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“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

Mother Theresa – ISFJ

ISFJs are known for their compassion, dutifulness, and practical kindness. Down-to-earth and empathetic, they make sure that details are taken care of so that life is calm, tranquil, and stable. They thrive when helping their loved ones in practical ways and doing what they can to improve their communities. Calm and soft-spoken, they avoid being showy or attention-seeking, instead preferring to do their kind deeds in the background without a lot of fanfare.

ISFJs rely on their masterful Introverted Sensing (Si) to collect and recall numerous personal details about the people around them. They have rich memories and can easily remember what peoples’ desires and needs are. They are usually skilled at remembering birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. They combine this process with Extraverted Feeling (Fe), their second-favorite function. Extraverted Feeling gives ISFJs the ability to sense other people’s emotions and moods and be empathetic and compassionate with them. ISFJs are usually good at maintaining harmony in their outer worlds and making other people feel at ease. They are often polite and generous; willing to go to great lengths to improve the lives of their friends and family. The ISFJ believes in helping his or her community, living selflessly, and working hard to provide joy and practical help to others. It’s no wonder they are often called the defenders or the caretakers.

You’ll find a wide variety of ISFJs in numerous career fields and humanitarian roles; Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Kate Middleton, and George H.W. Bush are all ISFJs!

Not sure what your personality type is? Take our personality questionnaire here. Or you can take the official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) here.

What Does ISFJ Stand For?

I = Introversion. ISFJs focus on the inner world before responding to the outside world. They gain energy from alone time when they can reflect on their own thoughts.
S = Sensation. ISFJs prefer taking in information that is tangible, realistic, and concrete. They would usually rather focus on what exists than hypothesize about abstract possibilities.
F = Feeling. ISFJs apply personal values and empathize in order to make a decision. They want what is best for the group or humanity as a whole.
J = Judgment. ISFJs like having things settled, having decisions made, and having a sense of control or structure to their life. They are typically work-before-play people.

ISFJ Motivations and Weaknesses:

  • Driving Force. To live a life of stability, wellness, and comfort. To understand what can be trusted, what’s true, and what will satisfy an inner need for health and safety.
  • Backup Strength: Unique understanding of people and their needs and preferences. Strong awareness of social expectations and human dynamics.
  • Weaknesses: Can become “stuck in a rut” and overly-cautious about trying new things. May fail to entertain new ideas because they conflict with “tried-and-true” methods. At times they may ignore logic in favor of preserving people’s feelings.
  • Stressors: Lack of alone time, being thrown into unpredictable situations, inconsistent people, multi-tasking, conflict, dealing with people who are unrealistic or impractical.

ISFJ Personality Traits:

Everyone has one-of-a-kind qualities as well as influences from their background that shape their personality. But most average to healthy ISFJs have the following characteristics:

  • They easily sense what other people are feeling
  • Empathy and sympathy come easily to them
  • They crave predictability and a sense of routine
  • They are highly detail-oriented
  • They are usually tactful and considerate
  • They crave a tranquil, calm life
  • They are gifted at reading people’s body language
  • They easily compare and contrast past to present
  • They enjoy post-processing experiences and reflecting on them to make them last.
  • They are usually down-to-earth and grounded

ISFJ Careers:

ISFJs want a career path that allows them to help people in practical ways and gives them a sense of security and routine. As detail-oriented, meticulous types, they thrive in careers where they’re given their own private space to focus intently on what they’re doing. A lot of noise and commotion will make them stressed and exhausted at the end of the day. That said, working one-on-one with people can be really satisfying to them, especially if they’re able to help others improve their lives. They may enjoy coaching students who have special needs or they might get a thrill from the quiet, homey nature of a library. Whatever their career, they appreciate having clear objectives and expectations and regular feedback so that they know they’re on the right track.

Career Suggestions: Family physician, Teacher, Optician, Human Resources, Social Worker, Veterinarian, Librarian, Genealogist, Religious educator, Writer, Organic farmer, Floral designer, Artist, Interior decorator, Photographer.

ISFJ Cognitive Functions:

ISFJ cognitive function infographic

Dominant Function: Introverted Sensing (Si)

ISFJs value learning from past experience and naturally tend to compare and contrast the present with what came before. They are detail-oriented and believe in preserving traditions, routines, and memories that give them a sense of stability and meaning. ISFJs need time to get comfortable with new and novel situations and do best when they are given an idea of what to expect and some time to process change. With proper time and information they can be highly adaptable; but they must never be rushed into a drastic change or they will experience a lot of unnecessary stress.

Introverted Sensing also shows up in the communication style of the ISFJ. This type likes realistic, tangible information and tends to speak in a sequential, detailed way about experiences that are real rather than hypothetical. When speaking to an ISFJ it’s important to explain yourself in a linear, sequential way. They also hate being rushed when giving details in a story.

Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)

ISFJs are naturally attuned to other people’s emotions and strive to maintain harmony in their outer worlds. They are usually tactful and considerate, and will go out of their way to be supportive and get peoples’ needs met.

The Feeling side of the ISFJ also shows up in communication. ISFJs enjoy talking about relationships and emotions and they enjoy encouraging or consoling when relationship changes arise. When people bring them a problem their first response will usually be to encourage, validate, or affirm the other person’s feelings. Because ISFJs are naturally interested in relationships they tend to pick up on interpersonal dynamics quickly and easily.

Tertiary Function: Introverted Thinking (Ti)

ISFJs use this function to analyze situations logically and methodically. Although it isn’t their main decision-making function, it still is a huge part of their lives. When alone, ISFJs enjoy analyzing information, learning how things work, or categorizing and sorting data. When ISFJs are with other people, they may dismiss this function in favor of getting people’s emotional needs met.

Inferior Function: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)

ISFJs use this function to open themselves up to new possibilities, brainstorm ideas, and make connections between abstract concepts. It may be a bit more challenging for them since it is one of their least-preferred cognitive functions. However, they can still tap into its creative potential at times, especially if it isn’t demanded of them on-the-spot.

Famous ISFJs:

Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, James Comey, Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Halle Berry, Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, Gwyneth Paltrow, Selena Gomez, Katie Holmes, Kirsten Dunst, Alicia Vikander, Prince Charles, Kate Middleton, Brian May.

Friendships with ISFJs:

ISFJs are loyal and devoted friends who will go out of their way to support and nurture their loved ones. They naturally tune in to what is important to other people and generate a sense of warmth and generosity in relationships. These are often the friends who remember important dates, “friendversaries”, or personal details and make sure to get presents or cards for special occasions. They have high standards for themselves as friends and strive to make people feel comfortable and create an environment of harmony and trust.

ISFJs may occasionally struggle in friendships with being taken for granted.  They are often soft-spoken and conscientious friends, yet their kindness is not always reciprocated in equal measure. The wrong kinds of people may notice the ISFJ’s natural generosity and take advantage of that, making them the de facto nurturer but not offering support in return. Another struggle ISFJs can run into is misunderstandings in relationships. They are naturally conflict-avoidant and tend to avoid direct, blunt speech. Thus more direct types (particularly TJs) can get confused about what the ISFJ wants and feel frustrated with the lack of forthrightness.

ISFJs need people in their lives who understand them and appreciate the thoughtful, meaningful gifts they bring to relationships. ISFJs thrive when surrounded by people who respect their feelings and pay attention to the details of what matters most to them. With good friends around, ISFJs can feel a sense of stability that allows them to continue doing life with a keen sense of purpose. 

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