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Being an ESFJ Technical Communicator

Ever since I became a technical writer, I've undergone a journey of self-actualization and I've been coming to terms with who I am as a person. I wanted to see if there was a reason I work the way I do-with dedication, passion, and in a structured environment. About one month ago, I took a free personality test on 16personalities.com. The result I ended up with was ESFJ-Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging.

As an ESFJ, I am a very outgoing individual. I love meeting other people and learning about them. I also have a strong desire to be liked by others and to make sure everything around me is pleasant and adheres to my personal values. I am energetic and outgoing, but I always defer to others for approval to feel good about myself, creating a sense of co-dependency or neediness.

Another trait of my personality is that I have a strong desire to control my environment. I demand structure and organization in what I do. I need to have or see previous experience and knowledge to assess a situation and then organize it in the best way I see fit, so I can be productive. I feel a sense of duty and responsibility in my work.

Technical Communication is a field with both introverted and extroverted individuals, people who are go-getters and love free reign and those who need coaching and structure to succeed. But for me, I identified four areas where I can use the strengths of my personality to my benefit, rather than let them hold me back.

Don’t work too hard or become too emotionally invested in your work.
Throughout my formative years and all the way through grad school, I worked hard and used my passion and drive to succeed. However, in the working world, I realized I need to leave my emotions at the door, put my head down and work. This helps me stay focused on the task at hand and I can be successful at any task, without making a mountain out of a molehill and feeling like I’m failing to meet my own expectations. Also, keep work at work and enjoy your personal life. Don’t feel like you have to let your work dwell on you when you leave the office for the day.

Look at the positives in a situation and strive for them.
As an ESFJ, I take situations way too personally. I feel as if they damage my ego and who I am. However, that isn’t the case in reality, and I need to take a step back and ask myself, “Is this affecting my ability to function?” I usually answer “No,” and see an opportunity to turn a negative scenario into a positive one. For example, when someone reviews work on a help file or user’s guide, and I missed some mistakes, I have to not let frustrations overwhelm me and instead print out a list of mistakes I need to work on, and then correct them as I do another review. Then, I’ll internalize these mistakes so that I can avoid them in the future.

See things from other people’s point of view
One of the first things I learned from my graduate education was to understand the intended audience of my work. In a professional setting, I also have to understand a subject matter expert’s or a marketing person’s point of view on my work and compare it with my initial review, so I can improve it for technical accuracy and readability. Also, I’ll need their input so that when a documentation workflow is full up and running, I can integrate those people as part of the process, and the organization can move forward onto more ambitious goals.

Go with the flow
In my life, I’ve had moments where I felt like I needed to control my environment so I could organize it in a way I thought was correct. However, I have to learn to let things go and embrace new situations, so I can find a way to succeed in them. Trying to fight the current leads to an unproductive work environment and costs the company money as you’re trying to catch up once you realized fighting a situation isn’t worth it anymore. So, ESFJs need to have an open mind and listen to input from coworkers and subject matter experts. Don’t dread new features and wonder how to use them, jump on the opportunity to ask for help or get into testing them so you can understand them better.

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