A lot of times when we hear the word “nurturing” we think of feeling types. After all, a feeling preference is often associated with empathy and caring for the emotional needs of others. But did you know that everyone has a unique way that they like to nurture and take care of other people? Some personality types try to show they care by giving constructive criticism, other types try to show they care by providing innovative ideas. Everyone has a “love language” when it comes to nurturing, so what’s yours?
The Background and Source for this Information
According to John Beebe, President of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco and master Jungian analyst, our cognitive functions each have a specific role that they play. Our dominant function is the “hero/heroine”, and our auxiliary function is the “mother/father. In Beebe’s theory, the mother/father role is what we use when we nurture and protect other people. Mark Hunziker, one of the leaders in type theory, says “The auxiliary function-attitude, carried by the nurturing and supportive Mother/Father complex, is our default mode for taking care of other people and things.” In contrast, our tertiary function, which is labeled “the eternal child” is how we desire to be taken care of.
Knowing this information, let’s take a look at how each type uses their auxiliary function to comfort and nurture other people.
How Each Myers-Briggs® Personality Type Likes to Comfort and Nurture Others
The ISTJ – Nurturing Through Planning and Reliability
ISTJs like to nurture and comfort using Extraverted Thinking, but their process will always be influenced by Introverted Sensing as well. As a result, ISTJs nurture and protect others by creating structure and order in their lives, giving practical wisdom and advice, and following through on their commitments.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ISTJ will do one or all of the following:
– Look at the facts and details
– Attempt to find the source/cause of the problem
– Attempt to understand the effect of the problem
– Find a practical, logical solution and plan and explain it to the individual
– Follow through reliably on the plan of action and commit to help
The ISTJ’s method of comforting can be met with mixed reactions; some people are thankful for the information, advice and guidance. Other people just want empathy, and will see the ISTJ’s efforts as being uncaring or too directive. But knowing that this is one of the ways ISTJs show they care is important in understanding them and appreciating them. It’s also very important if you want to avoid conflict.
The ISFJ – Nurturing Through Compassion and Practical Help
ISFJs like to nurture and comfort using Extraverted Feeling (Fe), but their process will always be influenced by Introverted Sensing as well. As a result, ISFJs nurture and protect others by being attentive to their needs, providing practical help, remembering what has helped the individual in the past, and reliably following through on their commitments.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ISFJ will do one or all of the following:
– Look at the facts and details
– Tune into the emotions of the other person
– Consider the practical needs of the other person
– Offer empathy and compassion
– Offer some quiet, practical support (often an act of service)
Many people appreciate this form of nurturing and comfort. This is probably the more typical image of nurturing that we think of when we hear the word. Some types respond very well to this type of nurturing; they feel heard, understood, and cared for. Other types are looking for something more impersonal, perhaps some solutions that will keep this problem from happening again. ISFJs tend to work very hard to take care of the people they love, so regardless of whether this is your preferred method to be comforted in, it’s always a good idea to let them know you appreciate their efforts.
The ESTJ – Nurturing Through Providing Security and Structure
ESTJs like to nurture and comfort using Introverted Sensing (Si), but their process will always be influenced by Extraverted Thinking as well. The ESTJ style of nurturing involves being steady and dependable, giving logical, practical advice, and looking at the facts and details to see what has helped the individual in the past.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ESTJ will:
– Consider the cause and effect of the problem or ask questions to determine the cause and effect
– Look at their own past experience to see if they have any wisdom or knowledge to draw from
– Offer a logical solution to the problem
– Consider how he/she can provide stability (whether it’s a place to stay or assurance that they can be depended on)
– Remind the individual of times they’ve overcome similar problems in the past
Some people really appreciate the loyalty of the ESTJ and also the direct, problem-solving nature they employ when nurturing. Other types find it to be too direct, or they may feel defensive when the ESTJ tries to figure out what the cause of the problem was instead of simply providing empathy. Some types may find the advice-giving “bossy” instead of helpful. It’s important to be aware of this nurturing style so that if you encounter it, and it’s not your preferred style to be comforted with, you can at least understand the intention behind it and appreciate that.
The ESFJ – Nurturing Through Providing Stability and Practical Care
ESFJs like to nurture and protect others using Introverted Sensing (Si). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Extraverted Feeling (Fe). As a result, they combine reliability, consistency, and attentiveness with empathy and emotional support.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ESFJ will do one or all of the following:
– Look at all the facts and details involved in the struggle
– Build on their prior experience and knowledge to provide solutions
– Tune into the emotions of the individual to connect with them
– Provide verbal reassurance and empathy
– Provide practical help (often an act of service) or advice
Many people appreciate the lengths that ESFJs will go to provide comfort. They are often steady-headed and stabilizing in a crisis situation and are good at providing some practical solutions and help that take some of the weight off the individual who’s struggling. Some people find the ESFJ’s methods too intrusive and may prefer something more hands-off or impersonal. Generally, NTJ types have a harder time with this nurturing style because Si and Fe are both their least preferred processes and they can feel uncomfortable knowing how to respond to demonstrations of it.
The ISTP – Nurturing Through Hands-On, Practical Solutions
ISTPs like to nurture and protect others using Extraverted Sensing (Se). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Introverted Thinking (Ti). As a result, they combine a talent for seeing current, practical solutions with logical thinking and input.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ISTP will:
– Scan the environment for opportunities and tactical solutions
– Look for reactions and relevant data that can be used to solve the problem
– If there isn’t an identifiable, current solution, they will analyze the cause of the problem
– They will then try to find the quickest, most logical, and most expedient solution to the problem
– They will probably not talk excessively. They are more likely to DO something behind the scenes to solve the problem.
Some people will appreciate the practical, quiet comfort that ISTPs can provide. They appreciate that the ISTP respects their space and isn’t going to meddle in their affairs or get all “touchy-feely” about things. That said, some types will want something more emotionally supportive and may feel that the ISTP’s more quiet, hands-off approach is a sign of disinterest. Some types can also get irritated by the ISTP’s efforts to “fix” the problem instead of just listening and providing empathy.
The ISFP – Nurturing Through Attentiveness and Opportunity
ISFPs like to nurture and protect others using Extraverted Sensing (Se). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Introverted Feeling (Fi). As a result, they combine a talent for seeing current opportunities for improvement with empathy and compassion.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ISFP will:
– Listen attentively to the person struggling, paying keen attention to body language as well as verbal and physical cues.
– Attempt to “get into their shoes” to understand how they’re feeling.
– Scan the environment for opportunities and experiences that might provide relief or comfort
– Provide emotional reassurance while simultaneously trying not to be overbearing
– Provide an uplifting experience or else be present with the individual in their pain and patiently listen and support them
Many people appreciate the ISFP’s form of comforting. It’s empathetic without appearing pushy or overly-intrusive. It’s attentive and practical. There are those, however, who are looking for someone who will give them more direct, logical solutions or long-term advice. It’s important to show appreciation for the ISFP’s attentiveness and consideration and to offer the same if you’re ever in the position of comforting them.
The ESTP – Nurturing Through Logical, Realistic Problem-Solving
ESTPs like to nurture and protect others using Introverted Thinking (Ti). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Extraverted Sensing (Se). As a result, they combine a talent for seeing current opportunities and data and using that to find quick, logical solutions tailored to the context of the situation.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ESTP will:
– Quickly analyze the situation
– If a solution isn’t readily apparent, they will take the problem apart and look at it from different angles to find the best way to get the desired result with minimal effort to the individual struggling.
– Find the most efficient and expedient action to take to solve the problem
– Offer to provide hands-on help in achieving the solution desired
Some people really appreciate the practical, logical help that the ESTP can provide. They like that he/she isn’t overly sympathetic or emotional about things but really tries to find a direct, immediate solution. Other people will feel that the ESTP is rushing too much to find a solution and needs to slow down and simply listen and empathize without trying to “fix” things. It’s important to realize when the ESTP is trying to nurture so that their motives aren’t misunderstood.
The ESFP – Nurturing Through Caring and Compassion
ESFPs like to nurture and protect others using Introverted Feeling (Fi). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Extraverted Sensing (Se). As a result, they combine a talent for seeing the current context of the situation, the available opportunities for improvement, and “tuning in” to the individual, recognizing their values, and listening attentively.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ESFP will:
– Key into the individual’s values and try to discern what’s important to them
– Try to gather all the details, keeping a close eye on body language and non-verbal cues
– Show that they accept the individual by letting them “vent” without judgment
– Validate the individual’s emotions, and bring up possible opportunities that might provide immediate therapeutic relief
What many people like about the ESFP’s method is that they don’t generally try to “fix” their mood right away. For the ESFP (and other introverted feeling types) the focus is more on being present with someone and letting them feel whatever they’re feeling without judgment. This can be highly therapeutic for a lot of people. Some types might desire a longer-term solution or more logical direction, but in general, ESFPs are fairly adept at letting people feel heard and validated.
The INTJ – Nurturing Through Strategic, Logical Solutions
INTJs like to nurture and protect others using Extraverted Thinking (Te). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Introverted Intuition (Ni). As a result, they combine a talent for visionary, future-oriented strategy with logical, objective thought.
When someone they care about is struggling, the INTJ will:
– Step outside the situation to see it from multiple perspectives and vantage points
– Separate out the logical facts from the emotions
– Try to find the most strategic, long-term solution to the problem
– Lay out a solution in a clear, orderly way and explain how the solution will prevent the problem from happening again.
What many people like about the INTJ’s method is that they aren’t just trying to fix the problem now, they’re trying to prevent the problem from happening again. Their long-term approach is often very eye-opening. That said, when people are just looking for empathy and consolation, this method can make them feel unheard or irritated. Sometimes when people are upset they just want a listening ear and advice will make them even more frustrated. This can be stressful for the INTJ because their efforts to help can be misinterpreted as being “bossy” or they can be perceived as a “know it all” when they really are trying to help and provide effective solutions.
The INFJ – Nurturing Through Empathy and Insight
INFJs like to nurture and protect others using Extraverted Feeling (Fe). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Introverted Intuition (Ni). As a result, they combine a talent for showing compassion and validating another person’s emotions with seeing a long-term inspiration for change.
When someone they care about is struggling, the INFJ will:
– Tune into the emotional experience the individual is dealing with
– Provide validation and comfort for what the individual is feeling
– Look at the big picture and try to see the situation from multiple perspectives
– Gently bring up some ideas and long-term solutions only if the individual seems calm and interested in advice. If not, they will just hold onto the solutions until a later date when the timing seems right.
Many people appreciate the validation and empathy that INFJs provide. They are good listeners and their willingness to just be present with someone in their pain is appreciated. Some types are looking for more direct, logical solutions or less of a sympathetic approach and some people just like to be left alone instead of being comforted. Usually, the INFJ’s intentions are appreciated either way, though.
Want a comprehensive guide to the INFJ personality type? Check out my eBook, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic.
The ENTJ – Nurturing Through Long-Term Vision and Strategy
ENTJs like to nurture and protect others using Introverted Intuition (Ni). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Extraverted Thinking (Te). As a result, they combine a talent for seeing a long-term solution to the problem being faced and using objective, logical analysis to get there.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ENTJ will:
– Step outside of the situation to view it from multiple perspectives and vantage points
– Separate the truth and facts from the emotions involved to see things objectively
– Determine if the individual is justifiably upset, and if so…
– Encourage the individual to see the big picture and a new perspective and how the situation might just be a minor “blip” in the grand scheme of things – OR –
– Provide a direct, strategic solution that will have long-term results
ENTJs are usually pretty direct and solution-oriented when they comfort other people. If you’re being comforted by an ENTJ it’s important to appreciate their motives and really listen to what they have to say. If you’re too emotionally spent to do it right now, just log their advice in your mind somewhere to pull out when you’re feeling better. Many people find the ENTJ’s approach to comforting too direct, blunt, and possibly overbearing. They may also find it unsympathetic if the ENTJ can’t relate to the problem or don’t see it as being a big deal. Tuning into other people’s emotions can be a difficult process for ENTJs because feeling is their least-preferred process to use. That said, many people really appreciate the long-term solutions they can provide if they take the time to listen and appreciate their motives.
The ENFJ – Nurturing Through Inspiration for the Future
ENFJs like to nurture and protect others using Introverted Intuition (Ni). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Extraverted Feeling (Fe). As a result, they combine a talent for seeing an inspirational vision for the future with an empathetic concern for what someone is struggling with right now.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ENFJ will:
– Initially provide encouragement and empathy
– Inwardly try to see the situation from numerous perspectives
– Privately decipher if there is a deeper meaning or another layer to the story that they’re not seeing
– Look at the big picture and see how this situation could lead to something positive
– Console the individual and validate their feelings while helping them see the situation from a new perspective that might be inspiring or promote personal growth and encouragement
Many people find the ENFJ’s method of comforting inspirational and validating. They feel heard and the ENFJ is often able to reveal a side to the situation that is profound and meaningful. There are some individuals, however, who can find it too sympathetic or too impractical in the current moment. They may want an immediate, practical solution and not a future forecast of what might happen if they follow a particular route. Some individuals may want someone who can just listen and go deeper into their feelings and emotions without trying to put a positive spin on things.
The INTP – Nurturing Through Logical Exploration
INTPs like to nurture and protect others using Extraverted Intuition (Ne). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Introverted Thinking (Ti). As a result, they combine a knack for seeing unusual possibilities and solutions with logical solutions and ideas.
When someone they care about is struggling, the INTP will do one or all of the following:
– Investigate numerous ideas and possibilities to see if a solution comes to mind.
– Interpret the problem and look for context, interconnections, and deeper meanings.
– Sort through their ideas inwardly to see if there are any that are logical and effective.
– Provide a logical solution/possibility – or –
– Provide context or a big-picture perspective to the situation that the individual struggling might have missed
Many INTPs prefer to be left alone when they’re sad or struggling, so sometimes their approach can feel very hands-off to others. They may feel that other people want space as much as they do when they’re upset. A lot of their analysis and idea-searching is done privately and so it may seem like the INTP doesn’t care when in fact they’re really thinking hard to see if they can find a solution or way to help. Because they don’t like it when people are meddling or overly-sympathetic, they may also try not to be overbearing or overly-sympathetic. This can lead to confusion or misunderstandings in relationships so it’s important to be aware that this is a tendency so there aren’t any misunderstandings. Many people really appreciate the ingenious ideas and solutions that INTPs come up with, while others want something more empathetic, intimate, or emotionally supportive.
Related: The Childhood Struggles of INTPs
The INFP – Nurturing Through Empathy and Creativity
INFPs like to nurture and protect others using Extraverted Intuition (Ne). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Introverted Feeling (Fi). As a result, they combine a talent for empathy and emotional understanding with an eye for creative ideas and possibilities.
When someone they care about is struggling, the INFP will do one or all of the following:
– Listen attentively and aim to be present with the individual
– Mirror their emotions to imagine what it would be like in their shoes
– Interpret the situation and relationships, looking for meanings, interconnections, and other contexts
– Consider various possibilities, opportunities, and options that might be available for inspiration
– Validate the individual’s experience and emotions, and, if they seem ready, try to tune them into the deeper meaning or the greater possibilities they have before them for the future.
INFPs don’t like to rush people through the emotional healing process. They aren’t the types to put a positive spin on everything and they especially hate platitudes and empty promises. Initially, they will usually just try to be present, listen, and offer empathy. But in many cases, they will then move onto exploring creative solutions, ideas, and possibilities that might inspire the other individual. Just like J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, created an imaginative world to help some young children deal with the death of their parents, so INFPs often use imaginative, creative techniques to encourage and comfort others.
The ENTP – Nurturing Through Problem-Solving and Analysis
ENTPs like to nurture and protect others using their auxiliary function, Introverted Thinking (Ti). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne). As a result, they have a talent for seeing creative, logical solutions to problems and exploring numerous possibilities and approaches that might provide comfort or support.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ENTP will do one or all of the following:
– Step outside of the situation to try to see things objectively
– Take the problem apart and look at it from multiple angles
– Check for logical inconsistencies and try to get to the essence of the problem
– See if there are any ideas or possibilities that might solve the problem logically
– Present a creative solution to the problem
ENTPs are creative troubleshooters, and this really helps them when someone needs logical advice or an innovative method for dealing with a problem. The only difficulty is that certain types just want empathy or someone to hear them out. They can find the ENTPs “let’s find a solution!” approach distracting and an interruption to their need for empathy. This is especially true for feeling types who often want more empathy and compassion and less solution-oriented help. That said, ENTPs tend to be pretty good at sensing the mood of other individuals and may alter their approach to fit the desires of the person in question.
The ENFP – Nurturing Through Inspiration and Emotional Intelligence
ENFPs like to nurture and protect others using their auxiliary function, Introverted Feeling (Fi). However, their process will always be influenced by their dominant function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne). As a result, they have a talent for seeing innovative ideas and possibilities as well as tuning into the values and intense emotions other people are dealing with.
When someone they care about is struggling, the ENFP will do one or all of the following:
– Evaluate the emotional needs and values of the individual
– Listen attentively to what the other person is going through
– Let them know it’s okay to vent and help them to find words to express their feelings
– Provide empathy and support
– See if there are any underlying connections or relationships that they are missing
– Be present with the individual in their pain and once recovery seems near see if they’re open to any creative solutions or possibilities that might help them see things from a new perspective
ENFPs are usually very good at comforting a variety of people. In their early years, they are eager to inspire others with exciting possibilities and ideas. As they get older they develop their feeling function which allows them to tune into what’s important for a variety of people emotionally. As they reach mid-life they also get in touch with their tertiary thinking function, which enables them to provide a more objective, logical tone to their advice.
What Are Your Thoughts?
How do you comfort other people? How do you like to be comforted? Does this article resonate with you? Let us know in the comments!
Find out more about your personality type in our eBook, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type.
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