I’m an ISTJ. My company told me I need to increase my social IQ in order to advance. I am not sure how to do that. And I’m not sure if I want to. What jobs do people like me usually do?


It’s hard to be a perfectionist at work because most peoples’ jobs do not require perfection, so you are not evaluated by how perfectly you do something and you are not rewarded for the extra time you take. 

Especially in management, perfectionism is looked down on. So people tend to not value perfectionism. Making big decisions with very little information is what people get paid the highest salaries to do. And that’s the opposite of perfectionism. Even in accounting, the people who get paid the most are valued for their understanding of the gray areas of accounting which have no clear answer. 

So, keeping that in mind, it’s important to find a job where the management team cares about being perfect. Because then the culture of the company will include respect for people like you.

An example of a place where management cares the most about the product being perfect is online gambling. Because if there’s an error in the code, the company loses a lot of money. I coach a lot of ISTJs who write code for gambling sites. That personality type has a strong bent toward honesty and justice, so you’d need to be careful what sites you work at. Here are the best online casino reviews.

It’s true that a lot of perfectionists work in science. But remember being a scientist in academia is mostly writing grants and not perfectionism at all. However doing the actual lab work is about perfectionism. Here’s are the best places to get lab jobs.

Sometimes perfectionism is a sign autistic spectrum disorders like OCD. In that case, the best sort of job is one that is repetitive and very clear cut. While some people would get bored at that sort of job, people who  have an obsessive need for perfection find these jobs calming. Here are the best jobs for people with OCD.

Finally, perfectionism is not something that is good for anyone. Being perfect sometimes is admirable, but perfection can also be crippling. Needing to do everything perfectly is often rooted in insecurity and anxiety  and you probably need to address it. Here’s a post about when perfectionism is a disease.

9 replies
  1. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    I’ve become a giant advocate for finding the company that’s a right fit for you, rather than making yourself a fit for your company. There are companies out there where social IQ is less important. Read _The Reengineering Alternative_ by Schneider. My experience has been that Control and Competence cultures rely far less on social IQ than Cultivation and Collaboration cultures.

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      This is very interesting to me, as my husband is what you described as “Control and Competence” culture, and I had not encountered that before in my own personal friend circle (even the category identified as such is new to me, but it makes total sense). That sort of thing was a distant sight. The kinds of details that matter to him seem to hinder progress on what needs to get done from a “Cultivation and Collaboration” standpoint. I do think though that the limits inherent in his style breed productivity and creativity in me, and accountability in areas that I might conveniently gloss over with the broad brush stroke of generalization and looking toward tendencies. It can be difficult though when a certain detail that seems fine in the pattern of the whole to me is in question for him, often on a level of trust between us being in question (on his side). It falls along lines of left-right brain, as well. I look at the overall impression of something and assess it intuitively, and he wants to look at each item individually and assess with proof. Seems inefficient to me in the moment, but over time, I can see how it provides some good firmness and discipline to what can otherwise become flaccid. But I trust and stick with the whole over the pieces and will stick with my way of processing. The thing is, you can’t CREATE in the control mindset, you can only edit what already exists. This is not me.

      It helps to know there is an entirely different value system, and I can say “oh it’s part of that” and not get disoriented. Thanks.

  2. Cáit
    Cáit says:

    I’m married to an ISTJ. He is a scientist. He told me he never wanted to be in management “people are too complicated” he says.
    It’s hard for me to guess of “increase social iq ” means they want you to grow a gear you don’t have and get into management or if it’s a euphemism for remediating some weird anti social tendency. No matter what I say you need to be in an orderly fact based world. I love another blogs ISTJ hate– he calls them “cups of laughs” “nazis” whatever but admits we’d have no bridges without them. So I say do something useful that everyone else agrees is boring.

  3. Cáit
    Cáit says:

    Here is my ISTJ story:
    I have a friend, a great neighbor, who is an ISTJ. I knew it as soon as I saw her labeled diaper drawer. I genuinely admire the military precision she brings to homemaking. But I explained my (ISTJ) husband that while my praise for her organization is sincere there is a disconnect, because to her these accomplishments feel like ultimate triumphs, like she’s crushing life, and to me it’s obvious most people just don’t care about alphabetizing their sock drawer. My husband just blinked at me and said ” but they all start wth s”

  4. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    It’s hard to be a perfectionist at work because most peoples’ jobs do not require perfection, so you are not evaluated by how perfectly you do something and you are not rewarded for the extra time you take.

    Especially in management, perfectionism is looked down on. So people tend to not value perfectionism. Making big decisions with very little information is what people get paid the highest salaries to do. And that’s the opposite of perfectionism. Even in accounting, the people who get paid the most are valued for their understanding of the gray areas of accounting which have no clear answer.

    So, keeping that in mind, it’s important to find a job where the management team cares about being perfect. Because then the culture of the company will include respect for people like you.

    An example of a place where management cares the most about the product being perfect is online gambling. Because if there’s an error in the code, the company loses a lot of money. I coach a lot of ISTJs who write code for gambling sites. That personality type has a strong bent toward honesty and justice, so you’d need to be careful what sites you work at. Here are the best online casino reviews.

    It’s true that a lot of perfectionists work in science. But remember being a scientist in academia is mostly writing grants and not perfectionism at all. However doing the actual lab work is about perfectionism. Here’s are the best places to get lab jobs.

    Sometimes perfectionism is a sign autistic spectrum disorders like OCD. In that case, the best sort of job is one that is repetitive and very clear cut. While some people would get bored at that sort of job, people who  have an obsessive need for perfection find these jobs calming. Here are the best jobs for people with OCD.

    Finally, perfectionism is not something that is good for anyone. Being perfect sometimes is admirable, but perfection can also be crippling. Needing to do everything perfectly is often rooted in insecurity and anxiety  and you probably need to address it. Here’s a post about when perfectionism is a disease.

    • carmen
      carmen says:

      This is how I know I’m not an ISTJ. All of the above sounds like a nightmare. Repetitive work is draining. I enjoy talking to people. I enjoy writing if there’s a point to make. I don’t enjoy things like grant writing. Sounds like a nightmare. I enjoy writing things that make people think and see things from a different perspective, EVEN IF I RISK SOUNDING LIKE A BAD PERSON. It’s self-sacrificial, in a way. If I say something that seems rude yet honest, it’s to get the listener’s attention so they’ll see themselves more clearly through the eyes of those around them.

      Organizing things is not perfectionism or OCD. It’s a sign of boredom of someone in an easy job that is not challenging who would rather be talking to people and learning things and creating solutions to problems.

      When people get bored, they arrange things or read or talk to people. That’s me. I’m not a perfectionist. And I don’t have OCD and I don’t have Aspergers.

      I’m simply someone whose mom died and decided to start living a life more true to herself. I see your kids and wonder if they’ll go through the same thing. You seem like a great mom. So I’m betting they won’t.

      I no longer wanted to waste time living someone else’s dream, so I called you for career advice. The only thing I was looking for was a new job. Maybe a new career even.

      The problem is I had been through a lot. During adversity some friends betrayed me. During adversity, my colleagues betrayed me. They betrayed me because they didn’t understand what I had just been through. Ten years of heartache. The realization that my marriage was a sham that only worked when my mother was alive. An absentee husband is perfect if you have a mother needing 24-hour supervision.

      So no. Not an ISTJ. Not a social justice warrior. Not a perfectionist. Not going to spend the rest of my life doing repetive work that a videographer and typist can do. That only worked when my mom was alive and I had too much on my mind.

      Then I got sick and discovered that my mother was misdiagnosed. I did the research. It’s a common misdiagnosis. But the powers-that-be feel threatened by that. So they suppress.

      I get the feeling people think I should be apologizing for the way I handled things. I will not.

      We all make decisions based on what we know at that moment with whatever bit of knowledge we have within the blinders of our emotions. That makes us all human.

      I won’t apologize for being human. And I won’t wait for apologies for being betrayed by friends and coworkers because they’re just human too.

      I won’t wait for apologies from people continuing to betray my kindness.

      What I am sorry about is that we’ve only moved the needle this much. We all have more work to do. Starting with compassion and grace.

  5. Jessica from Down Under
    Jessica from Down Under says:

    My husband is an ISTJ and he is one of the least social people I know (but a great family man). He is a CNC machinist and he is valued for being a perfectionist in his job.

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