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In this episode Joel and Antonia dive deep into the needs and desires of the ISTJ personality type.

In this podcast on the ISTJ personality type you’ll find:

We recommend listening to the ISFJ podcast and the Sensing podcast as a reference.  

We also use the Car Model to go through the Cognitive Function stack – These are the parts of our minds that influence our personality the most.

The ISTJ driver process is Introverted Sensing, which we have nicknamed  “Memory.”

  • Memory is a learning sensing process.  It’s about what has been proven to be reliable based on past experiences and post processing information. Absorbing info then figuring out what that info means over time.  It involves comparing and contrasting internal and external experiences and creating metrics.
  • Unlike ISFJs that pair memory with a Feeling process, ISTJs pair it with a Thinking process.  Where ISFJs think about how people are impacting their experience, ISTJs think about how systems are affecting them.

The co-pilot process is Extraverted Thinking, which we have nicknamed “Effectiveness.”

  • Effectiveness helps ISTJs get things done in a set order. It helps them see the steps that will put them on the right trajectory in the external world.
  • The strength of an ISTJ is project management, understanding the sequence of steps to make things happen from start to finish.  Their strength is building a system and procedures that will keep that system running efficiently.
  • Their superpower is bringing order to chaos.  They need a lot of lead time to think things through, but once they get something they want to be left alone to implement their ideas.  They want to be reliable and want to rely on other people.
  • Initially they are very careful and go by the book when learning a process or job.  Then after they are more comfortable with the process, they tend to bend the rules to optimize the outcome.

ISTJs 10-year-old process is Introverted Feeling, which we have nicknamed “Authenticity.”

  • As an Introvert, ISTJs can skip past Effectiveness and go to their less developed function of Authenticity.
  • If ISTJs use Authenticity in a defensive position, they stop thinking about what is efficient and start obsessing about how things are impacting them and their ego.
  • In a defensive position, an ISTJ can go overboard on perfectionism and be sensitive to criticism. Their actions will show they don’t want to be questioned or receive feedback that they are doing something wrong. (ISTJs are among the most Introverted of all the Introverted types.)
  • To overcome this, an ISTJ can think about where they can become better skilled at communicating ideas to other people and not impute wrong motives to others. Ask “Where did the system fail?”
  • Authenticity for an ISTJ can show up as only wanting to deal or do business with people who share similar ideals, thereby excluding those who are considered outsiders.
  • Get out of the 10-year-old process and back into Effectiveness, which will allow the ISTJ to open up to new ideas and hold space for what’s working, instead of getting hung up over what is different.

ISTJs 3-year-old process is Extraverted Intuition, which we have nicknamed “Exploration.”

  • Exploration requires an openness to novelty. Anyone using Exploration in a healthy way will hold more space for what’s new.
  • For anyone who wants to feel in control of the world, novelty can be an easy place to feel threatened and react defensively.
  • A better way to feel empowered is to ask “What works?” in any given situation.  It allows the Effectiveness user to take back their power by affecting change and creating the world they want to live in.
  • Going to Effectiveness will help the ISTJ feel like they have a container of safety that will allow them to relax and have fun.
  • ISTJs can express quirky sense of humor and feel free to banter and be playful.

Female ISTJs are in a unique situation because they aren’t the typical Feeler female. They still need to rely upon that Effectiveness process to control their world. 

If we are developing our co-pilot we can bring the 10-year-old into the equation in a healthy way. Use Authenticity to express kindness or support when in the service of the co-pilot.


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Showing 8 comments
  • Megan

    I am an ENFP who has had some significant and at times challenging relationships with ISTJs in my life. This description was spot on and I found it really helpful to understand how they are wired. Thanks!

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment Megan! I’m glad the information was helpful.

  • G


    I’m an INFJ and have an ISTJ father that I live with (and an ISFJ mother). I was wondering if you have any advice for how INFJs and ISTJs can effectively communicate with each other?

    Thanks 🙂

  • Shannon

    I’m an INTJ with two ISTJ parents and one ISTJ brother. I don’t really remember if I was born with bad vision or not. What I do remember, however, is not being able to read in Kindergarten, though I did know how to add and subtract. It wasn’t until the 1st grade that I got glasses and finally learned how to read. By the end of the year, I was past a 5th grade reading level which leads me to suspect that my eye sight had been the problem. Just to put things into perspective, I’m currently more than triple the legally blind limit without my contacts, but I don’t know what my prescription was at the time. My question is: Do you believe that I already had an inclination towards Te, but without clear vision in my early years, I started developing Ni rather than Si?

  • J.J.

    That’s an interesting question, Shannon. The truth is we just don’t know yet what causes certain personalities to develop: whether it is genetics, environment, or both. There have been some brain imaging studies that are attempting to discern what brain wave patterns correspond with certain personality temperaments, but we’re still in the early stages of understanding the relationship between brain wiring and personality attributes (and what causes the brain to wire itself in a certain manner).

  • Nicole

    I just noticed that no other ISTJ has commented on this podcast yet,
    so I’d just like to say:
    Thanks for the great advice this was really helpful. 🙂

  • J

    As an ISTJ I found this podcast helpful in connecting what I’ve always thought were competing and opposite personality quirks. Authenticity is what has helped me navigate social situations as I’ve gotten older – I realized that wherever I am, there’s someone feeling just as awkward and out of place as I am and if I find them I’ll help us both out.

  • Cathy E.

    My daughter is an ISTJ (I’m an ISFJ). She is incredibly effective at work but wonders how she can engage her superpower at home. She is married (2 years to an ENFP) but hasn’t figured out yet how to feel fulfilled in her personal context.

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