The ESFJ personality type (as outlined by the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® Assessment, or MBTI® Test) is the Extraverted Feeling with Introverted Sensing type. Those who exhibit the ESFJ Type preference are incredibly diligent, devoted, sensible, and pragmatic, both in their professional and personal lives. They bring their love for the well being of others to the workplace and enjoy having special relationships with their coworkers and peers. Those with the Myers-Briggs® test ESFJ Type are adept at equally balancing their energies toward diverse, interesting tasks as well as mundane, habitual ones, meaning that they are always willing to complete a project, no matter what subject. In the workplace, the personable nature of the ESFJ Type benefits everyone around them:
- Always coming through in the end, no matter how insignificant or important the task, and expect the same from their peers
- Work towards settling conflict before it starts, hoping to avoid awkward circumstances, as they greatly dislike being in circumstances where themselves or another is apprehensive, or when there is an obvious or subtle disagreement occurring
- Use both their pasts and empirical evidence to formulate and influence their choices
- Always aware of what other people around them are in need of, and do their best to fulfill these needs
- Following the rules is not a problem for them, and they actually prefer the organization that comes with them
- Enjoy acting as a coordinator with others when they work in groups, making sure that everyone fulfills certain roles in order to quickly and efficiently finish given projects.
Socialites Among Us
MBTI Test -assessed ESFJ types are lovers of people and life, and enjoy spending a good amount of their time in the presence of others. They find great personal worth from making others happy and healthy, and this often influences some of their personal and professional decisions. ESFJ personality types are stimulated intellectually and mentally by their friendships, coworkers, and budding acquaintances, wishing to learn everything they can about another person.
When it comes to opinions and beliefs, Myers-Briggs test-assessed ESFJ types oftentimes consent with others on most topics, unless one of their peers is discussing something that they have a strong opinion about, in which case they will openly and honestly discuss their feelings on the subject at the proper and reasonable location and time.
Much of their tendency to do this goes hand-in-hand with their desire to avoid conflict at all costs. MBTI- test assessed ESFJ personality types enjoy situations where chaos is not present, clearly defined schedules exist, and everyone has a role to fill. They also thrive in situations where praise is freely given. A Myers-Briggs Test -assessed ESFJ types mood and drive changes depending on how others act towards them—they are deeply heartened and invigorated from beneficial praise and saddened by harshness.
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Putting Others Ahead of Their Own Needs
Unfortunately, in a desire to make everyone happy, ESFJ personality types may come to neglect their own wishes. They may have a hard time sticking up for themselves or formulating their own opinions and ideas, choosing instead to play follow-the-leader and merely consent to what the majority of people or the strongest person present believes. Their self-confidence may not be high enough to feel good about their own choices, so they choose instead to use their energy on making others happy. Making others happy can often have its negative consequences for MBTI test -assessed ESFJ personality types as well. ESFJ types can come off as bossy when they attempt to appease everyone, forcing pacifism and agreement.
Making their own decisions can be difficult for those with the ESFJ type preference as well. Myers-Briggs test ESFJ personality types may choose to formulate opinions and decisions based off of little data, and therefore may come to some hasty conclusions without fully weighing the pros and cons. Then, the ESFJ type often impresses these hastily made decisions on their peers, feeling that they are right and should not be challenged.
Lastly, an ESFJ types desire for others’ happiness can have a detrimental effect on them when they receive bad news. MBTI test -assessed ESFJ personality types may have a hard time dealing with harsh realities when it comes to those they love, such as illness, death, injury, or other bad news. However, if an individual exhibiting the ESFJ type preference can focus some of their energy on their own needs and on making themselves happy, and not allow the needs of others to cloud their judgment at work and in play, many of these situations could be avoided.[Personality type information was referenced from the following publication- (Isabel Briggs Myers, 1998, CPP Inc.)]
Career Possibilities for ESFJ Types
MBTI ESFJ personality types love for their fellow human helps them excel in a variety of careers aimed at the needs of others. These job titles could include childcare worker, medical record technician, nurse’s aide, pharmacy aide, practical nurse, teacher, and dental assistant. Helpful jobs that require an exceptional level of focus and attention to detail also are popular among ESFJ’s, such as hairdresser, landscape gardener, cosmetologist, manicurist, and skin care specialist (Allen L. Hammer, 1993, CPP Inc.).
In order to best succeed in these positions, Myers Briggs test -assessed ESFJ personality types must learn to create long-term personal goals (the key here is personal). As hard as it may be, those with the ESFJ type preference must remove themselves from their desire to make others happy and focus on their own inherent needs, both in their future personal lives and in their future professional ones. Only through exploring how a job will better an ESFJ in the long run will they find happiness with where their career is at present.
Similarly, MBTI test-assessed ESFJ personality types need to make decisions based on these personal wants and needs, instead of allowing others to sway their beliefs and opinions. By slowly considering the pros and cons of each situation and allowing time to pass before jumping into a conclusion, the ESFJ type can better accomplish their own personal and professional goals, and then they have the right to tell all of their peers how they came to their decision! It’s a win-win for them. By always thinking of themselves first and allowing their beliefs and values to pave the way for their choices in work and play, the Myers-Briggs test ESFJ type can accomplish whatever they set their minds to.
Click on one of these corresponding popular ESFJ Careers for detailed information including Career Stats, Income Stats, Daily Tasks and Required Education: Hotel, Motel, or Resort Clerk, Kindergarten Teacher, Meeting, Convention, or Event Planner, Personal or Home Care Aide, Radiologic Technologist, Receptionist or Information Clerk, Registered Nurse, Secretary, Teacher Assistant, and Teller.
Further Understanding ESFJs
ESFJs are among the most organized personality types, deriving a great deal of enjoyment from organizing people and situations and then coordinating them to complete tasks in an accurate and punctual matter. They radiate warmth and energy, and are drawn towards positive, supportive people and situations, as they are often uncomfortable in conflict-filled or tense situations. They have a way of living in the moment, focusing on the present, and making informed decisions based on reality. While they do enjoy variety to an extent, they do adapt well to routines, though they have a dispreference for overly abstract, theoretical, or analytical work. Instead, ESFJs like work that allows them to consider and meet the needs of individuals.
ESFJs for the most part feel energized and interested in interactions with others. They tend to be easy-going, finding comfort in routine and tradition. They are generally agreeable, though they do not shirk from expressing their own ideas, opinions, or values confidently when it becomes necessary for them to do so. On the other hand, it is important for them to feel that they belong to a larger social group, and that their emotional needs are cared for and met.
Like all personality types, Myers-Briggs ESFJs should aim for balance—while accounting for the emotional needs and opinions of others is important, they should learn to remain true to themselves, without becoming tentative or uncertain. They should also be careful to not become overly sensitive, imagining intentional hostility where none was meant, even where the supposed aggressor was unaware of the slight. ESFJs are known for being caring, dependable, conscientious individuals who take their relationships seriously.
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ESFJs’ Learning Style: Cooperative and Communicative
ESFJs make a concerted effort to achieve the best possible outcomes for all individuals involved in their classroom or group. They are motivated by learning material that will enable them to support and assist others, understand them, and meet their needs. They learn best in supportive, appreciative environments in which effort, contribution, and intent are all valued. They are heavily influenced—both positively and negatively—by the environment in which they learn, and prefer to have all of their senses engaged, especially when the setting involves group participation. They benefit from having discussions with others, and enjoy seeking common ground—debates and similar activities that require the expressing and promotion of disagreements are often not optimal activities for ESFJs. It is important to note, however, that ESFJs only prefer group work when the other learners are also collaborative. They are not inherently competitive, and do not enjoy activities or individuals that require that they be so.
ESFJs greatly benefit from having a caring coach as a teacher or instructor. They enjoy classes in which the instructor becomes acquainted with each student individually, and where group discussions and questions are welcomed. ESFJs are strong time managers and are highly organized, and do not appreciate unstructured time which can be disconcerting or counterproductive for them in the classroom. Receiving positive feedback is also important for ESFJs to feel supported and motivated. While they can become uncomfortable if they feel that they are being unfairly criticized, they are generally open to constructive feedback, as long as it is provided in a caring and sensitive manner.
When it comes to interacting with other learners, ESFJs are generally naturally supportive and appreciative. They are much less interested in independent learning, such as quiet reading, than they are in group learning or involvement. However, while fostering an open, non-judgmental environment is very important to them—ESFJs often maintain that differences between individuals are important, and must be accepted, rather than constantly working to get everyone to agree at all times.
As Myers-Briggs ESFJs continue to grow as learners, they should make an effort to become more comfortable in challenging environments, or in environments in which perfect harmony is not attainable. They should also consider paying more attention to their own emotional and physical needs, being sure that they are met even while they are focusing on the needs of others. ESFJs should also continue to build a strong rapport with their peers and co-workers, and should continue to seek harmony in all of their groups and teams.
ESFJs’ Leadership Style: Committed and Focused
ESFJs are committed, focused leaders who are able to develop quick, focused plans that will help them reach a specific goal by taking carefully considered, measured steps. They tend to be realistic and pragmatic, limiting their attention to goals that they believe are actually attainable, though they may risk underestimating their abilities, sacrificing a longer-term strategic position for a shorter term, lower-risk one. As they continue to grow as leaders, ESFJs may wish to focus on the big picture, considering how measured risks may be able to pay off in the long run. Being able to broaden their vision may also help more visionary personality types understand their goals more effectively, and therefore increase their investment and motivation in achieving them.
ESFJs are also highly articulate, easily aligning their own visions with those that others on their teams will also find important. They are attentive to individuals’ behaviors, and do not hesitate to compliment others on a job well done, celebrating their successes or achievements. They have a keen sense of the kind of motivation that others need, and quickly meet those needs, though they are also open to the suggestions or ideas of others. However, while they do care for others, they should also be careful not to confuse their own needs with others’—especially when under stress. Furthermore, they should make an effort to take constructive feedback more objectively rather than personally; even when it is not given in the most diplomatic way, constructive criticism can actually be an expression of caring—instructors may not provide detailed constructive feedback if they do not believe that one has a chance to improve greatly.
When it comes to implementation, ESFJs move quickly to enact established plans. They are strong logistical planners, and are able to identify and apply the strengths of others in an efficient manner. While at times they do move too quickly, they are often able to recover, based on this keen perception. However, ESFJs should be careful not to retain traditional operational standards and routines after their usefulness has worn out. Staying current with the latest techniques is important to maintain efficient progress in any team or organization.
ESFJs and Emotional Outlook: Personable and Pragmatic
ESFJs are acutely aware of their own and others abilities and emotional states. For themselves, they tend to be realistic but confident of their ability to emotionally encourage and support others, though they may have a tendency to over control their own emotions. They gain a great deal of self-satisfaction from engaging in service-oriented activities, and from receiving any kind of genuine appreciation or recognition. On the other hand, ESFJs tend to become distraught and even angry when they perceive others as being overly critical or disloyal to others. ESFJs consider others emotional health of the utmost importance. When others seek to dismantle that, they make every effort to maintain it.
ESFJs also tend to be somewhat flexible individuals, requiring new experiences to remain motivated, but still finding comfort when those experiences fit into their established structural paradigms. They are highly motivated, especially when there is a real interpersonal outcome, or when they have made a commitment. ESFJs are loyal individuals, who consider their word their bond. This may also be why they prefer a level of structure, especially in the definition of different individuals’ roles—when each person on a team has specific commitments and responsibilities, it is easier for each individual to fulfill those responsibilities.
When it comes to their interpersonal intelligence, ESFJs communicate with others in an easy, relaxed, and sensitive manner. They are generally comfortable perceiving and expressing feelings, and are highly aware of social norms and nuances. These strengths also help them build close, long-lasting social relationships, and allow them to present themselves as being trustworthy and trusting individuals. They are also highly patient, valuing diversity of thought, belief, and value, though they do have little patience with positions that may put others in danger or in difficult or undesirable situations.
In terms of improvement, ESFJs may wish to make a concerted effort to focus more of their time on establishing a mental framework for analyzing cause and effect relationships, especially in relation to large scale operations. They may also find it helpful to develop a broader conflict management style, since conflict is inevitable and they need to become more adept at handling them. One peripheral consideration is to begin asking critical questions, especially those that explore a strategic or long-term vision. They may be surprised at the positive impact that such questions can have, and it may allow them to build relationships with more analytical personality types as well. In making these few minor efforts, ESFJs will be on their way to becoming more valuable contributors to any company, team, or organization while also gaining positive ground and successes in their personal lives.
ESFJ Personality Types in The Workplace
Extraverted-Sensing-Feeling-Judging (ESFJ) Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® personality types are warm and cooperative. They value interpersonal relationships and the well-being of individuals in general as well as those with whom they interact in personal and professional settings. As they approach problems and challenges, they constantly consider the human impact. That is, they ask themselves how their decisions will impact others on their teams or in their larger communities.
ESFJs work well with others and strive to achieve tasks in effective and practical ways that also meet the emotional needs of team members. In general, ESFJs enjoy organizing and working with people, providing that they are reliable, disciplined, and loyal. It is essential that they trust others who work on their teams and that they feel secure in their professional and personal relationships. They take commitments very seriously and expect that others will honor their word, making them invaluable members of any workplace.
ESFJs and Communication in The Workplace: Organized and Detail-Oriented
Outside the workplace, ESFJs value family and social ties. They value tradition and celebrations, and are generally seen as optimistic, sociable, and organized. In the workplace, ESFJs are active, involved communicators. They actively seek input from others, soliciting their opinions and advice, and make a concerted effort to acknowledge their ideas and their contributions. However, when it comes to actually making a decision, they may come across as overly involved or even meddling in others’ business. ESFJs are almost parental in their tendency to assume that they know the best course of action and what others need. ESFJs are also organized, linear, and explicit in their thinking and communication. As team members, they are often the note takers and project managers, keeping others involved and up-to-date, and helping the team stay on track. When they give instructions or reports, ESFJs do so in a sequential way, ensuring that everyone can understand the information presented easily. However, ESFJs may have a tendency to lose the forest for the trees—that is, they may focus on specific details without being able to see the larger issue.
As they work to maximize their effectiveness, ESFJs should take the time to ask themselves whether there is an underlying cause or pattern to a given set of facts or circumstances. Furthermore, they should make an effort to step back and allow others to reach their own conclusions and take their own actions. Often there are multiple solutions to a problem and multiple ways to meet a need; one approach is not necessarily better or more effective than another.
ESFJs and Workplace Contributions: Caring and Service-Oriented
ESFJs bring to their organizations a service orientation. They are motivated by meeting others’ needs and making others feel happy and fulfilled. They observe significant life events and take joy in celebrating birthdays or other milestones in their coworkers’ lives. In doing so, they build relationships and strengthen trust among team members. In addition, ESFJs also manage day-to-day needs of those who may be going through a difficult time or facing uncertainty. For example, they might respond to e-mails or keep track of meeting notes while a team member is out sick. They might even make arrangements for food or transportation, if one is unable to care for themselves.
They complete tasks in a timely and accurate way, whether they are dealing with day-to-day operations or large or unusual one-time tasks, and typically offer a systematic, practical perspective in resolving problems or facing challenges. However, in the same way that they value tradition outside the workplace, ESFJs also value rules, authority, and corporate structure in the workplace, and they tend to approach problems in a methodical, almost rigid way. In some cases, this could result in trying to fit the change or solution into a preconceived or sequential structure while a more innovative, creative approach may actually be more appropriate. ESFJs may become even more effective in the workplace if they can stay open to new information and possibilities as they arise.
Another way ESFJs contribute to the workplace is by reducing stress. They champion taking all team members’ feelings and opinions into account and are dependable individuals who always keep their word. They are positive and supportive as well and do their best to please others. However, they may need to be reminded to pay attention to and honor their own needs and desires, as well as those of others around them. They cannot give others the care and support they need if they are not in a stable, safe place themselves. For example, if another team member gives them a last-minute assignment, they may need to be able to reject it or articulate their discomfort with having something unexpected on their plate. ESFJs may be surprised to find that some people actually prefer getting this kind of explicit feedback so they can make changes in the future.
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ESFJs and Workplace Culture: Warm and Cooperative
ESFJs generally thrive in workplace environments that encourage friendships, contain goal-oriented, hard-working individuals, and which have an expectation of trust and mutually shared responsibility. They enjoy working on teams and collaborating with others to accomplish a common goal.
ESFJs shape their workplace culture through their warmth, loyalty, and stability. They have a way of creating a fulfilling, supportive atmosphere in which team members not only understand their roles and job functions, but also truly feel that they are important as individuals and as contributors to the team. However, they may at time go too far and desire harmony to the point of pushing people to interact or get along. Especially for more introverted team members, this forced interaction can be stressful, unproductive, and unwelcome. On the other hand, ESFJs may interpret a lack of open communication as indifference or disengagement, while the reality may be simply one needing time to focus on a project or accomplish a task. ESFJs may need to understand that people can often work together effectively without being close friends and without necessarily communicating in an ongoing manner.
Another characteristic of ESFJs is their proclivity for structure and organization. They support tradition and therefore hierarchy, which is valuable to some extent. However, they may at times forego innovation and efficiency in favor of doing things as they have always been done. They may also lose patience with team members who deviate from agendas or timelines or who have more flexible, creative working processes. ESFJs may be able to increase their impact at their organizations by becoming more open to new ways of doing things.
ESFJs and Leadership in The Workplace: Conscientious and Practical
ESFJs are conscientious, practical leaders. They value cooperation and consensus, and they almost always dedicate the time necessary to solicit opinions from all of their team members and stakeholders. However, they often back away from giving criticism or even constructive feedback, even when it is sorely needed. For example, while they might be irritated by team members or others who make a commitment but do not follow through on it, they might shy away from confronting that individual or having a candid conversation about the implications of their actions and how their decisions affected the team. Similarly, they may find it difficult to take feedback themselves, interpreting criticism as a personal affront rather than an effort for improvement. Nonetheless, ESFJs are still dedicated to their teams and are able to act decisively and consistently while keeping in mind how their decisions impact people other individuals.
As they set direction, ESFJs develop detailed, structured plans and give others a clear set of instructions. They are able to clearly spot what interventions or actions will give others the resources they need, and work tirelessly to bring those initiatives to life. However, ESFJs do have a desire to act quickly, and may overlook important details or miss out on the big picture. This may result in a project getting off on the wrong foot or being fatally flawed due to a misinterpretation or lack of information. An additional challenge with acting quickly is that ESFJs may not have an accurate understanding of what is feasible to accomplish. As such, they may believe that the scope of the project is much larger or much smaller than they originally thought.
Nonetheless, ESFJs do find it easy to inspire others to follow. They are good at noticing and celebrating accomplishments and find it easy to articulate and align their vision with what others will find compelling. They are also confident and open to suggestions for others, though they may at times become overwhelmed by balancing the need to validate others’ contributions and with the need to develop a concise, solid approach and plan of action. ESFJs would do well to put the needs of their organizations and clients first, followed by the egos and opinions of their team members.
ESFJs and Problem Solving in The Workplace: Cooperative and Decisive
ESFJs solve problems by using their storehouse of specific knowledge to connect people with resources and information they need to make progress. As they consider different options, they consider their internal values as well as how their decisions will affect the lives of others in their communities as well as on their teams. They also work collaboratively and help others do so as well. ESFJs see teamwork as integral to solving any problem, finding a solution, and implementing it. However, this dedication to harmony can cause them to actively avoid interpersonal conflicts or interpret honest and productive disagreements as unnecessary escalations. They tend to take criticism and constructive feedback personally and may preemptively assume that others will do so as well.
ESFJs may need to make an effort to acknowledge and address conflicts more directly. Not only can doing so resolve the issue much more quickly and before it can escalate, but sometimes these discussions and debates can actually help teams reach conclusions and solutions faster as well. Rather than becoming irritated or impatient with others who play devil’s advocate or try to find flaws in a plan, ESFJs may need to realize that finding weaknesses early is often better than later, when it may be too late to adapt the plan. Furthermore, finding and correcting flaws can make a good solution even better. However, ESFJs may find it difficult to stay open to new information or developments as they implement a plan. Instead, they prefer to make a decision and act on it quickly. To them, every minute lost is a minute that other people are continuing to deal with a less than ideal situation.
ESFJs and Areas of Growth in The Workplace:
ESFJs are strong individuals and employees. However, they can continue to grow and develop in specific ways.
First, ESFJs may avoid conflict and sweep problems under the rug. Instead, they should make an effort to confront challenges head-on and practice having explicit conversations. These efforts can start small – for instance asking for clarification of a questionable statement or opinion or sharing a better way to do something with a struggling team member. If two people are working towards a common goal, small disagreements and discussions along the way can be productive.
Second, ESFJs tend to prioritize the needs of others over their own. While this is an admirable trait and is often appreciated, it can leave ESFJs feeling drained or vulnerable. They may need to step back and take time to factor in their personal needs. If you are an ESFJ, practice declining requests rather than constantly acquiescing. You can also practice asking for help – for instance asking a friend or co-worker bring you a cup of coffee.
Third, ESFJs are often confident and self-assured individuals who see and pursue a direction for their teams. However, they may at times become overly confident and even controlling, for instance presuming to know best for other team members and even other business units. They may need to listen more objectively to what others say they need and do their best to meet their team members’ stated needs, rather than the desires ESFJs impose or assume.
A few small changes can help ESFJs, and all of us, work even more effectively and efficiently.
Learn More About the MBTI ESFJ Personality Type
Explore additional information that delves deeper into the ESFJ Personality Type by examining various personality and career based subjects:
- How the MBTI ESFJ Type relates to Innovation
- How the MBTI ESFJ Type relates to Project Management
- How the MBTI ESFJ Type relates to Emotional Intelligence
- How the MBTI ESFJ Type relates to Leadership
Click on a link below to read more about different MBTI Personality Types
Introduction to Type (Isabel Briggs Myers, 1998, CPP Inc.)
Introduction to Type and Careers (Allen L. Hammer, 2007, CPP Inc.)
Introduction to Type and Leadership (Richmond, S. CPP. 2008)
Introduction to Type and Learning (Dunning, D. CPP. 2008)
Introduction To Type® and Emotional Intelligence. (Pearman, R. CPP, 2002)
Introduction To Type in Organizations (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J. CPP Inc., 1998)