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Cracking the Codes Behind MBTI: Improving Your Extraverted Intuition

You can see the forest for the trees.

You can see the forest for the trees.

Who are the ISTJ and ISFJ?

In Myers-Briggs personality testing, there are eight possible functions — everyone has four of them. Today we are going to focus on extraverted intuition, which is the inferior function for ISxJ personality types. What this personality excels in is introverted sensing. This means both ISTJ and ISFJ are information gatherers, and they’re dominated by sensing rather than feeling, thinking, or intuition.

Introverted information gatherers tend to be chill, enjoy spending time by themselves, are fairly clean, and like to have interpersonal connections. They tend to think first and act later. Some of the smartest personalities are the introverted information gatherers which include ISTJ, ISFJ, INTJ, and INFJ. In a lot of ways, these four personalities have a lot in common, but in some ways… as with any Myers-Briggs family, they do not.

The four personalities I listed above are mostly amicable, smart, chill, and detail-oriented. INFJ and INTJ are dominated by intuition, so they are more into patterns, metaphors, and possibilities. INFJ and INTJ are great at philosophy, coming up with new approaches, and a whole other assortment of talents. They’re not so great at being grounded in the present.

ISFJ and ISTJ are often misunderstood and undervalued. Their dominant skill — Si — isn’t exactly the most western developed skill or appreciated of the functions — which is bizarre, considering a big percentage of our population is ISxJ. The two personalities are constantly gaining new insights through their five senses — sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and visuals. They are great at observing what is in their physical surroundings. They’re in tune with their bodies and their physical needs.

Introverted sensors are balanced when it comes to their body — they eat right, sleep right, and keep their metabolism going. They don’t want to screw up what is to them one of the greatest gifts of all — their bodies. They tend to have traditional views, they’re loyal to the core, and they prioritize time with their loved ones. (ISFJ can come off a lot softer and sweeter than ISTJ.)

ISFJ is considered the martyr of MBTI. They have a big heart for hospitality, are central in families, great at being sensitive to others’ needs, are anxious when there is unnecessary noise, are bothered by too many distractions, and are worried when those they love are too far away.

ISTJ is the inspector. They have a slew of questions, they are dutiful guardians, loyal to their families, and believe in honor. They live by a code.

ISTJs are independent. They get worried when things are changing too much, when people are inconsistent, when they have to deal with too much work, or they get discouraged when they try new things and end up failing. They really don’t like failure, and they need to learn that failing is just a part of learning.

Every personality has four functions. They’re often called dominant, secondary, tertiary, and inferior. Sometimes one of the middle ones is called auxiliary. If your dominant function is sensing, your inferior one will be intuition. Your middle functions will be thinking and feeling related.

Improving Extraverted Intuition

The ISxJ needs help developing extraverted intuition (Ne). This is easier said than done. Ne helps people to think in more open-minded ways, take risks, and have faith. The opposites of ISxJ are the ENFP and ENTP — your outspoken hippie and outspoken lawyer type. The two ENxPs struggle to take care of their daily, physical needs. On the bright side, they are extremely charismatic and often align themselves with good opportunities. They can conquer theory as long as they put their minds to it. ISFJ and ISTJ can build a stable environment, keep things balanced, and allow things to prosper. If all four of these individuals lived in a house  together— they might go crazy. But they would learn a great deal from each other.

If we don’t grow our inferior function, it will weaken our dominant function. It is difficult to develop your inferior function, but as an adult, it should be feasible. You can’t focus on your inferior function for too long, because you will naturally go back to your dominant function. If you jump around these two functions too much, it’ll exhaust you. Lean on your auxiliary functions to give yourself psychological relief. To develop your inferior function, you’ll need to get comfortable with opening up your memory bank, making risks, and thinking outside the box.

Try going to places and engage your memories. Intuitives are constantly asking themselves — what does this remind me of? How can I see this in the future? For extraverted intuition, you need to put yourself into external realities. You have to get out of your cozy den and go places. Using extraverted functions means you need to find external stimuli. This will take some practice and intention to make work. You may feel awkward at first.

Here are some tips on how to explore extraverted intuition:

  • Try going to a museum with a friend. Have them stop and explore the artwork with you and try to say what memories come up for you. Try thinking about your past, your childhood, or your family. Talking out loud will help you.
  • Go to a counseling session, therapy, somewhere that you can talk out your memories. If you haven’t been doing this actively, you may need a professional who can help you. Sometimes when you dust off the memory archives — surprising things happen.
  • Go to new places that are not your norm. It may seem pointless, but go for a walk in a new location, try picking up a new talent, and get involved in a social community.
  • Talk to yourself at the end of the day to review what you went through. Then try talking to yourself about what happened one week ago, a month ago, a year ago, two years ago.
  • Try talking to yourself at the end of the day and ask yourself where would you like to be one day from now, one week from now, one month from now, and one year from now.
  • If you have a preference for logic, take breaks from intuition and do things strictly for your logic — play puzzles, read books, clean your house, organize. Do these things with others. Ask questions out loud. Your extraverted thinking will help guide your extraverted intuition.
  • If you have a preference for feeling, go spend time with friends, watch movies that make you feel emotions, and try getting out of your room to spend time with others. Make crafts with others, be silly, and let your hair down. Your extraverted feeling will help guide your extraverted intuition.
  • Don’t be afraid to focus on inferior function development — just like children have to learn how to use their emotions, adults have to figure out how to develop the inferior parts of themselves.

Handling Information

(I) Information Actants(I) Information Gatherers(E) Information Actants(E) Information Gatherers

















When you are better prepared to think things through, you are better able to process the world around you and make more informed decisions. Developing your inferior function isn’t always easy, and it can be quite surprising in what it’ll do to you.

It may help to find an ENFP or ENTP. These personalities can be found just about anywhere. ENFP and ENTP both regularly open up their homes for parties. They like to invite people into their houses; they like for people to be their friends. This is likely a world of difference for an ISTJ or ISFJ who prefer to keep their homes tidy and reserved for special guests. In order to meet the ENFP and ENTP, venture out into their turf. Observe how they handle things. Your presence will be appreciated because you’ll also be helping them to become more grounded, which they desperately need.

ISTJ and ISFJ are amazing personalities, they are great at relationships, great at careers — they are some of the best souls for others who are needing help finding stability in this world. Your efforts to be grounded and practical are appreciated — and your chillness compared to the ESFJ and ESTJ is also appreciated. You may feel a strange amount of dissonance to these two (ESJF and ESTJ) who are information actants and are much more direct with people whereas ISTJ and ISFJ are more observant.

© 2016 Andrea Lawrence


Andrea Lawrence (author) on April 05, 2018:

Thank you! And what a bizarre typo.

I'll have to study more to really understand the ENTJ, but INTJ I grasp pretty quick. ENTJ usually likes to get crap done, and sometimes misses some pretty significant emotional cues.

Masoud from Qatar on April 02, 2018:

In the fourth paragraph, you wrote INSJ. Change that to ISTJ for clarity.

Since you've now written on the most common types in society, will you write on the least common types? How about xNTJs. I'd get a kick from that.