ISFJs are reserved, extremely hard working and have made it their mission to protect and take care of people around them. We should consider ourselves lucky that there are such people among us as they contribute a lot to the welfare of society.

The detail-oriented pragmatist

One of the things that characterises ISFJs is their ability to maintain deep concentration, especially when it comes to focussing on facts and details. They are indeed very practical and organised people. If you need somebody who excels at performing sequential tasks in a consistent manner, you need an ISFJ!

Always in service of others

They are also extremely caring people who like nothing more than taking care of the people around them. Because of this striking characteristic, David Keirsey calls them Protectors. The deep connection they feel for others means that they usually are cooperative and responsible team members who can be counted on.

The hard-working keeper of traditions

Protectors also have a very strong work ethic and find it very important to work hard for their community, be it their family, their colleagues or society as a whole. They show great loyalty and often keep track of the history and traditions of the various social groups they belong to.

The flip side of the coin

What is a strength in a certain situation becomes a weakness in another one. Therefore, our strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin and very much depend on circumstances. Protectors need to be aware that some of their strong points can sometimes dis-serve them:

- When one is so good at focussing on details, one sometimes loses sight of the big picture. For example, Protectors excel at following an ever growing list of procedures. They can do this up to a point where they pay more attention to these procedures than the result that they set out to achieve in the first place. Therefore, they should try to keep in mind the purpose of what they are doing in order to move forward faster in life.

-The kindness of Protectors means that they relate to people in a very personal way. As a result, they take things very personally even when they shouldn’t. In a professional environment, they should try to remember that rejection is never personal, even if it looks like it. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that they tend to be very reserved and lack assertiveness. As a result, people can overlook their contribution, which they take even harder. Therefore, they will greatly improve their lives if they learn to put emotional distance between themselves and their problems and become a bit more assertive.

- As Protectors make it their mission to preserve traditions, they tend to be reluctant to change. They should take the time to reflect as to whether or not the way they do things is the most efficient. Often little changes lead to big improvements.


It is almost impossible to predict which personalities will get on best. However, type psychologists have tried. Therefore, you can have a look to what they have to say. There are after all, a few good ideas, but you should still be very cautious here, especially for romantic relationships. Be careful about who you entrust your heart to.

David Keirsey says for example in Please Understand Me II that ISFJ Protectors would be “most compatible” with ESTP Promoter. He explains that whilst the Promoter will bring excitement to the household, the Protector will enjoy creating a home and taking care of all its occupants.

However, bear in mind that the success of a relationship cannot be predicted on type alone.

Studies and career

Choosing a career is a very important decision. For young people interested in making an informed career choice or anyone willing to change theirs, I strongly recommend that you acquire this fantastic book by Paul Tieger and Barbara Baron: Do What You Are This book explores, for each of the 16 types, the kind of profession that should allow you to make the best use of your strengths and suit your personality better. You will find here a very short list of professions that the authors would advise for ISFJs:

- Nurse
- Veterinarian
- Biochemist
- Social worker
- Athletic trainer
- Child welfare counsellor
- Customer service representative
- Computer support specialist
- Electrician
- Jeweller

Again, be careful because type alone cannot predict if you will be successful in a career. You also need to take into account your own abilities, dedication to your goal, personal interests, state of the economy, professional environment...

There is no guarantee in life. However, this book is a great place to start your search.

Self esteem

Type also helps you to understand how to like yourself. In Portraits of Self Esteem , Bonnie J. Golden explains that self esteem is a combination of self-worth and competence in the life areas of relationships, intelligence, emotional self, physical self and work. Basically, the more competent you are in all these areas, the more likely you are to feel good about yourself. Also, it is like not having all your eggs in the same basket: if something bad happens in one of these areas of your life, you will still be able to rely on the others to support yourself. About ISFJs, she mentions the fact that they feel particularly good about themselves when:

- they do things for others out of the blue when they least expect something
- they are told by their teacher how well they are doing
- they are told by people that they have help them (in a way or another)
- they are enjoying their friends and colleagues at work
- they get calls from friends

Return from ISFJ to Myers Briggs Personality Types

Return from ISFJ to Type Central