When it comes to organizing, streamlining, and logical thinking, no personality types do it better than ISTJs and INTJs. Yet, these similar personality types can be both the best of friends or the worst of enemies. As an INTJ with many friends and family members who are ISTJs, I’ve noticed that sometimes we get along splendidly, but other times we very much rub each other the wrong way. Using fictional characters — Sarah to represent the ISTJ and Nicole to represent the INTJ — let’s explore the similarities and differences between these two personality types, as well as how they can find common ground. These points may not be true of every ISTJ and INTJ (we’re individuals, after all), but I believe they are generally true.
How ISTJs and INTJs Are Similar
ISTJ Sarah and INTJ Nicole are both in their late twenties and work for the same fashion company. Sarah oversees shipments and Nicole is their social media marketer. Both women’s personality types contain the J (or “Judging” function), meaning they like to plan and organize what is around them. Both jobs call for being able to organize materials or content around a certain schedule.
Both Sarah and Nicole got high grades while they were in school and that same work ethic has come in handy in the workplace. Sarah and Nicole are some of the hardest-working employees in the company. Since both INTJs and ISTJs value efficiency and competency, both Sarah and Nicole appreciate what the other brings to the company.
Prefer One-on-One Socializing
On Fridays at 5 p.m., most of the other employees head off to happy hour in a crowded bar. Being introverted, Sarah and Nicole usually pass on this after-work ritual to either see a friend one-on-one or go home to spend the evening with their loved ones. At lunch, Sarah and Nicole often eat together as they both prefer one-to-one communication and more “high-brow” topics of conversation. Nicole and Sarah prefer to talk about the latest book they’ve read or scientific breakthrough they heard about online instead of engaging in small talk or celebrity gossip with the other employees.
How ISTJs and INTJs Differ
While Sarah and Nicole seem to get along most of the time, there are small differences between their personality types that can cause issues in their relationship. The main difference between their two personality types is the way they take in information. The S in ISTJ stands for Sensing, meaning they pay increased attention to information that comes in through their five senses (“What can I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell?”); they focus on what is actual, present, real, and current, according to the Myers & Briggs Foundation. Sensors tend to see the practical use of things, and they remember facts and details that are important to them.
INTJs, on the other hand, use iNtuition. This means they pay increased attention to the meaning and patterns behind the information they get. They look more at the big picture than the details, and they remember events more as an impression of what it was like than as actual facts about what happened, again according to the Myers & Briggs Foundation. They are interested in learning new things and thinking about what might be possible, even if there is no immediate, practical application for their ideas.
Of course, every personality type spends some time Sensing and some time using Intuition — it’s about which preference is dominant. The difference between their S and N functions leads to three types of differences in most ISTJs and INTJs.
New vs Old
As mentioned earlier, both Sarah and Nicole are great at organizing, planning, and streamlining. Yet, they both do this for different reasons. ISTJ Sarah likes to stick to established rules or processes, because ISTJs believe in a “right” way of doing things and may see any change to these rules as a threat to productivity. INTJ Nicole uses established systems to learn how they are flawed and work to improve them. For example, if Nicole proposes a new way for Sarah to organize the company’s shipments, Sarah might become annoyed and think that Nicole is purposefully interfering with her work.
If you are an INTJ and you find yourself in a situation like this, remember to be respectful; never insult the old way of doing things or push for change faster than everyone else can handle. For ISTJs, remember that your INTJ coworker or friend is trying to help you, so don’t shoot down new ideas as they may be more helpful than you think.
Open-Mindedness vs Stead-Fast Beliefs
The intuitive function in Nicole’s INTJ personality allows her to be open-minded, sometimes opened-minded to a fault. INTJs may find themselves switching their own core beliefs regarding religion or politics more often than most people. For example, at lunch, Nicole tells Sarah that in college she was a strong communist supporter but then believed in anarchy for a while before settling on libertarianism which she is now thinking of trading in for a form of regulated capitalism. This both shocks and annoys Sarah, who has been dedicated to the same political beliefs nearly her entire life and is firmly planted in them.
Both INTJs and ISTJs can be stubborn and may feel threatened when their beliefs are questioned. In this type of situation, ISTJs can stand to let go of their judgements and try to look at other viewpoints with an open mind. INTJs can benefit from thoroughly questioning the new belief system they are entertaining before deciding to “wave the flag” of that particular movement.
Freedom vs Duty
While both Sarah and Nicole are highly independent, ISTJ Sarah is far more dutiful than INTJ Nicole. Sarah may struggle with saying “no” to people who ask her to do things for them. She may also have trouble ridding herself of toxic relationships. For example, Sarah has a brother who is a complete slacker; he mooches money off her and constantly crashes at her place for weeks without paying rent. On top of that, he is rude and disrespectful towards Sarah. After hearing about this, Nicole might tell Sarah that she should cut her brother out of her life for good. This will upset Sarah, as she feels she is obligated to take care of him as a family member.
If you’re an ISTJ in this situation, don’t feel bad for setting boundaries. You don’t have to be responsible for everyone in your life; it’s okay to take care of yourself. For INTJs, not everyone may have the lust for freedom that you do. It may be easier for you to cut someone out of your life, but that solution may not be good for everyone. INTJs can be supportive in helping those who are in toxic relationships take steps to gain more independence instead of forcing them to be independent in one swoop.
With the right understanding of each other’s differences and an appreciation for their similarities, both INTJs and ISTJs can get along or even become the best of friends. Remember to never judge another person too quickly and try to see the situation from their point of view. This should help limit the conflict between ISTJs, INTJs, or any other personality types.