This is the thirteenth post in our 16 Months of Type series and we focus here on ESFJ. To remind you, we are using our material on managing life transitions with psychological type (formerly available through CPP as Introduction to Type® and Reintegration and soon to be available on CareerPlanner.com – stay tuned, more details coming soon!) as the jumping off point for each piece and then connecting this material to the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs). Read on!
ESFJ, Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling and Judging When facing an LCE, ESFJs typically want an approach that is appreciative and collaborative. If your preferences are for ESFJ, you most likely seek external engagement and the opportunity to talk about your experiences. This sort of dialogue allows people who prefer ESFJ to contribute their point of view and learn whether others feel similarly. The ultimate goal in these interactions for the ESFJ is to be able to anticipate the needs of each individual and to move forward with a sense that everyone’s interests are aligned. In addition, those who prefer ESFJ generally have strong core beliefs about the value of particular approaches to managing transitions. Thus it is important for them to feel that the actions they take are the proper ones; consistent with their values as well as those of their peer group, society and culture. During times of challenge ESFJs are motivated to take care of people and their everyday welfare, and in turn, others are motivated by the ESFJs’ upbeat, can-do attitude and willingness to help.
When ESFJ preferences are overdone, people who prefer ESFJ may over-interpret the hesitancy of those who are less comfortable with emotional self-disclosure, seeing their reticence as a lack of caring or commitment. ESFJs might not see that others may sincerely need more time to process events and their reactions to these events, and, given that time, will usually feel comfortable sharing their personal stories. With their natural gift for building a sense of community and relationship, people who prefer ESFJ typically place a high value on harmony. However, under stress, this emphasis on fostering agreement may lead ESFJs to view anything other than whole-hearted enthusiasm for their ideas as confrontational. This can stifle others’ efforts to explore the possible downsides of a plan. Exploring a strategy in depth and from all angles will nearly always produce a better solution for everyone involved, and those who prefer ESFJ can use their skills to facilitate an open and balanced discussion on how to move forward most effectively.
When facing an LCE, ESFJs typically need an accepting companion to mentor, guide, and support them on their transition journey. An accepting companion can affirm their worth and offer them specific and supportive feedback. Such a companion can also express appreciation for the ESFJ’s special, caring contributions to group welfare. This affirmative guidance can also help ESFJs explore and honor the unique contributions of others involved, as well as reassuring ESFJs that although peoples’ methods may be different, their goals are in common and there is unity beneath the surface differences. Because they want to get going on the steps needed to serve the common good, those who prefer ESFJ usually want to know exactly what they are authorized to do and when they can begin doing it. ESFJs seek companions who have made the journey before who can therefore offer this material expertise. Those who prefer ESFJ also value companions who can tell them, in concrete terms, what they can expect during transitions and advise them on what actions to take when challenges arise. A down to earth companion can also help them take a more detached look at the bigger picture, showing them how checking a plan against both the bottom line and people’s feelings will reduce conflict in the future.
When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer ESFJ, they may become so focused on the social norms defining what they are supposed to feel and do, that they neglect to evaluate how well these norms fit with their individual values and the unique situation. Indeed, they may be so concerned about disappointing significant others, that they may see their inability to conform to what (they believe) is expected of them as a personal failing. An accepting companion can help the ESFJ to see that community standards are just that—standard ways of operating, meant to be an approximation of what to do rather than the last word on the absolute best way for each individual to proceed in every single situation. Such a companion can help them to see that their own particular needs and desires matter, that they don’t have to be perfect (whatever that means), and finally that they do not have to and cannot be responsible for everyone’s satisfaction during confusing and tough circumstances. Incorporating these truths into any strategy will make implementation more pleasurable and successful for ESFJs and everyone involved.
Self-Discovery Tool Number 83
If you prefer ESFJ (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.
- How can you find time to check-in with yourself and discover what matters most – in terms of the bottom line as well as in people terms?
- How can you explore the larger meaning of your experiences in order to discover new ways of proceeding that might help you to manage your transition more successfully?
- How can you take an objective inventory of which approaches to your new circumstances are working and which are not?
- How can you build flexibility into your goals and plans to take advantage of learning opportunities as they appear?