INFJ, referring to one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, has become a bit of a buzzword in the media over the past several years. The reason behind it: INFJ is considered to be the rarest personality type, making up less than 2% of the world’s entire population. They are labeled as “The Advocate,” and have been described as “mysterious,” “intuitive,” and “emotionally intelligent,” yet the type as a whole is often misunderstood.
Oh, and I am one. Perhaps you are, as well.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, created in the 1940’s by mother and daughter, Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs, originally stems from the typological theories of Carl Jung, a prominent psychoanalyst. The test assesses an individual in 4 categories: Extroversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving, and using these criteria, determines which category one’s personality most tilts toward. INFJs would be those individuals whose personalities favor the sides of Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging.
INFJs can be difficult to spot due to the fact that they are not prevalent in society and tend to be reserved individuals. However, INFJs make fiercely loyal friends, empathetic and organized workers, and exceptional leaders for causes they deem worthy and for the greater good of humanity.
INFJs often report feeling lonely and “different,” and for good reason. INFJs are low in numbers so they tend to have trouble finding others who see the world in the same realm as they do. Most people who are this type have admitted feeling different from their peers since they were a very young child.
INFJs take an all-or-nothing approach to life. INFJs, a curious mix of emotional and logical, do not like to waste their time on anything inauthentic. Although they may dabble with playing the field, INFJs are truly about quality over quantity and will become disinterested in anyone or anything they perceive as being fraudulent, scheming or wishy-washy.
INFJs exude warmness, and others immediately feel comfortable in their presence. It is not uncommon for a stranger to sit down next to an INFJ and within minutes, disclose their most personal secrets, fears and dreams. In fact, this happens frequently to INFJs with seemingly no rhyme or reason. This personality type has a knack for making others immediately feel at ease, and they are great listeners and trusted confidants who speak in human terms and meet others where they are.
INFJs are somewhat empathic, and they tend to “just know” things. One of my favorite one-liners from Game of Thrones is by the character, Tyrion Lannister, “I drink and I know things,” and this can often be said of an INFJ, with maybe fewer libations. INFJs have a highly-accurate sense of intuition that they have been sharpening for all of their lives. Without understanding exactly why or how, an INFJ will see, within minutes of meeting an individual, their true character. As a result, they tend to be more forgiving of their friends who exhibit unruly behavior because they can identify the true root of the behavior, such as insecurities or past trauma.
INFJs ultimately seek genuine truth and meaning. This personality type does not care one iota about grandiose tales or extravagant gestures if there is not a true and genuine motive behind them. An INFJ’s calling in life is to seek insight and understanding, and as they develop, they often can spot a lie or half-truth in a moment’s notice. If they believe an individual to be a phony or a manipulator, they will have no trouble writing them off. Likewise, this type often enjoys traveling, adventures and experiences that heighten their understanding of the intricacies of life and promote self-reflection.
INFJs are true introverts, yet people not very close to them believe them to be extroverts. This happens because INFJs can be social chameleons and have an innate ability to blend in in any social setting. The INFJ can be the life of the party for a night or two, showcasing their inviting nature and vivaciousness. However, this is never prolonged because, in introverted-fashion, they lose energy from others. Those close to an INFJ know that this type prefers bars over clubs and barbecues over balls, and can give a speech to thousands of people but cringes at the idea of mingling with the crowd afterward. Eventually, this type will need to retreat home for some quiet time to “recharge their batteries,” or they will become very on-edge and exhausted.
INFJs have intense, unwavering convictions, sometimes to a fault. An INFJ has certain ideas about the world and a need to foster change in society. These are deep-seated and intense beliefs that they will never abandon. If a career, relationship, or law does not align with their moral compass, an INFJ will have no qualms about ignoring it or leaving it in the dust.
INFJs tend to keep a small circle of friends and prefer to work alone. Although an INFJ may have hundreds of acquaintances, if they call you a “friend,” you can be sure that they mean it for life. This type can count their close friends on a set of fingers and they will be loyal and devoted to these prized individuals no matter how much time passes between their interactions. An INFJ can be a great team player but the idea of group projects and collaboration meetings naturally make them sink down in their seat. These are people who enjoy working from home or in a quaint office with a handful of like-minded coworkers.
INFJs cannot stand small talk. This trait aligns with the need to pursue truth and all things bona fide. To an INFJ, small talk not only takes energy, but has little purpose as it is merely speaking to fill silence without revealing any deeper layers of the individuals involved. Do not talk to an INFJ about the weather unless you want to see a glazed-over look. Instead, tell them about the causes you are promoting, the wish-list of your soul, or the way you smile every time you smell lavender because it reminds you of your great grandmother.
INFJs are typically high-achievers and people-pleasers. If you want a task done right the first time, hand it over to an INFJ. They will plan every detail down to the minute and will always deliver a glowing finished product. However, when delivering criticism to this type, do it gently, as they take every word to heart and are always striving for perfection. This type is a unique blend of a dreamer and a doer, but they can easily fall prey to extreme bouts of anxiety or depression centered on feelings of inadequacy or failure.
INFJs are gifted in language and are often creative writers. In accordance with their introverted nature, INFJs prefer to spend time alone and develop enriched inner-lives with many hobbies and skills. This type has trouble conveying their emotions verbally, so they turn to pen and paper. This, combined with their creative nature, leaves no surprise that the majority of successful writers are, in fact, INFJs.
INFJs make decisions based off of emotion and insight. An INFJ judges the world around them and the people in it based off of how they make them feel. This type does not care about track records and performance history, instead they look for the heart of the matter and how a person or company treats them personally. This type will trust their “gut feeling” about a situation and go with that, which has almost always proven to be accurate.
INFJs like to reflect on deep thoughts about their purpose and the world around them. This type is a thinker. INFJs are old-souls who spend a lot of time in their own minds reflecting on their purpose and the meaning behind everything that happens to them. They are often readers, researchers and intellectuals who truly enjoy learning. Although this is a noble endeavor, it is essential that the INFJ has friends, typically of the extroverted type, who can help them to be less serious and relax every now and then.
INFJs are visionaries who always see the big picture. This type tends to always operate about ten steps ahead. They are skilled planners and focus their sights on the end goal and what is needed to propel them there. However, while INFJs are off in dreamland about their futures, they can sometimes forget to be present in the world that is happening now. As a result, they do well with other more grounded types who can remind them to live in the moment.
INFJs are “fixers,” and they gravitate towards people who need help. This type loves a good fixer-upper and with their ability to see the “good bones” of another person, their true motives and intentions, and to readily provide comfort and compassion, they fall victim to the Broken Wing Theory, or the idea that they can rescue others who have a “broken wing,” or who have been dealt a poor hand. This can be rewarding for the hopeful INFJ but also frustrating and depleting when boundaries are overstepped.
INFJs seek lifelong, true-blue relationships. This type usually finds themselves with intuitive extroverts, such as the ENTPs, ENFPs, and ENFJs. These types connect with the INFJ on the deeper plane of intuition, yet also will get the INFJ out of their own heads and out on the town on a Saturday night.