ESFJ Development
The Unique Growth Path of the ESFJ

This section ESFJ Development is about the unique developmental path of the ESFJ personality from birth to midlife. While an individual’s personality development is unique, personality type provides a good general framework for you.

To understand the ESFJ’s development, we have to understand the hierarchy of mental functions for the ESFJ. The hierarchy of mental functions for the ESFJ is about which mental function (Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking or Feeling) the ESFJ is most comfortable with using and which they are least comfortable in using.

Without going too much into Type dynamics, let’s look at the ESFJ’s hierarchy of mental functions:

The ESFJ is most comfortable with using the Dominant Function Extraverted Feeling and least comfortable with the Inferior Function Introverted Thinking.

From Childhood to Puberty:
Development of Extraverted Feeling

As children, ESFJs will develop the Extraverted Feeling function. They deeply seek harmony and approval from their parents and will go all out of the way to please them.

They are highly sensitive to the social climate wherever they are, and will be deeply affected if there is rejection or disapproval. They are caring and compassionate children who have a heart for those around them.

If they have not properly developed this function, they may grow up to make erratic decisions or accept the judgments of others too easily.

From Puberty to about Age 30:
Development of Introverted Sensing

During puberty, ESFJs will start developing the auxiliary function, Introverted Sensing. They will show this development through their interest through action and activities in the real world as opposed to the use of their imagination.

They will also develop an interest in subjects that deal with facts like geography or the natural sciences. They will also display an extremely good memory both in their work and in their everyday life.

If they have not been allowed to develop this function, they may grow up to become judgmental; not seeing possibilities but making stubborn decisions without sufficient information.

Areas for ESFJ Development

Assuming an environment is supportive to their development, most ESFJs would have developed Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing by 20 years old or so.

Their areas of improvement will most likely come from the underdeveloped sides of Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Thinking.

Here are some suggestions for improvement:

  • Learn to state your stand assertively without getting too emotional
  • Try to resolve conflicts instead of avoiding them
  • Resist the urge to micromanage
  • Give and receive negative feedback constructively
  • Learn to accept uncertainties

From Age 30 to Midlife:
Development of Extraverted Intuition

If those behaviours are not developed by the age of 30, the ESFJ will feel the tension to continue growing, firstly to start developing the tertiary function Extraverted Intuition.

The ESFJ may start to use their imagination and become more comfortable with long term goals and targets. They may start to enjoy seeing possibilities and dreams for the future.  

The ESFJ can further develop the Extraverted Intuition function through these simple exercises:

  • Brainstorm ideas for activities you can do over the weekend; make a list of things that you have never done before, with people you do not usually meet.

  • Read into world affairs across countries and consider global patterns that may link all of these together.

  • Write a poem about something from nature without using physical attributes to describe it. (i.e. don’t talk about its colour or shape or size)

From Midlife onward:
Development of Introverted Thinking

From midlife onward, the ESFJ’s focus turns toward the inferior function, Introverted Thinking. The underdeveloped Introverted Thinking of the ESFJ comes out in a childish way under stress, leading ESFJs to be critical of themselves or even sarcastic in their language.

But in midlife, there is an unconscious shift and desire to develop that inferior function in order to achieve wholeness and continual growth. It is an uncomfortable but necessary transition.

Here are some simple exercises to consciously develop the Introverted Thinking function:

  • Pick up a game that requires strategic thinking like chess, card games or computer games. Learn to make better decisions as you progress in the game.

  • Use cost-benefit analysis to make decisions. Consider pros and cons of each using a list. What are the consequences of each decision?

  • Study a controversial subject. Study notes, read up for more information while suspending any judgment. Look at both sides of the argument and notice its merits.


The developmental paths of individuals are unique depending on the environment, culture and social norms they were brought up in.

Some cultures value certain personality traits more than others, affecting the personality development of an individual.  Lastly, it is good to remember that no two people need to develop the same way, and hence only some of the above may apply to you.

This page only serves as a general guide for anyone using it as a reference. If you like to learn more about your unique developmental path, please contact me.

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