If you’re lucky enough to have an ISTJ as a friend, family member, or coworker, you know firsthand what makes these special individuals so great. And chances are good you do know an ISTJ, considering 16 percent of men and 7 percent of women fit this fairly common Myers-Briggs personality type.
Yes, they have a reputation for being a little stodgy and sometimes too blunt, and every personality type has its blindspots. But I can personally testify that my life would be sadder without these steady, dependable companions. My wife, dad, and several of my close friends are all ISTJs.
What makes an ISTJ awesome? There’s a lot to appreciate about these introverted-sensing-thinking-judgers. Every ISTJ is different, but here are nine things I love about the ones in my life.
What I Love About ISTJs
1. They’re industrious.
An ISTJ is happiest when she’s cranking out to-dos. Like many ISTJs, my wife keeps a long list of chores and projects she wants to accomplish. A good day is one in which she checks most of the items off her list.
If you want to find an ISTJ, just listen for the sound of work getting done in the background and follow it to the source.
2. They’re candid.
If you want a down-to-earth, honest appraisal of your ideas, circumstances, or current conundrum, seek out an ISTJ. They’ll tell you how it is without beating around the bush. And they won’t waste any words.
When I want honest feedback on a blog post or a song I’ve written, I ask my wife or dad. They’ll tell me if my work wasn’t so hot. I’ll admit, that doesn’t always feel great; criticism is never easy for anyone to hear. But the flip side is that if they say it’s any good at all, I feel like a million bucks. I know they’re speaking the truth and not just trying to make me feel good. ISTJs value honesty and direct communication, and that can be refreshing in a world where most people are afraid to speak their mind.
3. They’re predictable.
ISTJs are creatures of habit. Don’t believe me? Just look in my dad’s cereal closet. The amount of Raisin Bran in there could have supplied the Mayflower on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic.
If you ever want to upset an ISTJ, move his favorite coffee mug and napkin. Tell her that you’re not going to be celebrating Christmas by decorating a tree. Or serve him a foreign food that he’s never tried before. These people like to keep things “the same as it always was.”
Of course, there are exceptions. Like anyone else, ISTJs will break out of their routines if they see a good reason to do so. But it has to be a really, really good reason.
4. They’re knowledgeable.
I don’t know where they keep them, but ISTJs have facts like you wouldn’t believe, especially on topics that personally interest them. They can tell you about the Sherman Antitrust Act they learned about in their high school history class. And they know that Michael Jordan paid a $5,000 fine every game of his rookie career for wearing shoes that were different than his teammates’ shoes.
Their minds are veritable filing cabinets for statistics and details. I can’t get over my wife’s ability to recall and share a previous conversation in almost word-for-word detail. It’s uncanny. One of the greatest strengths any ISTJ possesses is his memory and recall of stored data.
5. They’re dependable.
ISTJs are probably not the type to shower you with lovey-dovey words or drown you in hugs. Instead, they demonstrate their love for others by being there for them. My wife always makes sure meals are cooked, the chores are done, and the laundry is folded. In high school, I can’t remember a time when I came home and the lights weren’t on. Dad always flipped the switch for me and then proceeded to launder my disgusting basketball uniform.
If an ISTJ gives you her word, it’s as good as gold. It’s practically a signature on a contract. ISTJs take pride in doing what they say they’re going to do, even when the commitments tire or inconvenience them. There’s a lot to admire about that!
Of course, there are exceptions; the ISTJ is not Superman! In fact, one of the ways ISTJs can grow is by learning to say no. As much as ISTJs want to fulfill their duty to others, it’s important they take time for themselves, otherwise, they’ll burn out.
6. They’re steady.
Some people need the pressure of a deadline or the excitement of a new project to do their best work — and those people probably aren’t ISTJs. A “judging” personality, ISTJs are finishers through and through. They will show up and work on a project hour after hour, day after day, when other people have long since quit. They’re committed to getting the job done, even when it’s hard.
They’re also emotionally stable. As a sensitive and emotional INFJ, my feelings can be volatile, and consequently, sometimes my mood soars or plummets in a short amount of time. While ISTJs get excited and depressed as others do, their emotions are generally more tempered. It’s almost as if they’ve got a built-in compressor to regulate their feelings. Sure, everyone grows and changes, but in general, you can count on ISTJs being the same people today — and tomorrow — as they were yesterday.
7. They’re quiet.
I had to mention this one. After all, this is a website for introverts. ISTJs love quiet. Like all introverts, they’re easily overstimulated, so they appreciate calm environments free from interruptions and distractions. These are ideal circumstances where they can get a lot of work done.
ISTJs also need downtime to recharge. I used to think something was wrong with my dad when he would watch baseball alone in the basement with the lights down low. Now I realize he was just recuperating. He needed peace. So don’t take it personally when the ISTJ in your life slips away for some much needed (and probably well deserved) quiet time.
8. They’re safe.
My dad taught my sister that your heart should be a graveyard: When someone shares personal information with you, it should stay inside you, as though it had died there. Dad lived by those words. I could trust him with what was bothering me without ever having to worry about him telling others. If you want a stellar confidant, befriend a quality ISTJ.
9. They’re particular.
If the job’s not perfect, it’s not done. That, my friend, is the ISTJ motto. More than once, I’ve heard ISTJ friends bemoan a poor paint job or ill-kept house. You see, ISTJs are wired to find what’s wrong and substandard; no mistake is safe in their presence. They are finely tuned error-detection machines!
When my wife reads something I’ve written, often the first words I hear from her when she finishes concern the errors I’ve made. “This link doesn’t open in a new window,” or, “You forgot a comma.”
She is not trying to be critical. Her brain just operates that way. And as a result, you have the pleasure of reading more finely edited prose.
There’s a lot to love about ISTJs. What do you love about them? Add to the comments below!