Can INFJs Be Intimidating?

The short answer to the question, “Can INFJs be intimidating?” is “yes.”

Of course, this partly depends on the specific INFJ and on what someone finds intimidating. Some people might be intimidated by the way INFJs people-watch. Others might find the way our minds work intimidating, or be overawed by our instinct for figuring others out.

Being intimidating can be a useful thing in some contexts. Unfortunately for INFJs, it seems like we come across as intimidating when we don’t mean to more often than when we do. INFJs are generally peaceful folk who don’t like confrontation and aren’t trying to intimidate anyone (even though the whole “good little INFJ” thing is mostly a myth).

Here are three ways that INFJs can come across as intimidating when they don’t mean to. If you’re curious about what INFJs are like when they are trying to be intimidating, click to check out my post “INFJ Dark Side.”

We Think Differently

Some people can find the way that INFJs think intimidating. We tend to be deep-thinkers and, in our own way, we’re pretty intense. Also, INFJs are a curious mixture of seemingly contradictory things and we’re hard for people to put into neat boxes. Some people find this fascinating, but others find it off-putting.

When I was finishing up my 4-year degree in college a guy at church asked me about my thesis project. So of course I waxed eloquent about how 18th century female writers used Biblical gender roles to present a solution to a “gender crisis” of their day. Not long after, this man described me as intimidating in a conversation with my father. He said that I was too well-educated and too deep thinking for any man in our church to want to marry me.

Now, he probably would have described any woman who talked about an academic project like that as intimidating, but I still think the example works. I no longer fit the “she’s this type of person” box that he’d had me in. INFJs will probably meet several people during their lives who think we’re one way, then act intimidated or offended when the INFJ does something that doesn’t fit their idea of who we are/should be.

Can INFJs Be Intimidating? | LikeAnAnchor.com
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We Stare At People

There are several types of INFJ stare. Here’s a sampling:

  • We’re intently observing every person and their interactions looking for patterns.
  • We’re sure we’re figured something out and have this knowing look that can make people feel a little too deeply understood.
  • We’re listening so hard we forget to smile.
  • We’re not actually staring. Our eyes just happen to be pointed that way but we’re so lost in our heads we’re not looking at anything.

Any of these stares can unsettle people. Some INFJs have been told they have “resting bitch face.” Others get accused of being so intense or focused that it’s “creepy.” Even people who usually get along well with the INFJ might point out that the staring is unsettling or weird.

We Figure Things Out

Each Myers-Briggs® type has two mental functions that they use most comfortably. INFJs lead with Introverted Intuition, which is basically advanced pattern recognition. That’s coupled with Extroverted Feeling, which picks up on what’s going on with other people.

Put those two mental processes together, and you get something we can almost describe as an INFJ “superpower.” We’re very good at reading people, picking up on how they feel, and putting all that information together into a pattern. That can let us make pretty good guesses at information we haven’t been told directly. An INFJ who hones these skills can become adept at figuring out who a person is beneath the mask they put on for the rest of society.

Of course, people tend to wear their masks for a reason. For some people, being truly seen is a relief. But many others feel intimidated or even violated by an INFJ’s insightfulness.

In Conclusion …

Can INFJs Be Intimidating? | LikeAnAnchor.com
Photo credit: intographics via Pixabay

INFJs can be intimidating to certain people and in certain contexts, even when that’s not our intention.

In some cases, the people who find us intimidating simply aren’t comfortable with us being true to our real selves. If the way you think or the fact that you people-watch unsettles someone, you might just be better off not maintaining a close relationship with them.

In other cases, the INFJ might be unaware of how and why they’re intimidating people. An INFJ who wants to be less intimidating might try to  smile a little more to soften their stare. It can also be a good idea for INFJs to work on learning when and how to share our insights about other people so they don’t feel creeped out by us.

 

If you’re an INFJ, have you ever been described as intimidating?

 


If you’d like to know more about the INFJ personality type, check out my book The INFJ Handbook. I just updated it with a ton of new information and resources. You can purchase it in ebook or paperback by clicking this link.

11 thoughts on “Can INFJs Be Intimidating?

  • I think people have been most intimidated by me (an INFJ) when I’ve asked too many questions upon our meeting. I don’t ask anything terribly personal; I like learning about people so sometimes I think I get too intense with the questions too quickly. I’m learning how to take it a little more slowly with certain people.

    What was your father’s response to the man who said no one in your church would want to marry you? Though the man didn’t realize it, his insecurity was probably more of a compliment to you than an insult!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t think Dad said much (he works with the guy, so didn’t want to antagonize him).

      I did decide to take it as a compliment. I wouldn’t want to marry someone intimidated by a girl with a Bachelor’s degree in English literature 😂

      Like

  • Good post. Is someone actually intimidating or is it just you intimidated by them? That is an important distinction that was brought out elsewhere recently in something I read, and you make the point well.

    Liked by 2 people

  • I can relate to this very well. The example you gave was perfect even to the man’s confident conclusion that you are too intimidating for any man in your church to want to marry you which conclusion doesn’t make sense. What I often find concerning is the most confident way they make their judgments of you. so apart from someone being intimidating, people make this a problem. rather than concluding that “this person is not for me”, they conclude “this person is a wrong person” thereby shaming you for being “intimidating” when all you did was passionately share your interesting thoughts and findings. Throughout my life I have had to face this, it was one of my earliest childhood challenges, so I was made to shut up from an early age. The damaging instances of these to me were when I was a child and would have to hear adults say this about me in the same judgmental way as you noted above or when people who are in a position of authority who can influence your getting an opportunity or your reputation, says this about me in a judgmental way when I expected that they would have been more objective.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, it’s especially bad when you’re a child or when someone’s in an authority position. The comment I used as an example didn’t bother me too much because I certainly don’t want to marry anyone intimidated by a girl with a Bachelor’s degree in English literature. But hearing something like that from an adult when you’re a child can shape so much about how you look at yourself. It’s a shame that so many people don’t learn to separate their feelings about someone from their judgement on that person’s value.

      Like

      • Exactly! I love your position. What’s so intimidating about someone who has a degree in English literature? Seems so silly. I have the same degree. In fact, I have 2 undergraduate degrees because of my double major in university: English and Behavioral Sciences (emphasis Psychology) so now I am doubly intimidating 😁💃.

        Liked by 1 person

  • I have been told a lot that I’m intimidating. Which is funny cause on the inside I’m screaming like a little girl. I want to go home and snuggle my dog and read a book. People say I seem like I’m mad or not interested… but I’m just watching them. Trying to figure them out. And liars always think I’m a bitch. Cause I can’t control that my face says ‘I know you’re a lying phony’ haha hence why I’d rather be at home with my pets!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Oh yes I can freak people out quite well and with some friends it’s hilarious! Once on the phone my friend was paying the cashier and I heard her say the amount it costed and the change that was returned and my friend forgot I was in his pocket waiting so as payback I said “you paid with a ___ bill.” And the friend freaked out so much because he knew I have some freaky talents and it was just some simple mind game to mess with him. :p On the serious side I’ve definitely been able to figure people out quite well so I get told many secrets and get asked about relationship advice often when it is behavior related and sometimes, though rarely I have to give a wakeup call when I tell them truths about themselves that they don’t see themselves that contribute to the problem and I have to be so careful because they can feel so naked and exposed when I can read them that well. Many know I read their partner but don’t seem to realize that I see their “secrets” too. It’s important to be gentle with such sensitive information because I don’t want to traumatize them. I’ve lost friends over it though, one gentle truth bomb and they freakout blocked me which I can understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I am an INFJ, and indeed, most of my classmates are always intimidated by me. They are frequently afraid of talking to me or even have eye-contact, which makes me feel so misunderstood — and this is kind of a contradition, because I don’t let anyone acess my feelings or thoughts, not even superficially, so I shouldn’t be bothered by the fact that they never know what’s on my mind and and end up having hasty conclusions.
    Probably, besides the staring, the thinking and the way we figure things out, they also find me intimidating ’cause I am very quiet. And when I talk, I talk too much, as if I have always been an extrovert, and then I go back to my shell feeling drained.
    Nonetheless, there are so people who had found me scaring, but for some unknown reason I’ve suddenly developed a strange friendship with them and I just opened myself in a way that I never do. They’re mostly people that no one would never think that I would like to build a friendship with. And I find way easier to connected with extroverts than with other introverts — I just like to explore their world (actually, I would like to explore everyone’s inner worlds), and they open it for us, the observers, without even realizing. The words they choose, the way they interact… All of this just make them open books, which is very interesting for me. However, introvert people are interesting as well, but I just can’t connect with them, even though I deeply understand their feelings. Does that make any sense?

    And also… I find it kinda’ scaring how much I always relate to INFJ articles. I’ve never though a personality test could be so exact, but it is, and this makes me feel understood. And you may have noticed how afraid of being misunderstood I am. That’s why I want to explain everything I do. It’s exausting.

    By the way, thank you for this post. It’s very relatable, and I wish I could print this on my forehead so everyone could read it, and maybe I wouldn’t intimidate them anymore (okay, I know, a girl with a text printed on her forehead is way more intimidating than deeply and soul-sucking eye-contact).

    Like

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