I like feeling I have helped someone with a concern, helping them figure out, deal with, and resolve the problem, knowing that what I recommended or advised really did help that person.
I am fairly quiet with an easygoing attitude and am modest to some extent. I do not mind being alone, although I do like to be with people too. I like having friends, and family is the most important thing in my life. I am a reluctant leader—I like to have some say in things and I am glad I am doing it, but if things go well with someone else as leader, then that doesn’t bother me. Privacy is important, though it’s nice to be thought of well by others. I like to have some independence; to be able to come and go as I please is nice.
I am dependable and conscientious. I have a big sense of obligation with work. Doing a good job is really important to me. Give me specifics and a plan on how you want me to do it. Brainstorming is generally harder—it’s a skill to acquire. I prefer to work by myself without distractions because I like things done a certain way. It’s taken me a while to learn that my work is much better quality when I’m drawing from those who see things differently. They help keep up my enthusiasm. And I get upset when work backs up—and it probably takes me longer than most people to do something because I am so thorough. But when I have learned a lot about what I do, I think I get the job done much faster and I can make difficult work look easy. I cannot stand people not doing their best job. I do what I say I’m going to do and stick with it until it’s done. And I can find myself overcommitted. It’s important to me to be able to say “Okay, this is enough responsibility for now, I don’t have to climb that ladder at any cost.”
Organization has always been a real strength. I do it all internally, in my head. I am fairly detail oriented and a very structured person. I have to have things in a certain place, with a plan and things prioritized, so I can leave things and pick up the next day where I left off. Being structured is a natural thing with me, to want to have things set.
I dislike conflict. I really care about treating people with a lot of respect. It’s an emotional drain when I have to deal with different opinions and reconcile everyone. I give an opinion based on what I think is fair and what’s been done in the past. What’s decided for one person shouldn’t be really any different than for another. I respect that people are certainly entitled to feel the way they feel, but in working or living together, decisions have to be made and things have to go a certain way. I need positive feedback that I’m doing a good job and that my opinions are similar to the opinions of others, to hear, “Yes, I think that same thing.” I worry when there’s disagreement. I question myself. I’ve learned to challenge what I don’t feel is right, especially if someone does something to me that I don’t feel I would have done to that person.
Anything really major in life can take forever to decide. I look to what matters to people, talk to them and get their ideas, then put it all together into something that satisfies everyone. I am more comfortable preparing first and then starting something, after I’ve pictured it in my mind, rehearsed it, and perfected it. I feel I do a good job expressing myself when I have a chance to prepare, although I do better in reflection. Answering questions on the spur of the moment can be hard too. I will take something minor and get all freaked out when it’s nothing to get upset about. I’m very methodical and prefer things to be laid out. If it’s a problem with me and another person, I can analyze the situation endlessly until I talk to the person again and straighten it out.
I consider myself adaptable to anyone. I feel that a lot of people think I am a nice person, and because I was always there for them in the past and willing to help, they try to take advantage of me. But as long as you are doing something okay with your life, then you are okay with me.
I need acknowledgment from people who I really care about. Compliments can be embarrassing face to face, though. A paycheck is nice recognition too. I like a day when everything works really well, when I get a lot done, people respond very positively and there is a lot of laughter. I have an unusual sense of humor, and I like laughter.
ISFJs are characterized above all by their desire to serve others, their “need to be needed.” In extreme cases, this need is so strong that standard give-and-take relationships are deeply unsatisfying to them; however, most ISFJs find more than enough with which to occupy themselves within the framework of a normal life. (Since ISFJs, like all SJs, are very much bound by the prevailing social conventions, their form of “service” is likely to exclude any elements of moral or political controversy; they specialize in the local, the personal, and the practical.)
ISFJs are often unappreciated, at work, home, and play. Ironically, because they prove over and over that they can be relied on for their loyalty and unstinting, high-quality work, those around them often take them for granted–even take advantage of them. Admittedly, the problem is sometimes aggravated by the ISFJs themselves; for instance, they are notoriously bad at delegating (“If you want it done right, do it yourself”). And although they’re hurt by being treated like doormats, they are often unwilling to toot their own horns about their accomplishments because they feel that although they deserve more credit than they’re getting, it’s somehow wrong to want any sort of reward for doing work (which is supposed to be a virtue in itself). (And as low-profile Is, their actions don’t call attention to themselves as with charismatic Es.) Because of all of this, ISFJs are often overworked, and as a result may suffer from psychosomatic illnesses.
In the workplace, ISFJs are methodical and accurate workers, often with very good memories and unexpected analytic abilities; they are also good with people in small-group or one-on-one situations because of their patient and genuinely sympathetic approach to dealing with others. ISFJs make pleasant and reliable co-workers and exemplary employees, but tend to be harried and uncomfortable in supervisory roles. They are capable of forming strong loyalties, but these are personal rather than institutional loyalties; if someone they’ve bonded with in this way leaves the company, the ISFJ will leave with them, if given the option. Traditional careers for an ISFJ include: teaching, social work, most religious work, nursing, medicine (general practice only), clerical and and secretarial work of any kind, and some kinds of administrative careers.
While their work ethic is high on the ISFJ priority list, their families are the centers of their lives. ISFJs are extremely warm and demonstrative within the family circle–and often possessive of their loved ones, as well. When these include Es who want to socialize with the rest of the world, or self-contained ITs, the ISFJ must learn to adjust to these behaviors and not interpret them as rejection. Being SJs, they place a strong emphasis on conventional behavior. Needless to say, ISFJs take infinite trouble over meals, gifts, celebrations, etc., for their loved ones–although strong Js may tend to focus more on what the recipient should want rather than what they do want.
Like most Is, ISFJs have a few, close friends. They are extremely loyal to these, and are ready to provide emotional and practical support at a moment’s notice. (However, like most Fs they hate confrontation; if you get into a fight, don’t expect them to jump in after you. You can count on them, however, to run and get the nearest authority figure.) Unlike with EPs, the older the friendship is, the more an ISFJ will value it. One ISFJ trait that is easily misunderstood by those who haven’t known them long is that they are often unable to either hide or articulate any distress they may be feeling. For instance, an ISFJ child may be reproved for “sulking,” the actual cause of which is a combination of physical illness plus misguided “good manners.” An adult ISFJ may drive a (later ashamed) friend or SO into a fit of temper over the ISFJ’s unexplained moodiness, only afterwards to explain about a death in the family they “didn’t want to burden anyone with.” Those close to ISFJs should learn to watch for the warning signs in these situations and take the initiative themselves to uncover the problem.