ISFJ vs. INFJ: What Are the Differences?
by Lisa Sparrow
The difference between ISFJ and INFJ personalities comes down to their drive. While both these personality types have strong altruistic and warm characteristics, they differ in their execution. ISFJs are modest, dependable types who love to give to others. INJFs are also compassionate people but are much more dogged when working towards virtuous goals.
Key personality differences explained
ISFJ - The Defender
ISFJ personalities are dominated by introversion, observation, feeling, and judgment. Also known as Defenders, these are unique, warm, analytical, and caring individuals. ISFJs are true altruists at heart who have excellent people skills. Even though they can be quite reserved and introverted, Defenders tend to have thriving relationships and are naturally social beings.
Generous and protective, ISFJs can be relied upon to maintain supportive and connected relationships with both friends and family. Defenders have a perfectionist streak – they love to go above and beyond whether in their work or gift-giving. This personality also has a strong creative streak and uses their imagination to enrich their work and home environments.
INFJ - The Advocate
Advocates have a personality dominated by introversion, intuitiveness, feeling, and judgment. While INTJs share many key base personality factors with ISFJs, they’re very different people. Advocates hold their ideals at the centre of everything they do, and while they are usually quite reserved, they can become especially passionate when talking about their values and beliefs.
Emotionally honest people who value connection, INFJs can also be single-minded in pursuit of their goals. Advocates aren’t afraid to put in work when they’re passionate about a project.
ISFJs are incredibly supportive individuals; this personality can be relied upon to share their time, knowledge, and energy with the people in their lives. Defenders are also empathetic and unlikely to ever make those around them feel judged. Other strengths that ISFJs bring to the table are their reliability and patience. Defenders won’t leave a job half-finished and will go above and beyond to help sure others have what they need.
Defenders also have a strong practical side, they know what needs to be done and are happy to do even the most mundane tasks enthusiastically when it contributes towards their goals.
Much like ISFJs, INFJs strengths lie in their sense of compassion and are drawn to helping people that they care about. Advocates have a strong altruistic streak and an innate ability to know how others are feeling and when they need help. When combined with their creative skillset, this personality can help out others with their imaginative and problem solving skills.
Advocates also have a strong set of principles. INFJs feel their beliefs deeply and will passionately put in the work to help them work towards those beliefs.
ISFJs can be especially humble and they can struggle to stand up for themselves or take credit when it’s due to them. Defenders should take care to not let their own achievements go unnoticed.
Change can be a bit difficult for ISFJs, as this personality values tradition and has quite a conservative outlook on life. Because of this, it can take a lot to change a Defender’s mind. ISFJs also have a tendency to overload themselves, feeling the pressure to help others and having a strong sense of perfectionism.
Perfectionism and burnout are real issues for Advocates. Because of their passion and deeply held beliefs, INFJs often think that nothing less than 110% is needed to contribute towards their principles. However, this work ethic does not have longevity and can leave this personality overworked and focusing on minor flaws.
INFJs can also feel criticism particularly harshly, but this is due to their passion, rather than their sensitivity. When an Advocate believes in their work they can take criticism personally. Much like ISFJs, advocates can also keep their feelings to themselves, not wanting to burden others and leaving them vulnerable to isolation.
Defenders are excellent contributors to the workforce, thanks in large part to their perfectionism, desire to serve others, and creative but practical ways of thinking. ISFJs don’t need praise to do a job well, seeing the positive effects of their work is motivation enough. Because of their reliability and supportive nature, Defenders do well in roles that involve counseling, support, and advice.
Rules, structure, and hierarchy are no barrier for ISFJs. This personality values tradition, so they can do well within the structured layout of most corporate organizations.
Advocates tend to seek out work that aligns with their principles and allows them to feel like they are making a real difference for others. INFJs can work in almost any area, but meaningful positions that connect with others like social work, counselling, teaching and spiritual work are great fits. Because of their strong ability to communicate, careers where they can express this strength like writing, music and film can be good options for INFJs.
Defenders take a lot of pride and joy out of taking care of their family and loved ones. When in a relationship, ISFJs are loyal and reliable partners who love to spend time at home. However, it can take this personality quite a while to reach that point. Because they are introverted and modest, ISFJs can struggle with putting themselves out there. They’ll do best when meeting people in an environment that they feel comfortable in.
ISFJs aren’t ones to play the field, they take relationships seriously and only like to pursue ones that have the potential for long-term serious love.
Romance is an important part of INFJs, but they won’t just settle for anyone. Advocates have firm ideas of what they want in a match – they are particularly after meaningful and deep connections where they can grow alongside their partner.
When they are in a relationship, INFJs are not one to take it for granted. Warm, passionate and insightful partners, advocates know how to make their partners feel understood, heard and loved.
The bottom line
Both Defenders and Advocates are great friends to have in life, but these compassionate and altruistic personalities do show some differences. INFJs can be much more determined in reaching goals that fit their ideals. While ISFJs aren’t afraid to put in hard work, they’re a lot more modest and more likely to just quietly go ahead with their altruistic deeds.