ISFJ
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ISFJ Strengths

Practical. With a keen memory, an eagle’s eye for observation and an absolute determination to account for every detail, ISFJs are practical workers par excellence. When focused on a mission, ISFJs possess a Sherlock Holmes-like disposition to solving practical problems, built on an in-depth understanding of concrete facts. 

Hardworking. Intense and serious when a task needs to be completed, ISFJs are super-competent go getters who bring a hard-nosed approach to their work that can sometimes seem excessive to others. But it’s important to remember that ISFJs care deeply about people. When an ISFJ puts her game face on it is a sign that she believes what she is doing will improve people’s lives and is worth taking seriously. 

Supportive. ISFJs are the consummate helpers; happy to share their time and energy with anyone who needs it and taking an empathetic approach to problems and goals. As parents, partners, friends, students, workers, entrepreneurs, neighbors, community members, public servants and citizens, ISFJs always strive for excellence, and it is the inclusivity and comprehensiveness of their vision that forms their identity and gives them their unique ability to brighten every corner of the worlds they inhabit. 

True to their word. By now we are all familiar with the values that ISFJ hold dear: honor, integrity, responsibility, loyalty and commitment. This is all well and good, but to ISFJs it is far more important to walk the walk than talk the talk, and this is where ISFJs shine like the brightest stars. In business and personal relations, ISFJs are straight shooters who say what they mean and mean what they say. Their word is as good as gold. 

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ISFJ Weaknesses

Resistant to change. ISFJs regard custom and tradition with the utmost respect and can become anxious with a world they see changing too fast and people who refuse to follow established standards. ISFJs in full "tut-tut/tsk-tsk" mode may convince themselves that moral decay and a loss of respect for personal responsibility are destroying our society from the inside out, and they can become so immersed in pessimism that they will start seeing signs of degeneration and devolution everywhere they look. Diversity of thought and opinion are truly the spices of life, but ISFJs can become so enamored with orthodoxy that they forget this essential fact of existence. 

Too altruistic. Loyalty is an admirable character trait to be sure; but it is a two-way street, and if the people we choose to trust prove to be dishonest or unreliable we must be prepared to walk away. Yet ISFJs struggle with letting go, and have a tendency to stay in it to the bitter end, convinced that this is the only honorable thing to do.

Take things personally. ISFJs are very private people, bordering on the shy, and this does not always mesh well with more open, unpredictable personality types. The social complexity of the environments they inhabit can overwhelm ISFJs and leave them feeling like square pegs in a universe of round holes. They have trouble dealing with conflict and a tendency to take even minor criticism personally. Combined with their stubborn streak, this can leave ISFJs feeling vulnerable and put upon, and they may resort to judgmental criticism themselves as a defense mechanism. 

Overload themselves. ISFJs are known for their terrific work ethic, but over time this positive trait can transmute into workaholism and leave an ISFJ so overloaded that she loses sight of everything else. Workaholic ISFJs can be driven to distraction by their perfectionist tendencies, and even on those rare occasions when they manage to tear themselves away from the office and return home for a while, they will continue to obsess over their latest project or assignment, leaving them too distracted and preoccupied to enjoy their free time. 

ISFJ Growth and Development

In order to reach their full potential, ISFJs should:

Seek out contact with alien life forms. ISFJs have a tendency to ensnare themselves in their own worldviews and spend far too much time living inside their own heads. As such, they desperately need social contact with people who have different mindsets and ideological inclinations; this type of constructive social interaction can help ISFJs become more comfortable with diversity and accepting of social change, and it can prevent them from developing that stern schoolmaster’s countenance that others find so reactionary and off- putting. 

Speak even when you haven’t been spoken to. In their dealings with other people ISFJs sometimes operate as if their life's purpose is to keep the peace and make everyone happy—everyone except themselves, that is. This habit of suppressing emotions and deferring to the needs of others may seem noble, but in reality it can trap the ISFJ in non-productive relationships that won’t make them happy. Speak up for yourself to reach your full potential as a human being. 

Step outside your comfort zone. This is good advice for everybody, but particularly for ISFJs who tend to get stuck in their routines to the point where they don’t have any time left over for fun and adventure. Take care to connect with your spontaneous, creative side, trying something new every now and then to ensure that your reverence for the tried-and-true does not calcify into rigidity. 

Lighten up! While the ISFJ’s serious and sober attitude may be well-intentioned, a little humor and irreverence from time to time never hurt anyone—you don’t want to be the person who sucks the life out of a room. When they are on the job in particular, ISFJs should realize that fun, laughter and the occasional unplanned coffee break can help relieve stress and build camaraderie, which will only help to boost workplace efficiency in the long run. 

Don’t worry, be happy. Caution in the face of the unknown is the ISFJ’s standard operating procedure, and it can be paralyzing—stopping personal growth in its tracks. It makes sense to worry in some instances but incessant worry is like a Death Star to happiness. Let go of the perfectionism every now and then and live a little. It’s only when you relax your strict standards that true happiness will come.  

About the Author

Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She founded Truity in 2012, with the goal of making quality personality tests more affordable and accessible. She has led the development of assessments based on Myers and Briggs' personality types, Holland Codes, the Big Five, DISC, and the Enneagram. She is an ENTP, a tireless brainstormer, and a wildly messy chef. Find Molly on Twitter at @mollmown.

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