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Is there an ISTP in your life?

Is there an ISTP in your life?

By Donna Dunning

ISTP motto: “Get to the point.”

People with preferences for ISTP are relatively rare in the general population (5.4% of the US representative sample collected by CPP Inc.) and even rarer in MBTI ® Certifying workshops. In over twelve years of running these workshops and certifying hundreds of practitioners, there have been very few people with ISTP preferences attend this program. I don’t find it surprising that people with ISTP preferences are not drawn to MBTI ® Certification workshops. These workshops are four days in length, highly conceptual, and focused mainly on developing human potential.

I have interacted with ISTPs who work in manufacturing plants and in computer technician roles and have interviewed individuals with these preferences for my publications. Their task-oriented, casual style stands out for me. I remember one worker who had ISTP preferences telling me, matter-of-factly, that if he found short cuts for completing the tasks expected of him, he should be allowed to go home early.

How ISTPs prefer to relate

These examples illustrate the easygoing, practical approach often characteristic of individuals with ISTP preferences. Most interested in analyzing the immediate situation, people who have these preferences often come across as calm, informal, objective, and flexible. They like to figure out how and why things work. ISTPs are usually quietly skeptical, observant, and attuned to the facts and realities of a situation. They may be not particularly interested in or patient with abstract theories unless these can be related directly to the tasks at hand. The workplace is not typically seen by ISTPs as a place for developing personal relationships. They often avoid small talk and are unlikely to spontaneously provide others with positive feedback.

How to relate to an ISTP

When interacting with someone who has ISTP preferences avoid making small talk and don’t waste a lot of time developing rapport. It is usually best to be brief, direct, logical, and matter-of-fact. Support your opinions with verifiable facts. Expect them to analyze and critique what you have to say and don’t take it personally. People who prefer ISTP like to set their own direction and work independently. Minimize the number of rules and procedures they are expected to follow and avoid “how to” instructions. They will likely not respond well to overly emotional or highly enthusiastic communications. If you want to discuss personal matters, do so calmly and logically. Focus on practical information and engage their need to be competent, resourceful, and adaptable.

Visit the Analyzer personality type page for more information about ISTP preferences.

Share your experiences and insights

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

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

More information about interactions 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 Thursday, April 21st, 2011 at 8:09 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.

9 Responses to “Is there an ISTP in your life?”

  1. Lauren says:

    My sister and my dad are ISTPs, this is really accurate. As an ENFP, I find it extremely difficult to not take their seemingly random critiques personally.

    The biggest communication breakdown I have with my sister is that we each take the other personally constantly. I think she’s being mean or insulting to me when she’s being direct, she’ll tell my I look stupid or start swearing at me when she’s mad, which in turn makes me shutdown – and she doesn’t understand my sense of humor so thinks I’m insulting her when I am using light-hearted teasing (which is how I express love!) and she’ll shutdown or lash out. We have to keep things activity-filled. I’ve bonded with my dad over football, camping, etc (good thing I love those things). With my sister it’s video games, but she’ll also be really random and bring out Nerf guns or Play-doh or other toys, which is a great connection for us because we both love to play!

    Neither one of them has ever been willing to listen to anything cerebral from me.. my sister will just tune out and my dad will just have a blank look on his face and periodically laugh or say “ooookayyy” in a condescending tone. The absolute best connection for us is either laughter or story telling.

    I’m an ENFP, but I completely agree with this: “..if he found short cuts for completing the tasks expected of him, he should be allowed to go home early.”

    As well as: “The workplace is not typically seen by ISTPs as a place for developing personal relationships.”

    I get very introverted and “down to business” in work environments, though. I couldn’t imagine mixing business with pleasure.

  2. Latifah says:

    Hi there,
    I’m ISTP with a strong interest for intellectual challenges as much as physical/practical challenges.
    I have a strong kinesthetic intelligence, which explains my love for sports, especially the ones require hand/eye coordination or dancing. However, these things are not more than hobbies to me.
    Now I’m majoring in Biochemistry and possibly I’m going to continue to a higher education in Genetics.

    I have to say that MBTI is overly simplistic with the human mind. When I combined my MBTI type with my Enneagram type, I truly see my self naked. The Enneagram theory explained to me my love for humanities, as I’m type 5 wing 4.
    I find MBTI rigid, I am most definitely have a talent as a performer of any physical challenge, but that’s not it. I can relate to most things Lauren has mentioned about her sister, I was a lot like that in my teenage. But I’m different now.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is, ISTPs or any other type for that matter are not copies of each other. When you meet an ISTP and know them well -which I doubt you’ll ever reach that point- that doesn’t mean that you know all ISTPs.
    I want to make it clear that I love some description of of ISTP type, but some other descriptions focuses too much on the ST traits and make us look like ISTJ. The fact that we’re istP makes us very different than istJ.
    I’ve seen some misunderstanding from NF people towards my type. They think that I’m not going to enjoy setting with them just because they’re N and S. But the fact is that I don’t enjoy the F talk not the N talk. I love listening to NT people, I can do that all day without getting board.
    I have friends from almost all age groups and types, and I love them all and enjoy the diversity that they bring to my life, but I truly love spending most of my time with NTs or NFPs or ISFPs to dance with.

    Cheers 🙂

  3. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Latifah, Thanks for reminding us that type dynamics are important to understanding type. I agree that focusing on function pairs to describe whole types can be incomplete and inaccurate. Also, thanks for your reminder that we are much more than our personality type preferences and that everyone expresses themselves differently. Looking at people only through a personality type lens is certainly over simplistic and, if we use the model that way, it can indeed become rigid.

  4. Aslan says:

    I would like to express my gratitude for your effort in making this post. As an ISTP, I find this very accurate in the sense that it hits the bullseye of the stereotype. I’ve been studying my type and I’m glad to stumble upon a post like this. I don’t know if this is just me, but I’m looking for more “instances” or specifics to agree on and say, “Yeah, that’s me right there!”, and I’ve found some here. MBTI can be fun too [especially when you get to know that there are people aside from “us(istps) that understand us]. By the way, your use of the phrases “people who prefer ISTP” and “with ISTP preference” make us sound like we are not “wired” as ISTPs but we chose it, which would then imply that we are not ISTPs… I guess I shouldn’t say anything more hahaha.

  5. Donna Dunning says:

    Aslan, Thanks for your comment. Type practitioners purposefully use the “prefer XXX” or “XXXX preferences” to highlight that you have freedom to choose to act according to or outside of your natural preferences. For example, an ISTP usually finds small talk and social functions (usually preferred more by Es and Fs) to be boring or irrelevant, but may choose to engage in those activities if they see a practical or logical reason to do so. Using this wording also emphasizes that you are more than just a four letter type code. Please feel free to critique what I say in any of my posts. For many people, questioning is a helpful strategy for learning.

  6. Katy says:

    I’m ISTP and I work in engineering. My problems with work are generally that I get bored very fast and I have a high level of apathy. I also have no tolerance for office politics or incompetent management. This means that I end up hating any job that requires me to sit in a cubicle or have lots of layers of management.
    So engineering was probably a mistake for me. I really need to be independent and work with my hands, and so far I haven’t found a job like that, which would provide for my family’s needs (and still be able to physically handle, since I am a small woman and construction is a little difficult)
    In some ways it’s much easier to be an ISTP if you are a man! :/

  7. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Katy, You are not the first female ISTP to tell me they find themselves attracted to physical, hands-on “male” jobs. I don’t know where you live, but some government or employment agencies offer “women in the trades” programs to encourage women to move into these roles. Maybe this might be something you could look into. You could also look on my web page that has occupation ideas for ISTPS

  8. Flashback Jack says:

    I perhaps fit the ISTP archetype perfectly. I’m a computer technician, martial artist (real sharp swords), ride motorcycles, not much for small talk and emotionally-driven appeals for help. In another life, I’d probably be a spy, fighter pilot or special forces soldier. I like the idea of efficiency, to the point of being surgical. I’m also a pretty good (virtual) shot — in video games too.

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