ISTPs are one of the most complex of Jungian character types, moving seamlessly from quiet bystander to active participant to leader of the revolution in one fell swoop, then back again to invisible, apparently disinterested introvert. The self-indulgent nature of ISTPs means that they will be full on or full off—they don’t do shades of grey. ISTPs are at their best in times of crisis and challenge but will have little appetite for follow-through, as they will be looking for a new, complex challenge. Independent, inscrutable, and self-contained, ISTPs will be difficult to get to know, as they will reveal only what they choose to reveal when they choose to reveal it.
At their best, ISTPs are excellent at reacting to problems or crises, needing very little preparation. They are able to cut to the chase with no preamble or discussion with others, spontaneously grasping the nettle, often to the surprise of those who had mistakenly viewed them as peripheral players.
ISTPs don’t follow social mores, nor do they need to engage fully with others, and this can give them a distant, aloof persona to others who often don’t quite know where they stand. Practical, resourceful, adaptable pragmatists, ISTPs possess an excellent capacity for understanding how anything works, displaying logical, detached analysis. They have incredible (often understated) powers of observation and a great talent for logical, dispassionate analysis and getting things to work. ISTPs are self-sufficient and very independent, only really happy when undertaking some risky or interesting activity. Direct to the point of abruptness and tending at times to tread on toes, ISTPs tend to speak literally, showing little concern for the impact. They display coolness under pressure, which helps get things fixed, but which may not endear them to those around them—even to those for whom they’ve fixed something.
• Quiet and reserved
• Interested in the how and why of things
• Does not waste personal energy
• Usually interested in impersonal principles
Areas of Growth
• Push to have ideas understood.
• Be open to the “big picture.”
• Communicate more.
• Develop a sensitivity to others.
The basic attitude of ISTPs is one of optimism. Hand in hand with this attitude of optimism goes cheerfulness, sometimes blind faith, and a great deal of trust that eventually everything will move in the right direction.
• Freedom to work as long and intensively as possible
• Working on concrete projects with tangible results
• Being respected for their expertise
• Autonomy and independence
• Working under strict rules and regulations
• Working with, being supervised by, or supervising incompetent people
• Anything illogical or unfair
• Too little time alone
To function at their best
Variety, skills, and techniques to master. Challenge of problems to solve and something to fix. Freedom to work independently. A sense of bringing about something new and important.
Getting close to ISTPs would take time. This is not because they are shy or threat-sensitive; it is more that they want to reveal details about themselves at their pace, in their way. Therefore, other people may have to go through the ISTP assault course to get genuinely close. ISTPs do not like anything irrational. Emotion is irrational, so they will try to break problems down to constituent parts, which may irritate those that “just want to be understood.” ISTPs are confident introverts, happy with themselves, and do not feel the need to show emotion or even feel emotion, as everything gets analyzed and stored factually. They genuinely want to help and solve problems, but these will be solved by dispassionate analysis, which may leave those close to them feeling processed rather than understood.
ISTPs are equally difficult to understand in their need for personal space, which in turn has an impact on their relationships with others. They need to be able to “spread out” both physically and psychologically, which generally implies encroaching to some degree on others’ space, especially if they decide that something or someone else’s is going to become their next project. They are generally quite comfortable, however, with being treated the same way they treat others, at least in this respect.
Communication also tends to be a key issue, since they generally express themselves tersely or even nonverbally. When they do actually verbalize, ISTPs are masters of the one-liner, often showing flashes of humor in the tensest situations, and this can result in them being seen as thick-skinned or tasteless.
ISTP at work
For ISTPs, theory is most appealing when it has a practical application and lots of action. They are usually drawn to risky, exciting, or thrilling short-term activities. ISTPs are not interested in conventional or repetitive routines. They use their action-orientated approach to deal with problems and crisis situations in a calm, effective way. ISTPs place a high value on efficiency and will expend the least amount of energy to get the job done. They also value freedom and flexibility and will often complete tasks in spite of any rules or regulations. This persistence often influences their ability to navigate superbly through restrictions in order to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. ISTPs prefer hands-on work and would rather be doing a task than discussing it. They will produce work of genuine quality and precision. Their ability to remain focused in a crisis is incredible; there is part of ISTPs that comes alive in a crisis, and they need that feed of action to succeed. When approaching a problem, their focus is intense and detailed. But when it’s over, it’s over, and they will withdraw waiting for the next piece of action.
They can become bored with more routine and mundane tasks and may have to apply themselves to tie up loose ends, as they will be looking for the next big, action-oriented project. ISTPs’ preference for short-term fixes and high-impact, immediate solutions may mean the neglect the wider ramifications or context for their actions, as they like to get stuck in and do, then withdraw. ISTPs tend to be full on or full off, with little granularity. They may be found quietly saying nothing and withdrawn on the sidelines or stuck into the heart of the action, leading the charge—nothing in between.