The virtuoso type of the MBTI world has shown a few consistencies, which when watched, they hide. We all act differently when we know people are watching. But to capture the movements of an ISTP in the midst of their “zone” is watching a National Geographic special. 16personalities shows that ISTPs only make up about 5% of the population. So how do these types behave when they’re not being watched?

The Analytical Improviser

ISTPs are difficult to predict because of the perceptive, thinking and introverted nature. Unlike their ESTP or ENTP counterparts, they don’t express their thoughts or intentions out loud. Additionally, the thought process of the ISTP isn’t linear. Like the sister type of the INTP, they rely on their analytical side.

What makes ISTPs stand out from other analytical types is their ability to sense. As you watch an ISTP work through a problem, you’ll see various solutions come and go at lightning speed. When asked, an ISTP friend of mine, explained his actions change due to the predicted consequence. To many analytical types, it is difficult to identify one consequence from another. What this means for your ISTPs out there is that you are the most valuable person in a crisis. If you have found an ISTP friend and feel the end of the world coming on, stick close to them!

Expect Things to be Taken Apart

ISTPs deconstruct everything.  The creative and very practical mind of the ISTP can be seen in full effect as they are taking apart objects. A strict pattern of taking apart, organize, piece together, and then repair. It appears well thought out, and they never seem to be in too much of a rush. Until they notice you’re watching. Then everything gets put away in a jumbled heap.

This is another superpower, which feeds into their own strengths of being rational and knowing how to prioritize. They are very fluid with their intentions. Able to switch from one task to another related task with great ease.

Perfect Balance of Reserved and Flexible

ISTPs don’t do a whole lot in any big hurry. They are relaxed and open to changing their own plans. This doesn’t mean they’re giving up their plans, only moving them to a different time slot. Remember that as introverts ISTPs don’t need a social situation to feed on energy. While it may seem they are ready to go home when the party has started they are only operating in “power save” mode. Waiting until they are ready to bust out their social side. They keep a very smooth operating strategy which means they almost never feel as drained as other types.

The Weakness of All NFs

Their polar opposite finds defeat in arguments to the ISTP. Like a predator feeding on an unfortunate fallen prey, ISTPs destroy the intuitive feelers. While NFs often focus on concepts, and feelings with big picture viewpoints the ISTP is all about a solution that works. They don’t want to discuss a problem in circles they want to get an immediate resolution.

This is where the ISTP’s ability to be flexible comes up short. When it is time to communicate, the internal thinker overrides the sensitive perceiver. Often time’s communications from ISTPs who are in the midst of a project or in a private conversation rely on facts and itemized discussion topics. This can come across, particularly to NFs, as being cold or callous. What is unfortunate is that this isn’t the intent of the ISTP. It appears they are enjoying controlling the conversation, from an outside perspective. When speaking with my ISTP friend, it is more about conveying information clearly. Rather than hurting anyone’s feelings.

Masters at Fixing Relationships and All Things Physical

Aside from being the repairmen for all things in the physical plain of existence, they are reliable for relationships as well. Among friends, co-workers, within social groups and family settings, the ISTP are appreciated. The fact that they are almost always listening if a discussion has gotten heated nearby is of great use. While their ability to understand many sides, that perceiver in them, makes them a valuable resource.

Although the bridging the gap between two fighting family members may not be exceptionally clear, the ISTP can manage it. ITSPs are also great for temporary mediators. They are extraordinarily independent and often revere themselves as a “neutral” party. Their generous nature is fulfilling in relationships and boosts others to go the extra mile.

The On-The-Go Introvert

Speaking of their introverted-ness let’s discuss this always on-the-go introvert. There is the standard belief that introverts stay at home reading next to cozy fires and sucking down gallons of hot tea a day. Supposedly surrounded by cats. Yet, we also know this stereotype is executed more often by many extroverted types! Introverts no doubt cultivate their own energy, unlike extroverts. They can also occasionally feel drained from being around too many people. The ISTP solution? Rotate people. It’s pretty simple, the ISTP doesn’t get held down for very long. They enjoy small social gatherings, but the number of attendees is key. Too few and they’ll find themselves bored and day dreaming. Too many and they’ll be drained. To temper this they often invite just enough people to rotate evenly throughout the night.


This makes them phenomenal hosts, leaving their guests feeling they got quality time that no one else did. Another superpower of the ISTP is the ability to devote hyper focus onto the discussion at hand, and then move one without seeming rude or blunt. This social ability is often not found in extroverts!

A Few Words From Famous ISTPs

Among the many greats was genius director Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick left this very ISTP quote with us,

“The truth is that I’ve always felt trapped and pinned down and harried by conceptualizing questions… If the work is good, what you say about it is usually irrelevant.”

Another fellow from the film industry, and ISTP, Christian Bale has some more positive insight into the mindset of an ISTP.

“Whatever you want to do – just do it! Don’t talk about it, get on with it.”

Resonating with the true ISTP motivator, a job well done.

Related: Best Match For Each Personality Type


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