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ESFJ - Extraverted Sensing
Hosts and Hostesses of the World
The Extraverted-Sensing-Feeling-Judgers' four preferences equip them to be gracious
and effective in dealing with others. They use their subjective Feeling decisions
to bring harmony and goodwill to almost any situation in which they find themselves,
at the same time imposing order and structure on any situation -- gently, yet firmly.
They are exceptionally in tune with specific individual needs and especially
sensitive to the nuances that make for happy and wholesome lives.
As a type, ESFJs probably personify "motherhood". Their gentle, caring nature,
in its Extraverted way, takes them beyond their own needs to serve the world around
them. As a result, they are the hosts and hostesses of the world. ESFJ males, who have
less need to be "in charge" than to be concerned with others' needs, may be torn
between expressing the more conventionally masculine parts of their personalities and
giving in to opposing tendencies. The male's Sensing-Judging temperament, sometimes described as "stabilizer-traditionalist", demands macho, objectively cool, yet aggressive behavior, while the Extraverted-Feeling preferences demands a warm or more caring and gentler role.
If the ESFJ male is something of a fish out of water, the ESFJ female, in
contrast, often represents the epitome of femininity. She always wears the
right clothes, says the right words, and behaves the right way. ESFJ girls are the
perfect children who never get dirty, and even as adults, never seem to get mussed.
There's something about an ESFJ -- especially the female -- that just reeks of appropriateness in all aspects of life.
Don't think that ESFJs have found perfection, however. As EJs, for example, they are given to quick, abrasive comments whenever their routines are interrupted. As
SFs, however, they are critical of their own EJ behavior and compensate for their abrasiveness with extra sweetness. To paraphrase Isabel Briggs Myers, they have
many "shoulds" and "should nots", and they express them freely. They may especially overlook facts when they find a situation disagreeable or a criticism hurtful. As
a result, they may sweep problems under the rug rather than seek solutions.
The ESFJ's home is the center of his or her universe: it is the focus of
family life, the place for entertainment, the bastion against the harshness of
the outside world, the ultimate womb for all family members. The ESFJ's home
is generally neat and orderly, however much activity takes place there. It
isn't advisable to tell an ESFJ to relax as long as there are unmade beds or
messy kitchens. Relaxation for the ESFJ comes both from doing such chores
and from knowing that they are done. (As an EJ, they may complain about the mess
and about how much work must be done, but they nevertheless are happiest in
serving others in this way.) Like all Js, ESFJs schedule their relaxation
whether it be reading a book or being with friends.
As a rule, home can be a place of fun, happiness, and affirmation for the ESFJ. These
things must take place on schedule, however, and in an "appropriate" manner. Parties,
for example, are great, but only when sufficiently planned; "spontaneous fun" is a
contradiction in terms. "Appropriateness" extends to dress, decor, and behavior. ESFJs mete out assignments to family members and expect them to be done correctly and
in timely fashion. They readily impose behaviorial "shoulds" on other family
members, and when disappointed in their expectations of others they become either hurt or upset.
This need for appropriateness also drives ESFJs' parenting style. The child of
an ESFJ parent probably feels loved and generally satisfied, albeit somewhat restricted
by the "shoulds" and "oughts", coupled with the constant need to put work (homework, housework, etc.) before play. ESFJs are generally very patient with children, although even patience can be subject to other demands and responsibilities. An
ESFJ parent is likely to be looked upon as being somewhat strict, but still very
loving and caring.
The same, in fact, may be said of ESFJs in relationships. They are very loyal,
almost to a fault, often sacrificing their own needs in favor of the mates'.
This, combined with with their drive for harmony, often puts their personal welfare
low on the list of priorities and can result in their feeling more like hired help
than lovers or mates. The paradox is that while it is difficult
for them to acknowledge their own needs, they may resent those who take them for granted.
ESFJ children bring the same graciousness, caring, and punctuality to their
young lives. They tend to be neat and easy to be around. At school, ESFJs
like teachers who stick to a lesson plan and generally "follow the rules".
They respond well in such situations with good work habits and punctually completed
assignments. In one study, ESFJs were rated by teachers and school psychologists
as the ideal type to have in the classroom. Many of the qualities desired by
teachers come naturally to ESFJs: they are helpful, cooperative, and eager to
They are like that at home too. But difficulties may arise with ESFJs, as with all
Js, if some of the demands placed on them conflict with strong inner needs. Bedtime,
for example, can be difficult for the gregarious Extraverted child, whose social
needs may conflict with the night's hour and parents' demands. Still, ESFJ children
think "parents should be parents" and appreciate rules and regulations imposed by
those in authority. Like their SJ adult counterparts, they may protest such authority, at the same time respecting and expecting it. Role clarity is important.
ESFJs' careers often lean toward those that serve humanity: nursing, public
school teaching, clergy, and psychology. Sales and other public service-oriented
jobs also have particular appeal. More impersonal tasks (related to computers,
for example, or bookkeeping) and jobs that demand theory and speculation (such as
college teaching, consulting, and especially investment brokering) can be particularly stressful to an ESFJ.
Late in life
In their later years, ESFJs may mellow somewhat, but they still are guided by the
same values that shaped their earlier years. After a life devoted to meeting the
needs of those around them, they may turn their attention to more abstract, universal concerns. Even in retirement, however, they tend to be driven by "shoulds" (and,
perhaps, a few "shouldn'ts"), though the "shoulds" may be of a more leisurely kind,
with perhaps less emphasis on service ideals -- for example, learning a language,
tending to neglected hobbies, or meeting some self-directed needs. In general, home, children, and grandchildren play central roles; they prefer to have family nearby and accessible, and may also enjoy the occasional unexpected visitor. For them, the
ultimate symbol of security may be the continually replenished woodpile for the
fireplace around which the family gathers.
Some famous ESFJs could include Dwight Eisenhower (although he was never seen as
brilliant military strategist, he could do no wrong. Life magazine called
him "the most popular man in the world" in the 1950s; indeed, his highly successful
campaign theme was "I Like Ike"); and Felix Unger of The Odd Couple (who rages
at his sloppy roommate but is constantly there to take care of him).