I was asked to do a series of editorials at work on personality types, so I’m going to post them to my blog as well. (I’ve done a lot of personality type contrasting on my tumblr — I probably won’t recreate that content here.)
SJ personality types (ESFJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ISTJ) are easily identified through their desire to preserve tradition and “sameness.” SJ’s are the cornerstones of society, those who keep it on track, who like to gather lots of information before making decisions, look to and trust their own experiences, and can be reluctant to let go of the old for the new. They like predictability and routine, are reliable, and have a strong long-term memory for details. They value the past (their own and history itself) and desire to learn from it. Their own past experiences and learned information influence their decisions in the present. Family traditions are important to them.
These traits are the result of their introverted sensing cognitive function (Si). It is a subjective function, so it takes in and process information through individual biases and opinions. It looks at situations through the person’s opinions, belief system, and experiences, and then attaches personal meaning to it based on those factors. It constantly compares present situations to its past experiences, as it builds a big “data bank” of information. (How is this person different from the last time I saw them? What happened the last time I did this?)
Because the past is so significant to them, an SJ has a hard time letting go of the past, overcoming trauma, and forgetting bad experiences. Each time they encounter something that reminds them of that bad experience, it triggers the same emotions they felt then. It’s impossible for them to “forget” or “move on” quickly; they must work through the event, and process it mentally, before they can heal from it.
SFJs are different from STJs in how they relate to other people and deal with information. This has to do with their next most-used function.
SFJs use extroverted feeling (Fe), an objective function that gathers all its emotional data from the outside world. It “senses” how others feel in a situation and tunes in to their emotions, sometimes even reflecting them. It gathers its moral code from socially agreed upon behavior and is distressed or disapproving when others deviate from those values. When used properly, Fe can help the SFJ remain impartial in an argument and understand both sides of an emotional argument. SFJ’s often put aside their own feelings to accommodate and take care of others’ needs before their own. Fe needs external affirmation and approval for its actions. SFJs are happiest when they know they’re needed, wanted, and loved, and feel like they are doing something important for society (working for humanitarian organizations or as a stay at home parent).
The perfect example of a healthy SFJ is Steve Rogers from the Captain America comics / films. He values and learns from the past (Si) while striving to protect humanity on the whole (Fe). He stands firm on his beliefs but is willing to listen to and learn from others, while preserving tradition.
STJs use extroverted thinking (Te), an objective function that gathers all its factual data from the outside world. It evaluates a situation based on the facts involved. It bases its logic on outside sources and provable information (research and textbooks, indisputable facts, scientific studies). Te when used properly can put aside emotion to make objective logical decisions aimed at accomplishing a goal. STJs enjoy maintaining existing systems and making them more efficient. They can easily make charts, diagrams, and design blueprints. STJs are good at time management and like to accomplish things. They’re happiest in a job where they know what is required from them.
The perfect example of a healthy STJ is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. She uses her experiences and information she has read about (Si) to make logical decisions, turn in her assignments on time, and remind her friends of the school rules (Te).
Due to their good people skills, SFJs are happiest and most useful when allowed to interact with and help other people (receptionists, teachers, Bible study leaders, group organizers). Thanks to their incredible ability to retain data, STJs are happiest and most useful when permitted to interact with information and systems that put their factual memory to good use (the law, filing systems, financial).
SJ children are happiest when:
- They’re on a schedule and in a routine
- Life is predictable and traditions are kept
- They know about family or school plans in advance
- They can revisit favorite books, movies, and places
- They are allowed to be themselves
- They have an angst-free environment (SFJ)
- They receive validation for their behavior (SFJ)
- They are encouraged to read factual books (Te)
ESFJ children are outgoing, eager to please and energized by being around other kids. They are very sensitive to conflict or criticism, and need lots of encouragement. ISFJ kids prefer alone time and greatly desire one or two close friends. They are easily hurt by teasing or personal criticism, and hate the idea of letting their parents down. ESTJ children talk a lot and are known for being blunt and frank in their observations. They aren’t always aware of their own feelings, and may be confused if pointing out facts hurts other people’s feelings. They like being around people. ISTJ children are much more solitary and quiet. They aren’t easily offended but are very frank in their opinions.
Self-Improvement for SJs: don’t assume that the way you were taught is the only way it ought to be done. It’s okay if others don’t keep traditions. Change can be good. Don’t expect others to want to revisit their childhood. It’s okay to change churches or political parties if you want to.
Once you understand how much they value the past and feel comfortable with it, it’s much easier to accommodate and understand an SJ.