ESFJ - The Helper
Profile by Sandra Krebs Hirsch and Jean Kummerow
ESFJs are helpful people who place a high value on harmony. Paying close attention to people's needs and wants, they work well with others to complete tasks in a timely and accurate way. ESFJs follow through on their commitments. They like closure and prefer structured, organized situations in which warmth and compassion are shown. They contribute to others by anticipating their day-to-day concerns and handling them with warmth and efficiency. ESFJs are at their best in organizing people to get a job done.
ESFJ children want life to be uncomplicated, secure, harmonious and structured. They are usually responsible, reliable, and cooperative. They thrive in situations in which there is consistency and personal attention. They enjoy the acceptance of others and will work hard to gain that acceptance. ESFJ children are concerned about doing the right things and pleasing their elders.
ESFJs follow the rules and tend to accept them as fair and reasonable. They admire people and teachers who are warm, friendly, and concerned. They are concerned about the feelings of others and like to help out when possible. They begin early to assume responsibility for the welfare of others. They believe it is necessary to give as well as to receive and will often volunteer their time and talents in service organizations.
ESFJs radiate warmth and fellowship, and generally fit in well with their classmates. They value the traditional things that teenagers do and may be involved in various clubs and teams. Their friends often turn to them because of their listening ear and helpful nature.
Often the lives of ESFJs follow a traditional pattern. In adult life, ESFJs take their parent, spouse, employee, or community volunteer roles seriously and are committed to them. They are sensitive to the needs to those around them, sometimes more attuned to others' needs than their own. They gain the respect of others because of their helpfulness, pleasantness, and ability to get things done. They carry out their commitments and are often in charge of events. Mature ESFJs often structure both their work and personal lives so that they can meet the needs of others.
Learning and Working
ESFJs learn best in structured situations where they know what they can expect. They like to schedule their learning projects so that they can plan ahead to complete their lessons. They become uncomfortable with continuous interruptions and changes when they are trying to finish what they have started. Even more importantly, however, they want to like the person who teaches them. The teacher-student relationship is helpful to them in doing their best. When there is disharmony in the classroom, it interrupts their learning process. When their work is criticised, even constructively, ESFJs may feel demoralized until they get it right and the teacher acknowledges this. Because they tend to personalize the feedback of their teachers, it is important for them to know teachers' expectations so that they can work to meet them.
Learning tends to be a personal experience for ESFJs. This attitue, combined with their ability to follow through and meet deadlines, results in a conscientious and effective student. ESFJs often enjoy studies about people and their well-being, and are usually less interested in theoretical and abstract subject matters. They like active learning activities such as field trips, experiments and group projects that get them personally involved with others.
At work, ESFJs contribute their ability to cooperate with others and to complete tasks in a timely and accurate way. They respect rules and authority, and handle daily operations efficiently. They tend to be well informed and up-to-date on organizational actions that matter to people. They do what they can to make sure that personal relationships are running smoothly. Because they pay close attention to people's needs and wants, they are often involved in work activities that meet people's practical, day-to-day desires.
ESFJs prefer occupations that allow them to provide direct and personal, yet practical, help to others. Occupations that call for organization and goal direction appeal to them. They are especially careful not to waste time or resources; to do so would go against their nature.
Some occupations are particularly appealing to ESFJs: childcare worker, dental assistant, elementary school teacher, home economist, nurse, office manager, radiological technologist, receptionist and secretary, religious educator, speech pathologist, and other occupations that allow them to help others and serve their values directly.
For the ESFJ, love means warmth and commitment. When ESFJs first fall in love, they show this warmth and concern for their partner in many tangible ways. They will send cards, notes, flowers, special gifts, and other mementos of their affection. If the partner casually mentions a desire for a specific thing, they will try to find just that thing. Once committed in a relationship, ESFJs tend to stay with it even when there is inconvenience to them and perhaps longer than may be healthy. They are able to bring out the best in their partners, even though it may mean putting their own needs second.
Because ESFJs are caring individuals, they expect to give and receive in their relationships. Because others may not be as thoughtful as the ESFJ, it is a possible source of disappointment to them if they expect the same awareness and caring on the part of the partner. Being practical and realistic, they may not always like effusive shows of affection and prefer moderation instead. ESFJs may be more loyal to the relationship or to the institution of marriage than to the person. ESFJs may take the end of the relationship as a personal failure.
ESFJs, when scorned, hurt all over and may need to take time to get over the relationship before pursuing a new one. They may too easily and incorrectly blame themselves for the unfavourable outcome and recall instances when perhaps they were not as giving as they might have been. However, ESFJs' standards for giving in a relationship are likely to be above those of some other types. At their worst when scorned, ESFJs can become spiteful and critical of the partner. Because ESFJs are keenly sensitive to others and are tuned in to emotional needs, they really know how to hurt a person in the rare instances when they choose to do so.
Profile by David Keirsey
ESFJs, the most sociable of all types, are energized by interactions with people, tending to idealize whatever or whoever they admire. Harmony is a key to this type, which is represented in about 13 percent of the general population.
ESFJs are the great nurturers of established institutions such as the home, the school, the church, and civic groups. Wherever they go, they promote harmony and harmonious relationships. They are outstanding hosts or hostesses, able to call people by name, usually after one introduction. At a social gathering they can be observed attending to the needs of others, trying to insure that all are comfortable and involved.
Social ties matter to the ESFJs, and their conversations often drift to nostalgic recounting of past memories. Traditions are developed, supported, and carefully observed by the ESFJ.
ESFJs are hurt by indifference and need to be appreciated both for themselves and for the abundance, typically in the form of services, they give to others. They are conscious of appearances and take the opinions of others regarding social standards very seriously. Values in an ESFJ may take the form of shoulds and should nots and may be freely expressed. Conscientious and orderly, ESFJs may become restless when isolated from people.
Career selection by ESFJs may lean toward service occupations. They have such outgoing personalities that they are outstanding at selling, being an invariable winner in sales contests. They are apt to have seniority in any sales group within an organization. Observation of ESFJs at work in a sales transaction will demonstrate how this type personalizes the sale: The customer is not buying the product; he or she is buying personally from the ESFJ. This same characteristic causes ESFJs to be good in teaching, preaching, supervision, administration, coaching, and, in general, people to people jobs. They seldom become a source of irritation to their superiors, for they respect and obey the rules and regulations, are duty-and service-oriented. They are loyal to their bosses. ESFJs are likely to be aware of and enjoy discussing events and problems in the lives of their colleagues; but when conversations turn to abstractions of philosophy or science, the ESFJ may become restive. Analysis of the complex-for example, an attempt to find an explanation of events through an analysis of principles-does not excite their interest, as it does the NTs'.
ESFJ mates have a set of values which contain clear should and should-nots, and they expect their family to abide by these. They are conscientious about home responsibilities, are orderly about the home, and prefer that other occupants be the same. They enjoy socializing and entertaining. ESFJs want family decisions settled efficiently and quickly and want family living routinized, scheduled, and correctly executed. They do not rebel against routine operations, are devoted to the traditional values of home and hearth, respect their marriage vows, and are the most sympathetic of all types. They tend to be dependent on their mates and may marry to insure that they have a proper place in the social strata. They enjoy the rituals connected with serving of good food and beverages, thrive on festive occasions, respect and accumulate a goodly store of material possessions. They take their role in the community seriously and are sensitive to the acknowledged, official decision-makers and identify with them. They are aware of status, and often depend on higher authority as the source of opinions and attitudes.
ESFJs wear their hearts on their sleeves and are outgoing in their emotional reactions. They need to be needed, loved, and appreciated and may spend much energy reassuring themselves that this is the case.
ESFJs usually respect and revere their parents, and as children were responsive and obedient pupils. They seem able to express the right feeling for a given situation. They are soft hearted, sentimental, and usually observe with gusto and a flourish birthdays, anniversaries, and the like, making of the event a delightful, important occasion. At the same time, however, ESFJs can cause others undue tension by expressing anticipations of gloom and doom, exhibiting a bent toward the pessimistic that can be contagious. They need to control their fears that the worst is sure to happen and suppress their tendency toward crepe-hanging and anticipating disasters.
The children of an ESFJ are seen as an extension of the family, and all they do reflects on the ESFJ. If things do not go well, the ESFJ may be critical, even carping toward his or her mate and children. This type may marry alcoholics or others who are particularly needy. If a female ESFJ is married to a mate who is not a good provider, she can become nagging and brood over a comparison of her possessions and status with that of others. ESFJs, male or female, live in terms of people and things rather than in terms of ideas and principles. They enjoy the process of decision-making, particularly when focus is on the usefulness of things and people.
At midlife ESFJs may want to get involved in activities that spark their imagination and creativity, for example, work with art media. They should find it useful to sort out priorities in their values and force themselves to give more attention to their own wishes and needs. They could begin to practice the art of being kind to oneself and each day attempt to do at least one self-indulgent deed. Travel should be something ESFJs particularly enjoy; at midlife they should allocate time to this activity. Also, the reading of "serious" technical books in a professional field might interest and expand the horizons of ESFJs at this time of life. Planning for retirement so that a sufficient number of interpersonal activities are available is vital for the ESFJ, who would very quickly become bored and restless if cut off from contact with a variety of people.
There is a mutual attraction of ESFJ and INTP. The ESFJ, wanting to serve as an anchorage for the INTP's flights to the higher levels of abstraction, finds in the ISTP an even more likely target for anchorage. The ISTP's flights are often literal, not figurative: He really does fly. Look in the cockpit of almost any aircraft and you'll find an ISTP. Of course, most ISTPs do not fly in the literal sense; but the hankering for adventure and exploration symbolized by flight is there, and it is this, the hankering, that draws the ESFJ like a moth to a flame. How does this serve the giving, caring, comforting nature of ESFJ? Why, when the adventurer returns, of course; the giver of comfort is there to provide rest and recreation.