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INTJ vs ISTJ – 10 Vital Differences You Need to Know

INTJs and ISTJs are only one letter apart in the Myers-Briggs personality type system, but they often behave quite differently. Whether it’s their chosen professions, their interpersonal conflict resolution styles, or how they like to choose their leaders, INTJs and ISTJs have plenty of huge differences you should be aware of.

1. Different Emotional Strategies
One of the biggest ways in which these two personality types deviate from one another is in how they deal with their emotions. ISTJs usually have a much harder time dealing with emotions, particularly when it’s their own. They tend to see all emotions as irrational and focus on concrete and sensory details they can more easily understand. This often manifests as our frustration. But INTJs are more likely to ignore emotions and focus more on their ideas and concepts. In turn, this can make INTJs seem particularly cold or aloof rather than frustrated when they encounter a particularly emotional person.

2. What Drives Emotional Satisfaction
The next biggest difference between these two types is in how they derive emotional satisfaction from different events. ISTJs are very coordinated and logical people and enjoy agreements and commitments that are fulfilled by both parties. They tend to take their word very seriously, as they do the words of others. INTJs care less about striking up agreements with people and repeating the same commitments over and over. Instead, they’re more likely to get emotional satisfaction from people who can discuss unique ideas or problems and abstract concepts. This difference is likely derived from the S/N difference inherent in the two types.

3. Communication
ISTJs tend to be much more formal than their INTJ counterparts. ISTJs enjoy focusing on commitments and promises made by others and look at things in a factual and often binary way. For this reason, ISTJs will often write letters outlining complaints or follow procedures to the letter when it comes to solving a problem or managing interpersonal conflict.

On the flipside, INTJs tend to be much more intellectual and abstract. They’ll talk more about general concepts and will often communicate their problems in a more direct and harsh way. This can cause them to inadvertently hurt the feelings of their companions or friends, but it does have the benefit of getting to the heart of the problem much more quickly.

4. Struggle With Conflict
Whenever there’s an interpersonal struggle of some kind, an ISTJ is much more likely to become emotionally hurt by the experience. They can take personal words or verbal conflict quite personally and will struggle with conflict that is brought out into the open. Remember, this personality type is a very strong introvert, so people verbally expressing discontent can be extremely painful or uncomfortable.

On the other hand, INTJs are much less likely to become hurt by interpersonal conflict and will often see some struggle as just “part of the process”. They’re often focused on the bottom line or the results of the conflict rather than the emotions of the people within the fight. In fact, sometimes INTJs enjoy interpersonal conflict like they would a deep debate, and relish in the opportunity to showcase their expertise with a topic.

5. Creative Differences
This big difference comes from the S/N split between the two personality types. As S types, ISTJs are extremely factual and have difficulty drawing up creative juices when it comes to abstract concepts or symbolism. Their creativity normally manifests as physical art forms, like woodworking for painting, and much of their art tends to reflect real life. Additionally, when given a creative assignment, an ISTJ is likely to interpret the directions as strictly as possible and won’t usually think outside the box to the same degree as INTJs.

INTJs love to think outside the box and are often called idea people. Because of their N focus, INTJs will often look at problems in a new and creative way and draw up creativity from their intuition. This causes them to be particularly good at coming up with unique solutions for all the problems brought in front of them. If an INTJ does perform some kind of art, chances are it’ll tend toward the abstract side of things and may only barely qualify if it’s a college-level assignment. INTJs can look down their noses somewhat at more straightforward interpretations of artistic instructions or forms.

6. Management Appreciation
Both types differ heavily on how they want to be managed by their superiors. ISTJs love routine and enjoy being given clear tasks with equally crystal expectations. This allows them to know exactly what they need to do and gives them plenty of time to plan out their operational strategy. ISTJs can then get to work and put their nose to the grindstone, using their detail-oriented nature to turn out excellent effort.

INTJs are quite different in this regard. Rather than being given strict expectations and enjoying it, INTJs are more likely to interpret such managers as overly bossy or micromanagers. They hate tedium or routine tasks and will more often prefer to spend their energy on coming up with their own solutions for broad problems. INTJs benefit from managers that give them a looser leash and let them off the hook while they meander around fixing issues in unique ways.

7. Planning
Indeed, ISTJs arguably love planning more than almost anything else, regardless of the context. Whether it’s with interpersonal conversations, at work, or with their own hobbies, an ISTJ will enjoy getting the details of the day down to the letter most of the time. They love itineraries and planning schedules for even the most basic of tasks as it helps them feel in control of their environment and gives an adequate mental time to prepare and allocate resources, especially if the tasks ahead deal with socialization.

INTJs don’t necessarily dislike planning but they don’t need it to operate comfortably. Instead, they’ll spend more of their time coming up with a broad outline or plan, then acting upon the plan and iterating when necessary. Because of this difference, INTJs are arguably a little more adaptable than their counterparts and will deal with interruptions or changes to the plan a little more fluidly.

8. Leadership Styles
Because of the aforementioned differences, both personality types have drastically different leadership styles. ISTJs aren’t necessarily intended emotions but do understand the necessity of handling interpersonal conflicts in order to get the ship running smoothly. They will plan everything out ahead of time and give their employees particularly clear instructions. They’ll also be hurt and upset with their employees or subordinates do not follow those instructions despite them making the best efforts to be totally clear.

INTJs are much less planning oriented and while they may provide an outline, they will respect subordinates who can come up with their own solutions to problems and who don’t need a lot of handholding. Indeed, they may feel poorly about certain employees or subordinates that request instructions again and again, especially if they view the task as relatively tedious for easy. Original thinkers are much more likely to get the respect of an INTJ. Additionally, INTJs can often be blind to the emotional needs of their subordinates; this can sometimes cause their employees to lose respect for them.

9. Facts or Possibilities
This major difference is derived from how each type’s functions work. ISTJs hate uncertainty more than almost anything else, so they usually enjoy dealing with facts and logic that are already proven. They don’t have a lot of time for theory, as theories are, by definition, not yet proven. They’ll spend their time working with concepts or routines that they already know will work satisfactorily, even if there’s potentially a better solution on the horizon.

Conversely, INTJs will always be looking for improvements to a situation or routine. They’re much more likely to take risks and try out new ideas then dismiss them out of hand. This usually manifests as less risk aversion, even though INTJs are not necessarily daredevils were particularly enthralled with the idea of taking risks.

10. Team or Individual
ISTJs understand that they have only one part to play in a larger team. For this reason, ISTJs are less likely to jump into another person’s responsibilities or position and will often try to work with a team to their greatest extent. In fact, many ISTJs are good at this part because they tend to be quiet and don’t usually rock the social boat.

INTJs are far from team players. While they can get along with others in the pursuit of a higher goal, they love to be individualistic and tackle problems with their own schedules and ideas. This can make them difficult to wrangle into place for a team project.


All in all, both types bring a lot to the table and are defined by their introversion and detail-oriented problem-solving skills. But their differences manifest in stark ways. Use these big differences to identify both types in your life or help figure out which of the two you are!

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