The Secret Life of an ISFJ

The Secret Life of an ISFJ

Like many of you, I’ve taken a number of MBTI tests in my life. Most of these were the free online versionsyou know, the ones where you answer 50 questions and you are told your four letters. Late last year, however, I had the opportunity to take the full MBTI Step II test.

The Step II version is much more detailed than your generic online test. It takes nearly 45 minutes to answer and breaks down your results into five different aspects of each of the four letters. For example, your feeling characterization is broken down into five categories. You score differently for the five categories, and the way you score in each is compiled to sway you more towards feeling or thinking.

The ‘simple’ MBTIs I’d taken before now had put me all over the spectrum. The most recent one I’d taken had scored me as an INFJ…which I was super psyched about because our fearless leader Elizabeth is also an INFJ (and also one of the coolest business women I know)!

However, the Step II MBTI scored me as an ISFJ. As I’ve come to find, I love the characteristics of ISFJs.

ISFJs are conscientious, responsible, quiet, and friendly and work devotedly to meet our obligations. We are thorough, painstaking, accurate, and patient with necessary detail and lend stability to any project or group. We are loyal, considerate, sensitive, and concerned with how other people feel.

I score very highly on the introvert scale (the I in ISFJ)something that surprised my friends and classmates more than it surprised me. Tending towards introversion means that I have a strong natural tendency to focus on my own inner world and to get my energy through reflection. I have learned certain extroverted skills throughout the years and now feel comfortable exhibiting many of the tendencies that fall on the extrovert scale.

But, as many introverts do, I feel drained after too much social activity and need to find time alone with myself and my thoughts, or perhaps with a close friend or partner, to recharge my battery. In social situations, we introverts feel most comfortable in one-on-one interactions. Our natural assumption may be that others are uninterested in our thoughts, and so we can be perceived as hard to get to know. We draw sharp distinctions between friends and acquaintances. We often prefer to work in a quiet place, free of interruptions. To get ‘into the zone’ and problem solve or work on a complicated project, we much prefer to be by ourselves with our own thoughts rather than working in a group.

Those of us with a clear preference for sensing take in information by noticing and trusting facts, details, and present realities. We may have a tendency to think and act within the box. We trust facts and must be sure of the basics before moving on to the next steps. Practicality appeals to us, and we like seeing tangible results. We can find concepts interesting, but are motivated to see ideas applied. We take care not to generalize too much, and find it difficult when others do. We are most comfortable with the familiar and are reluctant to change things that are working well.

The F in ISFJ stands for feeling (as opposed to thinking). I am just on the edge of thinking and feeling, but have a slight tilt to the feeling preference, which means I have a slight tendency to make decisions using person-centered values to achieve harmony. Us feelers are compassionatewe are in touch with our own and others’ feelings and values and view those values as a reliable basis for making decisions. We often want people to like us and give others the benefit of the doubt. We tend to see several ways to arrive at an agreement and strongly want everyone to feel good about the result.

Though I technically score on the feeling side of thinking and feeling, I have several traits that score highly on the thinking spectrum. I am a strong proponent of using logic and hard data to make decisions. I question things and people often, and like to zero in on discrepancies and get all my questions answered before trusting the conclusions of others. As such, I can be skeptical and distrustful of conclusions that others come tobut because I’m strong in sensing, I’m nice about voicing my skepticism!

My preference for the judging type highlights my tendency to be organized and thorough. My fellow Js and I make long-range plans and enjoy feeling prepared. We give ourselves plenty of time to accomplish things and work easily with subtasks. We may dislike interruptions and sudden changes in plans, preferring a moderate amount of routine that allow for both predictability/structure and freedom to respond to opportunities.


Are you an ISFJ? Does this sound like you? Let us know on Facebook or TwitterI’d love to chat!

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