A work buddy of any personality type can be a godsend. It’s not just about friendship but also what helps us prosper and get ahead. Certain personalities can be especially valuable to each other, partly due to shared traits but also because of differing personality aspects that can reinforce both people.
I think Protagonists (ENFJs) and Defenders (ISFJs) are two such personalities. But I’m not sure that these types are often on each other’s radar – they tend to have very different social styles and personal priorities. After reviewing our research, I think they have the potential to mesh well and really benefit each other at work. If you’re a Protagonist or a Defender, I hope you’ll take a moment to let me explain.
What Brings You Together
Protagonists and Defenders share the Feeling personality trait, so you’re both likely to communicate in ways that respect people’s feelings. That’s something you’ll probably appreciate quickly about each other. You both tend to like the idea of adding a dose of kindness to otherwise mechanical workplace operations. You know that this doesn’t just boost morale on a practical level – it’s also the right thing on a deeper level.
You both have a strong sense of how things should be, thanks to your Judging trait. You tend to see work methods and goals in defined terms – something is either a plus, a minus, or an unknown (which you don’t exactly love). You make up your minds in different ways, but arriving at a conclusion or decision is a must for you. That makes it a lot easier to cooperate, because you’ll both want to achieve a clear mutual understanding before you do anything.
What Moves You Forward
Both of you believe in the value and strength of social connections – the power of community. Protagonist personalities tap into this with full force, wanting to engage and draw people together as a group. That can have an energizing effect in the workplace that rouses and motivates quieter Defender personalities in an inviting way.
Yet Defenders know and appreciate the power of small, organized teams. They understand that more people doesn’t always mean more productivity – sometimes it means the opposite. Defenders may be able to set an admirable example of calm focus, showing boisterous Protagonists how to ensure that all that energy is used well.
Both of you tend to be goal-oriented, but where Protagonists are known for biting off ambitious chunks of ideas (that they can’t always digest), Defenders are often dedicated to the practically attainable. These approaches balance each other extremely well, when you’re both open to each other’s influence. Bold imagination tempered with calm realism is a good thing in the workplace.
What makes this cool is that you two can redefine the art of the possible in grand ways. You’ll both share a sense of how important it is to deliver on what you conceive, and that can arbitrate the scale of your joint activities. It also creates a shared sense of responsibility – neither of you is truly satisfied until something is done right, so you’ll both pitch in sincerely.
An Occasional Snag
A common issue between personality types who tend to have firm personal beliefs is that they may find it hard to compromise. But what might make that challenge extra hard for the two of you is the difference in your communication styles. Protagonists can be very forceful and talkative, while Defenders prefer a simpler, more harmonious exchange – and may avoid confrontation.
As a result, your communication may shut down or become one-sided when differences surface, even without things getting heated (though they might). To make progress, you’ll both need to adjust your output and make work-related goals the focus of discussions. A shared sense of duty can get you back on the same page – if you’re willing to speak up and listen to each other equally.
Obviously, any two individual people may or may not get along at work, depending on all kinds of things. But most of us enter the workplace with a sincere desire to do our best and be liked. When certain personalities offer strong potential to aid both of those things, it makes sense to consider them as possible friends.
So, whether you’re a Protagonist or a Defender, I encourage you to check each other out. A vigorous idealist and a warm realist can offer each other a lot. People might think you’re an odd pair, but you’ve got some serious commonality to build on – and you both like building useful things. A rewarding working partnership might just be worth investing in.
- Wondering how to work smarter – from home? We’ve got 10 tips for Introverts and Extraverts.
- Team-building at work can be a tough task. We share insights on how to create a better team using personality traits.
- Get some ideas on how Diplomat and Sentinel personality types can make a fresh start at work.
- Read more in our “Work Buddies” series: Advocates (INFJs) and Architects (INTJs) and Mediators (INFPs) and Adventurers (ISFPs).