ISFJ - The Nurturer
Profile by Sandra Krebs Hirsch and Jean Kummerow
ISFJs are sympathetic, loyal, considerate and conscientious. They will go to any amount of trouble, when it makes sense to them, to help those in need. ISFJs operate most comfortably in situations where the rules are well defined and where traditions are to be upheld. They focus on providing practical help and services for others and for the organizations they serve. They are often self-effacing in getting the job done, and they are willing to make necessary sacrifices, especially for their families> They are at their best quietly providing assistance and making sure things are in proper order.
ISFJ children are conscientious, diligent, and rarely a behaviours problem to their parents or teachers. They like to know what is expected, and then they will dutifully and quietly follow through. In some respects, ISFJs behave like 'perfect children' because they try to please their parents, teachers, and those in authority. They work to meet others' requirements if they are in keeping with the ISFJs' value system, even if this involves a sacrifice on their part.
Security and routine are very important to ISFJ children. For some ISFJs, this means knowing exactly who is going to be there after school to take charge or who will be invited to play games with them. This need for security and order also applies in school. ISFJ children like to know exactly what they are supposed to do in school and like to feel certain that they have the skills before being called upon. ISFJs need gentle nudging to move beyond their comfort level. They may worry a lot about any number of things. This is apparent even in young children.
ISFJ children are particularly introspective in the face of adversity. Because of their inward focus, it simply does not occur to them to share their problems with others. They usually have a few close friends whom they are likely to deep as close friends for a lifetime. They often belong to at least one social group. They avoid center stage and contribute willingly in quiet, practical, behind-the-scenes ways. When comfortable, they can radiate their feelings and thoughtful values outward to others. They are often accepted for their kindness and quiet friendliness. They typically select a few special friends and nurture these friendships over long periods of time.
ISFJs shy away from disharmony and try to maintain cooperation at all costs. They may be more cautious and conservative than many of their peers. As young adults, ISFJs set goals with a variety of time frames, ranging from daily goals to long-range ones. If ISFJs have goals of summer vacation trips, they begin to save their money months in advance, gather accurate information on costs, and make lists of what to take. They try to have things in order each day so they will not have to worry too much about tomorrow.
In their careers, ISFJs are often likely to take what comes along; for example, they may accept the first job offer, rather than continue to look for something else and remain in a state of flux. Once in a job, they generally try to make the most of it, since the known is preferable to the unknown. They are loyal employees who diligently work at whatever tasks are given to them.
Learning and Working
ISFJs tend to be good students, because they diligently follow through in their work to please their teachers. One aspect of pleasing their teachers is wanting to know their teachers' basic requirements so that they can meet them to the letter of the law. They like having assignments that are clear and that tangibly demonstrate that they have worked hard. They are not likely to feel comfortable with an independent study project, because independent study leaves them too much on their own without a set of definite procedures.
ISFJs learn best by doing. They like to be involved in their work, perhaps having a work sheet to follow along as the teacher speaks. They may feel comfortable in group activities as long as they are working with a cooperative and task-focused group. They learn well from lectures that are well organized, not too fast paced, and properly sequenced. Lectures that activate their senses or connect to sensory impressions are very rich for ISFJs. They find arguing to be nonproductive and even uncomfortable. They like clear conclusions to their learning. They want to know the right answer. They may need to accept that situations do not always have one answer and learn to feel comfortable with that.
At work, ISFJs contribute loyal, sympathetic, consistent, and considerate service to others. They are know for their kindness and for their willingness to go to any length to help those in need. They take the practical needs of people into account when they do their work, and their strong follow-through skills allow them to carry out organizational goals. They do at least what is expected to them and oftentimes more, without attracting attention to themselves. They are painstaking and responsible with detail and routine, and feel it is important to have the right things in the right places at the right times.
ISFJs are attracted to occupations that require dedication to others, service, attentiveness to details, and thoroughness. They would rather work with things that they can see - the tangibles that result in something worthwhile for people.
Some occupations are more appealing to ISFJs: bookkeeper, clerical supervisor, curator, family practice physician, health service worker, librarian, medical technologist, nurse, preschool and elementary teacher, typist, and other occupations that provide opportunities for them to meet their need to be of service to others.
For the ISFJ, love means security and commitment. Again, like other types, ISFJs tend to fall hard when they fall in love. Because they place a high value on marriage and family, they seek out a partner and feel unfulfilled without one. Marriage and family give ISFJs appropriate outlets for their love. In addition, they provide opportunities for them to meet their need to be of service to others. Because they are willing to give so much, they tend to expect the same sort of response from their mates and may be disappointed when their partners do not comply. However, they are realistic enough to know that they may not get exactly what they want and sometimes must accept their fate quietly.
ISFJs tend to stay in relationships that may not be in their best interests. Because ISFJs are responsible and dutiful, unless they are careful, their partners may take advantage of them. ISFJs are likely to stay in such relationships, because their values of commitment and stability are more important than their individual needs and wants. They may be taken for granted by the very people whom they care and do so much.
In love, ISFJs tend to epitomize people who radiate warmth and good feeling. While ISFJs may not verbalize deep love or the underlying sense of security and commitment that they feel, their contented facial expressions and demeanors illustrate their inner thoughts. They will do whatever is necessary to maintain this state. When the spouse or family of the ISFJ does not meet his or her expectations, the opposite facial expression or demeanor may occur. They are unlikely to talk with others about their disappointments.
When ISFJs are scorned, they are likely to be disappointed, angry, and bitter. However, they keep their feelings inside and often focus on themselves. After her spouse had left her to marry another, one ISFJ commented, 'It wouldn't mean anything if I let the anger out.' Even though she was in pain, she held back her feelings and tears, responding to a strong need to appear composed and stoic to others.
Profile by David Keirsey
Six out of every one hundred people are ISFJs. Here the primary desire is to be of service and to minister to individual needs. ISFJs carry a sense of history, a sense of continuity with past events and relationships. Traditions and the conservation of resources are valued highly. The least hedonistic of all types, ISFJs believe work is good, play must be earned. ISFJs are willing to work long, long hours. When they undertake a task, it will be completed if at all humanly possible. Adhering to an established way of doing things and doing them well is valued and respected. The efficiency and effectiveness of an established procedure is not often questioned. Procedures dictated by handbooks are law. If others violate or ignore these standard operating procedures, ISFJs are annoyed and irritated, although they may not always display this reaction. Usually, such irritation is turned inward and may be experienced as fatigue and muscle tension.
ISFJs are super-dependable and seldom are happy working in situations where rules are constantly changing. Their major need to be of service to others leads them into occupations such as nursing, teaching, secretarial work, medical practice (especially general practice), librarian work, and middle management administrative jobs. They relate well to people who need them, for example, the sick, the ignorant, students, and the "boss." Much satisfaction comes to them when they are taking care of the needs of another and they render the service gently and helpfully. When the recipient is no longer in need, the relationship may change its character, the ISFJ becoming disinterested. They enjoy assisting the downtrodden and can handle better than other types servility in others. If a situation calls for such behavior on their part, they will show "due respect." ISFJs have an extraordinary sense of responsibility and an outstanding talent for executing routines which call for repeated, sequential procedures; for example, ISFJs make extraordinary secretaries, highly efficient nurses, and dedicated teachers. Speculation and theory do not intrigue ISFJs, who would rather leave the less practical matters to others while remaining themselves practical and down-to-earth.
ISFJs tend to be devoted and loyal to a boss and tend to identify personally rather than institutionally. They expect others, including the boss, to follow procedures and are distressed and embarrassed when people do not behave as they are supposed to behave. ISFJs often seem to feel personally responsible for seeing to it that people in an institution or business carry out established rules and routines. They often are aware of status given by titles, environment, offices, and the like and can use this to advantage. They are aware of the value of material resources and abhor the squandering or misuse of these resources. To save, to put something aside against an unpredictable future, to prepare for emergencies-these are important actions.
ISFJs may experience some discomfort when placed in positions of authority over others and may tend to try to do everything themselves rather than insist that others do their jobs. As a result, ISFJs are frequently overworked.
ISFJs are devoted to mate and family and usually are excellent homemakers. The home of an ISFJ is likely to be well kept inside and out. Interior and exterior are meticulously maintained and appointed in the traditional manner. As a parent, the ISFJ expects the children to conform to the rules of society and has a feeling of personal responsibility to see to it that these rules are honored. An ISFJ is apt to find the putting on of airs as offensive and tends to prefer modest, quiet friends rather than more boisterous ones. For the ISFJ, people should behave according to their position in life, and the ISFJ may be annoyed by others who act either above or below their social or economic station.
The ISFJ female often displays a flair for making the interior of the home attractive in a time-honored style, provides attractive, nourishing meals, and maintains the environment in a neat and orderly state. To the ISFJ male and female, the home territory is important to own and to preserve.
While ISFJs are super-dependable, they may be fascinated by and attracted to the irresponsible, the lush, the glutton. Many ISFJs marry alcoholics and then proceed to conduct a rescue-rejection game without end, with the rescuing phase taking the guise of an attempt to reform. Occasionally an ISFJ mother may reveal a tendency to find humor in the "waywardness" of a son, while raising her daughters to respect traditions and to do the Right Thing at the Right Time; always.
ISFJs are frequently misunderstood and undervalued. Their contributions often are taken for granted, and the ISFJ as well is too often taken for granted. This can cause an ISFJ to harbor feelings of resentment, and this bottled up emotion can gnaw inwardly, causing the ISFJ much undeserved suffering.
At midlife ISFJs might want to develop the thinking function more fully. For example, a study of human behavior might be one avenue that ISFJs can find fascinating at this time. They also might practice being in the limelight occasionally, more aggressively claiming recognition for the many contributions they have been making so quietly for so long. They could even practice the art of accepting service from others, allowing themselves to be pampered a bit, and cutting down on the services they provide to others, no matter who those others may be.
The conserving nature of the ISFJ nicely complemented the iconoclasm of the ENTP "inventor." There would seem to be an even greater affinity in the mating of ISFJ with the ESTP "promoter." The dashing, glittering, wheel-and-deal capers of the ESTP calls for anchorage. The ESTP tends to have "high" periods during which there is a whirlwind of euphoric activity. The ISFJ provides, and likes to provide, a place to "crash" for our high-rolling entrepreneur. Usually the ISFJ finds employment that requires this ministering, nursing, helping sort of activity. Even so, he or she doesn't seem to mind doing the same thing at home, and so tends to get burdened with a bit more duty than others. If the spouse does not show appreciation now and then for this overtime work, he may be in for an increase in physical complaints and "worries" on the part of the unappreciated ISFJ.
ISFJ Mailing Lists