The Elephant – ESFJ

Rivaling the Peacock for the title of “The Most Extroverted Type”, Elephants are well known for their warmth, chattiness, and generosity. Unlike the Peacocks, who are socially aggressive to the point of brazenness, Elephants exude an easygoing friendliness, an air of social comfort that automatically enables those around them to feel comfortable. On a grander scale, the collective work of Elephants helps create the social structure that our civilizations are centered around.

The Head of the Family

Cher

Everything I think and everything I do is wrong. I was wrong about Elton, I was wrong about Christian, and now Josh hated me. It all boiled down to one inevitable conclusion, I was just totally clueless. Oh, and this Josh and Tai thing was wigging me more than anything. I mean, what was my problem? Tai is my pal. I don’t begrudge her a boyfriend. I really… oooh I wonder if they have that in my size.

– Cher (“Clueless”)

Herders by nature, Elephants seem incredibly similar to the other herding types such as the Stags and Dolphins. However, unlike the authoritative Stags, who frequently come across as bossy, the Elephants tend to herd their companions using a lighter touch, so much so that, it is easier to confuse them with the sensitive NF Dolphins. However, whereas Dolphins stress self-empowerment and individuality, the Elephants emphasize compassion and togetherness, and above all else, seek to create a family environment for all the people they come into contact with. It cannot be stressed enough how vital the idea of “family” is to Elephants, whether it refers to their spouse, their children, their nuclear and extended family, a tightly-knit group of friends, or the menagerie of pets they are likely to have inhabiting their house. Just as society relies on Elephants for social stability, Elephants are comforted by the knowledge that they have a strong, familial support system that they can depend on in times of need. They are SJs after all, and security and comfort are paramount. For this reason, abstract musing tends to disinterest them. It’s not that they’re incapable of introspection, it’s just that they realize that time is precious, and they’d rather spend their life sitting on the porch drinking a few beers with friends than wasting away in an ivory tower, or worse, the back alleys of their subconscious. In an Elephant’s mind, what’s the point of having a better understanding of the world—or yourself for that matter—if you don’t have anyone to share it with?

The Optimist

Tom Hanks

Humans are, by nature, too complicated to be understood fully. So, we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candor.

– Tom Hanks

Elephants see the very best in people and, staying true to their SJ roots, this optimism is grounded more in their belief in the sanctity of the community than in a blind faith in any one individual. They are not ignorant to the fact that negativity exists; they just choose to live their lives in a positive manner, frequently letting insults and slights slide off of them like water off a duck’s back. Elephants are usually the first person to initiate social interaction and, as opposed to the freewheeling Peacocks and Foxes, and the business-like Killer Whales, they will do it with a polite, yet unpretentious style, turning strangers into acquaintances, and acquaintances into friends, all in a matter of minutes. Once they have established friendships, those connections tend to last, strengthened by the Elephants’ silly musings, good-natured ribbings, and habit for laughing. Rejection does not deter them—they are social juggernauts—as they are relentless when it comes to bringing new people into the group. Whether it’s the kid sitting by himself during lunch, or the coworker hiding away in the corner cubicle, Elephants make it their mission to ensure that every single individual feels part of the team, with the hopes of eradicating that dreaded loneliness once and for all.

The Gossip

Barbara Walters

Show me someone who never gossips, and I will show you someone who is not interested in people.

– Barbara Walters

The downside to Elephants’ social maneuvering is that they can often be perceived as busybodies. And it’s not always just perception. Elephants routinely involve themselves in other people’s affairs, applying a tremendous amount of social pressure on individuals who are not on the right social track. Sometimes it never occurs to them that what makes them happy, their dream of idyllic social bliss, is not particularly high on the list of priorities for other types—the reclusive Owls and calculating Spiders can find this quite annoying. What if John from HR really does just want to be left alone? Perhaps cousin Margaret doesn’t want to be reminded of her “unsuccessful” marital status every Thanksgiving, or set up with a prospective beau every Christmas. The type most likely to know everything about everybody, Elephants can usually be found heading various societal institutions, like church groups, PTAs, social clubs, reunion committees, etc. Despite the fact that they are extremely outgoing and an avid party-thrower, Elephants are not really “party animals” per se. For them, parties are an extension of the social community, and you are more likely to see them organizing a baby shower or planning a wedding than doing body shots in Cabo during Spring Break—though it is worth noting that, of all the SJs, Elephants are far and away the most exploratory. They love trying new things and traveling to new places, as long as the novelty of the experiences is grounded by the companionship of a familiar, trusted face.

The Host

Jimmy Fallon

Honestly, it’s the greatest show on television. It’s live. It’s topical. It makes you laugh. It’s just a great vibe.

– Jimmy Fallon

Generally speaking, the humor of an Elephant is based on their vast collection of silly expressions, coupled with a playful, bubbly, “nice guy” demeanor. This engaging behavior serves them well in the workplace, where they tend to work best in fields that provide opportunities for mutual bonding between themselves, their coworkers, and their clients. Thus, Elephants often have management roles in the healthcare, education, or non-profit sector. Because they are so conscious of the welfare of others, Elephants make the best hosts; they always seem to know what their guests need at any given moment. That same busybody approach that might annoy others in a different context, is almost necessary as a host—how else can you pull shy guests from out of their shells and ensure that modest visitors take full advantage of generosity? Unfortunately, Elephants will occasionally go overboard with their affable host routine. When this occurs, they might be accused of being, at best, smothering, at worst, overly pleasant and uncritical to the point of being weak. Mature Elephants, however, realize that not everybody can, or should, be their friend, and that sometimes, to understand your loved ones is the best way to care for them.