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Understanding Type Dynamics: Auxiliary Functions

Understanding Type Dynamics: Auxiliary Functions

By Donna Dunning


This post is a continuation of a previous post titled Understanding Type Dynamics: Dominant Functions. If you are not familiar with type dynamics you may want to read about your dominant function first.

Functions work together

Your dominant function does not work by itself. It requires assistance or backup. The preference you use for backup is called your auxiliary function.

Once you identify your dominant function, it is easy to figure out your auxiliary. It is the other middle letter of your four-letter code.

In the dominant function blog I described how we assign a small letter, e or i, to a function to show if you generally use the function in your inner or outer world.

If you have an E as the first letter of your type code, your auxiliary function will be used privately to reflect on matters.

If you have an I as the first letter of your type code, your auxiliary function will be used outwardly to deal with the world. This is an interesting part of type dynamics that deserves its own post.

Why does this matter?

Type dynamics helps you understand that everyone introverts and extraverts some of their personality type preferences. We only see a part of a person’s processing. The other part is done internally and not obvious to others.

When preferences are used in different ways, either in the inner or outer world or either as a dominant or auxiliary, the personality type pattern looks different.

You can’t really understand a person’s personality type preferences until you think about what they don’t show the world. For example, people who prefer ENFP, ESFP, ISFP, INFP, all usually appear to be very flexible and accommodating of others. Yet people with these preferences all tend to use an internal compass, you don’t usually see, to guide their actions and help them evaluate situations. If you are not aware of this, you may unintentionally do or say something to offend them.

Although these four types all use their Feeling function (Fi) as an internal guide, there are three different dominant functions within the four types. For ISFPs and INFPs, the Introverted Feeling (Fi) is their dominant function. ESFPs have Extraverted Sensing (Se) as a dominant function and ENFPs have Extraverted iNtution (Ne) as a dominant function. These differences reinforce the importance of understanding type dynamics, or how the preferences work together.

How does the auxiliary provide backup?

In personality type theory people take in information using S and N and make decisions using T and F. Everyone needs to spend time and energy doing both of these things.

Too much information gathering and too little decision-making may result in a wandering path and lack of focus. Too much decision making and too little information gathering can create a closed mind or decisions that are not based on substance.

If you want to avoid these issues, make sure you know how to best use your dominant and auxiliary functions in tandem to maneuver through your daily life.

As you tackle life and work challenges you will also need to become more aware of, and use, your non-preferred functions. These are the two middle letters that are not in your code. For example if your middle letters are NF, then ST are your non-preferred functions. Personality type theory calls these the tertiary and inferior functions, but that calls for another post.

Because some people may not be familiar with personality type language I have created a model using names for the dominant functions. I then add the auxiliary function into my descriptions to show how each of the patterns uses their preferences in tandem.

For example, if your preferences are ENFP, your dominant function is extraverted intuition (Ne) and you balance this by using introverted feeling (Fi) as your auxiliary function. I use the name Compassionate Explorer to describe this combination. To see the name I use for your dominant/auxiliary combination, click on one of the links below.

Responders (ESTP and ESFP)

Explorers (ENTP and ENFP)

Contributors (ESFJ and ENFJ)

Expeditors (ESTJ and ENTJ)

Assimilators (ISTJ and ISFJ)

Visionaries (INTJ and INFJ)

Analyzers (ISTP and INTP)

Enhancers (ISFP and INFP)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 at 9:13 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Understanding Type Dynamics: Auxiliary Functions”

  1. JeniRae says:

    I am waiting with baited-breath for your blog post on the Tertiary process. I greatly enjoy your posts, and with the type-community still in debate over the exact orientation of the Tertiary (the “E-I-E-I O” versus the “Same orientation as the Auxiliary” schools of thought) it will be interesting to see how you approach this often misunderstood mental process.

    I have my own opinions regarding the Tertiary, but that is neither here nor there.
    Maybe I’ll save it for when (and IF…) I ever start up that Personalty Type blog I that have been talking about starting for YEARS…

  2. Donna Dunning says:

    Thanks JeniRae, I am thinking about discussing introverted functions next week, what you might not see or know about people. After that, I will post about accessing and using non-preferred functions as well as stress responses and the grip.

  3. Abdulelah Fallatah says:

    I’ve been looking for the best explanation for auxiliary function. Yours is the best I’ve found so far. Thank you very much for taking the time to make an amazing post.

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