Podcast – Episode 0099 – ISTJ Personality Type Advice

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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.

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

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Showing 36 comments
  • Karen Godin

    Thanks for the podcast. Most of it was spot on for me. I think because my Dad was so direct, I am not like that because I see how it hurts others. I do struggle with wanting friendships but then hate all the work it takes so I just have a few close friends. I also relate to being a rule follower then improving the rules as I learn the process. It does make me crazy when people ignore the rules.

  • Karen

    This is me!!! I am often perceived as cold and aloof when in reality I am assessing a situation or surroundings. My feelings have been hurt so many times because people don’t “get me.” I was always very efficient at my job to the point that when I retired they hired 3 people to do the job I had done by myself for 10 years. Thank you for the podcast

  • C. L.

    Listening to this podcast was a fantastic experience. I recognized myself – strengths as well as weaknesses. And I laughed out loud at the ISTJ Aunt Chris who was called “Frank” by other family members due to her directness. I identified with that 100%. Also appreciated the explanation re: how INFJ and INTJ host and plan events differently, events that are equally memorable and enjoyable for their guests.

  • Clare

    I loved this podcast – thanks so much Antonia and Joel.
    Everything you said resonated with me on a personal level. Particular the part about receiving criticism. I think this is the thing I struggle with the most as an ISTJ, because as you say it makes me feel personally attacked, even when I know it’s not.

  • Marian

    This podcast was a real eye-opener for me. I was in the military for many years and my personality worked well the majority of the time! I was seen as efficient and someone who got the job done effectively. Promotions came in some instances quickly and I retired at the highest rank for an enlisted woman. However I have realized for many years that what worked well in the military has not been received well at times in private life. I am seen as cold, abrupt and unfriendly UNTIL a person gets to know me. Then their view of me and their attitude toward me changes. Now they think that my personality is a result of my time in the military. Friends have “explained” my personality to others as “she’s like that cause she was in the military for 20 years and then she was a teacher for years. Once you get to know her, you’ll like her.” Weird to me. Thanks for helping me see after all these years that I am not abnormal. I have always felt like I was misunderstood. Now I understand why. Again thanks to both of you!

  • Lynn

    Although I can relate to much of what you said in the podcast, esp re: being a female ISTJ, I did not at all relate to the part about being resistant to new things. I often feel like things could go better (at work) if only we could change the system. But I find others (not sure of their personality types) are resistant to changing things. Maybe it’s because I’m not communicating my concepts well? Anyway, thanks for the insights into myself!

  • AG

    I thrive when I create systems and schedules, but have a very difficult time when something throws that schedule off (which, as a teacher, happens often) and I don’t have the time to reconfigure a whole new system or solution. What are some things I can do to improve that ability?

  • Sonia Thakur

    Thanks for giving information but whatever I do in my life never get success and recognition

  • Amanda

    Brilliant. Lots of food for thought and areas to work on to make my co-pilot more effective! Great advice on how to be less ego centric which I will try to put into practice.

    I very much liked the account of how Aunt Chris obviously had observed Antonia carefully, seeing her make a lot of effort as “the new kid on the block” during a very difficult and stressful family situation. Aunt Chris then thought how she could and then would sincerely like to make it clearly known to Antonia, one on one, in an ISTJ heartfelt manner, that her comportment had been noticed and really appreciated.

    As an ISTJ I know I come across as being very cold and too direct a lot of the time and I beat myself up about it constantly because I know “underneath” I am very affectionate and caring. So, I relate to that experience big time. It made me happy to think that when I have acted in a similar way with various persons albeit on an individual level, that my heartfelt desire to give genuine encouragement or guidance, may be remembered by the person with a certain amount of endearment.

  • Brigitte Quick

    I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast because it sounded very spot on and I was very surprised that a lot of the comments were very interesting and informative as well.

  • Kaitlyn

    I was just trying to compare car models while listening to your new relationship podcast and noticed ISTJ doesnt have the handy car model set up like some of the others do. 🙁

  • Brandon

    thank you it’s nice to know that there is a reason for the way I am and giving me things to try to fix. your diagnosis was spot on. : )

  • Turner

    Only because you asked, the entire time I spent listening to this, I became increasingly frustrated. I literally said “get to the point, say something useful.” out loud several times. I actually gave these people my email address thinking they would be able to help, I think it’s clear they are not. This is a bunch of waffling noise that I’m guessing these people have actually managed to monetize. On one hand, I’m impressed. On the other, I feel like I’ve had my time wasted.

  • Jill

    I relate very much to the following quote: “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.” However, I would reword the last sentence. ISTJ’s don’t bend the rules. I classify myself as a rule follower. Rules are important to us, and others breaking rules causes us great frustration/anxiety. We REWRITE the rules to make the system work better. We are always refining, simplifying (cannot stand unnecessary steps), and improving systems to be more effective.

    • Antonia Dodge

      Thank you for the comment! What’s so delightful about it is how much it shows a bias I have. That is, if it was me that made the comment. As an ENTP I probably (unconsciously) thought, “Nobody is going to want to sound like a stickler for the rules. I should make them feel better by saying they’re willing to bend them.”

      I love moments when our type reveals itself in the little things. 😛


  • Annette

    I am an ISTJ. The information from this podcast was dead on for me. I loved the stories and examples that helped me understand why I think and react the way I do. I also happily realize I do dabble in the copilot seat! I have adjusted socially and have many good friends.
    Thanks to both of you for being so effective in verbalizing such intricate information.

  • April

    Hello I’m very much an ISTJ female, and most of the women around me were are very much into for women, opening up to each other because of emotional needs etc…I have a very hard time relating to these women. I also work in EMS which i think has made it even more difficult…I do consider myself to be a very laid back istj however. I can take charge and get things done, but if someone more extroverted/loud etc wants to do so, and they aren’t harming anything, I’ll just as easily slip into the back ground.

  • Hollie

    Not to get too ISTJ on you, but…the proper spelling is “extrOverted”, not “extrAverted”.

    • Antonia Dodge

      We use Carl Jung’s spelling which is extrAvert. Here’s a nice little article on the subject:


      “Folklore has it that when Carl Jung was once asked which was the correct spelling—ExtrAvert or ExtrOvert—Jung’s secretary wrote back something like, ‘Dr. Jung says it’s ExtrAverted, because ExtrOverted is just bad latin.'”


    • Charis Branson

      Extravert is the proper spelling from a Latin perspective. Extra means outside and vertere means to turn. So an “extravert” turns outward. Extrovert is bad Latin. It was created as a comfortable comparison to introvert. Dictionaries list extrovert as the common spelling, but MBTI experts and psychology journals generally stick with extravert as the more correct spelling.

  • Matt Thompson

    I’ve just recently discovered “Personality Hacker”.com through, of all places, Facebook. Most of the things (polls, tests, etc.) that roll through FB are just entertainment nonsense that are nothing more than junk, The last thing I expected was to take a Q & A test on my personality and actually get results that left me here listening to the corresponding video that seemed to be talking “all about ME”, as an “ISTJ”. As best I can tell, Joe Mark Whitt and Antonio Dodge may actually know what they have been doing and are doing today in their study and analysis of the human brain and what makes us as human beings tick. This is ESPECIALLY interesting to me for MANY different reasons.

    The top reasons being, I can learn more about myself, I think, which would be a great benefit because I have a TERRIBLE problem communicating with others because of my straight-forwardness. I am perceived as mean most of the time, and I get the idea I can get REAL ideas about how to tweak my thinking processes to benefit a multitude of things.

    Secondly, I am VERY interested in learning the personality types of other people, most especially the people closest to me, so I can better understand THEM. I have the most difficulty in communicatting with “touchy-feely” people, or the people that live life with the emotions only.

    There are more reasons I am interested in PersonalityHacker.com than I can list here, but all my reasons are to better understand myself and the world of people around me, and I actually believe PH.com can help me do that.

    I’m glad I found you, Mr. Mark and Ms. Antonio… or you found me. I’ll be looking into this much more deeply. Thank you.

  • Tab

    Oh snap. I’m an ISTJ through and through. The “Authenticity” bits are so true, and in hindsight of a lot of stress I am going through with my (retail) job right now? This is pretty golden, and I wish I had seen this before the stress started and I let myself become completely down on myself.

  • Pauline Jean Smith

    It was a challenge to learn words for the way I have felt all my life. This knowledge has become impowering over time as I have learnt to accept myself and the way I am wired. Thank-you for doing such a good job of giving information and hope.

  • Amy

    Thank you! As an ISTJ, I can relate to Aunt Chris…..your explanation of how she was able to reach out in kindness at the funeral in the context of the system/order she created makes perfect sense.

  • Wendy Rockwell

    Bang on! Thank you!

  • Helen Camarce

    Thanks for this podcast and outline. It was out of curiosity at first, but everything you said were all true. I already know that I’m introverted because when I’m exhausted I get my energy back by being alone.
    My work is administrative, but there are times I needed to socialise and speak with people which I consider the most stressful part of my job. Following by the book is true with me and I am sometimes seen as strict, firm and not so compassionate. It hurts sometimes because we only follow rules and policy but that doesn’t mean we’re heartless or have no feelings.
    Thanks, again. I check the next podcast.

  • Cathy

    I am an ISTJ. At times, my life is completely miserable because communications with others is such a challenge. Often, I am seen as a cold, uncaring person, but my heart secretly breaks at times. My comments are often misconstrued and I am given the brush off or treated with incredible hostility. Employment has been a nightmare for me and the reason my husband and I are starting an in-home business, so that I don’t have to be treated so terribly by the general public. I definitely feel like I’m floundering. I am so glad my husband and I communicate well, but my world is very limited.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.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).

  • 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?

  • 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 🙂

  • 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.

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