The altruistic ISFJ doesn’t often focus on their own needs and wants, preferring to work towards the happiness of the people around them. The MBTI system can help with that as long as the ISFJ learns to use the system correctly and avoids mistyping errors. It can give ISFJs more tools to understand other people and give them a deeper understanding of themselves at the same time.
ISFJ General Strengths and Weaknesses
ISFJs are extremely altruistic. This personality type usually likes nothing more than helping other people in some way, using their amazing emotional intelligence to make others’ lives better. This is because of their extraverted feeling dominant, which naturally senses the emotions of the people around them and seeks to make other people happy. But this type has the practical skills to back up this need to help as well as the patience and the tolerance to perform even mundane and routine tasks with grace. To an ISFJ, even the most boring tasks have purpose if they’re helping someone in some way. ISFJs are also naturally observant of the emotional and mental state of the people around them, which only compounds the positive effects they can have on people and on the world around them.
ISFJs are so altruistic that they can sometimes allow themselves to become overloaded. This type is reluctant to say no to others and avoids conflict at all costs. As a result, they can take on too many responsibilities and end up burning themselves out. This is also linked to their resistance to change. ISFJs use introverted sensing as their dominant function, which gives them a strong attachment to the past as a way to evaluate what they should do in the present. So when they have a long established pattern of serving others, even to their own detriment, they’ll usually be reluctant to break it no matter how much damage it’s doing to them.
Common Type Confusions
ISFJs most often mistype as INFJs. There are some clear and very obvious reasons for this, most of them connected to the mistake of typing people based on behavior rather than on the cognitive functions. The most important reason for these behavioral similarities is the fact that both ISFJs and INFJs use extraverted feeling as their auxiliary function. This makes both types strongly aware of the emotions of the people around them and drives them to help others in any way possible. This function also makes ISFJs naturally thoughtful and analytical, both of which make them resemble INFJs even more. Taking an outside view, these types can seem very similar, though this impression goes away once you start to look at the cognitive functions and how these types actually use their emotional intelligence.
Common Confusions Comparisons
Examining the INFJ and the ISFJ based on their use of the cognitive functions reveals some important differences that can be used to tell the two types apart. ISFJs use introverted sensing as their dominant, which is focused on the past. This function combines with their extraverted feeling function, which is why ISFJs spend most of their time thinking about past experiences and comparing it to the future. But INFJs are focused on the future because of their introverted intuition function. This causes them to find the emotional patterns in daily life and use them to predict what the future will look like.
The ISFJs use of these functions also has a more practical basis than the INFJs. They’re concerned only with what was and what is, and have little interest in what could be. In contrast, INFJs enjoy considering theoretical, abstract and even almost ridiculous scenarios. They’re concerned mostly with what could be, and don’t really care as much about the possibility of their ideas coming true.
Unusual Type Confusions
Some ISFJs, particularly men, test as ISTJs. This mistake occurs for a number of reasons. Primarily it’s because of the pressure of social roles. Extraverted feeling is very concerned with social norms and expectations, so types who use this function are usually very aware of the social roles they’re expected to play. And for ISFJs, who both use this function and are very tied to the past, this can mean that they work hard to fit traditional gender expectations. This pressure often causes male ISFJs to act like the traditional stereotypes surrounding the male role, which often results in them testing as ISTJs.
This typing mistake can also affect female ISFJs as well. People who are thought of as emotional often experience censure in today’s society. Crying, showing a lot of emotion and making decisions based on emotion is often portrayed as flighty and even foolish in some circles and situations. For some ISFJs, this can result in them suppressing their natural tendencies to fit with the unspoken rules of the people around them. And when this occurs it can result in this typing error.
Unusual Confusions Comparisons
The best way to tell an ISFJ from an ISTJ is to look at the auxiliary function. Both of these types are very loyal and attached to their family unit, but this manifests differently for each type. ISFJs have a more personal and emotional connection to their family. They sense the pain and the needs of everyone else and are naturally driven to act to make everyone happier. In contrast, an ISTJs attachment to their family is driven by their extraverted thinking function. This makes them a little distant from the needs of the people around them, their attachment is more practical and based on their own sense of duty and what’s right. This doesn’t mean that ISTJs don’t love their family members of course, it just means that their role in the family is likely to be very different to the ISFJs.
As long as ISFJs manage to avoid typing mistakes, the MBTI system can be very helpful for this type. It can be yet another way for the altruistic ISFJ to understand other people better while also gaining the tools to improve their own life. And this will benefit everyone, which is the primary goal of this type anyway.