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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello ENFJs!
Hoping that you all could give me some insight. I had a boss who typed as an ENFJ (and maybe an ENFP at times) He had a very difficult time giving me (and others) honest, straightforward feedback. In fact, he said that he doesnt have a problem telling "white lies" to people if the truth would hurt their feelings.
Let me qualify the above and give a bit more context. Im not talking about just out of the blue personal criticisms like "I dont like your ideas, I dont think your a good person, etc" I mean being truthful in giving performance feedback like, "You do great in this area, but in this you could improve a bit..."
How do you all feel about being honest in this context? Do you feel its ok to not tell someone the whole truth even if the truth would make him/her a better employee/person/friend?
 

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How do you all feel about being honest in this context? Do you feel its ok to not tell someone the whole truth even if the truth would make him/her a better employee/person/friend?
I would say it would be related more to maturity of a person. I've noticed that at times with an undeveloped intuitive function [and no Ne whatsoever], ENFJ's have a tendency to overlook how others would view criticisms and in their desire to be liked themselves, and therefore mask truths, or even tell "white lies" based upon seeking approval.

The thing is that it takes experiences as well as re-enforcement [which has to be somehow hammered in] that not everyone takes criticism the same way --- and that at times even being a little harsh may actually benefit the entire group in the long run. An ENFJ generally can intuit that as part of the stream of potential consequences --- but if an ENFJ is too busy trying to force only a singular outcome based on a narrow view of what could happen, then you have the very situation you're describing.

A way around this imo is to assure the ENFJ that his criticism will be taken constructively - that he ought to be assertive, and being assertive may eventually work out better for the group because it could lead to growth for the group. Perhaps gently coax the ENFJ into revealing his actual opinion by re-enforcing that it's all professional and that no one's going to take it personally.

I learnt my lesson in my very first job where my first Boss called me into his office and gave me a 2 hour lecture on how to become more assertive with both my subordinates, as well as even clients at times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would say it would be related more to maturity of a person. I've noticed that at times with an undeveloped intuitive function [and no Ne whatsoever], ENFJ's have a tendency to overlook how others would view criticisms and in their desire to be liked themselves, and therefore mask truths, or even tell "white lies" based upon seeking approval.

The thing is that it takes experiences as well as re-enforcement [which has to be somehow hammered in] that not everyone takes criticism the same way --- and that at times even being a little harsh may actually benefit the entire group in the long run. An ENFJ generally can intuit that as part of the stream of potential consequences --- but if an ENFJ is too busy trying to force only a singular outcome based on a narrow view of what could happen, then you have the very situation you're describing.

A way around this imo is to assure the ENFJ that his criticism will be taken constructively - that he ought to be assertive, and being assertive may eventually work out better for the group because it could lead to growth for the group. Perhaps gently coax the ENFJ into revealing his actual opinion by re-enforcing that it's all professional and that no one's going to take it personally.

I learnt my lesson in my very first job where my first Boss called me into his office and gave me a 2 hour lecture on how to become more assertive with both my subordinates, as well as even clients at times.
ok, so its more of a self-preservation decision to not share his whole opinion? That it would reflect poorly on him instead of me? Did I catch that correctly? hmmmm. He had stated that he wasnt always forthcoming with me because he didnt want to hurt me, so I interpreted it to be a weakness in myself that he was protecting me from. So, you would interpret it to be more of a weakness in him?
 

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ok, so its more of a self-preservation decision to not share his whole opinion? That it would reflect poorly on him instead of me? Did I catch that correctly? hmmmm. He had stated that he wasnt always forthcoming with me because he didnt want to hurt me, so I interpreted it to be a weakness in myself that he was protecting me from. So, you would interpret it to be more of a weakness in him?
And that's what makes this particular decision to not hurt someone such a difficult one to understand. Think about it logically. Why do people keep from hurting others? What possible motives do they have? Is it really always genuine concern? Or could it be that if I say something to hurt the other person and I'm not fully able to justify why I made that judgement, then under the face of scrutiny of that judgement, I stand to lose both my position as a good analyst, possibly even have my position questioned as an authority.

What are the reasons for someone not hurting another person? Genuine concern? Selflessness? But in a professional setting, what is the primary reason for not passing on professional criticism - especially if that criticism may well be welcomed.

In addition to with-holding true opinion to self-preserve as you put other, I can see one of 2 other reasons is that 1) he doesn't feel that the faults are really detrimental enough to be shared --- or 2) that he fears that if he does share his "actual judgement" it would be open to challenge/debate because his judgement may not have been reached using conventional objective factors.

So now you have 3 possible reasons, or a possible combination of all 3 factors.

Gotta keep in mind that an intuitive mind [especially one inclined to reaching feeling judgements] isn't always able to explain those judgements.

Using your reasoning based on his interactions with you in the past, which of these do you think could be the most likely reason?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And that's what makes this particular decision to not hurt someone such a difficult one to understand. Think about it logically. Why do people keep from hurting others? What possible motives do they have? Is it really always genuine concern? Or could it be that if I say something to hurt the other person and I'm not fully able to justify why I made that judgement, then under the face of scrutiny of that judgement, I stand to lose both my position as a good analyst, possibly even have my position questioned as an authority.

What are the reasons for someone not hurting another person? Genuine concern? Selflessness? But in a professional setting, what is the primary reason for not passing on professional criticism - especially if that criticism may well be welcomed.

In addition to with-holding true opinion to self-preserve as you put other, I can see one of 2 other reasons is that 1) he doesn't feel that the faults are really detrimental enough to be shared --- or 2) that he fears that if he does share his "actual judgement" it would be open to challenge/debate because his judgement may not have been reached using conventional objective factors.

So now you have 3 possible reasons, or a possible combination of all 3 factors.

Gotta keep in mind that an intuitive mind [especially one inclined to reaching feeling judgements] isn't always able to explain those judgements.

Using your reasoning based on his interactions with you in the past, which of these do you think could be the most likely reason?
Wow! Now that was an enlightening explanation, one that I had never heard expressed so well before. You have given me a lot to think about, enough that I am not sure what his reason would be in a professional setting not to share his opinion...I do believe it is all 3 reasons. He also said that he cannot separate his personal life/relationships/thoughts/etc from the professional ones, that they are all "one continuous flow" of life. This life perspective was very hard for me to work within because I am able to separate personal feelings from business decisions (particularly the unpopular ones) and firmly believe that better decisions are made when you do separate them. There's a difference in the making of the decisions and the delivery of them - I think giving someone direction you need to be aware of their feelings etc. I really think that he and I are from different planets and speak a different language.
 

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ENFJs definitely have a problem giving constructive feedback. The want/need to avoid conflict can make it particularly hard to criticize, even if it's in the other person's best interest.

I've found myself in that situation with others, and short of taking a deep breath and sucking it up and just doing it there's no great solution. You just have to accept your own personal discomfort in knowing that what you're about to say may not be received well. Such is life.

If you have someone in that position and they're obviously holding back feedback for you out of fear of hurting your feelings, really dig. Be persistent, and insist you won't take it personally (and try not to, really). Because ENFJs love to please, you need to frame it to them as "please me by being honest with me, not by trying to coddle my feelings" because that's our first instinct.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks jungify! Your response certainly solidifies my experience with this ENFJ. The funny thing is, when I did all I could to honestly convey my openness to his honest performance feedback, he still didnt deliver. As you said, he could have not trusted my potential hurt/negative response to it. Now that I am looking back on this dynamic, I am really trying to understand it so that when I face it again, I know how to handle it better. Although, ENFJs & Ps seem to be the opposite of ISTPs in the "how to build a trusting relationship" mode. Speaking for myself, I trust someone who can be open and honest with me. If after I voice this truth, and the other party doesnt deliver after many many opportunities, I start to become hurt and withdraw because I interpret the lack of honesty as their lack of trust and care for me. Oh well. Maybe in the future I will learn not to expect that from them and learn to take them as they are.
 

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@fratz

ENFJs & Ps seem to be the opposite of ISTPs in the "how to build a trusting relationship" mode. Speaking for myself, I trust someone who can be open and honest with me. If after I voice this truth, and the other party doesnt deliver after many many opportunities, I start to become hurt and withdraw because I interpret the lack of honesty as their lack of trust and care for me.
I find this very interesting. I've noticed that younger ENFJ's have trouble with taking and expressing absolute honesty - but as they develop and mature, this sort of ISTP-ish tendency starts developing. We share the same cognitive functions afterall - and therefore at times we can grate on each other's nerves like nails on a chalk-board, or come together in a surprising similarity of thinking. But - that's why it's really important for ENFJ's to develop their ability to analyse rationally without being influenced by feelings, and for ISTP's to develop their feeling side so as to not steamroll another person's feelings completely.

It's best to meet in the middle somewhere :)
 
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