ESFJ Personality Type: The Consul

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated November 7, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

In the 1940s, Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers developed a personality test known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It’s a personality quiz that will return one of 16 “types” as the result, and learning about your particular type may help inform your work, relationships, and other aspects of life. 

Each of the 16 personality types is named for its four key components, which are combined into a four-letter acronym. ESFJ is one example; it’s one of the most common Myers-Briggs types, reported to make up around 12% of the population. Also known as “The Consul,” an ESFJ tends to have a diplomatic, orderly approach to life. Read on to learn more about the typical behaviors of ESFJs, including strengths and weaknesses, common traits, and career advice.

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Overview Of The ESFJ Personality Type

The four letters that make up a Myers-Briggs personality type are: either I (introverted) or E (extroverted), S (sensing) or N (intuition), T (thinking) or F (feeling), and J (judging) or P (perceiving). That means that the ESFJ type is characterized by tendencies toward extroversion, sensing, feeling, and judging.

Extraversion

ESFJs are generally sociable and enjoy interacting with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. They tend to have a lot of energy and enthusiasm.

Sensing

ESFJs usually gravitate toward focusing on concrete facts and details more than ‘the big picture.’ They often choose to live in the reality of the here and now instead of what may happen at some unknown future date.

Feeling

ESFJs still tend to make decisions based on their feelings rather than logic. When push comes to shove, they’re generally ruled by their hearts rather than their heads. Combined with their tendency to focus on the facts, this means that they often have the unique ability to be both diplomatic and empathetic.

Judgment

ESFJs are usually organized and disciplined planners. They’re likely to plan things out in detail and typically like predictability and routine.

ESFJs may show their emotions readily and wear their hearts on their sleeves. At times, this can cause problems for them, especially since ESFJs can have trouble setting boundaries. They'll often go to great lengths to make the people around them happy.

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Key Traits Of An ESFJ

If you’re an ESFJ or if a loved one has this personality type, it may be interesting and even useful to learn about it more in depth. See below for a few key personality traits that ESFJs tend to share.

Sociability

ESFJs are often social butterflies who enjoy interacting with others. While they may like to be the center of attention, they can also be good listeners. Someone with an ESFJ personality type will often “work the room” at a party, making time to talk to everyone. They use their sensing (S) and judgment (J) traits to understand others in a detailed way, and then utilize that understanding to be supportive and helpful. People tend to like ESFJs because they’re often able to make the people they come into contact with feel good about themselves. They can also be sensitive to discord, so it’s not unusual for them to step in to defuse tension and restore harmony. 

Dependability

When an ESFJ says that they're going to do something, you can typically count on it happening. ESFJs tend to take their responsibilities seriously and do whatever it takes to get things done.

They're often the ones doing what needs to be done long before others have even noticed that something needs doing. ESFJ personality types are usually take-charge people.

Approval-Seeking

As is the case with many types, most ESFJs desire validation from others. They also tend to derive satisfaction from making people happy, so they can be hurt when they feel unappreciated. This can also sometimes make it difficult for them to take criticism, even though they often naturally gravitate toward leadership positions where they may receive it regularly.

Values-Oriented

ESFJs tend to have strong value systems and clear ideas of right and wrong that they don't hesitate to put into words and action. However, it’s worth noting that they’re likely to internalize these value systems from those around them (parents, religion, society), being less likely to challenge or question “the norm” than other types may be. They may be considered traditional “rule followers” more than some of the other types.

Control-Craving

ESFJs are usually happiest when they have structure and organization. They can become bored by abstract theories and analysis but will happily create order out of chaos and tend to excel at tasks that require this sort of skill. ESFJ personality types usually love organizing parties and events ahead of time, so unplanned get-togethers and pop-in visitors may cause them stress. The ESFJ’s need to control their environment can sometimes result in relationship difficulties, as this craving could extend to aspects of the other person’s life.

ESFJs At Work

While any personality type can excel in any career, certain individuals may be happier or more successful in certain roles. When it comes to ESFJs, they tend to enjoy working in well-structured, motivated, supportive teams. Most ESFJs prefer a role where they can use their methodical organizational skills and attention to detail to work towards clear goals and help others in a practical way. Since they often feel calmer and more safe in structured environments, it’s not uncommon for ESFJs to work in fields like business administration, nursing, teaching, social work, or law enforcement.

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Potential Areas For Improvement For ESFJs

Each type and each individual has their own set of strengths as well as their own potential areas for improvement. When it comes to the ESFJ personality type, some potentially problematic traits that may be worth paying attention to include the following.

Learning To Handle Change

ESFJs are often resistant to change. Adapting to a new home or job may not be easy for them because they prefer structure, predictability, and control. Since life is inherently unpredictable, this could mean that they may find themselves experiencing distress and engaging in controlling behaviors in the face of disruptions to their routine. Finding healthy ways to cope with change may help them feel better prepared to handle life’s surprises.

Being More Open To Other Perspectives

For some ESFJs, the perspectives and values of others can be hard to understand or accept, since they may represent ways of doing things that don’t align with their own values. They may need to make a more concerted effort than others to embrace new viewpoints through the lens of empathy and open-mindedness rather than the lens of “how things have always been done.” 

Accepting Constructive Criticism

ESFJs tend to pride themselves on playing by the rules, so when they get negative feedback, they can feel confused and even defensive. Instead of seeing this input as a threat, they might try to view it as an opportunity for growth.

Coping With Rejection

We’re social creatures, and needing some level of approval and acceptance from others is part of how we’re all wired. However, ESFJs may find it particularly difficult to cope when facing rejection or a lack of approval from someone. Learning to find acceptance from within themselves and not internalizing the opinions of others as much could be helpful.

Releasing Some Control

Since ESFJs usually feel most comfortable within the confines of structure and rules, they may have trouble coping when someone around them lives outside of these bounds. As a result, they may exhibit controlling tendencies toward the details of their own lives and/or to the lives of those around them. Learning to relinquish some of this control, embrace a bit more of the unknown, and respect the autonomy of others could be helpful steps in an ESFJ’s journey of growth.

Getting Support In Understanding Your Personality

Each individual has a unique personality type that’s shaped by some combination of genetics, environment, and upbringing. Knowing your Myers-Briggs personality type can be helpful in understanding some of your key tendencies. If you’re looking for a more in-depth understanding of who you are and why you make the choices that you do, connecting with a qualified therapist can be helpful. They can support you in making sense of your behaviors, developing healthy coping mechanisms, processing any past traumas, and learning to make positive decisions for your life, work, and relationships. 

Attending regular in-person therapy sessions is not possible for many due to factors like cost. In cases like these, online therapy can represent a viable alternative. With a platform like BetterHelp, for example, you can get matched with a therapist you can speak with via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging—and all for a cost that’s less than the average in-person session and comparable to most insurance co-pays. Research suggests that both methods can be equally effective in many cases, so you can feel confident in choosing whichever one is more reachable to or comfortable for you.

Takeaway

According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a popular personality test, ESFJs tend to be organized, disciplined, sociable, and caring. Regardless of your personality type, understanding your key strengths as well as your areas for improvement may help you live a healthier, more fulfilling life.

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