Life-loving, people-centric thrill seekers, the ESFP personality type is interested in people and experiences throwing themselves into relationships and life in general, they have a genuine interest in others and their dislike of rules and routine, are justified by their view that their reason for existing is to bring harmony, sympathy and support to peoples' lives so they may slide out of regulations or obligations on the grounds that: 'I just had to do something to help.' The keywords here are 'do' and 'help;' caring and practical in equal measure. The ESFP has an ability to make others feel so special. Down to earth and practical, ESFPs live in the here and now preferring to take life as it comes with the optimistic view that it’s bound to be good, (and if it isn’t then there’s always next time!).
If there is a crisis, the ESFP will be there, taking charge, offering support, revelling in their ability to help, loving the drama. Their energies and infectious enthusiasm, mean that other people will like them, and they will build relationships easily and often. The ability of the ESFP to drop everything and provide immediate, practical support may come at the expense of an ability to plan, schedule and prioritise. However, those on the receiving end will be grateful and left feeling really special. This may also cause a blurring between social time and work time, and the immediacy of the issue will, for the ESFP, be paramount and so it may be difficult to put an issue to 'one side' until a task is completed, or it is time to go home, etc.
The ESFP is not naturally good at follow-through, and will impulsively follow only their own urges, which tend to be the needs of others. Through meeting the needs of others, their own needs are also met; there is a paradoxical self-indulgence in indulging others. On the positive side the ESFP has an ability to make others feel so special, be excellent 'glue' for a team, and good at maintaining morale. As their decisions will be emotional and values-based, people will feel that they are valued and special and, whilst meetings may last longer than average, and little planning gets done, everyone leaves feeling part of something good and indeed feeling good.
The desire to make work a fun place may also cause difficulties in that an ESFP may not be able to take the hard decision - they prefer harmony and fun. This pragmatic desire to help, and do so immediately, means the ESFP will not respond well to being time-bound, or locked into a project. They live primarily in the moment and longer term for the ESFP might be Saturday, probably Friday. The ESFP likes concrete, material things and will take pride in their appearance and fill their lives with lots of experiences, jumping from one to the next in a breathless flurry. This can see them over-commit and take on too much, but their carefree nature means they will tend to charm their way through. As they want (indeed need) to experience everything, the ESFP may well have trouble prioritising as their focus is only for ‘now’ and so follow through won’t come naturally, and they’ll look to leave as many options open as possible, although the ‘F’ side means they will feel genuinely guilty when they let people down. The spontaneous, impulsive nature of this character is almost always entertaining and brings a smile to even the most serious of situations.
Primarily of the moment, extraverted and people-centric ESFPs do not like logic, analysis or abstraction or even thinking too deeply as it is difficult, time-consuming and energy sapping and it takes the focus away from the boundless things to be experienced - and it’s not very much fun. So let’s party!
Linking ‘type’ and ‘careers’ would be easy if it was just about listing specific jobs that perfectly fit specific personalities. However in truth it is more difficult than that as ignores other, more important issues, such as the organisation, the values and the culture, which are far better determinants of suitability than a job title. Also individual jobs vary widely from industry to industry, organisation to organisation and person to person. Therefore our focus on ‘type’ and ‘careers’ will be far more on you: your personality, your aptitudes, interests, likes, strengths and weaknesses and then matching these to the sorts of environments, cultures and norms within organisations that will allow you, given your character, to thrive grow and flourish. We spend a lot of our time at work and so it is important to get these issues right or we could spend a lot of working time unhappy, unproductive and unfulfilled.
ESFPs are spontaneous, gregarious, action-oriented and of the moment and intensely people-centric. They are great at service roles and at making people feel really special. The ESFP is the natural entertainer, funny, animated, a chatterbox, anecdotal and making people feel special. They know lots of people and prefer to be at the centre of things, surrounded by appreciative folk who let them fly. Spontaneous and high spirited the ESFP likes sharing, loves fun but this can make them easily distracted in a work situation as they naturally gravitate towards the ‘fun’ bits and may therefore ignore the essential, (though more boring) bits. The ESFP needs freedom and flexibility to be able to respond to the immediate situation, to rush to the root of the problem and smooth it over. Irate customers violently complaining, two workmates in an argument are ideal territories for the ESFP to inhabit. They will be superb at maintaining morale, engendering enthusiasm and energising people as well as making everything just so harmonious. However they excel less well when it comes to form filling, detail or tasks that make no sense to them or which don’t reap immediate rewards. The ESFP does not really like structure as this impedes their natural ability to offer practical help and care, right here and right now.
Because of their practical, caring nature, ESFPs may struggle with prioritising and deadlines preferring to be able to respond to the current situation or crisis. Their ability to jump in and help is superb, but this may mean they are less good at longer term planning or seeing the bigger picture. ESFPs also struggle with working alone or even silence as they prefer to be in the thick of the action. This can also mean they get easily distracted as the task that needs to be performed right now, no doubt helping people, becomes top of their priorities and whatever else they are working on can get side-lined. ESFPs are sensitive which means they are excellent at picking up on how other people are feeling and ‘feeling their pain.’ However, this sensitivity cuts both ways and they can get hurt if they don’t feel appreciated and can take things very personally and to heart. Trying to change ESFPs to being good time managers and more systemised and longer-term goal driven, is difficult as their strengths are the opposite: responding to an immediate crisis so they will naturally, and this requires a flexible and impulsive nature with a keen eye on spotting trouble and heading it off at the pass. Their desire to help can also mean the ESFP gets pulled in lots directions, moving swiftly from one scene to the next keeping everyone happy and harmonious.
ESFPs do not like slow-paced environment or those where it is quiet and serious with little opportunity for people interaction, which is at the heart of who they are. They love jumping in and sorting out people problems and they do that really well. The ESFP is not a long-range planner but uses their expediency and desire to ‘do good’ to solve immediate, people-based problems and ensure that harmony reigns within their domain. They would not thrive in an environment where it was based on targets, numbers and recording things. ESFPs are at their best when they have the freedom to operate in the present and jump in and take charge. In that sense they are like the ESTP, but while the ESTP is action-oriented and jumps in to difficult tasks, the ESFP is action-oriented and will jump into difficult people situations. They have an incredible talent for making people feel special, for diffusing tension and solving even the most difficult ‘people’ issue. The ESFP needs variety and where they can use their excellent people skills to make things better. A fun, friendly, environment where they can be their enthusiastic, warm, cohesive effusive selves is one where they will thrive and excel.
ESFPs will not be at their best in an environment where they are constrained and not be allowed to project their warm and people-centric nature. A quiet environment with little opportunity for flexibility would stifle them, as they need to speak, they need to help and need to jump in. Rules, regulations and protocols will negate their strengths and impulsive side, which is what they need to support people. The ESFP will not like deadlines or being micromanaged and their intense people orientation means they will need to have a team ethos (or let them create one) and an environment where people are valued. Repetition bores the ESFP and as they need variety and a buzz. They also like and indeed foster harmony and so will struggle in roles or an environment which is harsh and may have trouble providing negative feedback or making tough people decisions as they like to keep things on an even keel. Long range planning and considering the wider ramifications of issues is not for them as they become bored and will seek out opportunities to jump in, help and make things better, and now.
Of all the character types the ESFP is the most people centric and so careers and environments such as customer service, HR, the caring professions will bring out the best in them. Trouble shooting roles but with a people bias fit perfectly with them and plays to their intense action-orientation and practical nature. ESFPs love a challenge and will work long and hard to solve problems and smooth things over. However when it’s over it’s over and the ESFP will be scanning the landscape looking for the next piece of action where they can make it all better.
In a work setting, the ESFP personality type will bring an urgency to get things rolling - and make sure they happen right now. The ESFP will look to have an immediate and positive impact on the team and as such will be a good catalyst for action and cutting through anything woolly or ethereal. In organisations the ESFP is the natural ‘glue’ for the team, excellent at establishing and maintaining relationships and morale and bringing others in.
ESFPs dislike conflict and feel the need to immediately deal with it. This makes them excellent bridge-builders within the team, the ones who will make sure that harmony rules. Unlike their ISFP counterpart the ESFP will not sit and wait, or be insightfully patient but will seize the moment, jump in and create harmony. They will be great at maintaining group morale, energising the team and spreading their natural enthusiasm and positivity among the others. The ESFP will not be the note taker or the planner; they prefer to deal only with the present moment. However, the value that adds to the team can be immense in terms of ensuring everyone has a voice, everyone is taken care of and that there are lots of smiling faces.
When things get serious or difficult the ESFP will be there to lighten the load, make a joke, share an anecdote and generally oil the wheels of the team to create the conditions for harmony, happiness and positivity. They will immediately jump in and create harmony. However, they prefer the positive and may not be good with tough calls or bad news. Managing an ESFP will be about understanding that they have such a good heart and add most value when they are unconstrained and allowed to be at the beating heart of the organisation. The ESFP may be flexible and creative but it will be in a practical, people-centric way. They will not be the thoughtful reflector nor the ones who comes up with novel ideas, although they will be superb supporters of such types, indeed of everyone around them.
ESFPs are fun-loving, people-centric carers and thrill-seekers, wanting so badly to jump in and help people. They are not planners, believing that planning would give delusions of control and also that it might prevent them from being at their best which is to seize the moment, carpe diem, indeed it is more like ‘carpe secundus,’ seize the second! They’ll want to fill every available second with something new, interesting and with people. ESFPs are chatterboxes, expressive and so positive, they just want to make everything better, and fun. Interestingly, an ESFP will be chatty and superb at tuning into how people are feeling and opening them up, but they are less forthcoming about themselves as they get their affirmation through other people and what they can do for them. They are far more emotional and can get easily hurt, especially if they feel underappreciated, but they will dust themselves down, put it behind them and focus on the needs of others and having fun. Their maxim is ‘I just need to help, right now!’
ESFPs are like a breath of fresh air, they bring exuberance, energy and enthusiasm to people, in groups or one-on-one as they really care and they will be talkative and extremely optimistic, seeing and emphasising all the positives in a situation. Unlike, say, the ESFJ who will want a plan, ESFPs are totally spontaneous and will go where they feel they are needed, whenever they are needed, and want to talk it all out, for as long as required. They are charming witty, likeable and excitable and will love to socialise, chat and listen. Everyone will know the ESFP is there, bringing a smile and an anecdote to lighten the load. They are practical carers, not big picture thinkers or long-range planners, long term for an ESFP is the next few minutes they are very of the moment and loving just doing stuff to help.
The ESFP desire to just jump in and do, without thinking anything through, means they can prevaricate and put things off, especially tough decisions. This can all be justified by their view that ‘but this needs my immediate attention,’ but the problem is there will always be people needing their ‘immediate attention,’ as this is how they function and get their own positive affirmation and so it means they can put off difficult, important decisions, until ‘whenever.’ This is compounded by the fact that they are so positive and will never want to focus on, or even admit to, anything negative and this can prevent them facing up to some of their own realities and they can lose themselves in supporting others, rather than focusing on themselves. The ESFP decision-making approach is totally subjective, ‘someone needs help. I will help,’ which is great for their friends and families, but maybe not so good for them.
The ESFP does not like conflict and would work very hard to create and maintain harmony with, and among people. Everyone being happy is so important to them and they can’t bear tensions or arguments so they will support, hug, make people laugh, take them on a whirlwind of anecdotes, anything rather than let friction arise. They love the drama of a crisis where they can help, but really struggle if it’s not all ‘everyone happy’ and this can be a problem as, sometimes, conflict is inevitable and even desirable to get views aired and move things on. But it has to be said, that with their likability and charm, there’s few situations where the ESFP can’t make a difference, lighten the load and raise a smile, smoothing all the tension and fractiousness away, as if by magic, but in reality with hard work!
Choose another personality type to compare side by side the different approaches work, attitudes to conflict and the way they engage with others.