able to recognize the way another person sees or hears a conversation, and momentarily step outside the self to explain one’s story or reasoning in a way that is accessible to the other person. Just telling is not enough. Showing is often not enough. But involving one’s self with an other is very powerful.

So whether this score cements my life experience or not, I find it useful and validating in many ways and I continue to mull it over as I struggle with my inner self and how it fits into my outer world choices.

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