Meet the Shoulds

Continuing with the 16 Sets of Cognitive Blueprints

family having meal at the table
Photo by cottonbro on


SJs come in four basic blueprints. They are keepers of tradition, deal in “what has always been” more often than “what if”. They are more likely to adhere to a system most of the time (systematic) but occasionally can be pragmatic. They play by the rules and what to do what is lawful. They do what they SHOULD do and expect you to do the same. They tell lots of stories of the way things used to be and are very aware of their physical bodies. They are safety-focused and may talk a lot about their health. They NEED things to be planned and organized. An itinerary, color-coded binders, closet organizers, filing cabinets, clocks, calendars and sticky notes are their best friends.


Ego: Te, Si, Ne, Fi


Ti, Se, Ni, Fe


Ego: Si, Te, Fi, Ne


Se, Ti, Fe, Ni


Ego: Fe, Si, Ne, Ti


Fi, Se, Ni, Te


Ego: Si, Fe, Ti, Ne


Se, Fi, Te, Ni

ESTJs in a word: ORDER. They are orderly, objective, lawful, keepers of tradition, often blunt go-getters who start things and move at their own pace. They are directive when they speak more often than they are informative and even when they are informative, they sound directive. They are often seen as unyielding and “by-the-book” but there is far more to them than that. They need to know you appreciate their hard work and see them as compassionate people, because understanding other people’s values is their greatest area of struggle. Their decisions are often based on the “system” of which they are a part.

ISTJs  in a word: SAFE. ISTJs are safety-conscious keepers of tradition with a penchant for details and sometimes, conspiracy theories who like to see things get done (they may not be the ones doing them but they will dutifully and systematically remind the “doers” until the thing is accomplished.) They are orderly collectors of information and knowledge. They are systematic and direct in their communication. They appreciate being told what they should do and they like to have a precise order to do it in. ISTJs are inventive in practical ways and can come up with mechanical inventions that make life more comfortable and easier. They need to know your intentions and that you want to be with them, because feeling afraid of other people’s intentions and feeling unwanted are their greatest struggles.Their intuition works to  make them suspicious and causes them to imagine what others might be doing or intending to do.

ESFJs in a word: SUPPORTIVE. ESFJs are duty-conscious, self-sacrificing, caring, hard-working traditionalists who go the extra mile to help those in their circle of influence. They are informative in their speech, aware of what’s accepted in their culture and live by their “shoulds” doing what they “should” do. They need you to listen to their ideas and assure them that you find them useful and intelligent because they doubt their own intelligence and when you don’t listen to them you reinforce their doubts. They need to know that you value them enough to listen to their ideas. They make excellent community leaders and event organizers.

ISFJs in a word: PLANNING. ISFJs need to be safe and comfortable. They dislike the unfamiliar and being in situations where they don’t know the intentions of others or where there is an element of danger.  Like the ESFJ, they are informative in their speech. ISFJs are masters at dropping “hints” which they expect you to pick up on and act accordingly to what you “should” do. They are usually neat, tidy and organized. Trust an ISFJ to plan your family vacation and pack snacks for everyone. They may fix your hair or pick lent off your clothing. Tradition is everything to them; it provides them with the comfortable, predictable and familiar. They are all about what they “should” do and about feeling safe. ISFJs are behind-the-scenes kind of people and don’t enjoy being put in the public spotlight. This is often uncomfortable for them. They need to know your intentions. They make excellent managers and come up with wonderful inventions for use in their work environment and in their homes. Their intuition works to  make them suspicious and causes them to imagine what others might be doing or intending to do.