ESFJ Credo: "Let me do it"

ESFJ Keywords: People-oriented, Organised, Follows-through, Creates order, Glues the group, Tactful, Sees good in others, Brings harmony & team spirit, Plans, Schedules, Caring, Detailed

The ESFJ character shares the same action-orientation of the ESTJ but with a people-based focus. The drive, energies and pragmatism which the ESTJ channels into tasks, the ESFJ will channel into people. They are the cooperative, helpful, sympathetic and personable pragmatists, disliking anything ethereal or woolly as they prefer practical solutions to people issues and they'll work hard at making this happen.

As with most 'S's, they prefer the concrete, they inhabit the here and now and their desire will be to provide immediate answers and solutions - don’t think too deeply just ‘do.’ Asking an ESFJ to sit and think things through or reflect before ‘doing’ is not easy as their natural propensity is for action; thinking is seen as a passive activity.

The ESFJ makes a priority task of ensuring people are taken care of, and will work long and hard at making sure harmony is maintained. Whilst the ESFJ wants everyone to feel valued, they will also want to feel part of the group themselves - they need to feel included. If someone is hurting, the ESFJ will be the first to respond.

Due to their caring nature and desire for harmony, the ESFJ may find it difficult to take the hard decisions. The ESFJ will be good at follow-through, being conscientious and making sure the routine is taken care of, but may struggle with anything which appears complex, or which is perceived as not clearly getting the intended result or which causes conflict or disharmony.

This also means ESFJs value family links, friendships and tend to be slightly sentimental in their approach. They will want to appreciate and involve others. Under pressure an ESFJ may become like the 'controlling parent,' smothering others in their attempt to provide support and believing that their way is best, becoming sensitive to any perceived criticism.

The ESFJ is the work-place functionary, the one who’ll volunteer to take on the responsibility especially if this responsibility relates to helping others. They are relational and friendly with a very strong need to like and be liked. Loyalty and tradition play an important part in their lives and they will make sure that family, friends and colleagues feel valued - indeed it is their duty. This makes the ESFJ intrinsically conservative by nature. Their values of ‘doing good’ and working hard to make sure things and people are taken care of are at the core of the ESFJ although they may at times try to instil these parental-style values in others.

As the ‘F’ is the dominant function, the ESFJ may have trouble making ‘T’ like logical and empirical ‘hard’ decisions so driven are they by their values and wishing to maintain harmony, and so their decisions will be primarily driven by the needs of those around them especially those close to them whom they feel a duty to ‘care for.’ Everything for the ESFJ becomes personalised and will be filtered through the ‘do I like this person’ lens as being objective and logical to the ESFJ is tantamount to being cold and calculating.

After a day interviewing I asked my ESFJ secretary to tell the successful candidate he’d got the job. “Was he the nicest?” she asked, “Did you like him best?" No issue of ‘suitability’ even crossed her mind! Being driven by feelings can also mean that the ESFJ gets hurt easily by any perceived or real criticism as everything is taken so personally, so factually.

Down to earth and practical the ESFJ feels that social obligations and responsibilities come before personal fun or relaxation. This means they will work so hard to make sure that everyone else is happy and may neglect their own feelings in the process and at times, feel (and indeed may often be true) taken advantage of.

The ESFJ prefers a familiar routine and established practice and does not like being thrown into unfamiliar situations and any change will be treated with caution and suspicion. This is because the value system of the ESFJ has been built over time and anything which seems to threaten this will be feared.

They tend also to have a ‘gate-post’ mentality, seeing things in very black and white, ‘good or bad,’ ‘right or wrong,’ ‘nice or horrible.’ Thus anything which appears complex or which has many shades of grey will be dismissed as it doesn’t conform to the ‘natural laws’ of ‘ESFJ common sense.’ This means the ESFJ will not naturally take the initiative unless it is to jump in and help, which is why they were, according to their own cognitive processes, ‘put on this earth.’ Organised, caring and driven by the known, routine comes naturally to the ESFJ who fear change as it is drags them out of the place where they feel they are strong and where they can contribute most and the ESFJ loves to contribute and remain constantly valued, productive, busy and liked.

They willingly provide service (which embodies life's meaning) and expect the same from others. ESFJs are easily wounded. And when wounded, their emotions will not be contained. They by nature ‘wear their hearts on their sleeves,’ often exuding warmth and helpful friendliness but can also adopt the harsh face of sulking.

ESFJs have the ability to express warmth, anger, and a range of other emotions. Actions are encouraged or rebuked based on how they affect other people and most especially and importantly those people near and dear to the ESFJ. All the sensory data is collected and at once compared with their own internal values - the inner benchmark and standards. ESFJs reflect the ‘black and white’ view of reality which is common to the SJ types, but in the case of the ESFJ it is mixed up with the ‘F’ values.

In a team situation, the ESFJ will be the harmonious team builder, good at maintaining group morale, accentuating the positive and encouraging contributions from all team members making the team more open and participative.

Famous ESFJs

  • Geri Halliwell
  • Vincent Price
  • Danny Glover
  • Miss Piggy