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22 January 2007 @ 09:22 am
Type Interaction #3: INTJ-ISFJ [archived]  
While it is wonderful to sit around and discuss how amazing we INTJs are, there are other types in the world and we generally have to deal with them more than with fellow INTJs. As a result I will be making weekly posts (as long as there is a good response) about how INTJs interact with others to get feedback on the experiences we INTJs have had with other types and how we've learned to deal with them successfully. I'll be posting this series every Monday featuring a new randomly-selected personality type.

Type Interactions #2: INTJ-ISFJ

I know nothing about ISFJs that I have not read in books. I know that I should (and probably do) know plenty of ISFJs but I don't know any that have been officially typed nor any that I'd be confident typing from a distance. There are more of them than us, but I still have a hard time picking them out in a crowd.

What are your experiences with ISFJs? Personal? Work?
How can INTJs deal effectively with ISFJs?
What are the problem areas between INTJs and ISFJs?
What makes INTJ-ISFJ interactions/relationships worth while?

Type Interactions #1: INTJ-ISTP
Type Interactions #2: INTJ-ENFP
dark_ranger on January 22nd, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
Based on my little experience in relationships, I tend to find ISFJs attractive.

The only people I have realized, or thought to be ISFJ, are female. It would be interesting to see how a male would fulfill a ISFJ role.
M. Dansonm_danson on January 22nd, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC)
You appear to be the only person who has ever met an ISFJ. Strange.
Loki: let me outtricstmr on January 22nd, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC)
I know one...
.. but since my experience is so limited.. I too have a hard time relying upon generalizations that I would want to make..

This ISFJ is female. She, overall, is definitely not an intellectual. She is rather earthy... works at a corporation (and has at the same one for like 15 years), also knows how to do Reiki (sp?) massage. She is generally a pleaser and is very fastidious about keeping her house clean.

She is also one of the biggest submissives that I have ever met. She very rarely makes big decisions--instead leaving them to her ESTP husband (or even her daughter)--and very rarely takes initiative in relationships.

While she is physically attractive--more of her charm comes from her care-giving/very sensual personna.

She is, however, incredibly concerned with social status. I've watched her totally ignore people when someone high on the social ladder is around and she accepts and goes with the "owning the neatest most expensive new toy on the block makes me cool" type philosophy that her husband is addictted to.. to the extent that she didn't really even complain when his impulse buying continued even after he lost his job and it nearly cost them their house.

Thus.. My perception of ISFJ's is of rule-oriented protectors. Unlike the more nit-picky rule enforcing of the ISTJ's that I know--this ISFJ was more likely to abide by and acept the rules and take the extra work upon herself rather than nagging others about it..

Anyway.. just my data point.
Lokitricstmr on January 22nd, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
oops.. I forgot to answer some of the questions...
1. Dealing effectively: Giving commands or presenting a plan in a kind way has always worked well.

2. Problems: I cannot and have never been able to hold a long conversation with this person--much less an intellectual one. She will listen and agree to what I may say... but rarely contributes.

3. Worthwhile: She can be very touchy-feely in a kind way.. which is something that I appreciate.
teh is the new "the"spirilis on January 22nd, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
Re: I know one...
To echo some of these observations, one female I knew (not very well) was a lady who used to work here; she was basically a secretary (not officially, but there were 2-3 who seemed to generally fill this role) of one of the guys who started the company, and most people had no idea what she did. The few dealings I had with her revealed that she was not really intellectual, but soft-spoken, submissive, caring, like tricstmr described his example. What little I'd heard through the grapevine regarding her interest in the men (she was not married or engaged), I'd only hear stories about her and guys who were in positions of management of some sort. One task she did, which I was made aware, was a mundane task of sifting through & approving applicants to a website (dating site, actually) created by the co-owner as a side project--she did this on company time AFAIK. I'd hear her name every christmas season as she coordinated some kind of charity donation thing around that time.
Again, quite reserved and mysterious, but the best phrase to describe her is "caring worker bee."

I do not have proof that she was ISFJ by any form of test, but she did seem to pass all the observational litmus tests of a classic ISFJ.
Sidereasiderea on January 23rd, 2007 09:07 am (UTC)
What are your experiences with ISFJs? Personal? Work?

In order of increasing experience and certainty:

1) My (slightly younger) sister assures me she's an ISFJ. I would have thought her an SP, but she swears she's an SJ.

2) One of my very best buddies is a male ISFJ. I've known him for about a decade.

3) I've been involved with a male ISFJ for over four and a half years (and counting!) (I should note, from time to time he says, "I think I might be an ISTJ". I don't think he is.)

I presume I've worked with a bunch of ISFJs (heaven knows, I've had enough jobs) but none have been identified to me as such. The typing I did for a seminar a couple years ago, here in grad school turned up an ISFJ.

Mostly, I seem to get along with them pretty well. The more mature they are, the easier it is, of course, but that's generally true of everyone. In the case of ISFJs, if they have learned the value of N-ish and T-ish ways of looking at the world, they're much easier to get along with.

Male ISFJs (and, come to think of it, my sister too) seem to go through particularly wild phase during adolescence/late-adulthood, where, honestly, I think if I had met either my buddy or my boyfriend in college, I expect I would have figured them for SPs. I'm going to resist incriminating either, but I will just alude obliquely to some recent nostalgia "for my MetalHead days."

But then they apparently settle down with a vengence. My sister to be a stay-at-home mom; my buddy as a married and mortgaged sysadmin; and my boyfriend, the mainframe programmer and traditionalist "company man" whom I introduced, at the ripe age of 40, to the strange and foreign notion of the "vacation".

One powerful bit of common ground I have found with all ISFJs I have dealt with is that they are optimizers. Their minds are like machines for making cost/benefit analyses, especially where a lot of data have to be involved. They're actually much better at performing cost/benefit analyses than we are -- as much as we INTJs like the concept of cost/benefit analyses, and are good at discerning the factors and deriving our equations, if you will, they're better at plugging the heap of values in and getting the result out at the end.

So, for instance, all the ISFJs I know are fabulous comparison shoppers, in whatever domains of expertise they have. They are great at keeping track of zillions of features and prices to compare apples and oranges and figure out which will bring the greatest value for the dollar, for whatever they decide to optimize for.

This is really quite neat. My ISFJ buddy is an audiophile, so, after thinking for a while about getting him to explain to me how to shop for audio equipment, I came to my senses, wrote him a $x check and said, "Here. My computer needs decent speakers. I use it for playing music from CDs. Would you buy me whatever speakers you feel are best?" So now I own a set of speakers much, much nicer and more powerful than anyone who lives in an apartment building should ever own. (It is an ambition of mine to someday have occasion to play something with them set to greater than "4".) Meanwhile, on the job, he's responsible for spec'ing and buying very large expensive servers, something else he does very well.

This basic optimization process also works on life-improvement. They're really good at taking new information about their situation and using it to make substantive changes in their lives, to their betterment. This is particularly noticable against the ground of their SJ risk-aversion. When they decide to make a change, there's really no stopping them.

That said, they're not necessarily so good at abstract perspective taking on situations. So, my bf didn't realize what he was missing out on where vacations were concerned, but once I introduced him to the practice, he took to it like a duck to water, and we travel as much as we can.

Sidereasiderea on January 23rd, 2007 09:08 am (UTC)

How can INTJs deal effectively with ISFJs?

1) Learn how to demonstrate respect in your demeanor, or you'll get nowhere.

2) Expectation-set early and accurately. They don't deal well with change in plans and flakey people make them feel stressed and jerked around. So don't flake out on them. Tell 'em what you're gonna do, then do it. This shouldn't be too hard for INTJs, who tend to be that way to begin with; the only tricky bit is not holding your plans too close to your chest, and remembering to notify others that you're making plans that might involve them. Also, if you need flexibility in your plans, simply tell them so. Saying "pencil this in, cause it might change" is far better than making a firm statement (or a statement that could be misconstrued as firm) then changing it.

3) They really care about results being good -- it's that FJ thing -- so if you can make it clear what you want them to optimize for, they can get on the same page as you pretty readily. If you don't make it clear what you want them to optimize for, especially if you send mixed-messages, you'll make them feel like you're setting them up to fail and they will be cranky with you. So don't do that.

3a) So if you can show them that you, too, care about results being good, they will feel like you Get It and that you respect their point of view. For us perfectionist INTJs, this should mostly be a piece 'o cake -- the only tricky bit can be in articulating the necessary goal state and standards you have in mind. I find resolving conflicts with my sweetie very easy -- or at least low-stress -- when approached from a "Here's what I want to optimize for; what do you want to optimize for; is there a mutually optimizing solution, and if not where do we compromise?" This has resulted in some very pragmatic asymmetries and divisions of labor in our relationship, whereby we simultaneously optimize different goals.

4) If you're allocating work to them, give them optimizing tasks.

5) I find it works better, if you want there to be spontaneity of some sort in the relationship, to delegate initating it to them. It works far better for my ISFJ friends to call me and say "Want to get dinner in an hour" than the other way around.

5a) Similarly, they're not comfortable when asked to make snap decisions. They're more about deciding well and thoroughly than quickly. Snap decisions stress them out. So saying "I'm just putting this out for your consideration, you don't have to decide right now", or "Want to think about doing..." or sending a request for a decision via email, which is implicitly the same thing, works better.

5b) Similarly, when injecting something novel into their lives, the more advance warning and the more information and description about the Newness you can provide them with, they happier and more comfortable they will be with the Newness. And they make very good use of that information. It is usually totally worth your time to make sure they have enough information to feel comfortable, if you need to cooperate with them in any substantive way.

6) Though they aren't likely to come up with their own metaphors to explain things, I have found them very receptive to my metaphors when I communicate. You may have explicitly propound on the parallels, but that's a form of intel they can make good use of. Other forms of comparison also work well.
Loki: dudetricstmr on January 23rd, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC)
On point 5--how do you actually delegate this authority to them. Do you have to specifically say "You must call me if we want to get together." or some such thing? I ask, because the only ISFJ that I know--who's actually closer to my ESFP partner than she is to me... almost never initiates contact. She waits for people to come to her. Is this a male/female difference perhaps?

any info most appreciated..
Sidereasiderea on January 23rd, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
Re: question...
It might be a male/female thing. Dunno. But as to how... explicitly. I wouldn't say "You must call me if we want to get together", because getting together at all is not the issue -- it's spontaneous get togethers which is. Get-togethers which are scheduled in advance can still be initiated by the INTJ. What I told my sweetie is "If you find yourself in town and are feeling social, feel free to call and see if I am available. I might not be, but I won't be offended if you ask." I'm not going to say he does this a lot. :) But every once in a while....
Demonsquirreldmnsqrl on February 2nd, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC)
This specific comment (with the possible exception of point 4, not sure if I am actually anywhere near as good at optimizing as an ISFJ) resonate a **LOT** for me.
Demonsquirreldmnsqrl on February 2nd, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, wait, 1 is totally intp-ified and only the last half of 6 feels like it matches.
Sidereasiderea on February 3rd, 2007 12:32 am (UTC)
? You lost me there with "totally intp-ified".
Demonsquirreldmnsqrl on February 3rd, 2007 01:45 am (UTC)
as in, I think I would like to be shown respect but I think that the behaviors an intp would interpret as 'being shown respect' might not necessarily be the same as the behaviors an isfj would interpret as 'being shown respect'

the kind of lack of respect that I think would cause me to tune someone out I think would be diffrent than the behaviors that might cause that same reaction from an isfj

or that's my theory, anyways
Sidereasiderea on February 3rd, 2007 02:22 am (UTC)
I think there's some truth that what you as an INTP would interpret as being shown respect have some qualitative differences with how an ISFJ would interpret as being shown respect. However

1) I expect not nearly as much as you are thinking, and

2) The important point which I think you're missing is how much higher a priority being shown proper respect is to ISFJs than to you.

I mean, seriously: How many times have you actually tuned someone out because they were insufficiently respectful towards you (however you feel consistutes respectful)? Have you ever actually done that even once?
quantumkitty on February 3rd, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
*jumps in* I have. Two words: internet creeps. If a guy, in his treatment of me, demonstrates that he sees women as objects, I will tune him out.

But that's really the only disrespectful behavior that would cause me to tune someone out. And I don't think that's a type-related conception of disrespect at all.

Even if someone's really disrespectful, my reaction is generally to think there's probably some truth in what they said or else they wouldn't have said it. Once some random internet person called me a bigoted self-absorbed small-minded fundamentalist, and I thought, "Hmmm... I don't think I'm really bigoted or fundamentalist, but self-absorbed and small-minded are probably true..."
Demonsquirreldmnsqrl on February 3rd, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
Ok. good point then. I retract the 'intp-ified' bit and just say it doesn't apply.

I do know that the only thing that makes me say "I don't want anything at all to do with this person" (rather than "interacting with this person is tiring and therefore I will prioritize doing so lower than just about anything else") is getting a sense that the other person has come to the conclusion that I have nothing of value to offer and that I will never have anything of value to offer. And I'll probably try to argue about it for a bit first to make sure. But once it seems that person is immovable on this subject, then I don't want to be around that person and pretend to be polite. If someone is going to reject me to that extent, I don't want that person infecting my environment.

But yeah, it's not at all the same thing.
Leora: infjleora on February 27th, 2007 11:44 am (UTC)
Odd... I only know one ISFJ, and she's a really weird one. She acts like an ESFP, because she feels that's more what she should be like. So, she may not count. But I remember a conversation with her and another one of my housemates once (she is also a housemate). We were talking about respect, me an INFJ and my other housemate an INTJ. She commented on how she didn't really care if her housemates respected her, so long as they liked her. The INTJ and I were rather startled and confused, it being such an alien idea. We actually do respect her, and wouldn't want to hang out with her if we didn't. But apparently that wasn't the critical bit.
Sidereasiderea on January 24th, 2007 12:30 am (UTC)
ISFJs and Spontaneity

I have to share this (I have permission.)

My ISFJ sweetie just called to brag/tease me, "I was a pillar of spontaneity today! You would be so proud!" (That is a direct quote.)

Turns out his eighty-year-old mother won some money in the lottery. So she called him first thing this morning, to get him to drive her across town to collect her winnings. This was not what he had planned on doing today, it being a work day (he does get to set his own hours, but he had planned on getting a lot of work done today to make free time this weekend). But he was the dutiful and loving son, and drove to his mother's place, drove her to the place where you collect winnings, and drove her home, thereby consuming most of the day. He said they had a lot of fun, but it was, he insisted laughing all the while, not what he had intended to do with that time. And then he called me up to let me know that he had been spontaneous.

At which point I explained about this discussion here and how I had to share it.
Vitor Akeda: pic#108335917Vitor Akeda on February 15th, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
Re: ISFJs and Spontaneity
hi, i can relate to this story. I backspace the keyboard a lot, sometimes trying to write more spontaneous sentences. To be expontaneous with my parents in a regular situation would be a sign of reaching another level.
daisyspatience on April 27th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
i work with one
she and i have worked together for 5 years and i gave her a link to the test because i was curious as to what her results would be. she is an extremely quiet person and no one at work really knows much about her. however, when she and i do get to talking it usually doesnt stop until a few hours later. we have caught ourselves in the parking lot at work 2 hours after our shifts ended saying 'hey, why is it getting dark already?'

i know that because of her caring spirit she does usually get taken advantage of in personal situations. she had an unemployed boyfriend that she supported (for 5 years!), her family has a serious history of mental illness that really weighs on her, and she was a victim of identity theft where a credit card was issued, maxed out, and never paid on...by her own mother!

our conversations seem to be limited to a few topics, most of them being either work or relationships.

even after all the years we have worked together side by side i cannot say that i really KNOW her. i have found that she is not very forthcoming with information, therefore i have to formulate my questions in such a way that i get the answer i want.

she is a very strange personality to say the least, well, one that i dont understand, anyway. she doesnt stand up for herself but she isnt a pushover either. i think the latter really stems from the fact that when most people talk to her they are met with *crickets.* the silence on her end is what more than likely deters them from trying to put more on her than she can handle. whereas i have realized that she is just processing the information to get back with them at a later date and time, but very rarely does she vocalize that.

all in all, as an intj i get along splendidly with my isfj. if there is one thing i know for sure, its that she definitely catches me off guard with the way she views things and her thought processes. for example, if i am explaining something new, she tends to ask me questions that i view as completely random or out in left field. sometimes i still have a hard time making the connections as to how the information she asks for is pertinent to what we are learning/doing. however, she always seems satisfied when she gets her answers. so i suggest, give the isfj the information they ask for and then move on, it will make your head hurt and most likely you will have an idiotic expression on your face if you stay on that wavelength trying to figure out how it was relevant.

oh, last thing, my isfj amazes me with her thriftiness. i cant even begin to recall all of the times i have said 'wow i really like that *insert some sort of clothing or material possession*' and she responds with 'oh thanks, i picked it up over the weekend, *this store* was having a huge sale and i had this coupon and as luck would have it there was an additional 80% off, so my whole outfit only cost me 8 dollars.'
wat2choose on July 25th, 2009 08:41 am (UTC)
Type Interactions #2: INTJ-ISFJ
I am married to one. The relationship is not one I would say is featured by compatibility. More one where we need to work at finding a way to understand one another yet for some reason or another there is enough there to keep it going - maybe the I and the J?

I would agree with the optimiser, he always gets the winning combination of the best deal economically as well as performance wise, whereas I am more interested in analysing the possibilities and finding some kind of evidence base for the decision making process. He can go out and do the negotiations and get the job done. I just want to feel reassured the decision is resting on a solid foundation I can trust intellectually.

He is not into main stream job scenarios - wants to preserve his lifestyle and freedom from mainstream more than have a job routine or security of income. Does do the stay at home Dad stuff as well as contract work to enable this. I do find him a bit passive in situations of conflict whereas I will get annoyed by the illogical nature of the situation or person's actions and want to get it sorted proactively or asap. He will put it off and procrastinate and make things worse through this process.

Interestingly, he is also into sound - made it a professional vocation. Music makes him feel good and he works intuitively to sense what the audience will respond to and wants them to feel good and to get a good result from what he does and wants people to acknowledge and respect him for his efforts.

He does not see the need to communicate his plans but does run on a to-do list mentality that is driven by what he feels like doing regardless of whether he should do it - whereas I would prioritise what I know I should do or am obligated to do or have a responsibility to do even if I do not feel like it. It seems spontaneous at times because he has not communicated and I can't plan to put it into my schedule but he has thought about it in advance and it makes sense to him why it has to happen right now and not other time.

He does not like intellectual conversations or philosophy or psychology. He is into the experience and what that delivers. I agree with the results being good thing and that we can meet on this one for different reasons.

He is not keen on change, is a very consistent person, however once he himself sees a change is needed he can be quite ruthless and determined to make it happen. Prefers the past to getting with the times today, however can be dragged there reluctantly at first because it is just and idea and concept then when he experiences it he is more likely to make it part of an ok thing to be doing. A hard sell at times. Whereas I can be attracted to doing something new because it has been evaluated and I can see it will be a good thing to do before I have experienced it, am willing to experiment in this way more than he is. When I give him all the good reasons i can see for why it would be good though this helps. For him though the proof is always in the pudding so he will remain detached and observing whilst experiencing the new thing to see if indeed it does deliver. Afterwards he will let me know if I was right or it is not for him.

It is a relationship that needs patience and tolerance from both of us however the more we have got to know one another the easier it has got.

Hope this helps.

Taishakutenpottergirl26 on September 20th, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
Better late than never I suppose.

I've come across 4 female ISFJs so far (one was my RA this past year and the other will be my suitemate this year). I'm not basing my data off of my suitemate too much because I need to confirm her type although it sounds like she's it.

Going on the remaining two female ISFJs, I think submissiveness is there but on varying levels. My ISFJ friend from high school C I can admire at times for independent thinking and appreciation of random & satirical things. She was already an atheist by the time I met her while my ISFJ college friend N is a (liberal)Muslim. My N ISFJ struggles with this religious conformity, however, because she was raised in an Islam-intensive environment so she is not inclined to question her beliefs because faith is a virtue. N has a particular attachment to her family and challenging their views would not be worthwhile to her. She's conformed with her family deciding what her career path should be and weighing in on her marriage prospects.

C and N are both practical and sensible people. They can call out BS and are surprisingly ruffled when stating their opinions about something they care about. I wouldn't label them as intellectuals but school is a duty they carry out adequately enough with some effort. N could care less for art (finds it pointless) but is good at English because she's good at analysing characters & thought processes. N is a pre-med linguistics major and C is a biology major. My RA graduated as an English major. My suitemate is going either for comparative human development or education.

I can't imagine having a philosophical discussion with any of them because they are rather mundane. I usually have a one hour cut off for conversations with N because she'll takes a good deal of time to talk about day-to-day matters and it frankly bores me after a while. Sadly, this limits our range of conversation.

They are rather attentive and caring people who want to please others. N once told me people have taken advantage of her because of her giving nature. ISFJs are very motherly overall. N and C will pick up after others as well as willingly do small favours at the request of friends. N is a very bubbly person that goes around sputtering oddly-constructed phrases and loves giving out hugs. Likewise, she has a disposition for wanting to get to know people going as far as talking to strangers (my ISTJ friend and I had to lecture her once on this point). Not surprisingly, C and my suitemate have a fair amount of patience for dealing with children. C's mother-knows-best attitude* did contribute to a rocky start in our friendship because she wanted look out for me and lecture down to me when there was something I didn't know or understand. We passed that stage long ago but it's still amusing how she gets offended whenever I say anything mildly insulting to her as a joke. Her defense is that "I'm a mean person". N is also flabbergasted at times by my bluntness.

*In N's case, the attitude manifests itself particularly when she states that society should adhere to regulations at the expense of individual liberties. In other words, she would fail as a libertarian.
happyface2010 on December 12th, 2010 01:48 am (UTC)
I am a ISFJ
I am a ISFJ female and I am married to an INTJ male and it has been a little bit difficult. We have been married for 5 years and we both just took the Myers-Briggs Test and found out what we are. I think all couples or future couples should take the test and find out about eachother. But I am just as it says and I am also a teacher like it says. Others come first and family is #1.