Each personality type has four Cognitive Functions. Functions put language to the way they process information and make decisions, and their order is based on personal preferences. Thinking and Feeling are used to make decisions, while iNtuition and Sensing are used to process information. Each type is referred to by their top two functions. Internal functions are the ones you use in your head, and external functions are the ones you use to interact with the world around you.
The FeNi’s functions are:
1. Fe - extroverted Feeling
Fe is the FeNi’s primary function and is what they use to communicate with the world. It is also how the world communicates back to them. Fe is not about emotions, but the gut instincts they might have about a person or situation. This function is focused outwardly and is primarily motivated and energized by the presence of other awesome people. Because Fe is first, all the other functions “serve” it.
2. Ni - introverted iNtuition
While Fe gathers information about people, Ni is running internally in the background, taking information and forming it into constellations of data that merge to become an idea or thought. Ni makes the internal world very abstract for the FeNi.
3. Se - extroverted Sensing
Se supports Fe as it helps fuel the FeNi’s impressions of the world around them. It appreciates the world as a concrete thing. Se makes them enjoy using their senses to understand and interact with the world around them.
4. Ti - introverted Thinking
Ti is the FeNi’s last function, which means it can be their Achilles heel before it’s well developed. Their Ti helps them examine and analyze information that Fe collects. Ti, along with their Ni instinct, helps them determine if their ideas and opinions stand up to scrutiny. However, because Ti is their weakest link, they might have trouble when asked to analyze complex theoretical problems in their head—i.e. intricate math equations.
Dominant Function and Core of the External World:
Extroverted Feeling is best described as a verb. It is not one process or method that can be summed up neatly and efficiently, because it is many processes and methods constantly in motion. An FeNi uses Fe to read the vibes of everyone in the room and is constantly aware of what everyone seems to be thinking and feeling. At the same time, the FeNi uses their own mannerisms, expressions, emotions, and capabilities to influence and help others around them. When the FeNi gets good vibes, feelings, or a sense of something that sparks the FeNi's interest from another person or group of people, the FeNi builds on that expression via their Fe and mirrors it back to them.
The FeNi is an expert relationship builder. Through Fe they can sense and assess where someone else is at in life or a certain situation. This may allow them to share in part of a friend’s feelings as their friend describes a situation they feel particularly strongly about. The FeNi will feel true indignation, joy, anger, etc. on behalf of others, making them master empathizers. Those around the FeNi will typically describe them as warm, caring people, and great friends.
Fe could be described as the ultimate “mothering” function. High Fe users are driven to care for those around them. They have a strong instinct to take care of other’s needs, even above their own needs. For example, even at a friend’s house, when offered a beverage, the FeNi will feel a little guilty letting another person take care of their needs and might be the one to say, “No, no, I’ll get it! You stay there. Also, would you like anything while I’m up?” FeNi’s enjoy taking care of other and may feel most themselves when they are taking care of others and not expecting anything in return.
Fe differs from Fi, in that Fi is focused internally and is constantly asking, “How do I feel about this?”, while Fe is focused externally and is constantly asking, “How does the group feel about this?” The main difference between Fe and Fi is that the Fi user can naturally qualify and quantify their own picture of themselves as if they are looking directly into a mirror. For a dominant Fe user, their metaphorical mirror is pointed outward. This means they may know how they feel inside, but they can’t get a clear sense of what that actually means or looks like until they get feedback from others.
To outsiders who don’t understand an FeNi’s top function, this may look like insecurity. However, the healthy FeNi’s have a strong a sense of themselves. Fe is a data-gathering function, but it cannot objectively gather data about itself, like Fi can. Fe relies on outside sources to gather data it deems accurate. Essentially, Fe is stuck relying on information others give it to create an accurate depiction of something.
Since Fe is an extraverted (or externally used) function, high Fe users are greatly affected by their physical surroundings. The way in which they are affected varies depending on the rest of their functions and where Fe lies in the function stack, but because their surroundings have such an impact on them, they tend to like having a fairly high degree of control of their surroundings. For example, they might have strong opinions on how to decorate or clean their house. Fe values harmony in their external world above almost anything else, so if they perceive anything to be out of balance (i.e. ‘my house is messy’), it can be very distracting to their mental landscape.
Fe acts a bit like a vacuum without a filter when it comes to the information in the world around the FeNi. If the FeNi perceives their environment to be off balance, their mind won’t be at peace until balance has been restored because the external clutter creates a sort of mental clutter. Once they are able to restore balance (however they define it) to their surroundings, they are able to focus better on tasks that require the use of their internal functions.
This value for harmony can make for a very artistic FeNi. Because they are very in touch with the external world, and they have a good instinct for how they want something to feel, Fe-doms might be good at channeling this instinct into brilliant artistic expression. Their “gut instinct” approach to the world allows them to express themselves without over-analyzing how each brush stroke is laid, or which note should come next in their song.
Fe-dom individuals may also use Fe to persuade people to do something they might not normally do. When a healthy FeNi uses Fe to persuade people, the other person probably won’t know they are being persuaded unless they know the FeNi very well—because the healthy FeNi is aware of and attuned to other people’s feelings. While the less mature FeNi might be more driven to change the other person or make them do things rather than just making a suggestion, the healthy FeNi is not confident using this ability unless they are fairly certain that their knowledge of the person and situation is accurate, and they can predict the outcome of their persuasion. Because they have such a strong sense of that others feel, they are extremely wary about coming across as manipulative.
Second Function and the Core of the Internal World:
Ni is the internal starting point for the FeNi. They might picture their internal world like a wall of post-its with all sorts of data written on them that they can step back from and get a sense of all at once. At the same time, their minds are actively (though subconsciously) highlighting and connecting various points of data posted up on the “wall” to form thoughts and impressions about things. Their inner world is very abstract and involves a lot of jumping around on intuitive leaps.
Fe users with high Ni have great instincts when it comes to people and the world around them. They take in information about the world and process it in a somewhat mysterious way, often jumping to a rather accurate conclusion about a person or situation without fully understanding why. They are able to come to these conclusions by using Ni to jump over many steps in their thought process. Where others might have to start at A, then move to B, then C, then D to reach a conclusion about E, FeNi’s are easily able to jump from A to E. This may give them the sense of feeling somewhat ‘psychic’ when it comes to people or situations. High Ni users are typically pretty comfortable doing things in a new way or exploring uncharted territory, because their high Ni allows them to fairly accurately predict the outcome of something they’ve never tried before.
Ni is the secondary function of the FeNi. Ni takes all of the information gathered by Fe and makes connections with other information previously gleaned to help determine the meaning of the new information. Because Ni is serving the dominant function (Fe), this type of person might be able to pick up and draw in feelings of other people around them—they might even feel everything they pick up all at once. Because their thought process jumps around so much, they might not associate certain feelings with the people they originated from in the moment, but rather pick up an emotion from someone without noticing and wonder why they are feeling so differently all of a sudden. Compare this to Fe with Si, which can look at people’s faces and linearly determine exactly where each feeling is coming from. High-Fe types in general might describe “picking up”, “sensing”, or “feeling” the moods or emotions of other people. Fi users might relate to this too, but they tend to put their focus on one person at a time.
FeNi’s should be aware of this tendency in themselves and know that if their mood changes suddenly, it’s likely due to picking up feelings from someone around them. With thoughtful reflection, the FeNi can typically untangle feelings that belong to someone else, as they retrace the steps of their Ni process using Ti (more on Ti below). When the FeNi gets stuck experiencing other people’s emotions as though they are their own, they might not immediately recognize that they are actually dealing with a sort of involuntary empathy. This can be distressing to the FeNi as they might begin searching internally for the “source” of the emotion and place pressure on themselves to internally explain or rationalize an emotion isn’t really theirs in the first place. As they become more and more aware of this tendency, they can develop their Ti to recognize this process closer and closer to the time it starts happening, and eventually they can learn to differentiate their feelings from the feelings of others.
Another facet of Ni as the first internally used function is that it makes FeNi’s very fluid-feeling inside—they have a sense that there might be “right” and “wrong” internally, but they are also able to easily look at opposing perspectives to understand how someone very different could think their own beliefs are right or wrong. They might get the sense that there are two simultaneous truths in this case—because something is true to them, while the opposite might be equally true to the other person.
As Ni takes in and processes information, it also associates everything else that could possibly be related to that information. This process happens so quickly that the FeNi might not be aware of it. This lends to the feeling that everything is connected and everything is fluid, and while certain things they view as truths may be correct in their mind, they are also simultaneously highly aware of the other person’s perspective. Although they might have strongly held beliefs or opinions about certain things, they might have the sense that the majority of their truth may not be universally true. They can clearly understand how someone reached a conclusion opposite from their own and have the sense that both conclusions are true somehow.
FeNi’s use their Ni to intuitively know what needs to be done before it may even become a real issue. They tend to exhibit a natural foresight, anticipating needs 10 steps before others do. come from a perspective of looking 10 steps ahead of others, and can see the need before others do. They might even feel that people don’t appreciate what they do because they do something before the need is actually there. They might also refrain from taking an action they know someone needs because they don’t want to seem presumptuous. Because FeNi’s enjoy helping people and get energy from meeting people’s needs, FeNi individuals should be careful to surround themselves with good-willed, honest people so as to not “give” themselves to death.
The FeNi spends a good deal of their internal thought life thinking about relational issues—how their actions affect others and how they feel about what others said to them. They often realize after the fact that something they said could have been taken in a way they did not intend, which can cause them to worry that they might have unintentionally hurt or offended someone. They spend a lot of time thinking about future possibilities like their goals and aspirations. They might not think about these things in a step-by step way (“In order to record an album, I must do x, y, and then z to accomplish this goal”). Rather, they want to explore different possibilities of where their goals and interests might lead them (“I want to record an album, and then I will play concerts in Shanghai!”). They have a sense of what needs to be done in a situation to accomplish their goals, but they need to have it physically in front of them in order to get things done. Making physical to-do lists can be very helpful to prevent things from getting lost and forgotten in the chaos of the FeNi’s mind.
FeNi’s who have developed their Ni more might spend a considerable amount of time considering theories and ideas driven by their Ni connections. Because their Ni is serving their Fe, these theories and ideas are likely to be relationally driven. When discussing their opinions with someone with strong opposing beliefs, the FeNi might appear more passionate than they actually feel inside, especially if they are also picking up and feeling passion from the other person. They may also feel conflicted, because although their Fe values harmony, but their Ni also wants to make the other person consider all the possibilities that they haven’t been exposed to yet. They might shut down in the face of debate—sometimes FeNi’s who are overly wary of the idea of debates turning sour can get into the habit of avoiding controversial subjects entirely. They don’t see the need to turn everything into a debate, and they don’t enjoy pitting one person against the other.
The FeNi is most likely to express their unpopular opinions only with someone they trust who won’t see disagreement as an attack, and who will allow the discussion to remain fairly neutral.
They might be able to have a thoughtful discussion about differing opinions with someone who is open-minded, as long as things don’t get heated. Otherwise, the FeNi may find that they get stuck in a pattern of only discussing superficial topics or only discussing the other person’s life and not sharing any of their own thoughts on meaningful subjects. Alternatively, they may find themselves going the opposite way: only discussing their own views and opinions and not allowing other people the opportunity to voice their beliefs or offer a differing perspective. While this may serve Fe’s desire to live in peace and harmony in the short term, the long term result of this is usually detrimental to the FeNi’s ability to experience balance and intimacy in their relationships.
Third Function and Supporting Role in the External World:
The FeNi’s third function might be less developed in FeNi children or adolescents. Some FeNi’s might not develop this function until much later in life. When it is developed, however, Se helps the FeNi become a much more well-rounded individual overall, as it is what helps them see the world as an objective place, which gives their subjective Ni mind a place to express their Ni ideas. Se is the drive of the FeNi that makes them want to explore the world around them. Se can manifest in a variety of ways. It can look like participation in creative endeavors like art or music, or it can come out in athletics or traveling. It can be somewhat indulgent, like savoring a delicious meal, snuggling with a beloved pet, or reveling in a movie with great special effects, or it might be more practical like cooking, cleaning, or organizing. Se seeks new experiences and adventure—essentially Se likes doing things. For an FeNi, doing Se things can help keep the FeNi organized.
For example, FeNi’s especially might need to work on balance in their life when it comes to what they give the most attention or effort to—they might have the tendency to give all their energy and focus to themselves or others, or their job, or their hobbies and passions. They can get overwhelmed by this all or nothing attitude and start to shut down rather than do anything that isn’t giving 120%. For an FeNi to work through the process of figuring out what they should focus on and how much energy they should put into something, it can be helpful to use Se to create a “vision board” and/or write out their goals, commitments, and dreams. Writing out and making up a game plan for their life (both immediate must-do commitments such as work, as well as steps needed to attain lofty goals) will help organize their Ni thoughts, while posting it up in their house somewhere can help serve as a constant physical Se reminder of their priorities.
Another facet of Se may come out when the FeNi is doing something, since they might prefer a more hands-on approach to practical problem solving. For example, when an FeNi sees that their friend has a physical need or problem that they themselves don’t have the money or skills to solve, the FeNi might be the person who says, “Let’s learn how to fix the washer ourselves!” The FeNi might not want to learn everything about fixing a washing machine just for fun, but when it comes to helping a friend out, they are more willing to use a hands-on approach.
Se helps FeNi’s look at the world and their experiences in the world from a big picture, bird’s eye view. When planning a trip to a place they’ve never visited, they are going to be most concerned with big questions like, “Who will be with me?” or “Where will I stay?”. They might view these big questions as obstacles they need to overcome in order to have the new and exciting Se experience that they really want. Contrast this with a high Si user, who might get bogged down by details like “What type of weather will I have to pack for?” or “How long with the flight be?”, which might compound with so many other small details that the high Si user may be discouraged from going on the trip at all. The FeNi using tertiary Se is more likely to consider small details like this as they come up in the process naturally, rather than planning them months in advance. The FeNi isn’t bothered much by small details when it comes to having a great Se experience.
Last Function and the Supporting Role of the Internal World:
Ti is the FeNi’s last function. Each FeNi will develop this function at a different pace, but usually it can be observed more and more into adulthood. Ti is the weakest function the FeNi uses, so they may have trouble thinking about complex, theoretical ideas, unless they are presented with a practical application for these types of concepts.
Logic is not FeNi’s strongest suit. They might be very detail-oriented people when it comes to doing things they care about or for people they care about, but they might not care about small details such misspeaking a word or two in a conversation. They might have the sense that, as long as their meaning has been conveyed, the over-analyzing of small details is just nitpicky.
When it comes to making decisions, FeNi’s thought process might look very emotional or illogical to other types. Although they are led by their gut feelings, their process is still logical—however, other types around the FeNi may mistake an emotional response to a problem or conclusion with an illogical conclusion or illogical thought process. Another factor of the FeNi’s logic is that they are often taking into account lots of data points that might be disregarded by other types—such as the well being of those around them, the well being of humanity, peace of mind, the social consequences of their actions, etc. In these cases, the FeNi’s logic can be easily misunderstood by those who are not considering these data points.
Of course, healthy FeNi’s can still come to similar conclusions as a healthy Ti-dom with regards to logic, but they will approach it from a different point of view. The main difference here is that FeNi’s Ti is running quietly in the background, so they are not as readily able in the moment to trace the path of their logic. Using Ti, they are usually able to understand their own logic after their Ni has run it’s course. FeNi’s do best when they are comfortable in this process, and those around them are able to trust that they have their own way of coming to good, reasonable conclusions.
They may find that calculating the tip on a bill, scheduling a busy day of errands and appointments, or balancing their weekly budget is best done outside of their head with an Se aid like a calculator, a day planner, or a budget spreadsheet. This allows them to retrace their steps and double check their logic to make sure that they didn’t miss something or skip a step.
It can be hard for an Fe-dom to get really theoretical in their own head unless they’ve got well-developed Ti, because they primarily live in the external world. Fe-doms are better able to talk to people about complex, theoretical ideas because in that context they can ask questions, use analogies, and build on what the other person says. With inferior Ti though, it is difficult to use Ti to drive their own thought processes without external input. This can be limiting for their Ni as well, because Ni can't think about all the possibilities of something it has a hard time understanding.
It's the FeNi’s Ti that says, "This is what this means". Because Ti is lower, it can't “drive the car” of their thought process, so to speak. It's more like the annoying backseat driver who thinks it knows where to go, but is really only making small suggestions in a whisper. When that Ti is given a map (Fe conversation) however, it is able to make much better suggestions. Dominant Ti types are able to ask lots of big, complex questions, and analyze concepts within an inch of their life, while types with Ti last are better at taking in complex theoretical questions via Fe and saying, "Hmmm... Yes, that sounds right." Or "Hmmmm... No, that is wrong".
FeNi’s might find themselves bombarded with a string of analytical thoughts during times of heightened stress or when tired. This can be simply annoying, or it may even be connected to anxiety. One way to combat this type of stressful over-analyzation when trying to fall asleep is for the FeNi to pick one positive or neutral train of thought to focus on (i.e. don’t pick a problem!), ‘daydream’ about, or otherwise run with mentally. Or, if this stressful over-analyzation mode comes on during the day, it can be helpful to focus their attention in an Se way and do something that requires their physical attention. Once the stress of the moment passes and an FeNi has had a good night’s sleep, they can often go back to a problem and solve it with a clearer mind.
Ti is what decides which conclusion is right based on the information from the other functions. Because FeNi’s lead with Fe, they vacuum up data from the world around them rather than creating the data from scratch with Ti. This is why it can be hard for them to figure out what they believe about big complex things without getting input from other people. They need to vacuum up Fe data so they can use their Ti to do simple analyzations on it. Because Fe-doms can’t lead with their Ti, they can appear to follow the crowd in some circumstances. Fe doms tend to do best with a mixture of research and talking to smart, good-willed people about their on big decisions and beliefs.