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Traditionalists - ?Don?t count your chickens till their hatched.?

ISTJs are extremely practical, organised and methodical types who take all their responsibilities very seriously.

They have a great need for their lives to be as structured and controlled as possible. For example, they like to be able to plan what they are going to do in advance. They dislike the unexpected and would prefer not to do things on the spur of the moment. They also approach tasks methodically. ISTJs like to take account of the fact that things may go wrong and to plan accordingly. For example, they often carry an umbrella, or spares in their car, because they wouldn’t want to be caught short.

This desire for order means they prefer things to be black and white and they find it difficult to tolerate ambiguity. They respect rules and think they are there to be obeyed. They are generally very critical of rule-breakers.

Indeed ISTJs have a very pronounced sense of right and wrong. This leads them to expect very high standards of behaviour both of themselves and others. They can also be very critical of people who behave in ways which they think are inconsiderate of others or a betrayal of that person’s responsibilities or duties.

Duty is an important word for ISTJs. In fact, ISTJs, like ISFJs, are the most dutiful of all the types. They are extremely hard working and dependable. If an ISTJ is responsible for something, or has said they will do something then they will not let you down. Their word is indeed their bond.

An ISTJ’s favourite function is sensing which, as introverts, they use primarily in their inner world. This means that ISTJs go through life storing in their memory banks a rich source of material drawn from their personal experience. When ISTJs encounter new things in their environment, have to form opinions or are contemplating possible courses of action, they will consult these past experiences and use them to “prejudge” what they think is of value.

ISTJ preferences are such that they are often attracted to jobs involving detail and organisation such as accountancy.

This reliance on past experience leads many ISTJs to be quite conservative. They always value what they know from experience to be true to anything which is new or untried. This approach can make them dismissive of people who are attracted to abstract ideas or to innovation. Indeed they are generally resistant to change unless there is a good reason to do things differently. ISTJs are, in this respect, the most traditional of all the types.

ISTJ are very self-con  tained people and have a need to spend quality time alone planning and  structuring their lives, or mulling over the day’s experiences. Their natural reserve and their pronounced sense of duty can lead others to see them as too serious or reserved. In fact, when ISTJs are “off duty” they can be very humorous and are able to have a good time.

ISTJs have a preference for simplicity. They like things to be functional and good value for money. They detest wastage and usually dislike “frills.”  In relationships they tend not be romantic but they can be sentimental about the past.

ISTJs can often be caring and considerate but they would always prefer to show these feelings through the things they do for you rather than simply expressing them verbally. ISTJs are great believers that “actions speak louder than words”.

ISTJs use their thinking most to engage with others and the world round about them. Like all thinkers, they often find it easier to criticise than appreciate. This sometimes means they can seem a bit negative and critical of others’ views. They can easily acquire the reputation for being the kind of people who say “ah .. but”. Some other types often say they find ISTJs’ negativity a bit like a “cold shower”.  But ISTJs’ critical views rarely lead them into open conflict with others. They dislike feeling stressed or pressurised and, as they find conflict with others stressful, they will try to avoid it if they can.

In reality, as those who get to know them well are aware, ISTJs have a great need to please others. They like compliments and they need praise and appreciation for their efforts. They do not like to feel their hard work is unnoticed or that they are being taken for granted. However, while they like to receive these kind of positive strokes from others, their critical bent often means they are not very good at giving others this kind of positive feedback.

Ultimately ISTJs must learn that, like it or not, life is ambiguous. Rarely are issues black and white and things can simultaneously have “good” and “bad” sides to them. We are also living in a world which is changing rapidly and so sometimes they have to come to realise it is their conservatism which is impractical! It can also be helpful for ISTJs to start paying attention to the impact their thinking is having on others. Are they being needlessly negative? Would it be helpful to try to explain their past experiences and why this is the view they hold? Is their experience always that relevant to others anyway? These are useful questions for ISTJs.

ISTJ overview

Words to describe ISTJs

loyal | dutiful | controlled

organised | sceptical | traditional

logical | stable | self-contained

practical | dependable | down-to-earth

sensible | responsible | methodical

Careers attractive to ISTJs

Small business management, accountantcy, managerment, police, banking, driving, steel work, dentistry.

Needs at work

  • The opportunity to work on their own and at their own pace
  • Appreciation and recognition for their effort 
  • A stable, organised  and calm environment 
  • Sound logical reasons to do things differently.

Anticipated work/team strengths

  • Suggesting ways to make ideas workable.
  • Being organised and prepared.
  • Work which requires attention to detail.
  • Finishing tasks. 
  • Being totally reliable and dependable. 

Potential problem areas

  • May not take enough account of how their negative views may affect others. 
  • May not see the big picture and be too limited by their own personal experience
  • May not appreciate others’ efforts enough
  • May find it difficult to change the way they do things and get stuck in a rut. 
  • May be overly serious. 

Can often maximise effectiveness by –

  • Learning to thank and praise other people.
  • Giving explanations to others of their critical views.
  • Becoming more philosophical about life and accepting its essential ambiguity.
  • Learning to “lighten up”. 
  • Asking themselves questions and deliberately not coming up with answers. 

Common relationship Issues for ISTJs

ISTJs show caring by doing things which are of tangible benefit to the other ISTJs like others to take their needs for order, structure and control into account (e.g. not springing things on them).

ISTJ Type Dynamics

Dominant | sensing | introverted

Auxiliary | thinking | extraverted

Tertiary | feeling

Inferior |  intuition

This profile information is copyright and for review only. If you would like to buy a version of this for workshop/coaching use please see details about Enspired Profiles. 

© Carol Craig

MBTI, Myers-Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries; OPP Ltd. has exclusive rights to these trademarks in the UK.

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