Since I’m an INTJ married to a lovely ISFJ, I’ve received several comments from people asking about communication problems between intuitives and sensors. Interestingly, David Keirsey felt that the differences between sensors and intuitives created more tensions than any other dichotomy. He even suggested that intuitives stick with intuitives for the best relationship compatibility (I disagree). So, in this video, I’m going to discuss some of the differences in communication between intuition and sensing (and between INTJs and ISFJs).
First, I don’t think N vs S communication is something that has ever been a big struggle in my relationship. My wife and I have had some frustrating moments when communicating, but for the most part, we have excellent communication within our marriage. Here are a few observations regarding the differences between sensors and intuitives:
- Sensors like to elaborate on details, whereas intuitives just want the gist of something. For example, my ISFJ wife will read an interesting news story, and she’ll try to tell me about it. I just want the gist, but she will sometimes throw in a lot of detail that I don’t find to be particularly necessary for the sake of telling me the story. That’s probably because ISFJs, having introverted sensing as their dominant function, tend to recall the details of things.
- Sensors may interrupt intuitives for details. My wife will often interrupt me when I’m telling her about something to ask about some detail that I consider unimportant. Intuitives may fail to elaborate on things enough and recall all of the details, which will frustrate the sensors.
- When you want a sensor to do something, just give them instructions. They tend not to question things very much, and they’ll do the task. In fact, sensors are good at doing tasks, especially ISFJs. When giving an intuitive orders, explain the reasoning or theory behind it. They like to know the “big picture” of why they are doing something before they jump into it.
- My wife will repeat unnecessary words. One day, my wife said, “I plan to go to the store tomorrow and pick up some…(mumbles).” I couldn’t make out what she had said, so I asked, “You’re going to pick up some what?” She repeated herself: “I plan to go to the store tomorrow and pick up some…(mumbles again).” Frustrated, I told her that I still couldn’t hear the last word she said. She started again, “What I said was that I plan to go to the store tomorrow and pick up some bleach.” By that point, I’m literally about to scream because the word “bleach” was all I needed to hear, yet she had to keep repeating the entire sentence. She also has the tendency to repeat things I just said in a dramatic way. I’ll say something like, “I just saw a dead rat outside.” She’ll repeat: “You just saw a dead rat outside?” I’m like, “Yeah, that’s what I just said!”
- I tend to zone out and think of abstract things, whereas my wife is more focused on the immediate stuff. Intuitives think very abstractly and look for patterns. So, my wife and I may be talking about something, and it may spark an idea that leads me down a different path. My wife stays much more focused than I do when talking. I also tend to zone out and begin thinking of random thoughts. One day we were sitting in our car in a parking lot. She was talking to me, and she said something interesting. I began looking out the window of my car, and she asked, “Am I boring you?” I was like, “Absolutely not. I was actually thinking of this whole scenario around what you just said because I thought it was interesting.”
- I would want to talk more about theoretical or philosophical things in the beginning, but my wife simply was not interested at all. I’d ask, “What is the meaning of life? Why do you think anything exists?” My wife would be like, “Um, I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it.” That would be all she’d say! However, as we’ve grown together and as she’s matured, she has more of an interest in those topics. We have great conversations about those things. Sensors like talking more about present things and not so much about abstract or philosophical things.
- I think about “what if’s,” whereas my wife thinks about the “what about now’s.” We’ll be working on a project, and I’ll say something like, “Well, wait a second. What if we do this and ‘X’ happens?” My wife can get frustrated when I say things like that. She’s focused on the present (or even the past). Talk about future possibilities is, to her, a waste of time. She’ll reply, “Well, what’s the big deal? That may never even happen. Let’s just get this done.”
- Sensors may be more focused on your facial expressions, tone of voice, etc. when you’re talking, whereas intuitives are going to be focusing on your dialogue. Intuitives may not even make eye contact with you as you talk, because they are trying to understand the concept of what you’re saying. Sensors will be noticing the details of your face, your expressions, and so on.
Even though people talk a lot about some of the frustrations in communication between intuitives vs. sensors, people often fail to talk about the benefits. Here are some of the pros of talking to a sensor:
- You can greatly assist each other. My wife assists me by filling in details that I forget. For example, I can be researching something online, and I’ll ask my wife, “When did we go to such and such a place?” or “How much did such and such cost when we bought it?” My wife, the sensor, usually remembers those details. On the other hand, I assist my wife by connecting patterns to her thoughts. I’ll show her possibilities that she’s never considered.
- Sensors can offer brilliant insights that intuitives can build upon. My wife is my most trusted business partner. I always ask her opinion and insights when I do things. She has had some brilliant ideas in business. Just because ISFJs are “feeler” dominant and not “thinking” dominant, don’t ever get the idea that they are dumb or illogical! ISFJs are quite brilliant, creative, and hardworking.
- Sensors can offer uncanny insights into situations, which intuitives have likely missed. Because intuitives focus on abstract things and have their heads in the clouds, they miss lots of sensory data. Sensors soak that up, and they can share it with us. Likewise, we can tell sensors about how certain things may be connected, and they always appreciate that insight.
- Also, I’d say this: I’d find it easier having a conversation with an ISFJ that shares my same interests, beliefs, or values than I would with an INTJ who has completely different hobbies, interests, and beliefs than I have.
- Also, keep in mind that as you can improve your communication over time. You’ll compromise and learn not to get so aggravated when a sensor pushes you for details. Sensors will realize that when you’re being quiet, it’s because you’re juggling 100 different random thoughts in your mind.
Finally, there were some specific questions from a viewer on this topic:
- Did you feel like you had components about you that needed to be valued, but wasn’t (not necessarily willfully on her part) and vice versa?
My wife wouldn’t be as interested in talking about deep things. However, that’s changed now, and she’s willing to do that and even enjoys it. She wouldn’t be as interested in talking about the future as I was. I used to be like, “What do you think our lives will be like in five or ten years?” She’d usually give me some short response.
- Do you think INTJs can overlook things important to ISFJs and vice versa?
Yes, I overlook details of things. My wife will ask me questions such as, “What are you thinking about? Are you upset?” And, it’s often such random stuff that it isn’t even worth repeating (ie, an imaginary debate).
I’ll talk to my mother on the phone (I hate phones), and my wife will want me to replay the entire conversation word for word and keep asking me all of these details, which I find exhausting.
Also, INTJs can be blunt, and that has caused my wife to get upset at me. ISFJs tend to be very sensitive to criticism. They take it very personally. My wife once styled her hair in a way that looked really bizarre. I told her that I liked it better a different way, and she agreed. One day, she styled it the “bad” way again. I asked her, “Babe, why are you wearing your hair like that? I told you that your hair doesn’t look good at all like that. It looks so much better the other way.” That was a mistake! INTJs have to learn to be careful with their words. ISFJs can be quite sensitive to criticism.
- Can ISFJs minimize things that might mean a lot to INTJs? For example, if some thoughts aren’t seen as practical to them (and vice versa)?
INTJs like talking about plans, hobbies, and their interests. However, INTJs only communicate their interests to people they trust or like, so if an INTJ shares that with you…they like you! However, it can hurt the INTJ if you ignore or disregard their passions as they are talking.
ISFJs want you to maintain eye contact and show 100% attention when they talk. They can get upset if you are too harsh, snap at them for wanting details, and so on.
In conclusion, there is a difference in communication between sensors and intuitives. I’ve highlighted the biggest things I’ve noticed in my day-to-day conversations with my ISFJ wife. However, there are also plenty of benefits when INTJs communicate with sensors.
You may want to view another video on ISFJ and INTJ Communication.