• You are currently viewing our forum as a guest, which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community, you will have access to additional post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), view blogs, respond to polls, upload content, and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free, so please join our community today! Just click here to register. You should turn your Ad Blocker off for this site or certain features may not work properly. If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact us by clicking here.

Help! How to motivate an unhealthy ESFP?

Lucian725

New member
Joined
Jan 10, 2022
Messages
2
MBTI Type
INTJ
Enneagram
1s9
I'm struggling to discern if my coworker is just an unhealthy ESFP who struggles with conflict and immaturity or a moderate narcissist (maybe both?). If just an unhealthy ESFP, then perhaps there is hope for positive change though proper supervision. My coworker confirmed she tested as ESFP and she certainly has a lot of the positive traits - fun-loving, spontaneous, and adventurous. I admire her youthful spirit and strong social skills. However, her social skills often come across as manipulation. She can be very charming and overly friendly, showering people with fulsome praise and appreciation. This behavior often wins favor with people or it gets them to let down their defenses and disclose personal information to her. She will then use this knowledge as the subject of mean-spirited gossip. It comes across as two-faced passive aggression. She has also engaged in a number of covert schemes to discredit or sabotage other women in the office with whom she shares responsibilities. Mostly petty stuff. For too long I was naive and enabled the behavior as a listener. It took 18 months to see and better understand what was happening. As soon as I saw the pattern, I began to disengaged and guard myself. I thought I was cautious and maintained civil, professional communication, but she picked up on the change immediately and complained to me and others that I was no fun because I wouldn't talk to her. Her behavior then escalated to insubordination. She missed multiple meetings in a row for which she provides support. She offered unconvincing excuses and no apology. She then refused to perform a task I assigned, procrastinating for a week despite my asking her nearly every day. She then outright told me she couldn't do it. When I asked to speak to her about the problem, she ran and hid in the bathroom. The task was routine for her job position, but time sensitive. I end up having to enable the behavior and do the task myself. The next day she agreed to a private meeting with me in a place she felt safe. I explained that I wanted to understand what happened and see if we could find a way to get passed our differences to get the work done. She agreed to these goals but made no effort towards them. She told me she never refused to do the task, she just misunderstood instructions. No apology. For the entire meeting she denied the obvious, revised facts and events I had carefully documented, blamed me and others, and gave me wildly implausible excuses. She needs "friendliness" while I need trust and accountability. I'm hesitating to take the matter to my supervisor. The behavior is under the radar and it's such petty crazy-making. She hasn't violated any official company policies, but left unchecked this behavior could create a toxic workplace. As an INTJ, maybe this is just a conflict between opposite personalities. My actions in response have certainly exacerbated the situation and her overtures of "niceness" in the office make me doubt my instincts. It seems ESFPs just want to live in the moment, do what they want, and not care about the consequences of their actions. Maybe I just need to adjust my expectations. Can anyone with ESFP experience advise?
 

GoggleGirl17

Active member
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Messages
416
MBTI Type
ISFP
Enneagram
479
Instinctual Variant
sp/sx
I'm assuming this person's insubordination is not indicative of some vendetta she has against you for pulling away, but it sounds like she could be lacking the emotional support she needs outside of work and is beginning to feel isolated in the workplace as well, causing her to lose motivation. The flattery, scheming, gossip, and other socially manipulative behavior she displays seem to point to this, as these are all backdoor strategies to feel valued emotionally rather than just as a "productive member of the team." Incidents like her hiding away in the bathroom, not apologizing, not following through, etc., while they could seem immature, seem like she wants to test whether others really care about her, and is reflecting back how she feels she's being treated. Addressing that feeling of isolation is, in my opinion, what will motivate her to be more involved professionally.

While it is certainly not your obligation to do so, it may open her mind a bit if you try talking to her about the fact that you pulled away, and offer your heart a little when asking what's wrong. I'm not saying to have no boundaries at all, but if you lessen them just a bit so that you feel familiar to her again, it will feel like you're concerned about her as a person. When communicating with her about tasks, that friendliness she craves and a slightly less professional tone might help her to feel safe and connected to you and the situation, and more likely to participate and not feel the need to manipulate to get her emotional needs met. In the end, of course, certain things are going to be outside of your influence and responsibility, and if the toxic patterns persist, need to be brought to management's attention, because it sounds like you have a list.
 
Last edited:

Lucian725

New member
Joined
Jan 10, 2022
Messages
2
MBTI Type
INTJ
Enneagram
1s9
I'm assuming this person's insubordination is not indicative of some vendetta she has against you for pulling away, but it sounds like she could be lacking the emotional support she needs outside of work and is beginning to feel isolated in the workplace as well, causing her to lose motivation. The flattery, scheming, gossip, and other socially manipulative behavior she displays seem to point to this, as these are all backdoor strategies to feel valued emotionally rather than just as a "productive member of the team." Incidents like her hiding away in the bathroom, not apologizing, not following through, etc., while they could seem immature, seem like she wants to test whether others really care about her, and is reflecting back how she feels she's being treated. Addressing that feeling of isolation is, in my opinion, what will motivate her to be more involved professionally.

While it is certainly not your obligation to do so, it may open her mind a bit if you try talking to her about the fact that you pulled away, and offer your heart a little when asking what's wrong. I'm not saying to have no boundaries at all, but if you lessen them just a bit so that you feel familiar to her again, it will feel like you're concerned about her as a person. When communicating with her about tasks, that friendliness she craves and a slightly less professional tone might help her to feel safe and connected to you and the situation, and more likely to participate and not feel the need to manipulate to get her emotional needs met. In the end, of course, certain things are going to be outside of your influence and responsibility, and if the toxic patterns persist, need to be brought to management's attention, because it sounds like you have a list.
Testing to see if others care - that’s an interesting observation that never occurred to me. It actually connects to a comment she made in my follow-up meeting with her. She said one of our coworkers expressed concern for her after she came out of the bathroom. I thought she was trying to cast herself as a victim and suggest others were on her side. Looking at some of her other past behavior through this lens does suggest that she has a deep need for supportive attention and caring. It might also help relieve any feelings of guilt she might have. Having remorse would give me hope for positive change.

In my meeting with her, I made certain she felt safe and heard. I did share my reasons for disengaging after first asking if she would be comfortable hearing things she probably wouldn’t like. I chose my words carefully, so I hope that showed her I was trying to consider her feelings and promote peace. She told me that she needs "friendliness" in order to work with me. This does suggest she is upset about my pulling away and limiting communication to "work only." I don't want to remove my boundary (I don't trust her), but perhaps I can work on delivering instructions with a more "friendly" tone that might make her feel cared for. Not sure if I can pull it off. I think I will feel inauthentic and manipulative, but direct discourse didn't work. If both the carrot and stick don't work, I'll go to management. Thanks for the input.
 
Top