It’s obvious looking at the letters I-N-F-J and I-S-T-P that these two Myers-Briggs personality types are very different. The only trait they have in common is their introversion. Both types enjoy privacy. They find meaning not from superficial experiences but from their contemplation of them.
Sensing vs. Intuition
Because ISTPs rely on their sensing preference more than their intuition, they are driven to understand how things work. They usually have good eye-hand coordination, which makes them skilled at fixing things. They use their minds for practical matters and think problems through while working on them. Theories don’t interest them unless they can be put to practical use.
In contrast, INFJs aren’t mechanically minded. They get impatient with details and prefer to head straight to outcomes. The ISTP can be a big help to the INFJ who doesn’t want to bother with, say, taking apart a toaster to see why it’s not working. If the problem is a blown fuse, that may occur to the INFJ intuitively while the ISTP works his or her way to the solution through logic. ISTPs are likely to examine the parts of the toaster before checking the fusebox. The two types have complementary strengths.
When an ISTP and INFJ collect information to make a big decision, such as what car to buy, their sensing and intuitive functions may collide. The ISTP may not be satisfied until all aspects of a model are checked out and the vehicle is examined by a mechanic. The INFJ is more likely to base his or her decision on how the engine runs and if the car feels good to drive. The ISTP’s private opinion is that the INFJ rushes to conclusions without taking enough precautions. The INFJ thinks the ISTP is too fussy about details.
Thinking vs. Feeling
When an ISTP-INFJ relationship runs aground, it’s usually because of thinking-feeling conflicts. ISTPs make decisions based on facts rather than feelings and values. This impersonal approach gives them a tendency to ignore the effects of their actions on others. They may not even be clear about their own feelings. INFJs’ emotions are more likely to influence their decisions, although they do examine the facts. Because of this difference, the ISTP can hurt the INFJ’s feelings without meaning to. The INFJ can get on the ISTP’s nerves with his or her emotional reactions.
Perceiving vs. Judging
Because of their perceiving preference, ISTPs don’t worry much about deadlines and usually finish jobs just under the wire. They postpone starting projects and then rush to finish them on time. They’re often late for appointments. In contrast, INFJs work on a schedule, make lists, and make sure to meet their deadlines with time to spare. They plan projects. They don’t just jump in. In this arena, too, the INFJ and ISTP can get on each other’s nerves.
Making the Relationship Work
It takes effort and patience to make an ISTP-INFJ relationship work. The two must respect each other’s methods of processing information. The ISTP should try to understand the INFJ’s need for emotional support. Often this requires that the INFJ explain his or her needs to the ISTP and make suggestions for meeting them. INFJs shouldn’t expect ISTPs to be their sole source of emotional support. They need to cultivate a few friends who can empathize with their feelings and give them support.
As close friends, INFJs and ISTPs enjoy sharing experiences quietly, away from crowds. They’re most at ease when they’re camping, listening to music, or watching a documentary. Words aren’t necessary. The shared experience is enough.
The INFJ appreciates the ISTP’s ability to enjoy the details of life without over-thinking. ISTPs have a matter-of-fact, uncomplicated way of viewing the world. This can be a relief to the complex INFJ for whom very little is easy. Often the ISTP has practical solutions to the small problems of life: how to replace a bicycle chain, determining what’s causing the funny noise in the car engine, or figuring out what’s killing the roses in the yard.