What's It Like To Be an "ISFJ"

A Self-Portrait Personality Type Description for ISFJs**

By Linda V. Berens Ph.D. and Dario Nardi Ph.D.

Personality Type:    ISFJ - Protector Supporter
Temperament:   Stabilizer (SJ)
Interaction Style*:    Behind-the-Scenes
Likely Social Style: Amiable

How to read these Self Portrait Personality Type Descriptions

I like feeling I have helped someone with a concern, helping them figure out, deal with, and resolve the problem, knowing that what I recommended or advised really did help that person.

I am fairly quiet with an easygoing attitude and am modest to some extent. I do not mind being alone, although I do like to be with people too. I like having friends, and family is the most important thing in my life. I am a reluctant leader—I like to have some say in things and I am glad I am doing it, but if things go well with someone else as leader, then that doesn’t bother me. Privacy is important, though it’s nice to be thought of well by others. I like to have some independence; to be able to come and go as I please is nice.

Personality Type Descriptions
by Linda V. Berens, Ph.D.
and Dario Nardi, Ph.D.**


I am dependable and conscientious. I have a big sense of obligation with work. Doing a good job is really important to me. Give me specifics and a plan on how you want me to do it. Brainstorming is generally harder—it’s a skill to acquire. I prefer to work by myself without distractions because I like things done a certain way. It’s taken me a while to learn that my work is much better quality when I’m drawing from those who see things differently. They help keep up my enthusiasm. And I get upset when work backs up—and it probably takes me longer than most people to do something because I am so thorough. But when I have learned a lot about what I do, I think I get the job done much faster and I can make difficult work look easy. I cannot stand people not doing their best job. I do what I say I’m going to do and stick with it until it’s done. And I can find myself overcommitted. It’s important to me to be able to say “Okay, this is enough responsibility for now, I don’t have to climb that ladder at any cost.”

Organization has always been a real strength. I do it all internally, in my head. I am fairly detail oriented and a very structured person. I have to have things in a certain place, with a plan and things prioritized, so I can leave things and pick up the next day where I left off. Being structured is a natural thing with me, to want to have things set.

I dislike conflict. I really care about treating people with a lot of respect. It’s an emotional drain when I have to deal with different opinions and reconcile everyone. I give an opinion based on what I think is fair and what’s been done in the past. What’s decided for one person shouldn’t be really any different than for another. I respect that people are certainly entitled to feel the way they feel, but in working or living together, decisions have to be made and things have to go a certain way. I need positive feedback that I’m doing a good job and that my opinions are similar to the opinions of others, to hear, “Yes, I think that same thing.” I worry when there’s disagreement. I question myself. I’ve learned to challenge what I don’t feel is right, especially if someone does something to me that I don’t feel I would have done to that person.

Anything really major in life can take forever to decide. I look to what matters to people, talk to them and get their ideas, then put it all together into something that satisfies everyone. I am more comfortable preparing first and then starting something, after I’ve pictured it in my mind, rehearsed it, and perfected it. I feel I do a good job expressing myself when I have a chance to prepare, although I do better in reflection. Answering questions on the spur of the moment can be hard too. I will take something minor and get all freaked out when it’s nothing to get upset about. I’m very methodical and prefer things to be laid out. If it’s a problem with me and another person, I can analyze the situation endlessly until I talk to the person again and straighten it out.

I consider myself adaptable to anyone. I feel that a lot of people think I am a nice person, and because I was always there for them in the past and willing to help, they try to take advantage of me. But as long as you are doing something okay with your life, then you are okay with me.

I need acknowledgment from people who I really care about. Compliments can be embarrassing face to face, though. A paycheck is nice recognition too. I like a day when everything works really well, when I get a lot done, people respond very positively and there is a lot of laughter. I have an unusual sense of humor, and I like laughter.

This concludes "What's it like to be an ISFJ,"
A Self Portrait Personality Type Description.

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**The Personality Type Description shown above is wholly owned and copyrighted by the authors Linda V. Berens Ph.D. and Dario Nardi Ph.D. and is used herein with their permission.

For a complete set of Personality Type Descriptions by Linda V. Berens and Dario Nardi please see: "The 16 Sixteen Personality Types - Descriptions for Self-Discovery"

*Interaction Styles as developed by Linda Berens, is a powerful lens with which to better understand people. For a complete understanding of Interaction Styles see:
"Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to Interaction Styles"

Practitioners, Organizational Development Consultants, HR Managers, Leadership and Teamwork Trainers,
click here for professional level training by Linda Berens in:
Interaction Styles, Temperament, and Personality Type