In this article, we are going to answer the question “Are ENFPs Manipulative?” ENFP stands for Extraverted INtuitive Feeling Perceiving, and is one of the 16 personality profiles resulting from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) personality test, based on Carl Jung’s (1875-1916) theory of personality.
Are ENFPs Manipulative?
Yes, ENFPs are manipulative because ENFPs are adept at reading and understanding other people’s emotions and behaviour. They are also very likeable in charming in nature due to their enthusiastic and extroverted personalities, and this makes it easy for them to convince people and persuade them.
ENFPs are good at manipulating others, but often do this unconsciously or without bad intentions. However there are always ENFPs who are aware of their ability to sway people, like in all personality types, who may use this for their own selfish motives or in a way that is toxic for others.
Understanding personality types can help you understand yourself and others better- this is useful in everyday situations as well as important aspects of your life, such as relationships and career choices. Before we try to answer whether the ENFP type is manipulative, it might be helpful to understand what the ENFP type is like.
What is the ENFP type?
ENFP stands for Extraverted INtuitive Feeling Perceiving. ENFPs are often called motivators, inspirers and enthusiasts.
Extraverted (vs introverted)- This means that you get your energy from the outside world, rather than your internal world.
Intuitive (vs sensing)- This means that when you take in information, you are guided by your patterns and possibilities you see in the information rather than the sensations themselves.
Feeling (vs thinking)- This means that you take decisions first considering your feelings or feelings of others and how your decisions may affect them. This does not mean your decisions are irrational, but you prefer to be guided by feeling.
Perceiving (vs judging)- This means you prefer flexibility in organizing your time and making your decisions, rather than fitting into a defined structure or sticking to a strict schedule.
ENFPs have a dominant preference for the external, and derive their energy from their external environment rather than internal selves. They take in their external world in an intuitive manner, and then deal with it according to how they feel about it or how it fits in with their values.
ENFPs tend to be enthusiastic and zealous, and excited about potentials and possibilities. They can become very passionate about many things. This enthusiasm and curiosity for things leads them to seek out different people, places, cultures and experiences.
They are good at conversing with others, as they like to find out more about how the world of others is different from their own perspectives. This is because they believe that there is no one true way, or no one way of doing things.
ENFPs are also very creative, and because they believe in multiplicity- they are able to come up with multiple ways of thinking about a problem or situation. They are also adept at understanding connections and patterns in things, because of their intuitive way of approaching the world. ENFPs pay a lot of attention to detail.
ENFPs have many skills, of which conversation and social skills stand out.They adapt easily so that they can maximize their learning in a situation. They are very social and have great interpersonal skills, often liked by most.
They are often described as “charming” and “likeable”. This is because they are very intuitive, and they use this intuition to understand people and situations quickly, and adapt and relate to the people they are with. This also makes them very adept at motivating and convincing people towards a cause.
Because ENFPs have a need for a deep sense of meaning in life, they often explore different perspectives and experiences to learn more about themselves. They have a relatively consistent value system, because they believe in always living authentically and true to their selves. They dislike inauthenticity and use their values as a guide throughout their lives.
There is a constant need to see meaning in everything they do, and so they are always aware of and in touch with themselves, constantly evaluating whether the situation they are in is in conflict with their values. ENFPs often go from one experience to another, in search of something exciting or with more meaning and purpose. This sometimes leads to them moving on from careers or relationships.
ENFPs and interpersonal skills
ENFPs are extraverted and like to have other people in their lives, and are often occupied with thoughts of the people in their lives. They need to be in contact with other people, and being alone can have a negative impact on them.
Good relationships are important to them and being liked by others matters to them. They dislike and try to avoid conflict. However, they will not pursue this at the cost of their beliefs and values. They respect their own freedom and that of others.
ENFPs are very outgoing and approachable, and are able to make acquaintances very easily. People often feel good in their company, like they have known them for a long time even when they have just met.
In relationships, ENFPs are characterized by their empathy. They are able to read people’s feelings and motives well and are often able to describe other people’s situations better than the person can themselves. With their intuition dominating their way of thinking and seeing things, they have developed a mastery over paying attention to details and reading in between the lines.
ENFPs do not find it difficult to start or join a conversation. With a keen eye for detail, they are able to tell great and vivid stories and hold everyone’s attention. They understand what their audience expects, and are thus able to deliver.
With great conversational skills, ENFPs have the ability to influence others. This is why they are called inspirers and motivators, because they are able to convince others.
They have great faith in other people, and often use their ability to encourage others to discover their potential, or contribute in their own ways to a cause that is dear to them. This brings joy to ENFPs, because helping others genuinely delights them. They may even put other people’s needs before their own.
Now, let’s get to our main question- Are ENFPs manipulative? The very ability of the ENFP to motivate and inspire others may sometimes take a negative turn, and be used to manipulate others, or be seen by others as manipulative behaviour.
Are ENFPs Manipulative?
According to dictionary.com, manipulative behaviour is defined as “influencing or attempting to influence the behaviour or emotions of others for one’s own purposes.”
Are ENFPs manipulative? The short answer- sometimes. Most ENFPs have a high moral compass, and will not engage in manipulative behaviour with a malicious intent, because they are always mindful of how the other person will feel.
ENFPs who have not yet developed and matured fully may use their abilities to get what they want. Healthy and mature individuals may also do this, in situations where they believe they are right, and out of frustration.
ENFPs can tend to be seen by others as manipulative because they are charming, empathetic and likeable, and because of their ability to easily motivate people.
Communication is also not a challenge for ENFPs, who possess a gift of persuasion- they are almost always able to convince others that they are right. Because ENFPs approach situations intuitively and with empathy, it is very easy and natural for them to know how to behave in a situation, adapting quickly to the emotional state of those in their company.
They have the intuitive ability to judge others by reading their thoughts and feelings and relate to others very easily. They then bring themselves to the level of the people they are with, and use this to adapt to the situation so that they can get the best out of it. By nature, they do this so that they can learn and explore as much as possible.
5 Situations Where ENFPs May Be Manipulative
Manipulative for a cause
Because ENFPs are so guided by their own value and belief systems, they are often invested in causes that they think are important. Therefore it is possible that some ENFPs go out of their way to convince people that they are right, to bring them on board and contribute to the cause that they are championing. This is indeed manipulative, regardless of whether the cause they are leading is “good” or “bad”.
The manipulative chameleon
Another reason why ENFPs can be viewed as manipulative, is because of their constant jumping from one thing to another. ENFPs seek out novelty not only because it excites them, but also because every new experience teaches them more about themselves.
This is important to them, because they are also always in search of meaning and want to be as close to their authentic selves as they can.
ENFPs, dislike inauthenticity and pretense. It may seem contrary because while ENFPs are always trying to live their lives as their truest selves, they also adapt to situations according to the people they are with.
However, most ENFPs do not do this with an intention to harm others. They are only trying to figure out themselves, and they can only do this by learning more about themselves in situations– and they maximize their learning by adapting.
This adaptive behaviour can thus be seen as manipulative, because ENFPs can shift to being a different person in a different situation.
Using people and situations
ENFPs may also be viewed as manipulative because their nature may drive them to behave in a way that is flaky. ENFPs do not make promises with the intention of breaking them, because their decisions are always made by taking into consideration how others feel, and how their decision may affect others.
However, because of their constant excitement for new things and fresh challenges, they may end up moving on quickly to those and giving up on old commitments. This may seem like the individual only uses situations and people for their own benefit.
There are many instances where ENFPs and their behavior can be misconstrued as manipulative or even be classified as manipulative but without bad intentions. That being said, manipulative and ill-intentioned behaviour are not restricted to one particular personality type.
The selfish manipulators
People can often be selfish, and it can also be the case that ENFPs who are aware of their abilities to sway and charm people use this to achieve their own selfish motives.
Take for example, when an ENFP is accused of something they may defend themselves with convincing arguments filled with details and multiple possibilities- such arguments are not easy to contest.
Eventually, the other person is either defeated or convinced. The charm and easy trustworthiness that comes for an ENFP makes it easy for them to gain control over others. This can be dangerous when people are in positions of power.
ENFPs may also use such tactics to avoid conflict. ENFPs like to be in the good books of people, and may use manipulative arguments to resolve a conflict situation and make it smooth sailing.
How To Avoid Manipulation
It may be difficult, but practise being aware of what and whom you are agreeing to. Remember that in most situations, you can simply say “NO” if you don’t feel like doing something.
If you feel like someone is being overbearing and forcing you towards something, you can gently remind them by saying something like, “I know you only mean good, but I feel like you are being a little controlling or bossy right now.” An ENFP respects the rights and freedom of others, and will usually respond well to this.
If you are an ENFP and you feel like you have been manipulative, don’t be too harsh on yourself. It is a part of your personality to be persuasive and motivate others.
However, try to be aware of yourself in situations, and ask yourself if you are being fair to others. Respect when others refuse your requests, and try not to be too overbearing.
Communication is key, and this is something you are good at. Listen carefully to what others are saying, verbally and non-verbally, and understand when someone is uncomfortable.
If you are still in doubt, you can always ask the people close to you for their opinion and try to work on aspects that you think may be unintentionally harming others.
Yes, ENFPs have the ability to charm, motivate and convince people easily and hence- they are manipulative in some sense. However, one must keep in mind the reasons why ENFPs manipulate, and the intention and level of consciousness with which they use manipulation.
One must also remember that some people are more easily swayed than others. ENFPs can also be viewed as more or less manipulative depending on the type of people they are with.
It is important to understand that the ENFP type is not necessarily better or worse than other types because they are manipulative. Each personality is different with their own set of strengths and weaknesses.
One may or may not relate to every aspect of a personality type, and belonging to the personality type does not mean that it is an ultimate and decisive aspect of yourself or someone else.
Are you an ENFP, or know anyone who is one? Have you ever felt manipulated by an ENFP, or that you have been manipulative?
In this article, we answered the question “Are ENFPs Manipulative? “.
You can comment below to share your experiences with us or ask us any questions.
FAQs: Are ENFPs Manipulative?
Which are the other personality types?
Other personality types resulting from the MBTI® personality test are ENFJ, ENTJ, ENTP, ESFJ, ESFP, ESTJ, ESTP, INFJ, INFP, INTJ, INTP, ISFJ, ISFP, ISTJ, ISTP.
Which personality type is manipulative?
Although we have discussed ENFP, there are other types that may be viewed as manipulative. For example, some believe the ENTJ type has been seen as most manipulative, because of their charismatic persona, their understanding of other people (intuitive), their use of logical reasoning and their desire to succeed, control their life, and their paranoid and self-efficient nature.
Why are ENFP dangerous?
ENFP can be dangerous because they can manipulate others for their own motives, and are adept at using their charm and charisma. It can be easy for someone to gain control over others, and this may be misused.
Who gets along with ENFPs?
Although most mature individuals from any personality type can get along well, ENFPs naturally enjoy the company of INTJ or the INFJ. This is because ENFPs dominant function of Extraverted Intuition complements partner who has a dominant Introverted Intuition function.
Are ENFPs controlling?
ENFPs value their own freedom and that of others, and have a live and let live philosophy. Most ENFPs will respond to being told that they are being controlling even though it is with good intentions.
Why are ENFPs so attractive?
ENFPs are more spontaneous and ready to take risks. They are also very outgoing and charming, and are very good at reading others. This makes them very likeable to most people.
Are ENFPs smart?
ENFPs are very curious and love to explore new possibilities and ideas. They are also very creative and are always seeking out opportunities to learn more about different world views. They are good at remembering details that others are likely to forget.
Jankowski, J. (2016). The Enthusiast: Your Guide to the ENFP Personality Type. LOGOS MEDIA.
“Portrait Of An ENFP” https://dhrm.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/ENFP.pdf. Accessed 14 October 2020