ISFJ vs. INFP: What Are the Differences?

by Lisa Sparrow

The difference between ISFJ and INFP personalities is that while they are both warm and caring types, ISFJs are practical altruists, while INFPs are more creative, emotional people who are prone to daydreaming.

Key personality differences explained

Personality overview

ISFJ - The Defender

ISFJs are quite contradictory personalities. Introverted yet social, shy yet generous, open but traditional – you should expect the unexpected with a Defender. One of this personality’s core traits is their kindness. ISFJs love to help those around them and are especially patient and reliable individuals. The same traits can also be seen in Defenders when in social settings.

ISFJs are also perfectionists, they love to do a job right and always go above and beyond for the projects, people and events in their lives.

INFP - The Mediator

An INFP personality type is someone who exhibits strong traits of introversion, intuitiveness, feeling, and prospecting. With introversion one of their core personality traits, Mediators tend to come across as reserved and quiet people.

Empathy is one trait that will stand out immediately with INFPs. These individuals have high emotional intelligence and look for deep and meaningful connections with others. Creativity is also a huge part of who Mediators are, they connect with music, art and nature deeply and have passionate inner monologues.

Strengths

ISFJ

One of ISFJs greatest strengths is their dependability and supportive nature. This personality type is happy to share their time and expertise with others, and can be relied upon to help people with what they need. Defenders also have great powers of observation – they can easily pick out how others are feeling and find practical ways to assist.

Defenders bring a lot of enthusiasm to projects they connect with. When they set a goal that means something to them, they’ll put their all into it. Combined with their hard-working nature and practical skills, Defenders know how to get results.

INFP

INFPs have many strengths and empathy is one of their strongest. Mediators have high levels of compassion and are thoughtful, emotionally intelligent people who are generous and open-minded. Mediators also have a strong conscience and aren’t afraid to stand up for what is right.

Creativity is another major strength of INFPs. They love to explore new possibilities and dream up new ideas. Creative projects are especially well suited to this personality who can be extremely passionate about things that really speak to them.

Weaknesses

ISFJ

While ISFJs don’t hesitate to be there for others, they can be quite shy and reserved when it comes to their own achievements. ISFJs' humbleness can hold them back from getting the recognition they deserve. Another weakness that Defenders need to be aware of is their tendency to overload themselves. With a strong sense of responsibility and a perfectionist streak, ISFJs can feel like they need to take on a lot of work, sometimes too much.

Another weakness ISFJs face is due to their over-sensitive nature, which can lead Defenders to internalize their negative feelings and not reach out to others to help in case they become a burden.

INFP

INFP personalities can struggle when it comes to implementing their dreams. They can have lofty aspirations but often struggle when it comes to focusing on actually putting in the work needed to achieve their goals. Mediators need to work on their productivity in order to avoid the disappointment that many tend to come across.

While Mediators’ empathy is a huge strength, they can struggle with people-pleasing qualities. Because INFPs can easily pick up on the emotions of others, they know when someone doesn’t like them which they find difficult. Mediators can find themselves putting in too much effort trying to win over people, which is often a waste of time, energy, and dignity.

Career

ISFJ

ISFJs are practical and caring people, which makes them ideally placed for most roles involving service. Defenders love to help others and do well in positions where they can see that they are making a real difference. Hard-working and dedicated, over time ISFJs will make quite a name for themselves and are likely to easily progress up the ladder. ISFJs value tradition and often do well in the structured hierarchy of the corporate world as these individuals like rules and systems.

Humble and reserved, Defenders are unlikely to go for roles in management. They can also struggle to take credit for their work, preferring to see the positive impacts of what they do.

INFP

Mediators, on the other hand, can struggle when it comes to finding a role that fits them. INFPs need to feel productive and that they’re doing work that allows them to live up to their potential.

Creative and service industries are where you’ll find most Mediators thriving. Innovative and curious individuals at heart, INFPs will do well in creative roles involving writing or music where they can get really passionate about their work. INFPs are also more connected to work where they feel like they’re making a difference, so healthcare, psychology and other service industries are a good fit.

Relationships

ISFJ

ISFJs can be relied upon in a relationship to provide . This personality values the tradition of relationships and searches for long-term, meaningful connections rather than short-term flings. However, finding that long-term relationship can be somewhat of a challenge for the typically introverted and shy Defender. Putting themselves out there and meeting new people can be hard, but in familiar environments they’ll start to relax and let their true personality shine through.

INFP

Mediators are, in short, hopeless romantics. INFPs are after deep and soulful connections and want nothing more than a soulmate. However, these high expectations can be hard to meet and INFPs can struggle to let go of preconceived ideas of who their partner should be.

Once in a relationship and having made some compromises, Mediators will grow into loyal, passionate, and respectful partners. They do need to be careful though not to put themselves second in relationships.

The bottom line

Defenders and Mediators do have a lot of traits in common, namely their warm and caring natures that mean they don’t hesitate to help out a friend or even a stranger in need. Where they differ is in other aspects of their personalities. ISFJs are practical personalities who are humble and dependable. INFPs, on the other hand, are creative types that feel big emotions and can connect to art and music deeply.

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