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The Myers-Briggs ISTP (Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Perception) personality type is a natural explorer. It is through sensory exploration (especially tactile) that people with an ISTP personality learn about the world, objects, ideas, and other people. They are curious and use their rational thinking to make sense of their experiences. Their constant inquisitiveness and ability to rationalize their perceptions make them life-long learners.
The “virtuoso” is adept at investigation—taking things apart, putting them back together, and solving puzzles. They do not mind getting their hands dirty, and they learn best from hands-on experiences. Their love for troubleshooting complex issues makes them naturally embrace the trial and error process. However, ISTPs can become bored quickly and prefer to move among various tasks and projects. Because of this preference, ISTPs are willing and able to lend a hand to others in need. They like sharing their experiences with others, as long as other people provide them with varying perspectives and opinions.
Only 5 percent of the general population has this personality type, and it is especially rare for women to be ISTPs. Traditional gender roles dictate that women have a more feminine and softer personality, while men have a more masculine and technical one. Therefore, society expects women to excel at jobs like raising children, teaching, nursing, and being assistants—to men—while men are expected to excel at technical jobs and business matters. These expectations and viewpoints may make women shy away from work that highlights ISTP character traits.
ISTPs thrive on impulsivity and excitement, which does not bode well for co-worker relationships. In fact, supervisors and co-workers may find these characteristics irritating. Most companies prefer workers who are stable and consistent, but ISTPs are anything but. Their productivity hinges on whether or not something is stimulating to them. Truthfully, ISTPs work best in environments that allow them to perform hands-on tasks and solve problems without being micromanaged. However, they can be quite productive given the ideal work environment. Unfortunately, their need for movement and stimulation may leave many projects left unfinished, and if a co-worker or manager tries to force an ISTP into a box, he or she will rebel. For best results, employers should utilize the best assets of ISTPs, which are a unique point-of-view and skills that lead to results. In addition, rules and guidelines tend to make ISTPs feel cramped and smothered. They need freedom and space to flourish. One of the best qualities of a person with an ISTP personality is that they are loyal. However, employers and co-workers should try to prevent forcing these individuals to perform any tasks they do not want to do. With clear objectives and a list of problems to solve, ISTPs are sure to complete the tasks ahead of them.
As mentioned earlier, ISTPs do best in careers that provide them with a little flexibility, space, and variety. Their creativity and interest in solving problems, taking things apart, and putting them back together can make them excellent athletes, firefighters, bloggers, paramedics, taxi/Uber/bus/truck drivers, detectives, computer techs, pilots, or police officers.
ISTP personality types can make their partners frustrated when it comes to romantic relationships. They can be difficult to read. ISTPs cannot be forced to behave or act in any particular way. However, with enough space, people with an ISTP personality can be calm and open, to an extent. Partners and potential partners need to beware that getting involved with an ISTP may involve a combination of detachment, passion, spontaneity, and excitement. ISTP personalities want long-term relationships; however, they are not motivated to forging them. When they invest in a relationship, though, they give their all.
When it comes to friendships, ISTPs are easy to learn but difficult to master. In other words, they typically only allow people to become so close, before they conceal their thoughts and emotions. These individuals have a wide array of interests and hobbies, so they do not have difficulty finding people to do things with. However, even though several people may surround them, they tend to have only a few close friends. It is important to note that most ISTPs do not like to be compartmentalized by others. They are free spirits, who like to do what they feel like doing. They do not like to answer to partners or friends.
When it comes to raising children, ISTP parents teach their children that “the world is their oyster.” They provide their children with the necessary freedom to explore the world around them and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. They want their children to be explorers and not content to sit around idly. They are calm and objective parents, who always try to be flexible when it comes to their children. However, they do not want their children to take advantage of their freedom and use it unwisely.
- R. Y. Langham, PhD, Author Melissa Lavery, MS, Editor