This discussion has been edited for time and clarity.
The ISTJ is not the most boring type. I would like to say, we’re not robots. That’s one thing that bothers me is when you watch the memes or whatever about the 16 personalities, ISTJ is always the robot. It’s always like, the person who’s kind of this mindless AI that doesn’t actually use their brain. I take issue with that. Now, I will say that people have called me a machine. But that’s different. Because I’m very productive. And I’ll take that as a compliment. But not a robot.
You have Extraverted Thinking (Te) just like the INTJ in the second slot that is focused and has determined. It has a machine-like quality to it, definitely. I don’t think that that is just the ISTJ, it’s just really a symptom of being a solid extroverted thinker.
ISTJs are Not Robots
I’ll give it as like, an aspect of my personality, but I feel like it’s blown out of proportion. And I guess that’s what memes are, right. Because I have layers, I have an actual personality. I’m not just like this boop, boop, boop, bop robot. And I mean, I can have fun, I can be playful. I can do all those things. Granted, I’d like to schedule fun, I like to say, at this time of this day is when I’m gonna go have fun. But I plan it in because I appreciate and I know the value of having fun.
And you can be fun, you like to schedule many different things. You have an eclectic taste of things you like to do like outdoor activities and different kinds of media you like to consume. For those that classify the ISTJ in a very humorous way as not having a sense of humor or being kind of like a party pooper, that is just not been my experience being married to you.
You’re saying I’m fun?
I’m saying you can have fun.
ISTJs and Tradition
The other thing that I take issue with is that they always talk about how we uphold tradition. That whatever has been done, we will continue to do. and I understand where that comes from. I take issue with it because it kind of implies that we blindly follow the rules. I don’t think that’s what we do. If it’s something that doesn’t make sense to me, like, I don’t care how long you’ve been doing it this way. We’re going to improve it, we’re going to fix it, we’re going to optimize it, we’re going to make it more efficient.
Yeah, I don’t really have much more to add to that.
One thing I will say that is correct when people describe the ISTJ is that we are structured. And I think the reason behind it is that, to us, “Discipline is Freedom.” If you give us guidelines, and you say, I need you to get XYZ done, and here’s your map, here are your boundaries, we’re happy with that.
Whereas a lot of other people, if you give them boundaries, they feel confined, they feel restricted, they hate it, they get rebellious, and they break all the rules. For us, we say, ‘please give us all the rules, we’ll follow them.’ If you are very vague about something and you say, I need you to do this, but I don’t really care how it’s done, to us, it’s a heart attack. ‘I don’t know what you want. I don’t know where to start’.
How to Speak to an ISTJ
Advice for speaking to an ISTJ would be if they were going to come over to your house, or they were going to arrive somewhere, you would never say something like, ‘you know, just show up in a little bit. Or something like, “Hey, I’m on my way over, do you want me to get anything from a store while I’m on my way over? Yeah, “just get whatever you think is right.”
This is NOT good direction! ISTJs are wondering, “Do you want me to bring drinks, food… WHAT?” There are too many unknowns in the scenario. There is no framework here are guidelines to work within. The structure of your request leaves too many options on the table.
And comfort is a huge thing for ISTJs for kind of two aspects. Physical comfort:I don’t want to be uncomfortable in the clothes I’m wearing, for example. So always make sure the clothing I wear is functional and not really flashy. And then there’s also mental comfort, which is what you were getting at. You’re going to cause me so much strife if you don’t give me enough guidelines. So if I know what’s coming, and I know what to expect, and a path forward, that’s my mental comfort.
She’s really talking about the axis of Introverted Sensing (Si) and Extraverted Intuition (Ne). The Ne part is a mental discomfort when there are too many options, too many alternatives, too many different outcomes. This can cause rigidity and paranoia for an ISTJ and lead them to short-circuit.
I want to know, what are the truths and untruths about ISTJs?
The Truth about the ISTJ
One of the truths is not understanding subtlety. And that comes across a lot in jokes. The worst thing I can do is to do deadpan humor, or to say something in jest or sarcastically. It’s very confusing for the ISTJ because they will take you at face value. They’re very confused: ‘Was that a joke? Were they being mean? What did I miss?’ Should I laugh now?’
Another thing is that Thinking types tend to have a very non-expressive face when they’re listening or when they’re gathering information. And I’ve described your face all the time as the ‘Mona Lisa face.’ It’s overused, this idea of the resting RBF, but I think that’s just Thinking types are not trying to portray emotion. And I think people, especially dominant Feeling types, might look at the ISTJ and go, “oh, there’s the robot.”
One misconception that I’d like to dispel is that ISTJ can actually be good brainstormers. It doesn’t always come across in the negative way that inferior Ne might which is catastrophizing. They’re optimizers they can say, “I see your idea and here’s how we make it cohesive. The ISTJ will use their Si (Introverted Sensing), to keep you on track using Memory.
ISTJs are Optimizers
It works for me because I’m happy that you came up with the idea. If someone told me to come up with the idea… Nope! But when the idea is already there, I can say, “Okay, this is how we make it more efficient.”
Another thing about the ISTJ is that they’re good public speakers. Not dynamic per se, but not afraid of delivering in front of large crowds. You do presentations, you do pitches. You would think that introverts are not naturally comfortable in that setting. You’re not scared of being out of order when you speak or getting jumbled in your mind. So I think that really comes across well, for the ISTJ and any Extraverted Thinking (Te) + Introverted Sensing (Si) type that yes, ISTJs are solid public speakers.
I am proud to be an ISTJ! We’re hard-working, we’re determined, okay, I get that. But also, because of that, we’re dependable and loyal. We’re really good loyal friends, you can count on us. We will show up, we’ll be there. You know, we’re just solid. And I think that’s a positive thing. And the memes portray it as boring and dependable. But I think it’s good, fun, happy, AND dependable. And I would say we’re far from boring people.
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