ESFJs are one of sixteen personality types. I have found ESFJs to be less common than demographic data sometimes suggests, especially among Caucasian females. In my experience, they are easily outnumbered by ESFPs, at least in the U.S.
ESFJs are warm, engaging, caring, loyal, dutiful, and hardworking. They are admired for their work ethic, perseverance, devotion, and steadfastness. They strive to practice what they preach, holding fast to their commitments and convictions. As predominant Judgers, they take their work, family, and social roles rather seriously.
Like ENFJs and INFJs, ESFJs have strong interpersonal skills, capable of quickly establishing rapport with others. They are natural readers of people and their emotions, a trait which allows them to quickly relate to people. Because of their social intelligence and love for people, they often have a substantial network of friends, acquaintances, and social connections. Their people skills also contribute to their persuasiveness and prowess as salespersons.
While appearing outwardly confident and assertive, on the whole, ESFJs are no more inwardly sure of themselves than other types. Indeed, because their inner Judging function, Introverted Thinking (Ti), is inferior, ESFJs may feel they have relatively little inner control. Finding inner control elusive, they naturally turn their focus outwardly, hoping that achieving outer control will somehow bring them inner calm and security. Their primary means of achieving outer control is through Extraverted Feeling (Fe), which serves as their dominant function. By way of their Fe, ESFJs can befriend, persuade, and direct others. In so doing, ESFJs can reap the benefit of social support, as well as a sense of control and influence in the world of people.
Like their ESTJ counterparts, ESFJs’ auxiliary function, Introverted Sensing (Si), prompts them to keep one eye on the past and to preserve existing methods, traditions, and conventions. This is why David Keirsey classifies them as “guardians.” This may partly explain why many ESFJs love teaching, a role that allows them to relay existing knowledge and wisdom to others.
In sharing the same set of functions, ESFJs often resemble ISFJs. One difference is ESFJs tend to more warm and engaging upfront, while ISFJs can be somewhat more socially anxious and take longer to warm-up. These two types also differ with regard to their inferior function issues, with ISFJs wrestling with Ne and ESFJs with Ti-related concerns.
ESFJs can also resemble ENFJs, since they share the same dominant and inferior function. Both types have strong social acumen and enjoy helping and supporting others. But because ENFJs use Ni as their auxiliary function, they are often more interested in theoretical or philosophical discussions than ESFJs are. On account of their Si, ESFJs tend to be more practical and traditional, whereas ENFJs are often less conventional in their approach.
While ESFJs differ from ESFPs by only one “preference” (i.e., J-P), they actually share zero functions in common. This makes these two types far more different than is commonly recognized. ESFJs, whose Extraverted Judging function is dominant (Fe), tend to be more direct and firm in their assertions than is true of ESFPs, whose Extraverted Judging function is tertiary (Te). Moreover, because of their Se, ESFPs are more concerned with keeping up with current trends and fashions, as well as modifying their appearance accordingly. ESFJs, by contrast, whose Sensing is introverted (Si), tend to have a diminished concern for doing so. Of course, ESFJs raised with Se types may assimilate certain Se tendencies because their Si has learned to see them as normal.
ESFJ Personality Type Development & Functional Stack
ESFJs’ functional stack is composed of the following functions:
Dominant: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
Auxiliary: Introverted Sensing (Si)
Tertiary: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Inferior: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
ESFJs’ personality type development can be broadly conceived as consisting of three phases:
Phase I (Teens-20s)
Phase I is characterized by the development and employment of ESFJs’ dominant function, Extraverted Feeling (Fe). In developing and strengthening their Fe, Phase I ESFJs can seem inflexible and opinionated, quick to make judgments and draw conclusions about the world. Since their judgments are not yet being weighed and balanced by their auxiliary and tertiary functions, they are especially prone to jumping to conclusions.
Since Fe is a Judging function, ESFJs tend to take themselves and their lives quite seriously. Even from a relatively young age, they tend to strive for excellence in whatever they do. They can differ markedly from ISFJs in this phase, whose dominant function (Si) is a Perceiving function. This leads ISFJs to be more open and take life less seriously than Phase I ESFJs are wont to do. While both types utilize Fe, ISFJs are more concerned with perceiving the world (Si), while ESFJs are already working to change or control it (Fe).
Phase II (Late Teens-30s)
While the inferior function is not entirely dormant or inert in Phase I, the epic tug-of-war between the dominant and inferior does not come to the fore until Phase II. Once ESFJs’ dominant Fe reaches a certain threshold of strength and dominance, their inferior function, Introverted Thinking (Ti), begins to assert itself and play a more prominent role. This can be somewhat confusing since Ti is not next in line in ESFJs’ functional stack. However, this can be understood as deriving from Ti’s bipolar relationship with ESFJs’ dominant Fe.
Phase II ESFJs also show increasing use and development of their auxiliary function, Introverted Sensing (Si), and may even begin to tap into their tertiary function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne). These Perceiving functions allow ESFJs to open and modify their Fe judgments. They help them loosen their grip on life, tempering their Fe drive for outer order and control. (This Personality Junkie profile is continued on the next page.)