ESFJ. The Provider

People with an ESFJ personality type are typically friendly and traditional in nature. They tend to be fairly structured, reliable and predictable.

If you are an ESFJ you are probably naturally focused on the wellbeing of others and tend to adopt traditional channels of caretaking. You think very systemically about how people should treat each other for the collective benefit. You tend to be oriented toward details and find repeatable routines rewarding. You like to be active in the community: helping and affirming others, bringing people together, creating a more harmonious world. In fact, if you’re not taking care of others in some way you might feel a little restless and unsatisfied. 

Others often see you as gracious and quick to pick up on the finer points of etiquette. You value cooperation, helpfulness and positive interactions. You are quick to spot what others need and quick to provide a remedy when it can be done. You have a greater tolerance than most for doing the detailed and perhaps repetitive tasks. You may also be astute at remembering the names, details and positive qualities of the people around you. If you draw attention to yourself you'll probably use it to affirm someone else, or to bring attention to a cause that is helping a neglected group of people.

You readily empathize with others’ emotional states and you genuinely like being part of a group. You have a keen sense of social dynamics. You’re tuned into how the members of a group are functioning together and are probably quick to remedy any disharmony within that group. You have an empathic radar that tells you who is troubled, how they might be troubled, and how you might resolve the difficulty. 

When it comes down to it, you’re most concerned with the collective rather than any single individual that is part of the collective. This doesn’t mean you don’t care about individuals. You care very much. It’s just that your concern is naturally drawn to the welfare of the group, which could be the family, the class, the citizens, the church or club members, and so on.

As such, if there is an individual who is threatening the welfare of the group, you will probably be motivated to kindly correct that person’s actions, to show them what is more acceptable, so they have the opportunity for more harmonious interactions with others.

Your keen sense of empathy and group dynamics tend to guide your decision making more than anything else. 

The way you perceive the world tends to be rooted in the tried and true. That is, you naturally look toward the past to see what has worked before in any given situation, and then use those past examples as a template for moving ahead into the future. Such an approach may attract you to uphold various traditions and institutions. You especially value the traditions and institutions that, in your view, contribute to social wellbeing in some capacity.

Most likely, people consider you to be a friendly, steady, and practical person. You’re more prone to take action than to wait around. You don’t mind doing some of the “boring” work that others avoid. In fact, you might find some of that repetitious and hands-on work to be enjoyable and relaxing, especially if you’re doing that work in good company. 

As a warm-hearted person, you might object to looking at the world in a cold, logical kind of way. However, subconsciously you’re evaluating social systems very logically. It’s just that your logic is concerned with the welfare of others. This kind of social logic can develop to become a real super power. 

When you're under severe stress, you may turn inward, blaming yourself for the problems that exist around you.

ESFJ Quotes

“There is nothing in which I habitually find greater satisfaction than in the consciousness of serving my friends.” - Cicero (Roman Statesman)

"It's ... the ordinary, the straight, the square, that accounts for the great stability and success of our nation.” - Gerald Ford

"I will take care of you, you will take care of me, we will sacrifice for one another. That's what keeps a military unit bonded together.” - Colin Powell

"I [always] understood very well how to be nice and how to take care of people." - Jennifer Garner

1. Extraverted Feeling

The ESFJ type's first function is Extraverted Feeling. It is focused most keenly on the nature of social interactions. It emphasizes treating each other well over personal authenticity and it ultimately emphasizes the group well being over individual needs. It is systemic in focus. The way individuals are honored often ties back into ideas of social etiquette, social justice, and beneficial group functioning rather than just individual benefit. It focuses on social systems on every level: family, organizations, and culture.

Some strengths of Extraverted Feeling include:

  • Social director. It will take up the director’s role to meet group needs.
  • Uplift. It tends to create an uplifting atmosphere for everyone in the group just by the effect of its presence.
  • Inclusion. It wants others to feel included if possible.
  • Graciousness. Appropriateness. It knows the right thing to say to keep up morale and to save others from any embarrassment. It is the ideal mental function for hosting groups and bringing people together.
  • Judge of Character. It will quickly read how others may or may not benefit the group.
  • Need Radar. It will quickly assess others' needs and act to address them, even if it is not requested; This can include giving remarkably on-target gifts.
  • Cooperation. It emphasizes doing things together in a way that is kind and mutually supportive. For Extraverted Feeling, cooperation could be as important, or even more important, than achieving the goal itself.
  • Empathy. When empathy is extraverted, it tends to be more of an outpouring toward the other person that is combined with an act of service.

Read more about Extraverted Feeling

2. Introverted Sensing

An ESFJ type's second function is Introverted Sensing. Introverted Sensing is the part of the psyche that compares the current objective situation to subjective associations in the past. It emphasizes past impressions over present reality. It overlays past related experiences on new experiences. For example, if someone repeatedly treated you rudely, your Introverted Sensing function will catalog each past rude behavior and remind you of these behaviors next time you see that person. It uses an internal database of remembered touch, taste, sight, sound, smell, body sensations, and emotional impressions as material for comparison with the present situation. It is primarily subjective. Even though memories are often clear and detailed, they are still subjective and may not agree with another person’s recollection

  • It asks, “What has been done before?”
  • It seeks repeatable, dependable behaviors.
  • It tends to converge on singular or fewer solutions based on what has been done before.

Some Strengths of Introverted Sensing include:

  • Planning and preparation for the future based on past patterns.
  • Fact recollection. Remembering exactly what you said or what you were wearing two years ago, remembering how the specific details in a room have changed from one day to the next, or citing memorized texts in detail.
  • Reliable and responsible. People who lead with Introverted Sensing are often willing to do the work that needs to be done - no matter how mundane it is - long after others have checked out.
  • Internal body awareness. As an example, knowing exactly when one’s stomach is full of food.
  • Insightful. Overlaying the past onto the present, giving a more complete grasp of the current situation, and leading to insights that might seem amazing to others.
  • Consistency. Past impressions get stronger and more satisfying with repetition.
  • Creating order. Tends to be meticulous and detailed in presenting information.

Read more about Introverted Sensing.

3. Extraverted Intuition

As the third function-attitude for an ESFJ type, Extraverted Intuition can act in a few roles: The first might be as a way to defend against negative future possibilities, the second might be as a kind of checkpoint to verify the validity of any decisions made with the first two function-attitudes. Or, if the situation doesn't seem to fit the capacities of either #1 or #2 function-attitude, #3 Extraverted Intuition might be employed.
Read more about Extraverted Intuition.

4. Introverted Thinking

The role of the 4th function is an interesting one. It's often called the Inferior function because it tends to be the seat of one's most conscious fears and insecurities. It is also sometimes called the Aspirational function because it often represents what one aspires to be.
In the case of ESFJ type personality, the 4th is Introverted Thinking. This can mean that ESFJ types think they should be more logical somehow, and can be fearful of appearing illogical. Earlier in their development they might decide to forego logic altogether because it seems like an untrustable or even irrelevant entity. On the other hand, a budding ESFJ type may decide to embrace logic a little too much, trying to overcompensate for their feeling nature. It doesn't mean they can't be good at it, but there's often an anxiousness involved. However when an ESFJs 1st and 4th start working together then they find they can apply systemic logic very aptly to social situations. Social interactions can become a finely tuned logical system. Read more about Introverted Thinking.