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March 6, 2010 / Andrea Wenger

The ISFJ Writing Personality: Tangible Warmth

In this life we cannot do great things.
We can only do small things with great love.
— Mother Teresa

What does your personality type tell you about your writing style?

ISFJs focus on facts, which they often convey with warmth.  They feel more confident when able to follow a proven approach, and when instructions are clear. ISFJs like to complete their research and map out a first draft in their head before they begin writing. They are dedicated, thorough, and committed to meeting deadlines.

The ISFJ personality type is one of 16 identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a popular psychometric instrument used to determine how people prefer to gather information and make decisions. The initials ISFJ stand for the following:

I: Introversion preferred to extraversion
ISFJs get their energy from the internal world of thoughts and ideas. They enjoy interacting with small groups of people but find large groups draining. They generally reflect before acting.

S: Sensation preferred to intuition
ISFJs are concrete thinkers, placing more trust in experience than in flashes of insight. They’re more interested in sensory data than in the patterns perceived by the unconscious mind. ISFJs tend to be intellectually content—they want to enjoy the world.

F: Feeling preferred to thinking
ISFJs prefer to use their rational feeling function when making decisions. They place more emphasis on the effect that actions have on people than they do on adhering to the impersonal rule of logic. They tend to give other people the benefit of the doubt.

J: Judgment preferred to perception
ISFJs are drawn to closure. They feel satisfied after finishing a project or reaching a decision. They think in terms of likelihoods rather than possibilities.

Are you an ISFJ writer? If so, the following information may give you some insight into how temperament influences your writing style. Use these insights to help you play to your strengths and compensate for your natural blind spots.

Writing Process of the ISFJ

ISFJs may approach a writing project in the following ways:

  • View writing as a form of personal expression.  They often write about topics they care about, although they may not let their own beliefs shine through. They prefer to present the facts, which they may do in great detail, then let readers make up their own mind.
  • Are self-motivated and self-directed. However, when writing for a teacher, editor, or boss, they want explicit instructions. If they don’t have a clear understanding of other people’s expectations, they may struggle in silence. Instead, try asking to see a model of what to work toward (for example, last year’s annual report or a term paper that earned an A). A concrete example will help alleviate confusion.
  • Prefer to write alone in a consistent environment free of interruptions. They often find it uncomfortable to brainstorm in a group. They prefer to research their topic first so they can be sure of getting the facts right.
  • Enjoy reading and writing about history or biography, but are less likely to gravitate toward business or technical writing. If they do write about technology, they’re likely to prefer the tried-and-true to the cutting edge. When writing fiction, they can often be quite funny in conveying their observations about the foibles of human nature.
  • Want to be of service to others, and naturally write in a manner that reflects this value.  Keeping their audience in mind, they organize their ideas into an easy-to-follow progression. They have a strong sense of harmony—of what works on the page, and what doesn’t. They may also excel at sensory detail, drawing the reader in.

Potential Blind Spots of the ISFJ

ISFJs may experience the following pitfalls:

  • May dislike writing about abstract concepts. If an assignment requires you to write about theory, look for ways to relate the ideas to your experience or to a specific, positive effect on people’s lives. ISFJs may also benefit from talking through the challenges they face in their writing—a trait that’s more typical of extraverts.
  • May state the obvious or otherwise display a lack of confidence. To combat this tendency, ask for specific feedback from a trusted writer friend. This will help you gauge your ability to communicate your point and your reader’s ability to understand and make connections. Show your work only to someone whom you know to be supportive. The opinions of those who nurture writers are worthwhile; the opinions of those who tear down writers are not.
  • May struggle with impersonal analysis. You may find it easier to be objective if you first write down how you feel about the topic. Then, you can temporarily set your beliefs aside and focus on forming a logical, balanced argument.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong approach to writing. Each person is unique, so don’t let generalities limit you. Do what works best for you.

Do you have any tips for ISFJ writers? Leave a comment and share your experience.
Also, for more information on this subject, check out the sources below.

Sources:
Write from the Start
by Ann B. Loomis
Writing and Personality by John K. DiTiberio and George H. Jensen
What Type Am I? by Renee Baron
Your Personality Type and Writing: ISFJ
from the Villanova University website
Mother Teresa Quotes at BrainyQuote.com

ENFJENFPENTJENTPESFJESFPESTJESTP
INFJINFPINTJINTPISFJISFPISTJISTP

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5 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Edana A. / Nov 28 2013 12:53 am

    First of all, what a great article! I’m an ISFJ and almost everything here is true of me. Looking back to before I even knew I was an ISFJ, I had discovered I had trouble writing papers while there were people talking. My best “paper writing time” was after everyone else had gone to bed, when the house was quiet and I didn’t have to worry about people interrupting me.
    Sometimes I would get stuck on my opinions and feelings about a topic, or something slightly off-topic, so I would take a moment and write these thoughts down to get them out of the way so that I could then focus on meeting the assignment requirements (much like you said).
    When writing papers, I tried to find out exactly what my professors wanted. I loved having clear directions, and lots of them.
    However, I also enjoy writing as a means of personal expression (like you said). I’ve kept a journal since I was ten. I used to write a lot of poetry when I was a teenager. Now I have a blog where I can write about topics I enjoy (and involve a lot of little details).
    I could go on and on about how this article is true for me and about how the tips you gave are great. Thank you for this!

    • AndreaJWenger / Nov 30 2013 9:13 pm

      Thanks, Edana. So glad to hear this is true for you. Hope you find the tips useful. Happy writing!

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