Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging Approximately 7-10 percent of the population
Quiet, friendly, responsible, and conscientious. Committed and steady in meeting their obligations. Thorough, painstaking, and accurate. Loyal, considerate, notice and remember specifics about people who are important to them, concerned with how others feel. Strive to create an orderly and harmonious environment at work and at home.
ISFJs are loyal, devoted, compassionate, and perceptive about how other people feel. They are conscientious and responsible and enjoy being needed.
ISFJs are down-to-earth and realistic people and prefer others who are quiet and unassuming. They absorb and enjoy using a large number of facts. With great memories for details, they are patient with the follow-through phase of tasks. ISFJs like things to be clearly and explicitly stated. Because they have a strong work ethic, they accept responsibility for things that need to be done, if they can see that their actions will actually help. They are painstakingly accurate and systematic in handling tasks. ISFJs tend to be conservative, with traditional values. They use practical judgement in making decisions and lend stability through their excellent commonsense perspective.
Quiet and modest, ISFJs are serious and hardworking. They are gentle, sympathetic, tactful, and supportive of friends and colleagues. They like to care for others and prefer to help in practical and tangible ways. They use personal warmth to communicate, and they relate well to people in need. ISFJs tend not to show their private feelings but have an intensely personal reaction to most situations and events. They are protective and devoted to their friends, service-minded, and committed to meeting their obligations.
Possible Blind Spots
Because ISFJs live so completely in the present, they have trouble seeing events in global terms or anticipating the possible outcomes of a situation, especially when it is unfamiliar.
They need help looking beyond the moment and imagining what might or could be if things are done differently.
ISFJs can become mired in the daily grind and the unending work around them, both their own and others’ for whom they feel responsible. They can easily become overworked, doing everything themselves to be sure that tasks are completed meticulously. Because they are not naturally assertive or tough-minded, they risk being taken advantage of. They need to express their frequently bottled-up feelings of resentment so they don’t find themselves in the rescuing role. They also need to let other people know their needs and their accomplishments.
ISFJs often need extra time to master technical subjects. They tend to plan excessively and need to develop strategies that will help them refocus the energy they often expend worrying. ISFJs need to find ways of getting the much-needed enjoyment and relaxation they deserve.
ISFJs are characterized above all by their desire to serve others, their “need to be needed.” In extreme cases, this need is so strong that standard give-and-take relationships are deeply unsatisfying to them; however, most ISFJs find more than enough with which to occupy themselves within the framework of a normal life. (Since ISFJs, like all SJs, are very much bound by the prevailing social conventions, their form of “service” is likely to exclude any elements of moral or political controversy; they specialize in the local, the personal, and the practical.)
ISFJs are often unappreciated, at work, home, and play. Ironically, because they prove over and over that they can be relied on for their loyalty and unstinting, high-quality work, those around them often take them for granted–even take advantage of them. Admittedly, the problem is sometimes aggravated by the ISFJs themselves; for instance, they are notoriously bad at delegating (“If you want it done right, do it yourself”). And although they’re hurt by being treated like doormats, they are often unwilling to toot their own horns about their accomplishments because they feel that although they deserve more credit than they’re getting, it’s somehow wrong to want any sort of reward for doing work (which is supposed to be a virtue in itself). (And as low-profile Is, their actions don’t call attention to themselves as with charismatic Es.) Because of all of this, ISFJs are often overworked, and as a result may suffer from psychosomatic illnesses.
In the workplace, ISFJs are methodical and accurate workers, often with very good memories and unexpected analytic abilities; they are also good with people in small-group or one-on-one situations because of their patient and genuinely sympathetic approach to dealing with others. ISFJs make pleasant and reliable co-workers and exemplary employees, but tend to be harried and uncomfortable in supervisory roles. They are capable of forming strong loyalties, but these are personal rather than institutional loyalties; if someone they’ve bonded with in this way leaves the company, the ISFJ will leave with them, if given the option. Traditional careers for an ISFJ include: teaching, social work, most religious work, nursing, medicine (general practice only), clerical and secretarial work of any kind, and some kinds of administrative careers.
While their work ethic is high on the ISFJ priority list, their families are the centres of their lives. ISFJs are extremely warm and demonstrative within the family circle–and often possessive of their loved ones, as well. When these include Es who want to socialize with the rest of the world, or self-contained ITs, the ISFJ must learn to adjust to these behaviours and not interpret them as rejection. Being SJs, they place a strong emphasis on conventional behaviour (although, unlike STJs, they are usually as concerned with being “nice” as with strict propriety); if any of their nearest and dearest depart from the straight-and-narrow, it causes the ISFJ major embarrassment: the closer the relationship and the more public the act, the more intense the embarrassment (a fact which many of their teenage children take gleeful advantage of). Over time, however, ISFJs usually mellow, and learn to regard the culprits as harmless eccentrics :-). Needless to say, ISFJs take infinite trouble over meals, gifts, celebrations, etc., for their loved ones–although strong Js may tend to focus more on what the recipient should want rather than what they do want.
Like most Is, ISFJs have a few, close friends. They are extremely loyal to these, and are ready to provide emotional and practical support at a moment’s notice. (However, like most Fs they hate confrontation; if you get into a fight, don’t expect them to jump in after you. You can count on them, however, run and get the nearest authority figure.) Unlike with EPs, the older the friendship is, the more an ISFJ will value it. One ISFJ trait that is easily misunderstood by those who haven’t known them long is that they are often unable to either hide or articulate any distress they may be feeling. For instance, an ISFJ child may be reproved for “sulking,” the actual cause of which is a combination of physical illness plus misguided “good manners.” An adult ISFJ may drive a (later ashamed) friend or SO into a fit of temper over the ISFJ’s unexplained moodiness, only afterwards to explain about a death in the family they “didn’t want to burden anyone with.” Those close to ISFJs should learn to watch for the warning signs in these situations and take the initiative themselves to uncover the problem.
As an ISFJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you takes things in via your five senses in a literal, concrete fashion. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit into your personal value system.
ISFJs live in a world that is concrete and kind. They are truly warm and kind-hearted, and want to believe the best of people. They value harmony and cooperation, and are likely to be very sensitive to other people’s feelings. People value the ISFJ for their consideration and awareness, and their ability to bring out the best in others by their firm desire to believe the best.
ISFJs have a rich inner world that is not usually obvious to observers. They constantly take in information about people and situations that is personally important to them, and store it away. This tremendous store of information is usually startlingly accurate, because the ISFJ has an exceptional memory about things that are important to their value systems. It would not be uncommon for the ISFJ to remember a particular facial expression or conversation in precise detail years after the event occurred, if the situation made an impression on the ISFJ.
ISFJs have a very clear idea of the way things should be, which they strive to attain. They value security and kindness, and respect traditions and laws. They tend to believe that existing systems are there because they work. Therefore, they’re not likely to buy into doing things in a new way, unless they’re shown in a concrete way why its better than the established method.
ISFJs learn best by doing, rather than by reading about something in a book, or applying theory. For this reason, they are not likely to be found in fields which require a lot of conceptual analysis or theory. They value practical application. Traditional methods of higher education, which require a lot of theorizing and abstraction, are likely to be a chore for the ISFJ. The ISFJ learns a task best by being shown its practical application. Once the task is learned, and its practical importance is understood, the ISFJ will faithfully and tirelessly carry through the task to completion. The ISFJ is extremely dependable.
The ISFJ has an extremely well-developed sense of space, function, and aesthetic appeal. For that reason, they’re likely to have beautifully furnished, functional homes. They make extremely good interior decorators. This special ability, combined with their sensitivity to other’s feelings and desires, makes them very likely to be great gift-givers – finding the right gift which will be truly appreciated by the recipient.
More so than other types, ISFJs are extremely aware of their own internal feelings, as well as other people’s feelings. They do not usually express their own feelings, keeping things inside. If they are negative feelings, they may build up inside the ISFJ until they turn into firm judgments against individuals which are difficult to unseed, once set. Many ISFJs learn to express themselves, and find outlets for their powerful emotions.
Just as the ISFJ is not likely to express their feelings, they are also not likely to let on that they know how others are feeling. However, they will speak up when they feel another individual really needs help, and in such cases they can truly help others become aware of their feelings.
The ISFJ feels a strong sense of responsibility and duty. They take their responsibilities very seriously, and can be counted on to follow through. For this reason, people naturally tend to rely on them. The ISFJ has a difficult time saying “no” when asked to do something, and may become over-burdened. In such cases, the ISFJ does not usually express their difficulties to others, because they intensely dislike conflict, and because they tend to place other people’s needs over their own. The ISFJ needs to learn to identify, value, and express their own needs, if they wish to avoid becoming over-worked and taken for granted.
ISFJs need positive feedback from others. In the absence of positive feedback, or in the face of criticism, the ISFJ gets discouraged, and may even become depressed. When down on themselves or under great stress, the ISFJ begins to imagine all of the things that might go critically wrong in their life. They have strong feelings of inadequacy, and become convinced that “everything is all wrong”, or “I can’t do anything right”.
The ISFJ is warm, generous, and dependable. They have many special gifts to offer, in their sensitivity to others, and their strong ability to keep things running smoothly. They need to remember to not be overly critical of themselves, and to give themselves some of the warmth and love which they freely dispense to others.