Adept at chameleon-like camouflage and the rarest of any type, spotting an INFJ out in the wild isn’t an easy thing to do. In fact, most people walk past INFJs without ever noticing them.
It’s kinda like in Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, where most people who look at the unicorn just see a sad looking white horse instead of her true, magical nature. Except for the fact that no matter how odd/ethereal they might seem from overenthusiastic type descriptions online, INFJs are not in fact magical.
This post isn’t going to deep-dive into function stacks or walk you through how to identify someone’s Myers-Briggs type. You can click here to read a good article on that. Instead, we’ll be talking about characteristics that are often associated with INFJs and which you could spot in fairly casual interactions. Not every INFJ will have these traits, but if you spot several then there’s a good chance you might be talking with an INFJ or one of the similar types.
In Conversations …
If you’re in a conversation with someone you think might be INFJ, look for the following signs:
- They listen intently, offering non-verbal and sometimes verbal feedback that lets you know they understand and are relating to you.
- They respond in ways that let you continue directing the conversation where you want it to go.
- Touching on a favorite topic makes their eyes light up and they get so excited to talk about it that they may even interrupt you.
- They ask you questions and you feel like you’re really connecting, but you realize later they told you very little about themselves.
- Argumentative conversations and debates make them visibly uncomfortable.
- They may get flustered and have trouble organizing their thoughts if you ask them a question they don’t have a ready answer for.
- Deep questions excite them, but they often need to think before responding.
- Their conversations often include abstract and symbolic terms, and references that don’t quite make sense to most others around them.
In Group Settings …
If you’re in a group setting with an INFJ, they’ll probably be doing at least some of the following things:
- If there are multiple people in a conversation, an INFJ will typically seem quiet and spend more time listening than talking.
- They may seem comfortable in social situations, responding as-expected and carrying on conversations easily.
- Arguments and debates make them uncomfortable, even if they’re not involved.
- They may step-in to try to place peacemaker if there’s a risk of harmonious interactions being disrupted.
- You’ll often spot INFJs near the edges of rooms either by themselves or with small groups of other people.
- If they have friends in the group, an INFJ will tend to stay pretty close to them and/or keep coming back to them.
- They may disappear for a few minutes, sometimes quite frequently, because they need a short break from socializing.
- You may find them trapped by a complete stranger who’s pouring out their life story and asking the INFJ for advice.
In Long-Term Interactions …
As you spend more time with someone who’s an INFJ, you might start to notice some of these traits:
- They’ll want to resume conversations that you had days or weeks ago because they’ve finally finished processing it and have something else to add.
- They seem weird — like their minds don’t work the way most other peoples’ do but somehow it makes perfect sense for them to be like this.
- They spend a lot of time in their heads and may drift into thought even while you’re having a conversation.
- They care deeply about making sure you’re okay and maintaining harmonious interactions.
- They’re very likely to speak up and defend others, but much less likely to defend themselves.
- They seem both eager to connect and very guarded at the same time.
- They can see questions and issues from multiple perspectives, and may have trouble deciding which side they’re on.
- They’re more intelligent/intellectually minded than they seemed at first (alternately, if you first saw them when they’re being more logical, they feel things more deeply than you first assumed).
- They like order in their outer worlds (though they may be the only ones who understand how it’s organized), but can be surprisingly laid-back and indecisive about things.
- You might feel more calm when you’re around them, as well as comfortable opening up and being yourself.
Any one of these traits could apply to a different personality type than INFJ, but if you start seeing a lot of these traits in the same person then there’s a good chance you’ve spotted an INFJ. If you’d like to learn more about interacting with INFJs once you’ve found them, check out my post INFJ User Guide or my book The INFJ Handbook.
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