ISFJ Personality Type – Introverted Sensing with Extraverted Feeling
The ISFJ personality type (as outlined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Assessment, or MBTI® Test) is the Introverted Sensing with Extraverted Feeling type. ISFJ personality types are steadfast, compassionate, and accountable, both in their personal and professional lives. They place their trust in facts and tend to be pragmatic and reasonable. Their dedication and persistence to their work makes for a highly effective, respectful employee:
- Ability to prioritize tasks and projects without getting distracted by something redundant—if something essential needs to be addressed or completed, there is little doubt that the ISFJ will get it done.
- Quick and efficient, these jobs and tasks that have precedence will be completed quickly and in their entirety.
- Base decisions off of a thorough examination of knowledge (data, facts), as well as their own feelings and values
- Hold authority in the highest regard, putting trust in long-held procedures and protocols.
- Their fact-based intelligence includes objective data such as numbers and patterns, as well as less empirical details that they find important, such as tones of voice, facial expressions, etc.
- Support and adapt to change after carefully examining the new procedure/data and ensuring that it is necessary/beneficial, while still respecting traditions and prior models that have proven to work.
The World Through the ISFJ Type’s Eyes
Because of their ability to consider the knowledge they have acquired over the years (both those of an empirical nature and those gained from life experience), they base much of how they understand the world, themselves, their opinions, and decisions on a long-collected opulence of information. This holds true for MBTI test-assessed ISFJ types in the workplace and elsewhere.
MBTI test assessed ISFJ type’s personal lives are often ones of selflessness and compassion, with this MBTI test type choosing to put others before themselves most of the time. Accommodating their needs and making others happy is a huge priority for this Myers-Briggs® personality type. This altruism can determine how an ISFJ makes a decision, especially when the welfare/happiness of others is a possible outcome. Even though much of their mind centers around facts, ISFJ personality types use feelings for most of their personal decisions, specifically emphasizing their feelings towards others and their personal ideals. This attention to the well being of others also means that ISFJ types can often discern how others are feeling. Friends and acquaintances find ISFJ types incredibly agreeable, benevolent, and astute.
ISFJ personality types are also huge promoters of harmony—they go to great lengths in order to keep everyone happy not just with themselves, but with one another. Because of this, ISFJ personality types aren’t very good with confrontation, and often aren’t sure how to handle conflicting situations; however, they are quick to respond to anyone or any action that they feel is deliberately inconsiderate or outwardly rude.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test – assessed ISFJ types can sometimes have difficulty dealing with the world because they feel uncomfortable with confrontation or challenging others. Furthermore, because of this preoccupation with the happiness of others, occasionally MBTI test -assessed ISFJ types can make ill-informed decisions and find themselves unable to understand the consequences of their actions, as well as being less focused on their own well-being.
Because of their desire to make others happy, the happiness of ISFJ types can sometimes take a backseat, which becomes bothersome for some when they feel that they are not receiving the gratitude that they deserve, causing indignation and anger in the workplace and in their personal lives. However, by developing their ability to focus on their own needs as well as those of others, and by noticing the benefits of certain sudden changes (in life and in work), ISFJ types can become more well-rounded, self-respecting people.[ Information was referenced from the following publication- (Isabel Briggs Myers, 1998, CPP Inc.)]
Occupational Outlook for ISFJ Types
With a wealth of information in their heads, an overall desire to make others happy, and applicable people skills, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator Personality Type ISFJ succeeds in a variety of different occupations, especially those that involve directly helping others, including nurses, medical or dental assistants, clerical workers, physicians, and other careers in the health care profession. Similarly, just as MBTI test ISFJ types pay particular attention to the feelings of others, their fact- and detail-oriented minds aid them in jobs involving money, such as a bookkeeper or bank teller. This attention to detail is also relevant in occupations involving highly organized and structured procedures and daily duties, such as a hotel or inn manager, secretary, or a publisher (Allen L. Hammer, 1993, CPP Inc.).
In order to succeed in these positions, MBTI ISFJ Personality Types have to—first and foremost—think of themselves and their long-term goals as most important in their own lives, and learn to adapt if something comes along that may be more beneficial in the long run (job opportunities, friendships, relationships, etc.). By defining goals in terms of personal wants and needs, instead of thinking of others in relation to them, you will be ready for unforeseen opportunities that may help you achieve your overall goals.
Myers-Briggs test ISFJ types can also become so absorbed in the facts and procedures at their job that they fail to find the joy in the career that they have chosen. Whether you are just starting to look for a job in your preferred occupational area, or if you are currently in a job that you feel you’re not getting enough out of, thinking about the long-term benefits and happiness associated with the job can help you see the joy in the everyday.
ISFJ personality types must also be sure to not make rushed decisions (whether based on their needs or another’s). One of the best things that an Myers-Briggs test -assessed ISFJ type can do is to plan certain steps to go through before making a decision, so as to ensure that they are not letting their feelings make the decision for them—in work and play.
Click on one of these corresponding popular ISFJ Careers for detailed information including Career Stats, Income Stats, Daily Tasks and Required Education: Court Clerk, Data Entry Keyers, Dietitians & Nutritionists, File Clerk, Insurance Claims Clerk, Insurance Policy Processing Clerks, License Practical & Vocational Nurse, Medical Records Technician, Payroll Clerk, and Work Processor & Typist.
Further Understanding ISFJs
ISFJs may be friendly and quiet in general, but they are also extremely responsible and fiercely loyal individuals. They tend to remember details and facts, not only about the real world, but also personal information about those who are closest to them—birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions are extremely important to them. These considerations help them become caring, thoughtful contributors to any team or organization, making workplace environments more pleasant to be in for hours every day.
Because of their loyalty and their commitment to maintaining positive attitudes and environments, ISFJs tend to make significant accommodations for the needs of others, even when these actions involve great personal sacrifice. They value interpersonal relationships and happiness above almost everything else, and gain great satisfaction out of honoring commitments, either at the individual or organizational level, and maintaining traditions and organizational structures.
ISFJs’ Learning Style: Practical and Reflective
ISFJs utilize their formidable memory capacity when learning, and integrate new knowledge into their existing stores almost unconsciously. As they are exposed to and process new information, they connect it to what they already know, and also evaluate it with respect to strategies they know have been successful in the past. As a result, the more detailed and concrete the information that they are presented with, the easier it will be for them to connect to their current knowledge or experience, and the more quickly they will be able to understand and apply it. In other words, they “assimilate” new knowledge or information into their repertoire.
Because application and relevance are key to ISFJs’ learning styles, they often benefit from being told why they are learning something—clear objectives, instructions, and expectations are of the utmost importance. For this reason, they enjoy learning in classroom settings, where this information is often explicated on a whiteboard or in a syllabus. They thrive in environments where theory and practice are balanced. On one hand, ISFJs often struggle in purely theoretical contexts, where they are presented with large amounts of abstract information that is not immediately relevant to the real world or to any of their problems at hand. On the other hand, they also detach when they are thrown into an activity where the outcome is emphasized and the process or procedure is completely ignored. To be at their best, ISFJs need to be in a balanced learning environment, which gives them the opportunity to internalize and reflect on information and processes, while still remaining “grounded” and highlighting relevance in the real world.
While working in groups may not be ISFJs’ preference, they do tend to learn quite a bit from being given the opportunity to observe others, especially if they are learning a specific skill or procedure. Reading abstract words on a page may be challenging, but seeing someone actually complete a given task can be worth a thousand words.
Because of their preferred learning environment, ISFJs also tend to value instructors that are logical and organized, and who provide an opportunity to “preview” content before engaging in group exercises or activities. They may also be curious, looking for more information and nuances, even beyond that which is presented in the classroom. As a result, they often benefit from additional lists of resources that they can explore on their own time, especially if those sources will help them make even more connections to their experience or current situation. In terms of classroom management, ISFJs expect explicit objectives and instructions – they cannot meet the instructors’ expectations if they do not know what those are. A checklist or rubric of sorts can work wonders.
In the same way, specific and concrete feedback after a task or activity is completed can also be enormously helpful for ISFJs, providing that it is given in a private, one on one manner. They also prefer a more sensitive style of giving feedback, emphasizing the positive aspects of their work as well as areas of growth.
ISFJs’ Leadership Style: Traditional and Caring
While ISFJs make up nearly 15% of the US population, they make up only about 5% of supervisors, managers, and executives. However, their natural focus on human outcomes and the impact of policy decisions on individuals makes them highly effective leaders. Not only do they carefully consider the human impact before they set their organization in a given direction, but they also consider how any given decision may be received and implemented, not only in terms of logical or objective considerations (e.g., logistics, resources, practicalities, etc.), but also in the overall context of the organization’s history. They build a solid foundation for any decision or action that they take, even if they seem overly slow or indecisive to others.
An additional strength of ISFJs is their commitment to others’ needs and development. They are fiercely loyal, and make a concerted effort to invest in relationships that inspire others’ loyalty as well. They contribute significantly to team
efforts, and set the overt expectation that others pull their weight as well. If everyone does not contribute equally, then the entire team is at risk. ISFJs have very much a collaborative attitude, and generally do enjoy working with others. Then again, this level of investment does have its risks. For instance, if others are not as invested or emotionally involved as they are themselves, then ISFJs may take it personally. Also, because they tend to be less focused on empirical information and facts, they may not necessarily share enough information with their co-workers or employees for them to be able to maximize their own output, not to mention to stay committed to and invested in the organization overall. ISFJs in leadership positions would benefit from making an effort to meet individuals’ intellectual and practical needs in addition to their emotional needs. In doing so, they will increase their loyalty and the strength of their relationship with the organization in general and the team in particular.
From a more practical perspective, Myers-Briggs ISFJs are highly organized, and assign clear roles and responsibilities to their team members. They expect that these traditions will be maintained, sometimes regardless of changing circumstances. This adherence to tradition, while beneficial in many ways, such as a healthy compartmentalization that maintains a healthy work-life balance and often fulfilling personal relationships outside the workplace, can also cause problems for ISFJs. For instance, traditional organizational structures may inhibit creativity or experimentation, and not wanting to “rock the boat” or draw attention to one’s own successes or failures may successfully avoid confrontations, but also risks being overlooked by top management.
ISFJs and Emotional Outlook: Humble and Empathetic
ISFJs tend to be confident and secure in themselves, but also humble and unassuming in their overall role within their teams. They direct their energy and time towards their explicit obligations, especially specific or practical tasks, and also to maintaining traditions and social conventions. They also make an effort to maintain a secure and calm physical space and to help others benefit from the same kind of environment. On the other hand, they often do get irate when others, especially more extraverted personality types, mock or behave condescendingly towards their practical and steady way of maintaining their lifestyle and behavior.
The root of this anxiety, caused by criticism of their way of thinking, may be found in their aversion to change. ISFJs tend to adhere strongly to defined structures and roles, and have a discomfort and less preference for change of any kind. However, they find security and comfort in fulfilling relationships and social networks, often drawing on these supports when they feel emotional needs.
These social networks and interpersonal relationships are strengthened by their acute ability to empathize with others in the way that they most need at a given time. They are exceptionally strong at reading people, detecting nuances in behavior, and supporting them emotionally. On the other hand, they are generally fairly reserved with their own emotions, not treating everyone as a confidant, though they often have a wide group of people who lean on them in various ways. Despite their social prowess and attention to detail, they also tend to be reserved, preferring one on one interaction to being forced to engage with large groups, especially being introduced to multiple people they do not know at the same time. Being in situations where they feel the need to “perform” can be stressful for ISFJs, whether in a personal or professional setting. On the other hand, small, intimate gatherings are their forte, as they have the opportunity to build new and meaningful relationships.
An additional characteristic of MBTI ISFJs is their aversion to conflict. They tend to be patient with others’ beliefs and values, even if they differ significantly from their own, but may become more skeptical as others’ beliefs tend to negatively value others. They do not make decisions lightly, and are very careful in considering the implications and impact that their decisions may have on others. For this reason, even if they decide that another person’s contribution, opinion, belief, or value is not optimal, they may hesitate to engage in a discussion or explanation, for fear that it may escalate into a conflict.
Learn More About the MBTI ISFJ Personality Type
Explore additional information that delves deeper into the ISFJ Personality Type by examining various personality and career based subjects:
- How the MBTI ISFJ Type relates to Innovation
- How the MBTI ISFJ Type relates to Project Management
- How the MBTI ISFJ Type relates to Emotional Intelligence
- How the MBTI ISFJ Type relates to Leadership
Click on a link below to read more about different MBTI Personality Types
Introduction to Type (Isabel Briggs Myers, 1998, CPP Inc.)
Introduction to Type and Careers (Allen L. Hammer, 2007, CPP Inc.)
Introduction to Type and Leadership (Richmond, S. CPP. 2008)
Introduction to Type and Learning (Dunning, D. CPP. 2008)
Introduction To Type® and Emotional Intelligence. (Pearman, R. CPP, 2002)