ESFJ: The Caregiver (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging)

An Overview of the ESFJ Personality Type

ESFJ, also known as the caretaker or consul personality, is one of the 16 personality types identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. People with an ESFJ personality type tend to be outgoing, loyal, organized, and tender-hearted. ESFJs gain energy from interacting with other people.

They are typically described as outgoing and gregarious. They have a way of encouraging other people to be their best and often have a hard time believing anything bad about the people to whom they are close.

ESFJ Personality Type

Verywell / JR Bee

According to psychologist David Keirsey, approximately 9% to 13% of the population has an ESFJ personality type.

Key ESFJ Characteristics

People with an ESFJ or consul personality tend to:

  • Enjoy helping others
  • Have a need for approval
  • Expect their kind and giving ways to be noticed and appreciated by others
  • Be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others
  • Be good at responding and providing the care that people need
  • Want to be liked by others
  • Get easily hurt by unkindness or indifference
  • Derive their value system from external sources, including the community at large rather than from intrinsic, ethical, and moral guidelines

People with the consul personality type who are raised with high values and standards grow up to be generous adults. ESFJs raised in a less enriched environment may have skewed ethics as adults and are more likely to be manipulative and self-centered.

ESFJs also have a strong desire to exert control over their environment. Organizing, planning, and scheduling help people with this personality type feel in command of the world around them.

ESFJs are naturally geared toward understanding other people. They are careful observers of others and are adept at supporting and bringing out the best in people. Because they are so good at helping others feel good about themselves, people feel drawn to ESFJs.

One common myth about ESFJs is that they can sometimes be doormats, allowing others to walk over them out of a fear of disapproval or rejection. While they are people pleasers, this does not mean that they are pushovers.

Strengths
  • Kind and loyal

  • Outgoing

  • Organized

  • Practical and dependable

  • Enjoy helping others

  • Conscientious

Weaknesses
  • Needy

  • Approval-seeking

  • Sensitive to criticism

  • Dislike change

  • Intolerant

  • Controlling

Cognitive Functions

The MBTI suggests that there are a number of cognitive functions (thinking, sensing, feeling, and intuition) that help shape each individual’s personality. The hierarchical ordering of these functions is what contributes to the makeup of each personality type. Each individual function is expressed either inwardly (introverted) or outwardly (extraverted).

Dominant: Extraverted Feeling

ESFJs tend to make decisions based on personal feeling, emotions, and concern for others. They tend to think more about the personal impact of a decision rather than considering objective criteria.

ESFJs tend to judge people and situations based upon their "gut feelings." They often make snap decisions as a result and are quick to share their feelings and opinions.

This tendency can be great in some ways, as it allows them to make choices rather quickly. On the negative side, it can sometimes lead to overly harsh judgments of others.

Auxiliary: Introverted Sensing

ESFJs are more focused on the present than on the future. They are interested in concrete, immediate details rather than abstract or theoretical information.

Tertiary: Extraverted Intuition

This cognitive function helps ESFJs make connections and find creative solutions to problems. ESFJs are known to explore the possibilities when looking at a situation. They can often find patterns that allow them to gain insights into people and experiences.

Inferior: Introverted Thinking

ESFJs are organized and like to plan things out in advance. Planning helps people with this personality type feel more in control of the world around them.

This aspect of personality helps the ESFJ analyze complex information, but it is often a point of weakness, especially when it comes to making sense of abstract or theoretical concepts.

ESFJs You Might Know

  • Sally Field, actress
  • Sam Walton, Wal-Mart founder
  • William McKinley, U.S. president
  • Barbara Walters, television journalist
  • Joy, film character, Inside Out

Personal Relationships

As extraverts, ESFJs love spending time with other people. Not only do they gain energy from social interaction, but they are also genuinely interested in the well-being of others. They are frequently described as warm-hearted and empathetic, and they will often put the needs of others ahead of their own.

They typically feel insecure in situations where things are uncertain or chaotic. While this makes ESFJs well suited to positions that involve managing or supervising people, it can also lead to conflicts when they try to exercise control over people who do not welcome such direction.

Because ESFJs are so dependable and loyal, they tend to build strong friendships that are long-lasting.

Career Paths

Because ESFJs enjoy helping others, they often do well in practical settings that involve taking a caregiver role. Social service and healthcare careers are two areas in particular in which ESFJs may excel at applying their helping nature and desire for order.

ESFJs have a number of traits that make them ideally suited to certain careers. For example, their dependability and innate need to take care of others mean that they often do well in jobs that involve supporting and caring for people such as nursing or teaching.

Popular ESFJ Careers

Tips for Interacting With ESFJs

If you know someone with an ESFJ or consul personality, there are things that you can do that can help strengthen your relationship and improve your interactions.

Friendships

ESFJ can be selfless to the point of overlooking their own needs to ensure that other people are happy. Being a good friend to someone with this personality type means you should express your appreciation of their giving nature, but also make sure that you reciprocate their kindness.

ESFJs get along best with people who value them make them feel appreciated. Relationships are important to people with a consul personality and they tend to avoid relationships where they might face a great deal of conflict or criticism.

Parenting

ESFJ children are responsible and enjoy spending time with their family. Your child needs regular encouragement. Show your involvement by showing enthusiasm and support for their interests and activities.

These children also have a strong need for routine. Establish rules and stick to them. ESFJ children feel more assured and confident when they know what they can expect.

Relationships

In romance, ESFJs are very devoted, supportive, and loyal. They are not interested in casual relationships and are focused on developing long-term commitments. You can support your partner by showing how much you love and appreciate them. Being responsive by showing affection and returning gestures of love is important.

In terms of romantic relationships, ESFJs tend to look for relationships with people who are honest and open with their emotions. They value closeness, intimacy, and long-term commitments.

A Word From Verywell

Just as all personality types, people with the ESFJ type have their own unique patterns of preferences and behaviors. Learning more about your personality type can help you better understand some of these tendencies. This can help you build on your strengths and prevent some of your weaknesses from damaging your relationships with others.

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Article Sources
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  1. Keirsey D. Portrait of the Guardian Provider ESFJ.