Dominant Extraverted Feeling with Auxiliary Introverted Sensing
Tertiary Intuition and Inferior Introverted Thinking
Caring • Practical • Sociable • Traditional
According to the MBTI® Manual, ESFJs make up 12.3% of the population, making this type the 2nd most common, of 16, in the US population.
ESFJs are known for appearing outgoing, friendly, detail oriented, and energetic, with a great ability to complete tasks and uphold family and/or cultural traditions. They prize harmony, family, security, and celebrations and couple these with their often natural inclination for organization to move groups towards a finished product or desired outcome in a practical and caring fashion. ESFJs have a great appreciation for a warm and friendly environment and will do their best to make their surroundings comfortable for themselves and others while accomplishing tasks. In addition to this, they enjoy tasks that are done in tried and true ways with structure.
ESFJs often have a love of and appreciation for certain types of possessions, from shoes to clothing to cars. They may also enjoy a good drama. As family members and friends, ESFJs are typically extremely devoted and warm caregivers who love to perform practical tasks for loved ones and host parties and events to mark milestones for those they care about.
Normally, ESFJs will be thrown off in environments that are critical and lack harmony. ESFJs are often stressed by change that comes out of nowhere, inadequate time to complete work to their standards, and tense or confrontational relationships. They may often find it difficult to be in situations that do not fit well with their personal set of values or where they are required to focus on possibilities and abstractions for any period of time.
When faced with stress overload, which may come from being expected to conform with something that goes against their values, spending time in an emotionally toxic, combative, and/or excessively critical environment, or being in an environment where there is a basic lack of trust between individuals, ESFJs may find themselves “in the grip” of their inferior function, Introverted Thinking. During this experience, the individual is likely to do things that are typically completely out of character. This may include critically lashing out at others, and obsessing over their mistakes, lack of competence, and flaws. These criticisms usually turn inward, and the ESFJ will withdraw from others to self-criticize. The ESFJ, in the grip, may obsessively seek expert help that can aid in discovering ultimate truth, and she or he may become obsessed with analyzing irrelevant data.
Fortunately, going through and coming out of a grip experience can lead to growth and balance of the personality and the person.
To learn about ESFJs under the particular stress that only comes from being chased by the dead, check out ESFJs in the Zombie Apocalypse!
In general, ISFJs love learning that is based on relationships with people. They learn best when practical explanations, real life examples, details, facts, and expectations are presented up front, rather than first being presented with abstract theories or encountering expectations along the way. Material sinks in more easily when the real life applications are apparent and/or highlighted by the instructor, and using stories about how information has applied in the lives of actual people will likely allow the deepest connection to the material. ESFJs often excel at memorization, and will usually be able to hang on to details that they find personally meaningful and useful in their own lives.
ESFJs like to learn within the structure provided by the instructor, and they typically prefer to work towards goal completion in a way that allows for interaction, engaging all possible senses, and talking out ideas. Typically, ESFJs enjoy getting feedback from an instructor regularly, and in a way that is supportive and non-critical. ESFJs also like to have ample time to work through the learning process, as they tend to struggle when they feel rushed by a teacher going through material too quickly or without being thorough.
Individuals of this type may find it helpful to ask teachers for real life examples when they are not present. They should try to remember to look at details together, to see the big picture, in addition to their natural method of examining details as details. Frustration may occur for ESFJs in a classroom that lacks structure, and the individual may want to ask the instructor for clarifications that will allow the ESFJ to build a structure to work in. It may also be helpful to form study groups to provide maximum absorption via interaction.
Typically, ESFJs like to plan out and break down work, projects, and tasks before getting started, and they love working systematically and energetically towards the end goal in a fashion that is thorough, people friendly, and deadline focused. That being said, they can become frustrated with an unnecessarily long planning process, preferring to take action. They will often appreciate the use of calendars, to-do lists, and routines, to stay on task and gain the enjoyment of checking off accomplishments. Motivation for ESFJs comes from their desire to help others, get things done, and be appreciated.
ESFJs are often thrown off in time management by a lack of control over the work process, completing less important work to get it done, getting pulled into unplanned events, or overcommitting to others in need. Procrastination is less common for ESFJs, but it may occur when the ESFJ has a value conflict with the matter at hand or when the task will take too much time to complete in one session.
Tips for staying or getting back on task:
- Approach your list by tackling one or two high priority items at a time.
- Talk with others who encourage your efforts to complete your projects.
- Set firm time that no interruptions from people, phones, or meetings will be entertained.
When approaching decisions, ESFJs want to find solutions that are practical, functional, realistic, caring, and people-focused. They will often begin by using their Dominant Extraverted Feeling to consider consequences for people and relationships and how the decision fits with societal values. They will then consider how they can combine knowledge and processes that currently work well with past experience and commonsense to explore the realities and details of the situation, and ESFJs will likely weigh the pros and cons of options either mentally or in written form to gather as much information as possible on the course of action that is most supportive of tradition and others.
ESFJs often want to talk out a few options with others to gauge receptiveness and energize the process. They want to think through the decision considerately, carefully, and thoroughly, while at the same time wanting to move quickly towards resolution to implementation and on to the next project or decision. Individuals of this type often analyze the decision making process after the fact be showing appreciation for others’ contributions and assessing whether the decision provided for everyone’s needs adequately.
ESFJs may neglect the logical, objective, and critical sides of decision making, and they may also fail to consider possibilities and knowledge outside their own experience when making decisions. To find more balance in the process, all types may consider discussing decisions with friends of different types to gain new insights and/or utilizing the Zig-Zag Method, which encompasses exploring decisions from the perspective of all four functions. ESFJs will likely find this process more natural when exploring Feeling first, followed by Sensing, Intuition, and Thinking.
Personality type is one important part of the process of choosing a career that is a good fit, but it is far from the only part. It is important to first look at your personal goals and values when making a career decision. These may involve retiring early, helping others, having time for hobbies/avocations, having time to spend with kids and family, making lots of money, making use of a specific talent (singing, art, athletic ability, etc.), following in family footsteps, or following a childhood dream.
It is also important to look at skills and preferences. If you hate math, maybe engineering is not the way to go, and you may want to skip being a doctor or nurse if the sight of blood makes you queasy. Interests, from loving the great outdoors to being fascinated by the depths of the human mind, play a huge role in the career choice process as well. Below are some type specific commonalities in the career world.
- Seek careers that provide structure and consistency, while prizing helping people, productivity, teamwork, timeliness, and warmth, and they typically love a career that celebrates hard work and dedication.
- Prefer environments where they can help others in an interactive way that is harmonious and celebrates traditions and milestones.
- Enjoy tasks that help people in practical ways, that aid in easier and more productive functioning in day to day life. This is often in an organizational, supportive, and promoting capacity that gives people and teams a sense of connectedness and belonging.
- Might struggle with vague expectations, disharmonious environments, and situations that lack structure and/or consistency in processes. They may also focus on qualifications they do no meet in the job search process, and become self-critical.
- Are attracted to careers such as:
- Medicine (family doctor, pediatrician, physical therapy)
- Office work (management, support)
- Teaching (K-5, vocational)
- Administration/Management (education, healthcare, child care)
- Social Service/Counseling (substance abuse, career, disability)
- Customer service (bank teller, store clerk)
- Hotel management/Hotel support
- Outdoor (landscaping and gardening)
- Speech pathology
- May be less interested in careers involving a focus on data, conflict mediation, analysis, or abstract theory, and they prefer not to be in careers with frequent isolation.
If the career you are interested in does not appear on this list, or if you simply don’t find any appealing careers listed here, do not worry! Personality type is not meant to sentence you to a life of misery in a career you hate, and this list is far from exhaustive. You may want to check out descriptions of thousands of possible careers at O*Net, and then contemplate how your type may play into some of the careers that do interest you. Also, if your university has a career counseling center (and most do), visit them to gain assistance in finding a career that suits your needs and wants.
As Team Members
ESFJ team members will likely contribute to the team by being enthusiastic, cooperative, loyal, warm, and responsible. ESFJs have great respect for people’s needs and for processes that have a proven track record of success. They appreciate stability, a harmonious work environment, organization, and tradition, and they are known to be helpful and caring team members.
While ESFJ team members have many strengths, they may find it difficult to accept change that does not adhere to current procedures and rules, especially if it does not appear to take people’s needs into account. They may also have a tendency to nearly push people into getting along, in an effort to maintain a harmonious and productive work environment. ESFJs sometimes also lose the logical and objective aspects of tasks in an effort to please people. Awareness of these areas, as well as seeking out the perspectives of team members with different preferences, can help ESFJs gain balance and appreciate team and type diversity.
ESFJs make encouraging and pragmatic leaders who begin with the end in mind and work hard and steadily towards goals that benefit people. They tend to be good at following through on plans and place value on the needs and comfort levels of those that they lead. ESFJs are known for being good at finding practical and people-sensitive ways to complete tasks, and they are often able to inspire loyalty by building good relationships and providing personalized attention and encouragement to team members.
ESFJs may find it challenging to objectively analyze situations because their people focus is so strong. Their often talkative nature may distract team members from work, and they may sometimes act on incorrect assumptions that the needs of others are the same as their own. It may also be difficult for ESFJs to remember to keep an eye on uncharted possibilities and the big picture, with their preference for traditions and detailed, established structures. Finally, ESFJ leaders may struggle with taking on the critical aspects of the leadership role, except in times of stress, due to a dislike of providing negative feedback.
ESFJs take commitment seriously, and they want to know their partners share and honor that commitment. This extends to fidelity, mutual support, and shared listening. They also prize having fun with and sharing values with their partner, as well as spending quality time together.
As partners, ESFJs tend affectionate, nurturing, and supportive. They strive to keep harmony and happiness in their relationships, and they work to resolve conflicts as they arise. ESFJs typically like for their partners to show appreciation for their helpfulness and generosity by praising their accomplishments and doing their part to keep things running smoothly. ESFJs may struggle with partners who do not share their values or who do not show proper support in emotional situations.