How to Tell if You’re an ESFJ vs. ESFP

ESFJ vs ESFP blog cover

If you’re reading this post, there’s a high chance that you’re trying to work out if you’re an ESFJ vs. ESFP personality type. These two types are often confused because they share many of the same characteristics. Both types are warm, practical, and caring. Plus, they greatly value their personal relationships.

But there are also some core differences between how these types think and experience the world. In this post, we explore these core differences. If you’re unclear about your type, we hope this helps you.

So here are five differences between the ESFJ vs. ESFP personality types.

1. Empathizing with others.

ESFJ vs ESFP

Both ESFPs and ESFJs are deeply empathetic and feel other people’s emotions on a deep level. However, ESFPs map other people’s emotions to their own, while ESFJs absorb the feelings of those around them. As a result, ESFPs are more able to “switch off” their empathy than ESFJs.

ESFPs are acutely aware of their own emotions, and they imagine how they would feel if they were in someone else’s shoes. When possible, ESFPs consider how they felt in similar situations in the past in order to understand what someone is going through.

They essentially have a library of emotions from a range of experiences and they can draw on them when they choose. However, they might not always be aware that they’re doing this because it comes so naturally to them.

On the other hand, ESFJs innately absorb the emotions of others in real time. This can happen with anyone or anything. It could be a close family member, someone they are sitting next to on the train, or an animal in a book.

ESFJs instinctively feel the emotions of other beings. The way they empathize with others isn’t directly based on how they would feel, although this can be a conscious consideration.

When they are around happy people, they naturally take on similar emotions, and the same goes for other scenarios such as when those around them are sad.

2. Making decisions.

Both types are emotional, but ESFPs are more in touch with their own emotions while ESFJs are more aware of the emotions of others. ESFPs and ESFJs are two of the most open personality types when it comes to sharing details about their lives.  

While both types value emotions when making decisions, ESFPs primarily think about if the potential course of action is in alignment with their values while ESFJs first consider how others will be impacted. This also means that ESFPs tend to be more individualistic while ESFJs adjust their behavior depending on who they are with.

ESFPs have a deep need to stay true to themselves and they aren’t particularly concerned about what others think of them. They are driven by a need to remain authentic and are rarely influenced by others when choosing which path to take.

When making decisions, ESFPs ask: “How do I feel about this?” Ultimately, they are always looking to create harmony within themselves.

ESFJs primarily base their decisions on how they will affect others. They want to create win-win scenarios and avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. Of course, this isn’t always possible and when they do have to take actions that involve hurting other people, it deeply affects them.

ESFJs are often the peacemakers in their families or social groups. They will try to see both sides of every issue and find a resolution that works for everyone.

When making decisions, ESFJs ask: “How does this impact the group?” Ultimately, they are always looking to create harmony with the outer world.

3. Organization.

ESFPs and ESFJs have a similar approach to life in a lot of ways. After all, they share preferences for extroversion, sensing, and feeling. However, the way they organize their day-to-day lives can look quite different. ESFPs prefer to keep their options open while ESFJs feel more comfortable when they have a clear plan.

ESFPs often appear relaxed and adaptable. In fact, they are in a lot of ways. They don’t like to plan too far in advance and are open to new experiences. This is because they love entertaining possibilities and can feel uncomfortable when they give up options.

One of the reasons for this is that ESFPs are the happiest when their decisions are in alignment with their values. Despite being flexible in many regards, ESFPs can feel very strongly about certain topics and this can come as a surprise.

They have clear judgments about what they feel is right or wrong. But it’s unlikely that you’ll see this in an ESFP straight away. It’s just when you dig deeper or broach a topic that they have firm opinions about, you’ll see how strongly they feel about certain things.

ESFJs are organized and feel most comfortable when they have a plan. They like to know what they’re doing and when they’re doing it.

This is because they have a lot going on in their heads and feel more comfortable when they have some structure in their outer lives. Being in an environment where there is outer structure enables ESFJs to think clearly and explore concepts internally.

In contrast to ESFPs, ESFJs are often more adaptable in terms of their point of view. While both types have strong values, ESFJs are less likely to see certain actions as black and white. ESFJs feel most comfortable when they have routine and structure to their days.

4. Understanding their emotions.

Even though both types are emotional, the way they process their feelings differs. This is a result of ESFPs being more focused on their own emotions and ESFJs being more in tune with those of other people.  

ESFPs are exceptionally aware of their feelings, in a very intricate way. They are constantly processing their emotions and they can sometimes find it hard to maintain a feeling of internal balance.

At times, they might be unable to temper their emotions, even if they want to. ESFPs are easily moved and tend to cry more often than a lot of other personality types.

Seeing as ESFPs are so in touch with their feelings, they are intensely passionate and they love to share their enthusiasm with the world.

If they’re excited, everyone will know, and if they’re sad, they’ll likely feel a need to share this with close friends, family, or a partner.

ESFJs can find it difficult to understand their emotions. In certain situations, they can feel like they understand other people’s feelings better than their own.

Seeing as their focus on feelings is directed outwards, they can struggle to process their own emotions and sometimes try to rationalize them.

Plus, if an ESFJ is around someone who is experiencing strong emotions, they may be overwhelmed by this person’s feelings.

This can make it difficult to separate out their own. For example, if a family member is devastated, an ESFJ will feel their pain and can struggle to know what aspects of their sadness are their own.

5. Observing the world.

Juicy Questions to Ask Your Friends

ESFPs and ESFJs have the ability to be present and they see the world in a literal way. They feel most comfortable when dealing with clear, tangible information rather than abstract topics.

ESFPs observe the world through their senses. They have a knack for paying attention to what’s around them and are more likely to see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

This is evident in the way they notice small things about people and their environment. For example, they might notice very nuanced facial expressions.

They are often good with bodily movements and can be very talented athletes. ESFPs take great pleasure in physical beauty which is why many have a creative side and are drawn to art.

ESFJs are more in touch with their inner senses, such as whether they are hungry or their body is in pain. They observe the world through stored memories and filter new experiences through a lens of what happened in the past.

As a result, they tend to value prior experiences and they are one of the most traditional personality types. This also means that at times they can be reluctant to try new things.

When they do explore new opportunities, they may try to blend them with some kind of familiarity, such as visiting a new city and staying at a hotel chain they know well.  

ESFJ vs. ESFP frequently asked questions

So now we have explained the key differences between the ESFJ vs. ESFP personality types. Even for those who have explored personality types in depth, it can still be hard to tell the difference between these two types.

Let’s now look at some frequently asked questions about each personality to help make it clearer for you.

Are ESFJs vs. ESFPs more empathetic?

Both types are highly attuned to other people and are two of the most empathetic personality types out there. Plus, they are highly sensitive and easily pick up on nonverbal cues.

This combination of skills makes them very good at reading people and anticipating their needs. Both types are naturally caring and they have a deep desire to make sure that people are happy.

Ultimately, both types are empathetic in different ways, as discussed above. Neither type is innately more empathetic.

Are ESFJs people-pleasers and ESFPs selfish?

There is a common misconception that ESFJs are people-pleasers and ESFPs are selfish. Of course, as with any type, there are people out there who display those characteristics. But healthy ESFJs have strong boundaries and healthy ESFPs care about other people’s needs.

Healthy ESFPs are not innately selfish. Yes, they have strong opinions and values, but they are also incredibly compassionate and empathetic. They care deeply about making sure everyone is happy and comfortable, and they put others first when they feel that it’s the right thing to do. In fact, making sure their loved ones are content is often a core value for ESFPs.

Healthy ESFJs are able to find a balance between making sure people around them are happy and looking after their own needs. It’s true that they’re naturally more aware of other people. But they’re able to access different aspects of their personality to work out when it’s time to shift the focus to themselves.  

Are ESFJs vs. ESFPs more practical?

It’s a tough question, and there’s no easy answer. Both ESFPs and ESFJs are known for their practicality, but they approach life from different angles.

ESFPs are more likely to take a “go with the flow” approach, while ESFJs tend to be more planning and organized. As a result, it really depends on the situation and what you need from a partner.

If you’re looking for someone to help you with the nitty-gritty details, an ESFJ is probably your best bet. They are some of the most reliable people out there and you can always count on them to follow through.

If you’re looking for someone who is practical in a hands-on sense, then ESFPs are the type you are looking for. They are exceptionally in tune with nature and the physical world.

Ultimately, both types have practical sides that shine in different situations.

Final thoughts on ESFJ vs. ESFP differences

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our individual ESFP and ESFJ posts which delve deeper into each personality type. Last but not least, you might enjoy our post about ENFP vs. ESFP differences.

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