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.)]
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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.
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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.
ISFJ Personality Types in The Workplace
Individuals often use their Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality type preferences to develop powerful insights into their workplace function, augment their leadership ability, and increase their productivity. When applied to team dynamics, the impact of MBTI® preferences can be even greater, from streamlining individual interactions to shedding light on organizational inefficiencies. MBTI® personality type’s shape various aspects of individuals’ behavior, from their communication and leadership style to their workplace contributions. This impact becomes exponential at the team or organizational level, influencing how organizations approach problems, develop a culture, and operate in general.
Introverted-Sensing-Feeling-Judging (ISFJ) personality types, are loyal, dedicated workers. They thrive in structured organizations where roles are clearly defined and where individuals’ practical and specific needs are met. ISFJs are indispensable to their teams. They take the time to ensure stability and harmony among their teammates, and think nothing of making personal sacrifices for the good of the team and its productivity. This document will provide you with insights into ISFJs, their communication and leadership styles, and how they shape and solve problems within their teams and organizations.
ISFJs and Communication in The Workplace: Considerate and Accurate
When they communicate with others, ISFJs are more concerned with being careful and considerate listeners than they are with forcefully expressing themselves. They value the emotional and psychological well-being of their peers highly, and avoid behaviors that may damage their peers’ self-image when they can. As a result, they rarely champion their own ideas, especially if they sense that others’ voices may be stifled in the process, though they will freely express personal positions and opinions if they are asked to do so.
That said, ISFJs are also committed to the accuracy of all information presented, whether or not they are personally introducing the ideas. They verify the facts and details of any concept they personally introduce, and often spend time “behind the scenes” confirming assumptions made by their co-workers. The ISFJ mentality can be summarized as “work slow to work fast”—from their perspective, taking the time to ensure accuracy up front ensures smoother work down the line. While this approach seems logical, ISFJs’ emphasis on accuracy can be irritating to their more impulsive co-workers, who may not see the value in double-checking every minor detail.
ISFJs’ focus and accuracy, as well as their general adherence to structural norms and procedures, is also evident in other aspects of their communication. For instance, they may become exasperated with co-workers who introduce new issues in meetings and do not strictly abide by an explicitly stated agenda. Similarly, ISFJs often prefer to work with steady focus during the day, and have a dispreference for working with gregarious or more social individuals who may interrupt their thought processes.
ISFJs and Workplace Contributions: Practical and Efficient
ISFJs are the glue that holds their organizations together. They are practical people who are able to realistically assess the abilities and resources of the individuals on their teams, and then efficiently yet supportively allocate those resources to help their organizations achieve their goals. As they distribute responsibility and give instruction, ISFJs are both patient and detail-oriented. They provide the emotional support needed for their team members to perform at their best, while also providing sufficiently granular guidance that team members feel empowered to carry out their instructions with confidence. After delegating, ISFJs follow-up, ensuring that team members are on the right track to meet organizational goals in a timely fashion. Throughout this process, ISFJs are conscientious of time management and open communication, ensuring that projects move along smoothly, and that progress is reported to multiple organizational levels.
ISFJs also maintain structure and organization as they manage their personal workloads. They often create agendas or timelines for projects, even if they only use them themselves. This level of organization has two significant side effects. First, it greatly increases their efficiency, as the allocate their time wisely, completing the highest-priority projects first. Another, perhaps counterintuitive, side effect of this structure is that ISFJs often have the time to assist their co-workers, since they can prioritize effectively. At times, ISFJs energy seems limitless, and they will go to great lengths to complete challenging tasks that they deem necessary and valuable. However, they are sensitive of their time, and dislike completing tasks, especially involuntarily, if they are illogical or inefficient.
Despite their contributions, ISFJs generally prefer to stay out of the limelight. They rarely publicize their own accomplishments, instead having a tendency to highlight the contributions of their peers or the achievements of their team. Doing so can cause tension with other members of their teams, especially those who are more extraverted or self-interested, or who mistake ISFJs’ quiet demeanor as a lack of confidence or self-esteem. If you have an ISFJ on your team, take the time to compliment them on a specific contribution, or draw their supervisors’ attention to their work. If you are an ISFJ yourself, you may need to develop a more assertive, direct way of communicating your accomplishments to ensure that your contributions are noticed and recognized.
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ISFJs and Workplace Culture: Structured and Supportive
ISFJs’ proclivity for structure and organization extends to their work environments. They thrive in contexts that have a clear hierarchy of command and where every team member has a clear set of responsibilities. ISFJs benefit from knowing who they can go to for support, and who is responsible for which tasks. From their perspective, being asked to complete a job without specific, defined criteria is like trying to shoot a moving target blindfolded. They quickly lose motivation if they are not provided with precise direction and instruction. In a sense, ISFJs expect their organizations and teams to provide to them the same long-term security and predictability that they provide to their organizations. Reciprocity and trust is highly important to ISFJs.
Their high value of structure can make ISFJs seem resistant to organizational change. They may imply that change initiatives should adhere to or mimic current rules or procedures, even if doing so is not in the best interest of their organization as a whole. From their perspective, the human impact of change may outweigh the dubious benefits of change initiatives. ISFJs may even become frustrated by initiatives that fail to recognize the value of current procedures, or which overlook concerns of other teammates. At times, ISFJs may need to take a step back to assess the situation and confirm that organizational inertia is not the only reason they are clinging to past ways of operating.
Just as important as the organizational structure are the individuals of which their organizations or teams are comprised. They expect their peers to be conscientious of their time and quality of work. From an ISFJs’ perspective, this includes having a strong understanding of the foundation or background of any project they undertake, as well as a high level of control over the quality and accuracy of all work produced. Equally important is a level of consideration and kindness for others, and respect for their time and contributions. ISFJs do not have patience for disrespectful or mean-spirited peers, as they realize the negative effects such individuals can have on others and the team as a whole.
ISFJs and Leadership in the Workplace: Informed and Respected
ISFJs are practical and well-informed leaders. They assess situations thoroughly before developing change initiatives or action plans, and consider the implications of their behavior from multiple perspectives. They often account for the history and resources of the organization as a whole, as well as the needs and opinions of individuals on their teams before setting a direction. Once they do make a decision, they encourage their team members to take ownership over their individual contributions, often encouraging them to work on the tasks or components where they have the expertise to excel. Along the way, ISFJs are seen contributing their fair share and working alongside their team. In doing so, they build relationships with their team members and earn their loyalty. In addition, ISFJs have a high respect for tradition and structure as they continue to make progress towards their goals, from giving team members clearly defined roles to valuing work-life balance and personal time with family.
If ISFJs have an area of growth related to leadership, it is the ability to coach and encourage team members to overcome obstacles independently and through creative problem solving. To achieve this, ISFJs may need to inhibit their first reflex—jumping to take something off someone’s plate. It might be hard to watch people struggle at first, but when they become self-sufficient and see the value of their achievements, overcoming the challenge can be more rewarding than never having faced it at all.
ISFJs and Problem Solving in The Workplace: Human-Oriented and Thorough
ISFJs approach problems or conflicts with the same thoroughness and data-driven practicality with which they approach every other aspect of their workplace function. They first gather all the factual information they can about the issue. Once they have thoroughly assessed the situation and considered it from multiple perspectives, they begin working towards a solution in a systematic and task-oriented manner. While both efficient and effective, this painstaking approach to problem-solving may irritate ISFJs’ team members, as it may seem too slow or detailed to be applicable. On the other hand, ISFJs may become equally irritated by team members who are overly impersonal, removed from the human element, or involved in conceptual models or abstract theories. Throughout their sometimes-lengthy process, ISFJs never lose sight of the human impact their decisions will have. To them, the human element is paramount in decision-making. As they continue to develop as decision makers, ISFJs may need to learn to take a step back and recognize that some details or facts which they initially thought were essential may in fact be trivial, or that a seemingly dire human impact could actually have been over-estimated.
ISFJs and Areas of Growth in the Workplace: Long-Term Impact and The Human Element
In some ways, the importance and value that ISFJs place on other individuals is their greatest strength. However, if its implications and impact is not monitored, this same attention can become their greatest weakness. Valuing the thoughts, opinions, and feelings of others can create loyalty and trust, but it can also cause team members to devalue ISFJs’ contributions, or even take them for granted. In order to maximize their effectiveness, ISFJs should make an effort to speak up and share their opinions and convictions with others in their teams and organizations. As they do so, they should recognize that title and position can be important, but should also make an effort to notice the competence and merit of team members who may be younger, less experienced, or lower ranked. No one is born a CEO, but they became so because others noticed their potential.
In the same vein, ISFJs should recognize that while standards and structures have value at times, they do not always correspond perfectly to reality. New guidelines may need to be developed to manage change, and loosening up structures slightly can create opportunities for innovation, solving problems and preventing others. Another benefit of reevaluating facts or challenging assumptions is the potential for realizing that the situation is not as dire as originally thought, or that a previously discarded solution may in fact be viable after all. In short, while “Work Slow to Work Fast” is a valuable mantra in general, sometimes rework or reconsideration is necessary for optimal results. ISFJs should be aware that they have a tendency to lose the forest for the trees and have difficulty seeing wider ramifications or implications for their decisions, and make an effort to broaden their vision themselves, or build heterogeneous teams where others can contribute such perspectives. If you are an ISFJ, you may want to practice taking calculated risks, and imaging the positive ramifications of your decisions, rather than just the negative ones. With making these few simple changes, you may find yourself becoming comfortable with change and giving direction like never before.
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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)
Introduction To Type in Organizations (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J. CPP Inc., 1998)