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ESFJ Notes of Late

Thursday December 8, 2016

Above: Child-like Bob wields influence through dominant extraverted feeling

I was watching a favorite film, What About Bob, on Netflix recently. Watching the maturation of Bob’s character through the film, it struck me that Bob is an ESFJ. Or at least, that’s how he’s written into the film.

I won’t go too far into why I think so, other than to say that Bob starts out in extravert hell, isolated from all the things that would warm an ESFJ heart, and is thus condemned to this sort of “bad INTP” existence.

I do wonder if Bob’s ex-wife was an INTJ, a natural ESFJ conflictor. She likes Neil Diamond, after all. And I really enjoy listening to Neil Diamond, too. Solid proof!

Either way, I was charmed by Bob’s new character. From the moment he put on that Don’t Hassle Me, I’m Local T-shirt, I recognized his internal strength as a social chameleon ESFJ. ESFJs see their social adaptability as a prime asset and expect their surroundings to naturally begin to conform to them as they use dominant extraverted feeling (Fe) to maneuver through and influence the various social strata. It’s easier for me to appreciate that now that I work with ESFJs more often as an adult with kids in school and various roles in my community.

As Bob works to actively support and build community strength, he shows the child-like attributes for which ESFJs are really well known. Take it easy, have fun, talk to people, show them you care, and in doing so off-load the pressure of the day-to-day. We’re all in this together and we all need to be loved.

As an INTJ, I feel like I can now sail more comfortably on that ship. However, in order to do so I had to learn about type, type dynamics, and cognitive functions. I don’t think it’s wise to expect any given INTJ to quickly recognize that extraverted feeling would be an amazing attribute to develop. The INTJ/ESFJ conflict is just a thing, and it falls upon each one of us to develop ourselves out of, or into, more life conflict. It’s sad to think that conflict is really built into the way our world works but I don’t see another way to spin it.

I also came across a Reddit post by an ESFJ yesterday which is something of a gold mine if you live with, work with, or otherwise need to relate to ESFJs.

The author offers a list of the things that lead them to dislike INTJs:

  • It’s the aloofness and confidence that really gets to me.
  • Sensing and modesty are two very important traits to me.
  • I respect confidence, but not when work ethic, knowledge, or talent are lacking.
  • The “calculating” nature might throw me off to.
  • All too often I feel like they’re not being honest with me and I’m just a means to an end
  • Smugness
  • Quiet confidence

Reading over those comments, I think it’s clear that an anxious INTJ and an anxious ESFJ are going to struggle. Introverted feeling and extraverted sensing tend to take the helm in anxious INTJs, and their eruption or emergence will generally bring with them the smugness, confidence, and aloofness that are mentioned here.

In my own work with ESFJs, I have tried to intentionally downplay my competence at times. Why? Because ESFJs do the same thing, and see it as a mark of refinement and maturity. They are sensitive to braggadocio and may magnify barely-bragging behavior into full-bragging just due to that sensitivity.

Overall I think end-of-film Bob is a good mental model of the ESFJ for an INTJ to examine. We INTJs may be able to identify and encourage the “gifts of mature Bob” in the ESFJs around us, and in doing so we can hardly avoid developing ourselves into more mature human beings.

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