Mrs. K’s pale skin, nagging cough, and apparent lack of energy made it obvious she wasn’t feeling well, but nonetheless, she’d showed up to her classroom to dutifully prepare the day’s lessons. She thought she could beat the sinus infection that was plaguing her, but she eventually allowed the principal to persuade her to take the day off. While most teachers wouldn’t have even considered coming in, Mrs. K felt compelled to honor her word to the school and the students. She, like most ISFJs, takes her commitments very seriously.
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ISFJs are dependable, caring, routine, practical introverts. Their personal warmth and willingness to serve behind the scenes keep society running smoothly. There’s a lot to admire about these compassionate traditionalists. Here are six characteristics of the ISFJ personality type.
Characteristics of an ISFJ
1. Ultimate Community Members
ISFJs are among the most social introverts. While they, like all introverts, need time alone to recharge, they also highly value community and are quick to get involved. For the most part, they prefer to serve behind the scenes. They lend a helping hand to volunteer organizations, religious committees, parent-teacher organizations, community service groups, and the like, carrying out the practical work necessary to keep these socially beneficial groups going.
ISFJs also tend to bite off more than they can chew. I know an ISFJ who taught, coached, tutored, sat in on PTO meetings, participated on a monthly school reform committee, and planned her wedding all at the same time. Saying “no” is one of the hardest things an ISFJ will ever have to learn to do, but it’s also one of the best ways to personal growth and healthy interpersonal relationships.
ISFJs love peace and hate conflict. They strive to invest in and support family, friends, and coworkers, wanting to keep their relationship with others positive. When they speak, they speak the language of peace — kind, considerate, and affirming words.
Most ISFJs are also extremely supportive. They can recognize when someone is ecstatic or depressed simply by observing his or her facial expressions and social interactions. Once they know how someone is feeling, they offer an appropriate response, either joining in the celebration or commiserating. This is, after all, what ISFJs desire from others. When they are down, they turn to other people for words of encouragement and support.
Many ISFJs also enjoy helping others learn and grow, particularly in one-on-one and small group settings. Some ISFJs take an interest in counseling and teaching. Mrs. K, for instance, loves teaching because it gives her an opportunity to help students learn “people skills” that help them respect and get along with one another.
As children, ISFJs tend to be quiet and inwardly focused, but as they age and enter their late teens and early twenties, they begin to develop the more active, outgoing side of themselves. They meet and engage with new people more readily than they ever did before, but they’ll still never engage as readily, openly, or quickly as their extroverted counterparts, the ESFJs.
3. Creatures of Habit
Most ISFJs enjoy routine. They like to know what to expect from their work and will show up day-in and day-out to carry out the prescribed job requirements in full. While they do enjoy a bit of variety here and there, most find too much change unsettling. This is because their driving mindset is one that loves tradition and established ways of doing things. ISFJs tend to focus on the past and what has worked before. In fact, the more times an ISFJ does something, the more he’ll likely enjoy it.
Combine this tendency with the ISFJ’s love of family and friends and you get an introvert who’s crazy about maintaining vacation and holiday traditions. An ISFJ will want to go to the same beach with the same people to enjoy the same food at the same time every year. She’ll also want everyone to show up for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter fully prepared to carry out their traditional roles.
4. Detail Hounds
ISFJs have an eye for detail. When my ISFJ coworker and I write emails together, she has a hard time moving onto the next sentence before we’ve deleted extraneous spaces, placed commas where they need to go, and corrected spelling errors. My ISFJ cousin who just graduated high school told me that one of his favorite things to do is correct grammar. ISFJs are keyed into their physical environment. They’re sensitive to temperature, lighting, and sonic changes. They also have well-developed palates and senses of smell.
In general, ISFJs are great with facts and numbers. They make excellent secretaries and accountants, and they are often happiest working alone for several hours each day to do a job “right.”
5. Walking Filing Cabinets
Unlike intuitives, sensors have the ability to remember a large number of specific facts in isolation — especially ISFJs. One of the most amazing gifts ISFJs possess is an ability to store and rapidly recall large amounts of facts and details. ISTJs also have this ability, but they differ from ISTJs in their focus. Whereas ISTJs are usually more concerned with impersonal matters such as the weather, organizational rules, maps, and historical records, ISFJs tend to focus on facts about people. They remember other people’s favorite colors, foods, gifts, places to visit, expressions, and interests with ease.
At the start of each year, Mrs. K’s students share three to five facts about themselves with their classmates, and every year, I’m blown away by how many of the facts she recalls. While I normally remember about 10 to 20 percent of what my students share, she recalls about 90 percent.
ISFJs also have an uncanny ability to recall memories in elaborate detail. They can think back to a time with friends or close family and mentally relive the event as if they were there. It’s no wonder that many ISFJs love scrapbooking. Each picture in a scrapbook is an invitation to remember and celebrate cherished memories.
6. A Child at Heart
People who know ISFJs well can attest to the fact that ISFJs have a creative, imaginative side. One ISFJ I know bakes elaborate cakes for family members on their birthdays. He once molded colored chocolate into an impressive Iron Man imitation. The final product was a mirror image of the action figure. My ISFJ cousin is working with an artist, designing logos. Most of the time, ISFJ creativity manifests itself in hands-on work such as baked goods, home decorations, and artwork.
This world is no doubt a better place because of the ISFJs in it.
More ISFJ Resources
- 19 Signs That You’re an ISFJ, One of the Most Common Personality Types
- 6 Myths About the ISFJ Personality Type
- How to Deal With Change When You’re an ISFJ Who’d Rather Not
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