Portrait of an ESFJ - Extraverted
Sensing Feeling Judging
(Extraverted Feeling with Introverted Sensing)
As an ESFJ, your primary mode of living is focused externally, where you deal
with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit in with your
personal value system. Your secondary mode is internal, where you take things in
via your five senses in a literal, concrete fashion.
ESFJs are people persons - they love people. They are warmly interested in
others. They use their Sensing and Judging characteristics to gather specific,
detailed information about others, and turn this information into supportive
judgements. They want to like people, and have a special skill at bringing out
the best in others. They are extremely good at reading others, and understanding
their point of view. The ESFJ's strong desire to be liked and for everything to
be pleasant makes them highly supportive of others. People like to be around
ESFJs, because the ESFJ has a special gift of invariably making people feel good
The ESFJ takes their responsibilities very seriously, and is very dependable.
They value security and stability, and have a strong focus on the details of
life. They see before others do what needs to be done, and do whatever it takes
to make sure that it gets done. They enjoy these types of tasks, and are
extremely good at them.
ESFJs are warm and energetic. They need approval from others to feel good
about themselves. They are hurt by indifference and don't understand unkindness.
They are very giving people, who get a lot of their personal satisfaction from
the happiness of others. They want to be appreciated for who they are, and what
they give. They're very sensitive to others, and freely give practical care.
ESFJs are such caring individuals, that they sometimes have a hard time seeing
or accepting a difficult truth about someone they care about.
With Extraverted Feeling dominating their personality, ESFJs are focused on
reading other people. They have a strong need to be liked, and to be in control.
They are extremely good at reading others, and often change their own manner to
be more pleasing to whoever they're with at the moment.
The ESFJ's value system is defined externally. They usually have very
well-formed ideas about the way things should be, and are not shy about
expressing these opinions. However, they weigh their values and morals against
the world around them, rather than against an internal value system. They may
have a strong moral code, but it is defined by the community that they live in,
rather than by any strongly felt internal values.
ESFJs who have had the benefit of being raised and surrounded by a strong
value system that is ethical and centered around genuine goodness will most
likely be the kindest, most generous souls who will gladly give you the shirt
off of their back without a second thought. For these individuals, the selfless
quality of their personality type is genuine and pure. ESFJs who have not had
the advantage of developing their own values by weighing them against a good
external value system may develop very questionable values. In such cases, the
ESFJ most often genuinely believes in the integrity of their skewed value
system. They have no internal understanding of values to set them straight. In
weighing their values against our society, they find plenty of support for
whatever moral transgression they wish to justify. This type of ESFJ is a
dangerous person indeed. Extraverted Feeling drives them to control and
manipulate, and their lack of Intuition prevents them from seeing the big
picture. They're usually quite popular and good with people, and good at
manipulating them. Unlike their ENFJ cousin, they don't have Intuition to help
them understand the real consequences of their actions. They are driven to
manipulate other to achieve their own ends, yet they believe that they are
following a solid moral code of conduct.
All ESFJs have a natural tendency to want to control their environment. Their
dominant function demands structure and organization, and seeks closure. ESFJs
are most comfortable with structured environments. They're not likely to enjoy
having to do things which involve abstract, theoretical concepts, or impersonal
analysis. They do enjoy creating order and structure, and are very good at tasks
which require these kinds of skills. ESFJs should be careful about controling
people in their lives who do not wish to be controlled.
ESFJs respect and believe in the laws and rules of authority, and believe
that others should do so as well. They're traditional, and prefer to do things
in the established way, rather than venturing into unchartered territory. Their
need for security drives their ready acceptance and adherence to the policies of
the established system. This tendency may cause them to sometimes blindly accept
rules without questioning or understanding them.
An ESFJ who has developed in a less than ideal way may be prone to being
quite insecure, and focus all of their attention on pleasing others. He or she
might also be very controling, or overly sensitive, imagining bad intentions
when there weren't any.
ESFJs incorporate many of the traits that are associated with women in our
society. However, male ESFJs will usually not appear feminine at all. On the
contrary, ESFJs are typically quite conscious about gender roles and will be
most comfortable playing a role that suits their gender in our society. Male
ESFJs will be quite masculine (albeit sensitive when you get to know them), and
female ESFJs will be very feminine.
ESFJs at their best are warm, sympathetic, helpful, cooperative, tactful,
down-to-earth, practical, thorough, consistent, organized, enthusiastic, and
energetic. They enjoy tradition and security, and will seek stable lives that
are rich in contact with friends and family.
ESFJs are warm-hearted individuals who highly value their close personal
relationships. They are very service-oriented, and their own happiness is
closely tied into the happiness and comfort of those around them. They are
valued for their genuine warm and caring natures, and their special ability to
bring out the best in others. They usually do not handle conflict well, and may
tend to be very controlling or manipulative. Relationships are central to their
lives, and they put forth a great amount of energy into developing and
maintaining their close interpersonal relationships. They expect the same from
- 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
- 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
ESFJs as Lovers
"To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the
positive - to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment,
and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before." --
ESFJs are warmly caring people who give their intimate relationships a lot of
special care and attention. They're usually traditional and take their
commitments very seriously. Once the ESFJ has said "I do", you can bet
that they will put forth every effort to fulfill their obligations to the
ESFJs want to be appreciated for who they are, and what they give to others.
This need of theirs is sometimes intensified to the point where they are very
emotionally needy, and constantly "go fishing" for affirmation if it
is not freely given. ESFJs typically cannot stand conflict or criticism. They
take any sort of criticism as a general indictment of their character. This is a
potential pitfall for ESFJs to be aware of. In the face of negative feedback, or
the absence of positive affirmation, ESFJ may become very depressed and down on
themselves. Appreciation is the greatest gift that their mates can give them.
ESFJs have a tendency to be very conscious of social status and "what
other people think". They should take care not to let this interfere with
their close relationships.
Sexually, ESFJs are warm and loving, and welcome intimacy as an opportunity
to express their affections, and receive their partners gifts of love. Many
ESFJs have a tendency to be highly scheduled and traditional in their sexual
habits, but this is almost always overcome by increasing their education and
awareness of options. ESFJs are very service-oriented and will place a lot of
importance on making their partners happy.
Being highly practical, the ESFJ is excellent in matters regarding home
management. They're likely to be very responsible about taking care of
day-to-day needs, and to be careful and cautious about money matters. They are
interested in security and peaceful living, and are willing and able to do their
part towards acheiving these goals for themselves, their mates, and their
Most ESFJs have a strong need to "belong" - whether it be to
institutions or traditions, or family units. This need usually causes them to be
quite social creatures, who enjoy attending parties, as well as throwing their
own. They're likely to strongly desire that their mates share in their social
Although two well-developed individuals of any type can enjoy a healthy
relationship, ESFJ's natural partner is the ISFP,
or the INFP. ESFJ's dominant
function of Extraverted Feeling is best matched with someone whose dominant
function is Introverted Feeling. The ESFJ/ISFP combination is ideal because is
shares the common Sensing way of perceiving the world, but the ESFJ/INFP
combination is also very good. How
did we arrive at this?
ESFJs as Parents
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable." -- Kahlil Gibran
As parents, ESFJs are extremely committed to their roles and duties, and
contain and freely express a great deal of love and affection for their
children. They expect their children to honor, respect and obey their parents,
and do not tolerate well any deviance from this rule of behavior. Their Feeling
preference makes it difficult for them to punish or discipline their children.
If they have not worked on overcoming this issue, they may tend to punish their
children in less obvious ways, such as using guilt manipulation. This is a
potential pitfall for the ESFJ to overcome. It is generally more effective and
more healthy to directly issue punishment when called for.
The ESFJ is very service-oriented and concerned with the comfort and
happiness of those around them. Consequently, their children are likely to have
their practical needs taken care of very efficiently and responsibly. Their ESFJ
parents will create structured environments for the children, where their
boundaries will be well-defined and known.
The ESFJ's tendency to be controlling, combined with their emphasis on
tradition and security, makes it likely that they will be at least somewhat
strict and controlling of their children. However, they will also be their
children's strongest, loudest advocate. Children of ESFJ parents are likely to
rebel from their authority at some point, which will cause a stressful time for
both parent and child. In this case, the ESFJ natural tendency is to make their
children feel guilty about their behavior. Depending on the extent of the guilt
manipulation, this may cause serious damage to the relationship.
Most ESFJs are remembered fondly by their children for their genuine love and
affection, and for the well-defined structure and guidelines they created for
ESFJs as Friends
Although the ESFJ usually puts their family in front of their friends, they
do place a lot of importance on their close friendships, and feel tremendous
loyalty towards their friends. Since they feel tremendous pressure in their
lives to constantly "do their duty", they may sometimes turn their
friendships into another task or responsibility. Usually, however, they get a
lot of enjoyment from their friendships, and give back a lot of affirming
There are a couple of ESFJ tendencies which may cause problems with their
casual and intimate friendships: 1) they don't give things freely - they expect
something in return, and 2) they have a difficult time believing anything bad
about someone close to them.
ESFJs are valued by others for their genuine interest in people, and for
their warmth and kind-heartedness. They have a special skill at seeing the best
in others, and making people feel good about themselves. As such, they usually
have a relatively large number of very close friends, usually of all different
ESFJs are likely to have well-furnished, orderly and attractive homes. They
are usually excellents hosts and hostesses, and enjoy throwing parties and
having a good time. They like to feel as if they belong to traditions and
institutions, and are likely to have a relatively large group of people which
they include in their social circles.
Careers for ESFJ Personality Types
Whether you're a young adult trying to find your place in the world, or a
not-so-young adult trying to find out if you're moving along the right path,
it's important to understand yourself and the personality traits which will
impact your likeliness to succeed or fail at various careers. It's equally
important to understand what is really important to you. When armed with an
understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, and an awareness of what you
truly value, you are in an excellent position to pick a career which you will
ESFJs generally have the following traits:
- Can be depended on to follow things through to completion
- Enjoy creating order, structure and schedules
- Enjoy interacting with people
- Warm-hearted and sympathetic
- Tend to put others' needs above their own
- Very good at giving practical care
- Very cooperative, good team members
- Practical and down-to-earth
- Value peaceful living and security
- Enjoy variety, but work well with routine tasks
- Need approval from others
- Receive satisfaction from giving to others
- Live in the here and now - dislike theorizing about the future
The ESFJ has two primary traits which will help define their best career
direction: 1) they are extremely organized and enjoy creating order, and 2) much
of their self-satisfaction is gotten through giving and helping others.
Accordingly, they will do well at tasks which involve creating or maintaining
order and structure, and they will be happiest when they are serving others.
The following list of professions is built on our impressions of careers
which would be especially suitable for an ESFJ. It is meant to be a starting
place, rather than an exhaustive list. There are no guarantees that any or all
of the careers listed here would be appropriate for you, or that your best
career match is among those listed.
Possible Career Paths for the ESFJ:
- Home Economics
- Child Care
- Family Practice Physician
- Clergy or other religious work
- Office Managers
- Counselors / Social Work
- Bookkeeping / Accounting
- Administrative Assistants