ISFJ Insights?


Hello all!
I’ll get straight to the point followed by a roundabout ramble:

How can I improve understanding and communication between me and an ISFJ* family member?

Love and patience only takes me so far. I needs more hardcore tools!

It can be challenging to be around this ISFJ if I’m not geared up for it. And I’m sure she would say the same about me, the INFP ** in her life.
I get quickly irritated, impatience, & exasperated and drained. I (we) often turn to our mutual friend alcohol to take the edge off - we get on better when we’re both a bit drunk.
But that’s not ideal obvs.

I see others get annoyed or angry with her and this upsets me more as I hate to see anyone ostracised or misunderstood. But then I think surely this person is a big girl why do I feel the need to step in and defend her?

Coming from INFP preferences point of view, the possible Si dom makes sense, I can see the influence. And explains a lot of our similarities & differences.

But Fe element I find a bit puzzling.
She clearly enjoys having a wide circle of acquaintances, socialising, keeping in touch with friends, family etc; is sentimental & holds on with dear life to certain traditions.

She comes across as sweet and saintly and “abhors violence and seeks harmony” [urgh, did I just type that phrase? lol]
But oddly for someone who likes theoretically values peace and ease, her behaviours and attitudes can often be the cause of the discontentment around her which she seems oblivious to. Things like

  • she will often be quite pushy to get you do something you clearly (and vehemently) don’t want to do, if it’s something she wants to do
  • being helpful but selectively (in my view - but maybe we all are), rarely offers to carry a bag, make tea, do the dishes for loved ones but will make a point of scraping the plates and wiping down the table for servers in restaurants.
  • ignorant(?) of social etiquette or tight with money eg. will never bring a token gift to hosts, or won’t spend money on taxis but expects people to give her a ride everywhere
  • disregards &:or under-values others’ wishes/ feelings in preference to her own e.g. Upsetting someone by buying the same jacket as them (at discounted price) despite protestations from said other, because she liked it and didn’t think they were ‘serious’
  • unaware of or indifferent to respecting others’ physical space - can be clingy, likes overly close physical contact and undivided attention…

…Is this the influence of Si/Ti rationale? -
‘Well, I thought about putting the dishes away for you but I don’t know your set up (system) so it would be a waste of time for me to do it only to then cause you more work rearranging them. So I didn’t.’

Is it their fear of maybe getting something ‘wrong’ that outweighs the value of going ahead with a kind and thoughtful act even if not perfectly executed?

Anyway -

  1. Does this sound like ISFJ behaviour?
    (I had considered infp at one point but Si seems so strong and N too weak to a top function)
  2. How much is it to do with type vs just being a dick?
  3. Is it just me?
  4. what are some ways to communicate without words being ignored/not taken seriously/ unnecessarily hurtful & upsetting?

Hope this isn’t too self indulgent a post to post - I’ve been debating whether to post or not - and also how many times I can use the word post in a sentence - but I’m obsessing over this and need some new objective input from a clever community such as yourselves!

Any thought and insights really appreciated!!

  • has previously tested as ENFJ in as she would put it ‘one of her better moods’
    ** I’m pretty sure this is my best fit


My mom is an ISFJ, and yes, this sounds like her. The thing about ISFJ’s Fe is that they use it in a playmode, as some Blake article says, so to have a better understanding of their emotional responses you don’t have to take it that seriously, if they exaggerate or something, they may reconize it later, although to them their responses are fair, so just take them as they are, emotional responses, you can use your Fi to figure out the validity of such. As far as I’ve noticed due to the Si dominance they seem to have a set sense of what is right and whats not (which of course, it’s entirely arbitrary), and they really don’t care how far their Fe will push such views in others peoples throat, so that must be a pain in the ass for an INFP. My only advice would be that, to not take things so serious and personal with them, which must be real hard for an Fi dominant user. They too doesn’t have a sense of personal space so they tend to be pretty touchy, but just let them know you don’t like it (it took around fifteen years for my mom to get it), but if they do get it things will go nicely and you’ll be able to learn from each other.


Hey @wegendes, thanks that’s sound advice.

Be less serious and less personal about things sounds like a good approach - I like having people like my ENFP other half around to lighten things up, & poke fun at our silly seriousness & touchiness sometimes. And he’s so physically imposing he has no trouble owning his space!

When I do tell her off or call her up on something she reacts all sweet and innocent ‘me?’ or like a little girl getting a telling off but she’ll go right back and do the same thing again. Or a slightly different version of it.

How did you get your mom to eventually listen to you and take you seriously? I feel like I must be pitching myself wrong - I either come in too subtle or too harsh. I start gentle but when I’m not taken seriously get frustrated, and if pushed enough I will react angrily and anything I want to say comes out horribly, upsetting us both! I rarely have this reaction but she is one of the few people that triggers it. I feel like shaking her sometimes ‘why don’t you hear what I’m saying!!’

Like you say, maybe I shouldn’t over think it - they have their own logic and maybe I just have to employ some Cesar millan techniques too: really embody that calm assertive energy, be clear about what you want to communicate, stand your ground etc and keep repeating (with no frustration) until it gets through.

Food for thought…


Well it’s hard to say, we’re to impositive so when I was younger we used to fight a lot, really a lot. Most of times I don’t like to share that much with anyone and the thing with ISFJs is that, due their Si dominance, they really don’t get hints or don’t have a deeper understanding of things, so to me it worked to start sharing my thoughts so she could understand me better. About the space I simply told her that I don’t like it, and she came to accept it when she noticed that I wasn’t negative about her anymore.


Thanks so much for sharing that really helps confirm a few things.
Our family is naturally quite geographically scattered, I think the fact that my isfj has lived abroad since we were teens has hindered the natural process of getting to know each other as we might have, and only really spending time together in atypical or intense family get togethers and reunions.

You’ve been super helpful can I ask one more thing -
any advice I can give my isfj on relationships?

This seems to be her downfall. I have my own thoughts opinions insights which I’ve shared with her but by her own admission she sees me as “wise” but doesn’t listens to my advice. can’t. won’t.
She can cause trouble for herself by being quite controlling and expecting her partner to up-end his whole world for her and her vision of the life she wants.

Sorry if this is a bit weird or personal as the isfj in your life is your mom!
But from mbti point of view or from your observations what is it they need and are their expectations realistic in love & partnerships?



Sadly, I don’t know that much in such regard. My parents split up when I was 4 years old. Whatever, as far as I’m concerned ISFJs care about someone they can rely on in whatever happens to be their needs. My mom could take anything for my dad if he gave us economical safety. That’s all I noticed, haha, sorry, in such regard I can’t say that much.


Ah, sorry to pry but thanks for replying. Maybe I just need to learn to mind my own business and just be supportive when I can.

Thanks for your input it’s been really interesting and has helped!


I can be completely fucking clueless with these things, and right now I’m not sure what to say as I haven’t met this relative of yours in person.

I DO want to say that all of these things, to me, sound like an Fi id thing, and I think some INFJs can definitely be guilty of it.

I do agree with Wegendes about Fe as a playmode that can go off and on at will.

Not all ISFJs are like that, and many of them can be huge sticklers for being considerate to others at all times…except when it comes to their boyfriends evil laugh Then they’ll test whether that bitch is theirs. Expecting 100% sacrifice and consideration 24/7 but not giving much in return (Reminiscent of what you had just outlined). I feel like a lot of ESTPs like that feeling, though, of getting their asses whooped and their bad behaviour teared apart! It really seems to complete them.

In any case, besides their boyfriends, ISFJs tend to be much more considerate with respect to these social etiquettes and niceties.I don’t think they’ll ever forget to bring gifts when necessary and will be very very conscious of what’s theirs and what’s not. This is a very important moral principle in my culture (which I’m sure is Si-dominant), that is glaringly missing in Western culture. Violate it and prepare for some serious public shaming, bad-mouthing, and cruel group-bullying.

Perhaps your ISFJ relative expresses more of her Fi id side to her close ones, even those that aren’t their potential future spouses, but not to those that she doesn’t know. I don’t think it’s uncommon for IXFJs at all. Fi is at home for them, “their true selves,” and will be expressed behind closed doors. But of course, it is private business and will not be revealed to people they aren’t truly comfortable with. Too bad Fi id can often be pretty selfish and temperamental.

Or she might not be ISFJ at all. I see a shadow of some ISFJs doing what you had described to some family members, but not to that extent. Sounds a bit too asshole-ish. Or she’s an asshole-ish ISFJ. I don’t know.

In any case. Are you sure you are really, really getting your point across to her? That she is actually being inconsiderate and unfair. How that makes “you” feel in particular? That you are also a human being with feelings?

Did you say you were INFP? I find that INFPs think they made a point clear but they DON’T. At least not to me. They say something a bit passive-aggressive or a little statement that is tangential to what they are trying to clearly say or instruct, and then it gets missed. Then said INFP gets super upset and mad and claims, “Hello?! I TOLD you this before!” when it really hasn’t been clearly outlined in the first place. I think it is the Te inferior.


I’ll second this stuff Sacha and say that only because I’ve studied MBTI have I come to understand that the expectations of the sort you outlined in your first post, which I see as probably mostly Fi dominant expectations, are real things that some people have.

I couldn’t be further from the outline of basic expectations you describe in the first post. haha.

I’ve probably been that person buying the jacket after you asked me not to fourteen times in my life; maybe once I can recall and 13 I just never realized were real, but even in the once I recall, I really really would assume that they weren’t serious about my not buying the jacket somewhere at a discount. This is because I can’t imagine not being flattered if someone imitated me that way, and I can’t imagine feeling upset if they did it. So I’ve learned to believe that Fi exists, that it has a sort of, invisible quality for me, that I have to just like, trust it, or not interact with Fi people. By trust it I mean, I have to actually just do what Fi people say. This is so weird to me. So mostly I steer clear of it; I would have to remind myself like every second, “Just do the things they say, even though you don’t understand why.” That is an unnatural position so it would take constant reminding; in other words, I can’t just relax around Fi or I will offend.

I think that you might benefit from thinking of this in the context of Fe and Fi, more than Si, but I don’t know. I definitely think of Fe as existing outside the individual, and as far, far away from the individual. So strangers are more important than self/close friends/family when it comes to emotional expression. I think Fe users expect that people close to them don’t need as much from them as people far from them. Now, I’m super weak at Fe too with it in my tertiary…Maybe this isfj of yours is something else altogether. Most ISFJ’s I’ve met WOULD be sure to bring a gift, like you mentioned (following the dictates of strangers).


Hello @schlopadoo!

What a good intro, makes me want to read on…

Both yourself and @wegendes mention this but I don’t think I’ve come across this before ‘Play mode’ used in reference to aux. function. Are there different ways that aux is used? I thought play connected more to tert/inf functions? But I think I grasp the idea of it: Fe aux used to express Si to the outer world …Fe in ISFJ - connecting and expressing to outer people-centric world in a way that is “fun” to them/revolves around their idiosyncratic needs and values? Argh, it’s late I don’t know if that makes sense,

Haha, this made me chuckle, ESTPs, huh? Lol.

Yes, my ISFP (sister, by the way) is super…vigilant when it comes to Christmas gifts, sending postcards, birthday cards…and social etiquettes/niceties that she has absorbed into her value system. She likes to get ‘accurate’ presents- if that is such a thing - more like tell me what you want, and 9 months later they still remember and it’s wrapped up nice for Christmas - but other things just don’t compute. As I mentioned, the hole guest/hostess etiquette thing. It’s like she has enough room for x and y but tired out at z.

Yes I think that’s the long and short of it. I just need to find the words to explain to my other sister who gets very very frustrated with all these “inconsistencies”.

Exactly, a distinct possibility but I’m not the best qualified to make a more accurate judgment and she isn’t interested enough to go on the journey of exploration with me to find out. (if I were a handsome single blue-eyed guy with a snow-board I might have more of a chance).

But just talking this out with you guys is helping none the less if it is just my perception that is squewed.

Again, exactly…Te inferior. I recognise this. This is what I’ve been consciously working on. I realise I need to be a lot more direct in my communication. Like 3ft more direct. If my ENTJ boss has been put in my life for any reason it’s this.

This all came about because there was a fight (verbal, between two siblings) recently that I witnessed, based on all this stuff and I was like ‘shit, ok, I thought I was the only one with this beef’. So I guess I want to understand things more objectively so I can be more useful when people come to me with grievances or to vent. I can be like ‘you know what, if we take this approach, I’m sure everyone will understand each other bettter’.

I don’t really like this expression. It seems overused and a bit of a catch all for anything or anyone that doesn’t say outright ‘you fucked me off, you’re behaving like a prick, fuck off’ which yes, to me is just plain aggressive, lol. Exaggerating I know.
[Are you allowed to swear online?]

My ENFP other half throws this expression around all the time, typically to describe women in his workplace. I think ‘what do you actually mean by this?’ That they are bitchy? More polite than you? Providing an option rather than giving a direct order? Which sometimes all get lumped into being “passive aggressive”. Which pisses me off.
I’m not saying this is what you mean @schlopadoo but I do wonder sometimes at some people’s unwillingness (it feels like to me) to read between the lines. To actually take a moment to think and feel beyond themselves to where someone else might be coming from.

When I comment, ‘oo, it’s a bit chilly’ this isn’t my passive aggressive way of saying you ought to shut the window you insensitive man I’m still angry at you for turning off the heating this morning and stealing the duvet’.

Sorry, I digress.

But you’re totally right, so many times I’m like this. But recognising it more. Even asking others to feedback on how they hear something I’ve said. It’s more to do with recognising how I feel at the time which often I don’t know and can react without understanding why - I think this would be my definition of passive aggressive: a disproportionate negative (eg. sarcastic) reaction to B when in fact you are expressing a delayed reaction to A.

Anyway, if you’ve made it to the end of this post well done.
Seriously it really helps to have outside input even if you don’t know the people personally. I wanted to get a more mbti based point of view but no one I know is into this!



Yes! That was exactly the response! ‘Take it as acompliment, you should be flattered, it shows you have good taste’ !!!
I guess other wasn’t so impressed because it was just the last straw in a long line of the ‘identity theft’ she felt like she was experiencing!! Lol. So great to hear it from someone else’s experience because you don’t know sometimes in the heat of the moment if someone is being flippant or actually genuine.

That’s actually very sweet. And very useful to know. and so nicely put. What are your experiences that made you start to recognise the Fi-ness of something and behave a certain way toward it? It does sound rather tiring if not natural to you.

This is a concern for me as I don’t like the idea of being responsible for people acting unnaturally, or feeling uncomfortable; but equally I tire of feeling like I’m the one who is making the changes, allowances, ‘sacrifices’ for the comfort of others. So I go back n forth which is really the source of my torment.
The old ‘I don’t want you to do it because I said so, I want you to want to do it’ kind of thing!

Yes I’m starting to see the difference and how that can play out a bit better.

See this is interesting. I’ve been thinking of Fe in terms others being important as opposed to self, with no real disntinction between people close vs not so close, and Fi as self & people close vs others (not so close). But what you say makes sense in this context.

And actually makes what you say next make sense too because the host in my mind where etiquette was ‘lost’ was actually family…

Even if sister is not ISFJ and something else altogether, I’m certainly getting some very valuable view points which I will definitely be keeping in mind and I really appreciated you taking the time to input.


Well, my mom never (and that means never) forgets a birthday, there is always a congratulation’s call, and she’s always into say hello to strangers she’s somehow close to in a given situation (like in a queue at the bank or at the supermarket), smile at them and be super nice. To her being super nice is being polite (I disagree with her). So if someone does not aproach to her being all smiley and sugar coated then may God help the soul of that poor Te/Fi /Ni user who come across all detached and impersonal. But hey, if you’re okay with her she will do anything in the name of being polite to you.

A little story about it: Once we gave a ride to my INTP and INFP friends, she offered to buy some sweets on the way home. The INTP accepted it because his inferior Fe told him that it was umpolite to not accept the sweet. On the other hand the INFP didn’t accept it. Of course my mom likes a little bit better the INTP because of that.


Yes, I see that sort of thinking for my sister too. She enjoys sharing stories about her experiences with a people being nice vs rude theme which can be quite entertaining because she has such extreme reactions. Gestures ‘above and beyond’ will be told with gushing pride (almost as though she were responsible for them herself) and elevated to saintly heights, forever immortalised in her memory.
And those who behave rudely - well, you can feel the depth of wrath as she recounts the story to the point where I feel like her audience could wither away on the spot by proxi.

I would often wonder how she seemed to encounter so many horrendously rude people in her life in comparison with anyone else. Now it makes a bit more sense. This is obviously something innate in her wiring, and a big focus with a more heightened emotional/moral response.

Often what I witness is someone from a culture that values different forms of etiquette - who just don’t buy into the whole over-politeness, but that aren’t necessarily being rude. Or a normal polite/pleasant person doing their job (albeit it very well). Or just simple flirtation, which to me doesn’t warrant such a gushing reaction or crediting a person with saintly credentials.

I guess i can be a harsh in my judgement because with my wiring I tend to find the whole saccharine sweetness and smiles approach rather nauseating, and yes, fake. Flirting with the world to get it to do what you want. And when she turns it on me, ugh.

I’d be interested to know how this presented in a male ISFJ and if I’d react differently!

At the end of the day she can also go to great lengths to help others and would be horrified to be described as rude or selfish for any reason because her heart is in the right place.


Yep, I wonder the same thing about my mom. I really don’t get how every morning she spends alone she find someone that has been rude to her and have a little discussion with them. And always is the same structure of the discussion: the other person said something my mom found offensive, my mom answered with something turning the argument against the person who said it.


Lol, that’s funny yes. She won’t entertain the idea that she might actually be wrong, and will always stand by her behaviour as a ‘reasonable’ reaction.

‘I only said this because you said that and then you did this - if you meant this you should have done that…’ etc rather than ‘sorry, I totally misunderstood you and over reacted’. End of.

Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I usually go away and scream into a pillow then come back, suggest a change of topic, and poor another glass of wine. :woman_facepalming: