Personality Type and Communication: ESFJ & INTP

Today, we have the second installment of our series on communication and personality type. Each week, we’ll look at two personality types and how best to communicate with people of these types. We’re taking on two types with opposite preferences in each post, to highlight the wide variation in how different personality types define “good communication.” In this post, we’ll discuss some suggestions for making your message heard when talking with practical, traditional ESFJs and imaginative, theoretical INTPs.


ESFJs are practical sorts who want to know what can be done to maintain order and keep people happy and well taken care of. When communicating with ESFJs, you’ll want to stress how your message relates to the practical needs of the people involved and how it fits in with the ESFJ’s moral principles.

The ESFJ is sometimes described as the archetypal mother, and it can be helpful to think of TV commercials aimed at parents when thinking about communicating with ESFJs. Messages like “Make a quick, healthy meal for your family” or “Kill 99% of bacteria in your kitchen” are the types of messages that appeal to ESFJs because they stress tangible benefits to people they care for. If you can think about how your ideas can convey practical, people-centered benefits, you’ll be more likely to reach the ESFJ.

ESFJs tend to be suspicious of change, so if you’re trying to drum up support for a novel idea, it’s especially important that you demonstrate these practical benefits. ESFJs won’t see a need to change things unless you can show how the plan will improve people’s day-to-day lives.

Another important step to gain the ESFJ’s attention and support is to figure out how your ideas fit in with the ESFJ’s established values system. ESFJs tend to be very firm in their principles, so if your ideas are consistent with a moral value or tradition that the ESFJ is loyal to, they’ll be more likely to hear what you’re saying.


INTPs love theoretical analysis, so if you can connect your message to a larger question (and I do mean larger--INTPs love to ponder everything from the origin of the universe to the properties of physics involved in making their breakfast) you’ll have an easier time gaining the INTP’s attention. A good way to draw in the INTP is to present a complex, theoretical problem that has yet be resolved. You’ll get their minds working and have them engaged. If your message doesn’t seem all that complex, try to think of the larger issues behind it and present the big picture first.

INTPs see everything as open to debate, so you won’t convince them by simply telling them that a decision has been made. If you can make a logical case for an idea, however, and show the INTP that you’ve thought something out thoroughly and objectively, the INTP is more likely to accept what you’re saying.

Be ready for the INTP to challenge you with a more creative interpretation if they feel you’re relying too much on tired, traditional thinking. “This is the way it’s always been done” just doesn’t sound like much of a reason for INTPs. They’re always ready to deconstruct what is accepted and think of a better way to do things, so if your message relies on accepting certain “truths,” be prepared for the INTP to put you through the analytical paces to back up what you’re saying.

Remember that the INTP’s tendency to debate isn’t a personal attack. INTPs can be ruthless with ideas, especially when they see flaws in your logic. Rarely, though, do INTPs mean to offend, even when tearing apart an idea that someone else holds dear. Keep your composure and do your homework so that you can engage intelligently with the INTP.

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