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Is there an ISTJ in your life?

Is there an ISTJ in your life?

By Donna Dunning

ISTJ motto: “Why reinvent the wheel?”

In personality type lore there is an often-told story about a woman who complains to her husband, who has ISTJ preferences, that he doesn’t say he loves her. He replies, “I told you I loved you 30 years ago when we got married. If things had changed, I would have let you know.”

How ISTJs prefer to relate

This story demonstrates the loyal, logical, frank approach often used by individuals with ISTJ preferences. People with these preferences frequently tell me it makes no sense to state the obvious. Their communication style is usually straightforward, task-oriented, and practical.

How to relate to an ISTJ

Be calm and reasonable. Demonstrate your expertise and competency. This will build your credibility. ISTJs tend to trust what they know from experience.  Provide them with relevant, detailed information and real-life examples. Then leave them so they can read and think about the data. Don’t expect them to change or take action right away; they want time to organize and thoroughly digest the facts.

Visit the Assimilators personality type page for more information about ISTJ preferences.

Share your experiences and insights

Do you have any other ideas, tips, or stories to share about interacting with people who have ISTJ preferences?

Do you have ISTJ preferences? Visit the Assimilators career success strategies and stories page to share your experience.

More information about communication and personality type can be found in Introduction to Type and Communication.


Want to learn more about personality type and how to use it to understand yourself and others?

Introduction to Type and Communication describes in detail how personality preferences influence communications.

Introduction to Type and Communication is now available in PDF format.

Introduction to Type and Learning can help you find your motivation for learning and help you learn more effectively.

If you live in the USA, Introduction to Type and Learning is also available on Kindle.

Looking for a practical resource to help you plan your ideal career? Check out my book, What’s Your Type of Career?: Find Your Perfect Career By Using Your Personality Type

Want to use your personality type to excel at your career? Check out 10 Career Essentials: Excel at Your Career by Using Your Personality Type

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 at 11:05 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

12 Responses to “Is there an ISTJ in your life?”

  1. Victoria says:

    How do you convince an ISTJ not to hit their kids just because “that’s the way they were raised”? The person I’m thinking of won’t take anyone’s advice, won’t read a book on parenting, and seems not to make the connection between their parenting style and the problems their kids are having. (The eldest son marched up the street and picked a fight with a neighbor kid, and the police were called. Same kid seems to have no self-esteem and be in the habit of stealing. :-O)

    What’s a way to get through to them, or is this one just particularly obstinate and single-minded?

  2. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Victoria,

    Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you are frustrated by this situation. This website and the blog posts on it have been created for educational purposes and it would not be appropriate or ethical for me to counsel or advise you about any specific situation.

    I can provide some general information about some of the topics you are describing. The use of spanking and strategies for developing self-esteem in children are both highly emotional and disputed parenting topics. Picking fights and stealing are legal matters that need to be dealt with by authorities. As a general rule, I think it is important that people use their best judgement to decide if they should report incidents to the proper authorities when they think a law may have been broken or believe a child may be harmed.

    The personality type model was developed to describe healthy, positive differences in gathering and evaluating information. This model does not profess to help us understand or deal with people who are not open to change or feedback. Any person may be obstinate, but this descriptor does not align to or describe any particular personality type.

    Generally, a person with ISTJ preferences will most likely be convinced by factual information from a credible source showing logical reasons to engage or not engage in a behavior.

  3. Susan Nardi says:

    I (ENFP) was married to an ISTJ engineer for 16 years. I looked at what you wrote and laughed & cried. So true! We both realized that we had different things to offer the other. It worked well for a while. However when we experienced the ultimate loss (death of our child), our personality differences caused each one of us to handle it differently and we no longer relied on the other for support. The good news is we are still good friends. So I guess polar opposites can work.

  4. Amy says:

    As an ISTJ, I can attest to the fact that we’ll announce something that seemingly comes out of left field. In our minds, however, we’ve been working it out and thinking it over for quite some time prior to verbalizing it. We also probably will not tell you our problems because we just have to work it out in our own heads first. We much prefer to listen to others! We’ll likely offer a tissue or a cup of water when someone is upset; the “touchy-feely” arm-around-someone doesn’t work for us. If we’re with someone who prefers E, we’ll listen patiently and when the “E” finally asks how WE’RE doing, we’ll say, “Fine!” and not say much more because we’re just plain exhausted from listening to you talk. Sometimes is just takes too much effort to talk; it’s easier for us to be in our own little world.
    Hope this helps!

  5. Caroline says:

    I actually am an ENFP and married to a wonderful man who is supposed to be an ISTJ (I say supposed because in fact he refuses to take the indicator- I am certified MBTI -)
    Taking the MBTI course and getting certified made me understand how persons around me communicate and specially my husband.
    I realize now why he always think I exagerate everything and why sometimes he looks at me as if I where coming from mars, and it make me laugh so much sometimes…
    Now when serious questions are involved, I try to give a lot of concrete and factual details and then let him think about it for a while…
    ;;-)) lol

  6. Donna Dunning says:

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I believe this information helps us all understand and hopefully appreciate our differences.

  7. Victoria says:

    Donna, thanks for your reply. I’m making an concerted effort not to type bash, so please know that I’m not trying to scapegoat ISTJs — and you’re right, I AM frustrated by the situation. Your bringing up the authorities helps me grasp the enormity of the situation, and makes me see that perhaps this is a situation where a little less “empathy and understanding” is needed, and a few more *consequences* might be called for instead. As a breaking news item, this eldest son I previously mentioned got into a terrible fight with his dad who began choking him. He has run away from home, and is documenting some awful bruises on his neck. I am going to meet with him in a few minutes, and plan to put him in touch with a runaway shelter in the area that can start an intervention. Thank you for helping me see that this problem transcends mere type differences.

  8. antonia says:

    hi donna,i hav been dating an istj for 2 yrs now(am an infj)…we have been fighting ever since the word go….we break up and make up after sometime but i find it weighn on me that we dont knw how to relate on each other….i want him in my life but how do i do it ,when mostly he distances himself,never likes talking about any problem we have (rather he would blame everything on me) he acts like he dont care…am so confused….pliz help coz i love him so much and i want our relationship to work

  9. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Antonia, Thanks for your comment. It sounds like your relationship has been a struggle. There are many factors that influence building and maintaining a relationship and the topic requires more than an understanding of personality type preferences. To provide advice to you through my website would be unethical and inaccurate. If you want someone to counsel you, I advise that you contact a psychologist or counsellor who specializes in relationships. That said, I can discuss type dynamics that could be at work when an ISTJ and an INFJ interact. TJs tend to approach situations in a logical, matter-of-fact way, while FJs usually want to connect with and focus on building rapport with the people around them. This can create conflict if these differences are not accepted and understood. ISTJs can be very private and are not usually “tuned in” to subtle cues about how others are feeling or on how they might improve their communication. Typically ISTJs respond best to direct, factual data presently calmly in a reasonable manner rather than subjective information presented emotionally. They also need some time to think about the data before responding. I believe any two, relatively well-adjusted, people of any personality type preferences can learn to interact effectively if there is a sustained interest on both sides to understand and accommodate their partner. However, at times this takes lots of effort, so commitment and respect for differences is essential.

  10. Anne says:

    Thanks Amy. I have a friend who is an ISTJ (I’m an INFP). I was feeling really down for a couple weeks and asked if I could have asked her for a hug and she had to really think about it and analyse all the logistics of giving me a hug. She said no-one has ever asked her that before. And yet she gave me a huge hug nearly a year ago on my birthday. So I can’t quite figure that one out! She did say that it’s quite likely I’ll get another one sometime, but she won’t be making a habit out of it. I’m not a “touchy-feely” person either, but when I do finally get the courage to ask for a hug, I really need one. Anyway, I’ve survived, but still can’t quite figure out what I said wrong. My 8 year old son said he would have given me one, so I’ll remember that for next time! 😉 Anne

  11. Anne says:

    P.S. My friend also rarely shares anything personal about herself, even when I ask her. She is generally a good listener but then figures out what I should be doing and tells me, when I can see life is not that simple and sometimes issues are a lot more complex and not so easily solved. But I can see she does mean well and is only trying to help and probably can’t understand why I tend to mull over things so much and make them more complicated than they need to be!

  12. Jessica says:

    Hi Anne,

    I’m an ISTJ. If I was asked for a hug by a friend (if I had anyone close) I probably wouldn’t hesitate. But judging (sorry) by the way she said she had never been asked that before, she probably had to think about why you would ask her. I am NOT a touchy feely person at all. I have three small children and I have to set aside time in my day to cuddle and hug and kiss them so they know I love them. If anyone touches me before telling me I get very upset and stressed out. It’s nothing personal it’s just the way I am.

    Often ISTJ’s have had a pretty bad childhood. I don’t know about your friend but for me it’s because I was mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused. I was conditioned to behave a certain way and react a certain way. I learned early on that whatever and whoever I was had to reflect those around me. As an adult I understand this is really kind of dumb, but what can I say? Old habits die hard. It’s like trying to learn how to walk when someone took away your prosthetic foot.

    Best advice I have for you Anne is to not take it personally. I truly believe the last thing she would want to do is hurt you. She’s probably afraid or nervous. She does value you and honestly you’re being slow and patient with her and that’s the best thing to develop a better friendship.

    Often people give up to easily because they feel they’ve put in the efforts and think we don’t. Most people don’t realize the effort it takes for us to get it together to meet people and open up. Waking up into consciousness often is painful 🙁

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