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« 21. EQ at work: ESFJs at their best »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. MBTI coach with over 25 years MBTI experience, and author of the new book: "INFJ: What's it like to be one."

Emotional intelligence and personality are not the same and I feel wary of writing about them together in case it implies a link between the two that does not exist.

However, in addition to being an emotional intelligence coach, I have 25+ years experience in using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI - 16 personality types inventory) and I'm interested in being able to help the 16 different types to develop their EQ at work.

There is no one way that people can develop their emotional intelligence because each of the types has different needs, strengths and weaknesses. Even when we consider just one type, the ESFJ, there isn't a single method they can use to develop their EQ at work, there are many.

ESFJ means:

  • Extraverted - get their energy from external stimulation, interactions, parties, hobbies, doing things. 
  • Sensing - focus on the details and often like them to be presented in a linear step-by-step sequence. 
  • Feeling - make decisions primarily based on emotions, the impact on people, and their personal value system.
  • Judging - like closure, follow plans and schedules, set goals. Results orientated.


Emotions and the ESFJ

Emotions are key to the effective functioning of ESFJs.

The dominant function of an ESFJ, the leader of their personality, is extraverted Feeling: the ability to detect the feelings of the people, environments and situations in which they are placed and to consider and connect with the people they meet. This can lead them to be genuinely concerned about the welfare of others.

If they develop and refine these skills they can be exceptional in picking up the feelings of the people they meet and interact with, in nurturing people, and in working with groups of people. Given that a key focus for them is on maintaining harmonious relationships, they can be really nice, helpful, considerate people.

They must, however, also be able to accurately interpret the meaning of the feelings they pick up and this is not as easy for them, as it is for some of the other types, such as the INFJ.

In contrast to detecting other people's feelings, ESFJs are not usually as skilled in knowing how they themselves are feeling, nor what they themselves need or value. As a consequence they may become people pleasers.

This aspect of ESFJs can be brought into balance more if they develop high levels of emotional self-awareness and emotional self-management.


The inferior of the ESFJ

There are four facets to each person's MBTI type: the Dominant (D), the Auxiliary (A), the Tertiary (T) and the Inferior (I). The ESFJ's inferior function is important in regards to emotional intelligence.

The Inferior is the side least likely to be well developed.

In the case of an ESFJ, their Inferior is the Thinking preference. This means that some ESFJs find their emotions are too dominant in their decision-making. They make emotional decisions. Instead, they need to learn to apply more logical analysis and critical evaluation to their decisions, including the decisions they make about people.

Being emotional, and being intelligent with emotions, are not the same thing. This has been clearly pointed out by Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey in their 16 stage model of emotional intelligence development.

Different types have different aspects of emotional intelligence they find harder and easier. However, developing their emotional intelligence is vitality important for each type. Come join with me in this exciting new emotional intelligence coaching package and I will make sure it is personalised to you and your type.

Five ways an ESFJ can use his or her EQ at work and get the best out of being an ESFJ.

EQ at work - ESFJ: 1. Don't please people so much you forget yourself

An ESFJ can be so aware of how other people are feeling, that along with this and their desire for harmony, they can end up trying to make everyone feel happy.

This is not logically possible.

It can also be at a cost to themselves.

Tune into how you are feeling as well and check that you are also looking after yourself and not just everyone else. Other people can look after themselves sometimes, surely? You also have the right to have your own needs met.

Emotional intelligence involves being aware of your own emotions and being able to manage these skilfully. It is not about trying to make everyone happy. That is a denial of the full human experience.


EQ at work - ESFJ: 2. Learn to say no and set priorities

ESFJs can give into their feelings of guilt and say "Yes" to something they later regret. Learn to handle guilt.

Guilt can stop ESFJs from standing up for themselves, unless it is managed in an emotionally intelligent way.

By learning to manage guilt and to feel comfortable with it, saying "no" nicely can become easier. Do not let feeling guilty dictate your behaviour as an ESFJ.

Learn to say "no" when you need to decline an offer or request.

If you are worried about hurting someone's feelings, ask yourself, "Are they worried about hurting mine?", or ask yourself, "Are they manipulating me and trying to get me to do something I don't want to do?".

Just because you feel guilty does not mean you are doing something bad. It could just be an emotion that arises because of habit. Being emotionally intelligent does not mean that your emotions dictate your behaviour. It is also important to be able to understand the causes of your emotions.

ESFJs can sometimes be easily manipulated. Be aware of this and develop the skills to stop it happening. You can still help others, something most ESFJs are really good at, without having to give into manipulation.


EQ at work - ESFJ: 3. Don't create harmony at the expense of avoiding important conflict

ESFJs like to have harmony in order to function effectively. However, they need to ask themselves "Harmony at what cost?".

The less preferred aspects of ESFJs are extraverted iNtuition and introverted Thinking. This means they can have difficulty with managing conflict logically. Instead, the emotions that conflict may produce may lead them to avoid it altogether. This can be to their detriment.

Learning how to become comfortable with uncomfortable emotions is key to an ESFJ developing his or her emotional intelligence. In pleasing people and wanting harmony they tend to have a very strong bias towards the so called "positive" emotions.

If they can also become comfortable with the so called "negative" emotions, they have more opportunities to be able to deal with difficulties in relationships, at work and at home.

It would be good for ESFJs to remember, "You can't please all the people all of the time". And, I would add, "Why would you want to?".

It matters that you look after yourself as well as looking after others. Otherwise you won't be any good to anyone!


EQ at work - ESFJ: 4. Sometimes talk less.

If you are working or living with an Introvert know that they need peace and quiet to think, and to re-energise.

Sometimes this means you may need to be quiet too, so that they become refreshed and you avoid frustrating them.

Even just knowing when to talk and to whom can help you in managing the emotions of others.


EQ at work - ESFJ: 5. Take time out

ESFJs can burn themselves out and become stressed. They can socialise a lot, be afraid to set boundaries and worry about what everyone else is feeling.

In order to avoid burnout - in addition to being able to say "no" - learn to take time off and relax and refresh: chill out.

Feeling overwhelmed, feeling stressed or feeling pressured are all important emotions for you to manage. It is also a useful emotional intelligence skill for you to be able to prevent them from arising in the first place.

There is a lot to developing emotional intelligence. Mayer and Salovey had 16 different stages of emotional intelligence on their model for you to work through, step-by-step. What is your EQ at work?


EQ at work, INFJ: Get to know your type, increase communication effectiveness and lower conflict

There is so much that you as an ESFJ or your team can learn so that you develop greater understanding of, and skills with, your communication, personality and relationships at work and home. The EI Institute has a number of options to help you:

  1. If you are an INFJ or live or work with one, or live or work with Introverts or Intuitives, then this 2018 book by Rachel Green, our Director, is a must read: "INFJ: What's it like to be one."
  2. If you are in Western Australia, a high energy, MBTI interactive team-building workshop can be organised for you: "Getting on: MBTI Team building".
  3. ENTJs are at risk of burnout. They can benefit from short periods of meditation (longer periods can be purgatory for ESFJs!). We have a very popular audio-download on meditation called: "Happy Not Hassled".
  4. There is superior 1-1 coaching; and the MBTI is included as part of our smart leadership coaching package. You can find out your MBTI type and develop the skills you need, with Rachel Green.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.