Most have felt the kindness of the Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling and Judging preferences of ESFJs. Their grace above pressure while paddling underneath the surface to keep afloat has them crowned as “Swans” of the 16 types. Check out OPP’s Bird Type Table to learn more.
As the second-most represented type worldwide, it’s easy to assume this type is as common as parakeets or baby ducks on Easter Sunday.
Is there strength in their numbers? Or are they flavorless scrambled eggs in our breakfast burritos?
Let’s decide by taking a look at their dominant and auxiliary cognitive functions and how they work in ESFJ relationships, work-ethic and flexibility.
All 16 types have two Extraverted and two Introverted functions. Like all Extraverts, the ESFJ’s dominant function is Extraverted and their auxiliary (or secondary) is Introverted. Their tertiary (third) and inferior (fourth) functions follow this same pattern and often remain under the surface and rarely seen by others. Here is how their functions stack:
Extraverted Feeling, Fe
Introverted Sensing, Si
Extraverted Intuition, Ne
Introverted Thinking, Ti
With a dominant cognitive function of Extraverted Feeling (Fe), ESFJs are keen to pick up on group dynamics. If something seems off-kilter they’re likely to voice this politely. Their care and concern for the well-being of others is their primary lifeforce.
To those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the Fe preference, this behavior may seem nosey or even superficial. If this is the case, you’re likely to question their motives.
At the surface, their shine will appear as graceful as a ballerina, but underneath their glossy demeanor is a memory thicker than webbed toes, pointe shoes and down feathers combined.
The ESFJ’s auxiliary Introverted Sensing (Si) is a perfect compliment to their Fe. Consider it stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey or orange sauce to Duck à l’orange. While it plays a
smaller role than the main course it’s hardly unforgettable.
Yet many mistakenly assume the Si condiment adds to the dominant Fe. In fact, Si brings out Fe flavor MORE. This is why ESFJs stand out as the “caretakers” of the 16 types.
Si is a powerhouse at recalling past experiences to inform new decisions. When added to the ESFJ’s dominant Fe, factual value transforms superficial harmony-seeking into powerful concern.
Where an ESTJ will use Si to recall factual data from the past, their Te might ask, “You were sick at this time last year. How come you haven’t washed
your hands?” Whereas the ESFJ will say, “You were sick at this time last year, please let me know how I can help with your health.”
With their commonality, the ESFJ Fe/Si combo may seem as basic as the old one-two, yet this jab-cross combo is guaranteed to keep other types on their toes.
The Fe/Si combo may also play a part in the successful relationships reported by ESFJs. According to the MBTI manual, they are the most represented type reporting marriage satisfaction and are
also the least likely type to report dissatisfaction with their co-workers.
This sounds pretty #basic. Does that mean they like everyone?
That may be a stretch. However, ESFJs also report having the most resources when it comes to coping with stress. While their Fe is shown outwardly, their frustration with others may be easily masked by their killer coping strategies. As the MBTI’s “caretaker” they’re well-suited for helping friends cope with stress, so it might be best to keep them on your good side.
Like the job-cross in boxing, the Fe/Si combo is reliable and effective. It may seem basic but is sure to get the heart pumping. Fe is driven to seek harmony and help others. While ESFJs may not be motivated by any given task, they will be motivated by the people impacted.
If you happen to supervise an ESFJ, they’re likely to work efficiently and effectively to help make you look good. Consider this a compliment. Although their preference for Judging can keep them persistent, their work can turn from basic to marvelous once they know who’s at stake.
This is exactly why they’re considered Swans. Their Fe keeps them looking extremely graceful under pressure to keep others happy while maintaining their pristine social status. Yet their Si keeps them paddling relentlessly to keep the rest of us afloat.
The ESFJ preference for Judging often deems them inflexible. But don’t count them in with stereotypical “J” habits just yet.
Fe is driven first and foremost by harmony. Their concern for others will almost always outweigh their need for structure.
It is true the ESFJ will want their personal lives structured and planned ahead of time. Yet they’re not quite as regimented when it comes to other people. In fact, if they become too inflexible it can wreak havoc on their place in the pond. While all birds are social creatures, Swans often prefer to keep rank.
It will be common to see these Swans dressed to the 9’s, yet they’re perfectly happy when an ugly duckling with poor paddling abilities comes to play.
ESFJs are far from #basic and it’s crucial to keep them in our social and work circles. They’re naturally caring and work tirelessly under the surface. Always well-dressed and well-groomed, they appreciate others who haven’t quite met their level.