This pandemic might have us stuck at home and/or keeping our distance from other people. But that doesn’t mean we have to go without conversation. We humans are social creatures, and even the introverts need other people sometimes. And so we head online to talk with people on social media, or pull out our phones and call a friend, or join one of the Zoom hang-outs that people are organizing to stay in touch. If we’re still leaving our homes, we might have the chance to talk with customers and co-workers in-person as well.
But what do you talk about?
Assuming you want to move beyond the weather and other small-talk, then you’ll need to find a topic that the other person is interested in as well. When trying to draw others into conversation, it can help to know what things different personality types like to talk about.
What fictional characters do you relate to as an ESTJ?
Just as we can describe real people using the Myers-Briggs® typology system, we can also type well-written fictional characters. Some of fiction’s most iconic and intriguing characters are ESTJs and today we’re going to talk about seven that I think real-life ESTJs will find relatable.
One great thing about looking at character personality types is that it helps us better understand people who have different types than we do. Fictional ESTJs can serve as examples for what real-life ESTJs might be like, and also show how much variation can exist between individuals with the same type.
The things that makes ESTJs such great fictional characters are much the same things that makes them such interesting people in real life. They tend to be well organized, disciplined, and skilled at making tough decisions. This makes them excellent leaders, something we see in most of the ESTJ characters on this list.
I haven’t seen Taken, but Susan Storm lists Bryan Mills as the ESTJ in her post “The Greatest Movie Heroes of Every Myers-Briggs® Personality Type.” She says that he “He embodies the quick-thinking precise nature of the ESTJ. He knows how to take charge, create an effective plan, and can easily give instructions to other people over the phone on how to move forward.” Like so many TJ types, he’s able to put emotions aside and take decisive, logical action.
As for the other aspects of his character, Susan says, “Mills shows his Introverted Sensing (Si) in the way he systematically pays attention to everything around him.” Like other ESTJs, he’s a detail-oriented person and can easily recall important information. He also relies on skills acquired in his past to solve the problems of his present situations — something SJ types tend to do very well.
Eve Baird from The Librarians is a fairly stereotypical example of an ESTJ in fiction, embodying the ESTJ’s blunt demeanor, no-nonsense attitude, and ability to keep things moving forward. ESTJs like Eve are grounded in reality and care about keeping the world running as it should be, a trait Eve devotes to keeping the Library safe and magical artifacts out of the wrong hands. Though she can seem gruff, she’s very loyal and cares deeply about people (a TJ trait that’s often overlooked).
Like other ESTJs, Eve’s preferred mental process of Extroverted Thinking involves measuring and managing impersonal criteria when making decisions. There are examples of this in literally every episode. Her co-pilot process is Introverted Sensing, which filters everything she learns learn through the lens of her own memories and experiences. That’s not to say ESTJs are inflexible. Once given enough information to work with, they’re quick to adapt their actions to match the situation. Anything else would be inefficient. This is partly due to the fact that they prioritize effectiveness, and partly due to their tertiary Extroverted Intuition.
Leia Organa of the Star Wars saga has a much different personality type than your typical princess figure in fiction. Most are Feeling types, but Leia’s response to Darth Vader, her criticism of her seemingly inept rescuers in A New Hope, and the way she instantly takes charge of every situation are characteristic of dominant Te types. She’s a take-charge sort of person who is fiercely loyal to family and values, and expects the same level of commitment from others.
Like other Sensing types, Leia’s focus is on the here and now. Even through she and the Rebellion (and later the Resistance) are fighting to change the future of the galaxy, she does that by shaping the present in a practical way. Her strengths as an ESTJ type make her a fantastic leader both in the Rebellion against the Empire and, later, in a variety of political and leadership roles. She also makes good use of her tertiary Extroverted Intuition (especially later in life) to help her see multiple solutions to problems and adapt quickly to changing situations.
Nick Fury from the MCU might be more of an ENTJ than an ESTJ, but I include him on this list because I think ESTJs will find the way he uses the TJ side of his personality relatable and (depending on how you read his character) there’s also an argument to be made that he is an ESTJ type. Either way, Fury leads with a strong Extroverted Thinking function and (like many real-life ESTJs) he’s good at crashing through red tape to get the job done. He has zero patience for people who make stupid decisions, and he has cultivated the power needed to go around them.
Fury is motivated to make the world a safer place, even if he has to do that in ways that make other people like ISFJ Captain America uncomfortable. He’s concerned with the big picture and future security (more typical of ENTJs, but could be an ESTJ’s tertiary Extroverted Intuition). He is also highly pragmatic and makes decisions based on what he has learned in the past (more typical of ESTJs).
If you haven’t yet watched Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood I highly recommend it. It’s full of amazing characters, including ESTJ Olivier Armstrong. She is an extremely talented leader who commands absolute loyalty from her troops. While people might see her (and, in many cases, real-life ESTJs) as harsh and critical, those who get to know her find her scrupulously honest and see she doesn’t expect anything less of herself than she demands from others.
Major General Armstrong is the sort of character who self-confident, aggressive, go-getting ESTJs will find highly relatable. She doesn’t let other people, circumstances, or even herself stand in the way of what she wants to accomplish. She lives in a world of concrete facts and is devoted to a strong, efficient moral code much like many real-life SJ types.
Peter Pevensie has been my favorite character from The Chronicles of Narnia since seeing the 2005 movie for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (I didn’t read the books until later). In our modern world, ESTJs have a reputation for being the hard-hitting, no-nonsense types that steamroll anyone in their way. Peter’s an example of the more gentle, guardian-like role that characterizes certain ESTJ types.
Like many ESTJs, Peter likes to be in charge but he doesn’t abuse his power. He uses it for others’ good, and is reliable, practical, and logical in all his roles from eldest sibling to high king. He takes his responsibilities very seriously, even making them part of his identity, and has a hard time adjusting to the real world once he has to leave Narnia. Like many real-life SJ types, he doesn’t like change and it takes him a while to figure out how to navigate new situations if he doesn’t have an existing framework for interpreting reality.
Like many real-life ESTJs, Tiana from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog is never shy about sharing her thoughts or making decisive decisions. She’s assertive and expressive in the face of friends, creditors, and villains alike. With her strong work ethic, family-focus, and adherence to doing what’s right, Tiana is strong example of the SJ Guardian type. She also has another trait I’ve noticed in SJs — they are, as Naveen observes, “secretly funny.”
Even better, Tiana isn’t an SJ stereotype. Many people assume types using Introverted Sensing as one of their functions are unimaginative, solidly traditional, and somewhat boring. That’s far from being true. Like other Sensing types, SJs are concerned with taking in information about the world around them, but they’re also interpreting that information in a highly subjective way. And so you get Tiana, building up a dream of the future that doesn’t look practical to outside observers, but makes perfect sense within her framework of reality. Her dream is solid, detailed, planned, and responsible.
What did you think of this list? If you’re an ESTJ, which fictional characters do you relate to best? Is there anyone you’d add to or take off of this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Every personality type has something incredibly valuable to offer the world. Each comes with a slightly different way of learning new information, seeing the world, making decisions, and interacting with others. And that means that we each have the potential to positively impact the world in different ways.
For this list, I’ve paired the types that use the same primary and co-pilot functions together. For example, both ESFJ and ISFJ use Extroverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing as their preferred functions, just in a different order. If you’re new to Myers-Briggs® theory or want a quick refresher, you can click here for a quick intro to how functions work.
ESFJ and ISFJ
ESFJs and ISFJs change the world by connecting with and supporting other people, as well as preserving and passing on valuable lessons of the past.
Having Extroverted Feeling as either their primary or co-pilot function gives SFJ types a strong desire to help and support other people. They tend to personalize everything they do and care so deeply about others that they may forget their own needs while selflessly serving those around them. They’re also really good at picking up on what other people are feeling.
With Introverted Sensing as either their primary or co-pilot function, SFJs have a strong desire to learn from the past. It’s the function that helps us make sure we remember what was learned in our personal and collective histories so we don’t keep repeating failures as we go forward.
ENFJ and INFJ
ENFJs and INFJs change the world by bridging gaps between people who have different perspectives and offering a vision for what the future could look like on both personal and societal levels.Read more →
If you’ve done much reading about Myers-Briggs® types, you’ve probably come across the claim that Intuitives are smarter than Sensors. Or perhaps you’ve seen people talk about Thinking types being more intelligent than Feeling types.
Both of these ideas are untrue. They’re based on inaccurate stereotypes about the types and/or misunderstandings about the unique sort of intelligence that each type uses. In reality, every personality type is intelligent and no one type is smarter than any other. They do have different kinds of intelligence, though, and there are situations where one type might appear smarter than others just based on what skills the situation calls for.
The Problem of Measuring Intelligence
The idea that Sensing types aren’t smart is actuality based on something Isabel Meyers mentions in her book Gifts Differing. She said that Intuitive types tend to score higher on IQ tests. What people who spread this rumor miss is that she also pointed out that the structure of IQ tests puts Sensors at a disadvantage which has nothing to do with whether or not they’re smart. Read more →
Have you ever witnessed, or been part of, a conversation that starts to turn into a conflict because both parties feel the other just doesn’t “get it”? They’re approaching whatever topic they’re discussing from different perspectives, seeking different outcomes, and/or phrasing things in a way that makes sense to them but for some reason sets the other on edge.
If you talk with one of them after this conversation, you might hear things like, “I just can’t understand why they’re so irrational!” or “Why can’t they just tell me what they actually think?” Then if you talk with the other person you could hear, “I don’t see why they insist on stirring-up conflict” or “How dare they put me on the spot like that!”
This sort of situation often develops when Thinking and Feeling personality types clash. It’s especially noticeable among the INFJ, ISFJ, ENFJ, and ESFJ types and INTJ, ISTJ, ENTJ, and ESTJ types, since these types direct their decision-making processes outward. In other words, they interact with the outer world using their judging functions of Extroverted Feeling and Extroverted Thinking. If you’re not familiar with function theory, click here to read “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever.”
One of my favorite applications for personality type theory is using it to better understand people who don’t see the world the same way as us. As I explained in a post a couple weeks ago, both Thinking and Feeling are considered rational functions. These two ways of decision-making use very different foundations for their rationalizations, however. And if you’re not aware of how that all works, then it can lead to quite a bit of frustration when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t share your type’s preferences. Read more →
When someone interested in Myers-Briggs®talks about loops, they’re referring to what happens when a person bypasses their co-pilot function and starts relying on their dominant and tertiary process instead. This can be a temporary situation, or it can last for quite a long time depending on the individual and their circumstances.
Some people teach that the Dominant-Tertiary Loop leads to personality disorders, but I have not found any good research to back up this claim. We can slip into a loop pattern without developing a disorder, and specific mental illnesses aren’t tied to any one personality type. It seems more likely to me that, as a general rule, loops are part of a reaction to stress or an attempt to avoid discomfort.
We all need a balance between inner and outer world feedback, a way to learn new information, and a way to process information and make decisions. We’re got all that covered in our dominant and co-pilot functions because one is introverted and one is extroverted, and one’s a perceiving/learning function (Sending or Intuition) and one’s a judging/decision-making function (Feeling or Thinking).
When we skip our co-pilot function and go for the tertiary instead, we’re replacing the co-pilot with a function that fills a similar role because the tertiary and co-pilot are both either Perceiving or Judging functions. However, the tertiary has the same orientation (Introverted or Extroverted) as the dominant function. Going into a “loop” means we’re ignoring the world that is most uncomfortable for us and we’re opting to use a function that’s less mature than our co-pilot. This “loop” is going to look different for each type, but in all cases it means we’re not balanced. It also usually means that we’re avoiding personal growth. Read more →