- Put forth a lot of effort to fulfill their duties and obligations
- Warm, friendly and affirming by nature
- Service-oriented, they want to please others
- Take their commitments very seriously, and seek lifelong relationships
- Responsible and practical, they can be counted to take care of day-to-day necessities
- Generally upbeat and popular, people are drawn towards them
- Generally very good money managers
- Traditionally minded and family-oriented, they will make family celebrations and traditions special events
- Generally uncomfortable with change, and moving into new territories
- Extreme dislike of conflict and criticism
- Need a lot of positive affirmation to feel good about themselves
- May be overly status-conscious, and interested in how others see them
- Have very difficult time accepting the end of a relationship, and are likely to take the blame for the failure onto their own shoulders
- Have difficulty accepting negative things about people close to them
- Don’t pay enough attention to their own needs, and may be self-sacrificing
- May tend to use guilt manipulation as a way to get what they want
What does Success mean to an ESFJ?
The ESFJ is called the “caregiver”, and for good reason. Caring is the very nature of their personality; a personality driven by feeling judgments and supported by a strong sense of the world around them. The ESFJ not only sees how situations affect themselves and others, they are concerned about it. Everything that makes them feel valued and successful is bound inextricably to the value and concern they need to exchange with others. “Give and ye shall receive” is the motto of the ESFJ, whose gifts serve the most important function in all communal human processes, from the family to the wider world of care giving such as hospitality, primary teaching, nursing, aged care, social services, human resources and so on.
Whilst their judgments might be bound by a somewhat conventional moral code, the ESFJ always stands up for what they are certain is the best for others. In some situations this trait can lead them into disaster, particularly if they are thrust into an unsuitable role. The ESFJ thrives best where they can make the decisions and organize things to suit their own way of seeing the world. Regardless however of their particular station in life, the ESFJ is at their best when it involves caring for and about others, measuring their success by the happiness and gratitude which is reflected back to them from the people in whose lives they play a part.
Allowing Your ESFJ Strengths to Flourish
As an ESFJ, you have gifts that are specific to your personality type that aren’t natural strengths for other types. By recognizing your special gifts and encouraging their growth and development, you will more readily see your place in the world, and how you can better use your talents to achieve your dreams.
Nearly all ESFJ’s will recognize the following characteristics in themselves. They should embrace and nourish these strengths:
- A strong sense of what is right and wrong
- Easily empathizes with another person
- Able to share feelings with other people
- Cares greatly about the welfare of others
- Open, honest and forthright about the way they see things
- Sensitive to the needs of others, particularly those judged to be less
- Strongly upholds traditional and safe ways of living
ESFJ’s who have a strongly expressed Introverted Sensing function will find they also enjoy these very special gifts:
- Very sensitive to how any situation might be inwardly affecting another person
- Able to see the potential in any human environment for enabling the comfort and safety of others
- A flair for dramatic illustration and story telling which makes them excellent teachers of the young
- Able to make strong, people oriented administrative decisions
- A skill with fashion and decoration which makes people feel good about themselves
- Able to see outside the “square” and adjust their values to the facts of a
Potential Problem Areas
With any gift of strength, there is an associated weakness. The strong expression of any function can overshadow others, whilst at the same time its own associated and unexpressed inferior function can mine the unconscious mind and throw up annoying resistances and unsettling emotions. We value our strengths, but we often curse and – even more limiting to our potential development – ignore our weaknesses. To grow as a person and get what we want out of life, we must not only capitalize upon our strengths, but also face our weaknesses and deal with them. That means taking a hard look at our personality type’s potential problem areas.
ESFJ’s are kind, steady and responsible beings with many special gifts. I would like the ESFJ to keep in mind their many positive traits as they read on, and remember that the weaknesses associated with being an ESFJ are natural to your type. Although it can be depressing to read about your type’s weaknesses, please remember that we offer this information to enact positive change. We want people to grow into their own potential, and to live happy and successful lives.
Many of the ESFJ’s weaker characteristics arise because their dominant and Extraverted Feeling function can overshadow the rest of their personality. This generally results in two notable effects. With their Introverted Sensing function unable to provide sufficient balance to their sharply defined feeling judgments, they often miss the relativities and contingencies of the real world. This very often leads them into conflict with those who believe a situation needs to be properly analyzed before its realities can be seen and acted upon. Secondly, with their sense of the world controlled by feelings alone, the narrowly defined ESFJ will nearly always find themselves at odds with any view of the world that does not see their own clearly held judgments to be primary, or which does not accord them the “feeling toned” responses they expect. This can produce a range of effects, every one of which ends in conflict for the ESFJ, either with others or with their own feelings.
Without a sound appreciation of the concrete world, an ESFJ may show some or all of the following weaknesses in varying degrees:
- May be unable to correctly judge what really is for the best
- May become spiteful and extremely intractable in the face of clear logical
- May be unable to shrug off feelings that others are not “good people”.
- May be unable to acknowledge anything that goes against their certainty about the “correct” or “right” way to do things
- May attribute their own problems to arbitrary and improvable notions about the way people “ought” to
- May be at a loss when confronted with situations that require basic technical expertise or clear
- May be oblivious to all but their own viewpoint, valuing their own certainties to the exclusion of others.
- May be unable to understand verbal logic, and quickly cut off other’s explanations
- May be falsely certain of the true needs and feelings of
- May be extremely vulnerable to superstitions, religious cults and media
- May react too quickly and too emotionally in a situation better dealt with in a more pragmatic
Explanation of Problems
Nearly all of the problematic characteristics described above can be attributed in various degrees to the ESFJ’s externally mapped, feeling based view of the world not being successfully coupled to an appropriate level of Introverted Sensation. Without this internal balance, the ESFJ’s perceptions and ideas are determined by feeling judgments which are not in always a valid basis for understanding.
ESFJ’s are usually stable, certain, reliable and caring in their approach to life, but if unbalanced they are likely to treat any point of view other than their own with a kind of amused indifference or a tendency to keep those with differing attitudes and opinions at a distance. Whilst this is natural survival behavior for the strongly expressed ESFJ personality, if they do not learn how to deal with the wide range of differing viewpoints they come into contact with, ESFJ’s can find themselves waging a self created war against all that opposes their own. This conflict often expresses itself in various unambiguous and simplistic “Us verses Them” generalities, or a penchant for smugly and narrowly defining other people by arbitrary or superstitious belief systems, which often actually symbolize and define their own conflict. At its worst, this conflict with the obstinate and unfeeling contingent realities of the world creates a situation where the ESFJ retreats to a kind of psychological castle where, not only none but those who have the “right” or “nice” approach can enter, but also where the ESFJ’s feeling based and often tortured logic, attitudes and judgments reign supreme and cannot be questioned; a place where: “give and you shall receive” can ironically twist quickly into: “off with his head!”
The main driver to the ESFJ personality is Extraverted Feeling, whose function is to judge the relative human value of the ideas, behaviors, situations and objects they perceive. The resulting world view is tidy, and ordered according to its worth to the ESFJ’s own particular character: “Everything has its place and everything in its place”. If this picture of the world is threatened by external influences, the ESFJ generally tries to shut such new information out of their lives. This is totally natural, and works well to protect the individual psyche from getting hurt. However, the ESFJ who exercises this type of self-protection regularly will find they can only connect and relate with those who do not actively disturb their increasingly narrow and rigid world view. They will always find justification for their own inappropriate behaviors, and will always find fault with the outside world for problems that they have in their lives. It will be difficult for them to maintain the flexibility needed for a healthy relationship with the messy world outside because the differing ways others value things is a constant affront to their personal judgments.
It is not an uncommon tendency for the ESFJ to support their feeling judgments by selectively using only their immediate perceptions of a situation and how it appears to them. However, if this tendency is given free reign, the resulting ESFJ personality is too self-centered to be happy or successful. The ESFJ’s auxiliary function of Introverted Sensing must be allowed to grow beyond this limit, where it is used only to support Extraverted Feeling judgments. If the ESFJ uses Introverted Sensing only to serve this purpose, then the ESFJ is not using Introversion effectively at all. As a result, the ESFJ does not sufficiently recognize and understand the vast number of contingent and differing ways in which the world is perceived by others. They see nothing but their own perspective, and deal with the world only so far as they need to in order to support their perspective. These individuals usually come across as somewhat illogical and full of fixed and often rather staid or conventional ideas about the world. Other people are often surprised by the simplicity, ambiguity and often unrelenting vehemence of their ideas.
To grow as an individual, the ESFJ needs to focus on opening their perspective to include a more accurate picture of the world and its ways. In order to be in a position in which the ESFJ is able to perceive and consider data that is foreign to their value system, the ESFJ needs to recognize that their world view is not threatened by the new information. The ESFJ must consciously tell himself/herself that the judgments of others are not unrelated to reality; that the ideas of others are also just and valid within a wider and less rigorous vision of the world.
The ESFJ who is concerned with personal growth will pay close attention to the way things appear to them. Do they try to find the basic connections between the elements of a situation? Or, do they appreciate only those elements which accord them a feeling of worth? At the moment when some connection or relationship between things is perceived, is the ESFJ only concerned with whether that perception supports something they value? Or is she/he concerned with becoming truly appraised of how things fit together in the world? To achieve a better understanding of others and the world in which they live, the ESFJ should try to put themselves into the minds of others, to locate and recognize how others see things, before making judgments. They should consciously be aware of their tendency to discard anything that doesn’t agree with their carefully adjudicated system of relative worth, and work towards lessening this tendency. They should try to see the way others might see situations, without making personal judgments about how others ought to feel. In general, they should work on exercising their Sensation in a truly introverted sense. In other words, they should use Sensation to recognize that all parts of a situation are necessary for its functionality and that valuing one function or objective connection over another narrows their ability to deal with the real world as it truly is. The ESFJ who can successfully envision the world as a realm of functioning and connected parts which are all necessary to its balance can be quite a powerful force for positive change.