INFJs are supposed to be really good at reading other people’s emotions, guessing their thoughts, and seeing things from their perspectives. In many situations, that’s true. But there’s one type of situation where many INFJs (including myself) feel like we have a blind spot.
It’s like there’s a mental block when I’m trying to see myself from other people’s perspectives. I have to ask my closest friends how I come across in conversations, whether or not someone’s response to me was positive, and if what I said made sense. I suspect that for me personally much of this is related to social anxiety, because I’m not as paranoid around people who I know well. But I’m also not the only INFJ who struggles with this. We tend to assume that people think we’re weird and that they won’t like us because we’re so different from other people.
However, I’ve also talked with enough non-INFJs to know that quite a few of them actually do like us. Our INFJ weirdness isn’t guaranteed to scare everyone away. In fact, what makes each of us us “weird” is also what makes us attractive to the kind of people who connect well with our unique, authentic selves. So today, let’s take a look at how other people actually see INFJs. I’d also like to invite any non-INFJs reading this post to share your thoughts in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you!
You’re probably wondering why this is at the top of my list, since most INFJs already know/fear that they come across as socially awkward. But I can’t write a post like this and ignore the fact that we do give others this impression. People aren’t judging us nearly as much as we think they are, but they do notice how awkward we make ourselves when we try too hard to fit in.
When I was writing the first edition of The INFJ Handbook, my ENFJ brother shared with me that “INFJs seem less socially functional than they might actually be. They come across as extra shy, but seem to function pretty well once they ‘get out’ a little bit. … You usually know more about a subject you’re talking about than the people you’re talking to do, especially if it’s something you’ve studied and they haven’t, so you can stop being so anxious about it.”
Most INFJs are better at holding conversations than they give themselves credit for. In fact, those who learn to effectively use their Extroverted Feeling can actually be mistaken for extroverts. We really don’t have as much to worry about as we think. Also, even though people notice when an INFJ feels socially awkward, most aren’t looking down on us for it. They just wish we felt more relaxed.
Kind, Helpful, and Safe
INFJs don’t come across as socially awkward in every situation. In fact, it’s pretty common for other people to see us as friendly, kind, and easy to talk with. Depending on the situation and/or the specific INFJ, most of us have the ability to set people at ease and make them comfortable opening up.
From an INFJ’s perspective, this can be very puzzling. We rarely (if ever) open up about our lives to new acquaintances and we have a hard time figuring out how and why we ended up comforting a stranger in the bathroom or counseling a new acquaintance who opened up about their biggest struggles.
From the other person’s perspective, though, INFJs are a safe place to share because we tend to come across as compassionate, non-judgmental, and eager to really listen. One ENFP who I found writing about this topic said, “Some of the wisest, sweetest most helpful people I know are INFJs. … they are like warm hugs.”
I once saw someone online describe INFJs as “one type I’m not keen on having a relationship with” because of our conflict avoidance. Apparently, some people see us as so indirect that they don’t want to go to the effort of figuring out what the “deeper meaning” is beneath what we’re saying. When I asked my ENFJ brother how he felt about INFJs’ tendency to avoid speaking our minds, he said, “That is kinda annoying. You do that a lot.”
The more I’ve talked with people about how they view INFJs, the more I’ve realized that our choice to hide our true feelings in order to spare other people conflict is interpreted differently by others. Instead of avoiding hurt, we cause confusion. That’s why I get comments from people who can’t figure out whether or not an INFJ likes them or who are confused by an INFJ who seems friendly and then vanishes. An excessively indirect INFJ can also come across as passive-aggressive and/or as taking pride in how hard it is for others to understand them.
Realizing we can come across as too indirect might actually be a relief for INFJs. I know I have a tenancy to talk in circles sometimes because I try to soften anything that might seem harsh and to make sure I’ve fully explained my ideas. But really, it’s okay to just say what we want to say in a more direct fashion. There’s a good chance that something you think is too blunt could seem normal to other people.
INFJs tend to give others the impression that we’re intelligent. This type typically has a high emotional intelligence and since we like to study and figure things out we also collect quite a bit of head knowledge as well. It’s not at all unusual for an INFJ to be able to speak intelligently on a wide variety of topics, some of them quite in-depth.
Other types tend to see INFJs as wise beyond their years. Some might also see the way we use intuition as a “super power” because our pattern-recognition abilities help us guess at the larger picture. In addition, pairing that pattern-recognizing Intuition with our interpersonal Feeling side helps us quickly get to the heart of what others are trying to communicate. That’s a trait other types notice and often appreciate.
A surface-level impression of INFJs might be that they’re gentle, naive, and perhaps even timid or submissive. But get even just a little deeper into an acquaintance and people find out that INFJ emotions run deep. Other people’s reactions to this trait can be both positive and negative.
On the one hand, certain people admire INFJs’ passionate natures. They see us as generous, caring, and sincere. They admire how alive we seem when talking about something we care about or fighting for a cause we believe in. When INFJs channel their intensity and passion into something that other people connect with, they can even be seen as good leaders.
On the other hand, some people describe INFJs as “too sensitive,” “too intense, “crazy,” or “unstable.” These sorts of descriptions typically come from types that clash with INFJs on the Sensing or Thinking preference. But even when there’s less of a difference in personality preferences, INFJs can still come across as overly idealistic. Other types can also notice that some INFJs have a tenancy to fall into depression and pessimism when they don’t know how to channel their intensity and/or can’t bring their visions into the real world.
Their Favorite Type
While no personality type is objectively “better” than any other type, many of us do have some types that we generally connect with more easily and appreciate more than others. And in the context of this post, it’s worth noting that INFJs are some people’s favorite type.
There really are people out there who see your INFJ weirdness as attractive or even fascinating. They see and appreciate INFJ intelligence, caring natures, sense of humor, and sincere kindness. Instead of finding our depth of ideas and emotions intimidating, they find it intriguing. And since many INFJs like to bond deeply with other people, we’re very attractive to types who like to “go deep” in relationships. So take heart – there are people out there who appreciate your uniqueness!
If you’re an INFJ, what kind of feedback have you received about how other people see you?
If you’re a non-INFJ, what are your impressions of this personality type?
Featured Image credit: Pete Linforth via Pixabay
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.
15 thoughts on “What Do Other People Think of INFJs?”
INTJ here, but this sounds like me. : )
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This Week, someone told me I am an old soul ,Took me a while to realise I am socially awkward, some even think I am anti social because I don’t enjoy outings except it’s with a close friend, I dread telephone conversation and I hardly function on any social media… I actually don’t know where am going with this me- analysis. I guess I am trying to give a feedback to your post having identified as an infj. I Love your blog by the way. Totally relateable for me.
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I’m an INFJ and people often say I seem calm. This surprises since I’m very emotional but I suppose I tend to keep this in check and don’t share it with people. I wouldn’t say I come across as socially awkward – people seem to interpret my quietness as confidence somehow.
All my life I have been searching for what is wrong with me. As a child, I knew I was missing something, – I think it is emotional awareness. I am smart, funny, and intuitive. I can see through people, most everyone, except myself. My sixth sense fails me whenever this other person has a bond with me. External clutter does not bother me. Debatably untidy, it is my ordered world. If someone moves something I later look for, chaos. I am much more ordered in my head anyway. And I don’t like surprises.
My English teacher marveled at how I floundered repeatedly in her class. She told me she understood and revealed something about myself for the first time; I am an introvert and an intellectual and it will always be hard. Took me awhile to accept that.
I recently took a couple of personality tests and all of them came back INJF, except one, which said I was an advocate. Never herd of either.
I can feel the mood in the room, and I remember the feeling even when I come back to it years later. And sometimes I return to former places just to enrich that feeling, good or sad. I like songs that make me reflect, my favorite songs deal with emotion. And when I hear a song years later, I can remember what I was feeling then. Just about everything I remember has a feeling assigned to it. My memory is feeling.
I had thought I was maybe semi-autistic, because of my weak understanding of my emotions.
Talking to people is indeed awkward. I short circuit if I look into someone’s eyes more than a glimpse when talking to them. I like the passive tenses, and I dance around the point when I am afraid someone will penetrate into one of my deeper layers. I don’t like giving talks.
Getting to my inner core is difficult. You can’t crack it and I can’t willingly let it down. But the RARE person that I call my friend, goes about making it feel safe enough for the shield to turn off. I have more fingers on one hand than I have had friends in my entire life.
It is funny how I can see threw other people and deduce their emotional state, even feel them, yet I am hopeless at doing that to myself. I do understand more of what I am talking about than who I am talking to. I wish there was someone that could have explained all this to me in my earlier years.
The F thing in INFJ strikes me as odd. I would think I am more of a thinker. I monotone all day long. I left engineering because I could not turn off my mind on a new assignment until it was done. I wrote a program to solve the pancake house’s triangle puzzle. And I am way more in to solving something than I am about doing anything with the solution. Soon after I solved it, I lost interest and lost the program.
I believe that you should treat others like you would be treated by them. And I feel like a dupe, because people take advantage of me. It is hard for me to see that others don’t see the world as I do. Funny, I haven’t connected that I can tell I don’t see it the way most others do.
About the only thing I can feel are auras, moods, anger, sadness, and my regrets of being a social misfit. Someone once told me in residency, I am not in their league. Ouch! Never stops hurting. Why I can feel the world so well and not have a good grasp on what I am feeling leaves me speachless. I can love and be happy, but some feelings are more learned and imitated than naturally flowing. Well that is how I feel about it. Uncomfortable with a number of them in an uncertain eerie kind of way.
Although I crave aloneness and drain when around people I do not trust, I can feel lonely at times. It is like being in a bubble and the whole world is outside, out there. Trapped. Yet I can’t bring myself to meet others. Trying to carry a conversation with someone I don’t know, is like watching mister potato head explode. It has been so all of my life.
Awkward conversation is absolutely right. It is so uneasy, I usually don’t catch much of what someone said to me, like their name. In fact, I’m more likely to name those around me by a name that matches the feeling I get from them, and that feeling is engrained. I passed a fellow classmate in college 10 years later in the mall, and I said hello Mary! She reminded me her name was Shirly and I always called her Mary. That impressed me enough to recall her name here. Well, if you get a name at all, you have crossed one of my defense layers.
I never understood how my parents could sit around all day talking with strangers. I call it talking crap, the online world calls it small talk. If you talk crap to me, I’ll ignore you. If you ask me to explain something, you got it. If you ask me a question about myself, poof, I’m gone.
Anyone feel like I do? Am I on the wrong planet. Are INFJ’S like this?
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You’re definitely not alone in feeling like you don’t really fit in with other people. Intuitive types only make up about 30% of the population, and INFJs and INTJs are especially rare. Many INFJs (and other IN types as well) do talk about feeling like they’re living on the wrong planet since their minds work so differently than most other people’s.
A lot of what you’re saying does sound like you’re an INFJ. Since you just recently took a Myers-Briggs test for the first time, though, you might also consider looking into INTP and INTJ types to see if you identify with those types (especially since you said the Feeling part of INTJ didn’t seem to fit you very well).
Have you looked into the Enneagram at all? What you said about searching for what is wrong with you and knowing you’re missing something reminds me of of the Enneagram type 4. Here’s an article I recently wrote about that: https://likeananchor.com/2020/05/19/i-feel-there-is-something-missing-in-me-the-wounding-message-of-enneagram-4s/
Even though INFJs are rare, that doesn’t mean you’re alone. 1% of 7.8 billion people is still a large number. There are plenty people out there who think in similar ways to you, and it’s possible to connect with them. It’s not healthy for any type to isolate themselves too much, and even joining an INFJ or Intuitive group on Facebook can be a good way to find some connection with people who have a good chance of understanding you.
Thanks, Marissa. I looked over the Enneagram post. That doesn’t fit. I am not envious. I don’t blame anyone for why I am who I am. The what’s wrong with me perspective is more an expression of the question why others are so comfortable communicating than I. Like asking a blind person to describe a color. He can recognize that something is there that can’t be rationalized. No matter how good positive feedback may be, I know in my mind that it won’t (likely) change who I am.
I’ll look into the INFJ Intuitive group. Curious if INFJ’s understand each other! It will be a big step for me. It is good to know I am not a unique case; I guess we are all encapsulated in our shell. Thanks for responding. Appreciate your posts. Will get your book.
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Glad you’re enjoying my posts! I’m not all that active in any INFJ groups right now, so I don’t have one I recommend more than others, but there are plenty out there. I can recommend this Intuitive group hosted by Personality Hacker: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PHIntuitiveAwakening/ From what I’ve seen, it’s a supportive group with some great discussions going on.
This reply is probably super late, but since you mentioned “I might be semi-autistic”, I suggest you to not only learning about MBTI (and other personality types), but also other larger subjects that are still related, like psychology and neuroscience. (Autism included.)
I did feel like I finally understand myself and that I’m normal when I learned about INFJ. Such a mindblowing discovery, I was so attached to it for years.
But the missing, still unexplained things about myself (even after so deep in MBTI) eventually answered only after I found out that I also have ADHD. It explains SO MUCH
about things that INFJ/MBTI don’t cover. (I mean, of course, they’re of different topics. But sometimes we confuse which one is personality trait and which one is symptom of a mental/neurological disorder. So learning about both will be very good, just in case.)
Remember, at the end of the day, MBTI are just one of so many personality types, meanwhile you are a complex human being who can’t be explained with only one source of knowledge. (Especially if you’re like me, confusing symptoms of a neurological disorder with personality traits, lol. 😅)
Also I’m sorry for my broken English and limited vocabulary. Hope what I mean to say gets delivered well enough. 🙂
Hey I’m also an INFJ with ADHD! So surprised when I read your comment. I found out about ADHD just recently as well and it relieves me in so many ways with how I was insecure with myself.
And.. just wanted to say hi to a fellow ADHD-INFJ I guess;p Hope you’re coping with both 😊
One more thing I’m no where near to say this myself but your English is fantastic if not perfect! Had no problem whatsoever (by whatsoever I mean when you notice little mis spellings and wrong grammar and you feel kind of tinglish to corret them) reading the whole comment! I used to apologize for my English too (First language is Korean) but after I found some of the weirdest English coming out from the natives I gave that up. I think you should too!
INFJs are far far from 1%. We are a lot more likely to fill out a personality test in our search for “what is wrong with me”. Also, MBTI sources simply confuse 1% in statistics with 1% of population. We are 1% in statistics, and about 1 in a 100 000 in population. At most.
Wow I relate to you so much. The part where you said you were missing something or searching for something. I felt that. Thanks for sharing. I’m also an INFJ.
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Oh boy ditto all of that… so yes!
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I relate to you indefinitely. I asked a lot of the same questions and was exactly the same way in my teens, I thought I was very logical, I can identify patterns quickly, I seen myself as a thinker because i was always processing thoughts and information. I’d be overstimulated in conversations because I’d be processing not just every little detail of the environment/atmosphere that I’d be in at that moment but also the person who Id be having the conversation with, what they were feeling (energy they gave off), how I think they were feeling, what they’re saying, tone, what they’re thinking, how I’m feeling, what I’m saying, how I’m saying it, body language and how I can tell and see myself do this and i process why I need all these details; then information overload; a lot of thinking and processing just becomes mumble jumbo in a short timespan. then I’d become awkward; and my feelings take the front wheel, and crashes with the part of my mind using logical thinking. I really never cared for small talk lol. But later came to the realization that I usually almost always judged my final decisions I’ve made in my life on feelings, sadly I wish many final decisions were made on my intuition instead. And it didn’t matter whether it was my feelings or the feelings of others; Id try to rationalize everything but I’d rationalize everything with feelings. I hope that makes sense.
I have loved personality test from young; curious to understand my awkward behaviour which I assumed came across as weird to others. Also to kind-of just study the behaviours of others and how they process information and relate deeply to their feelings (even if the feeling is uncomfortable or intense). I really care also about establishing good relationships with people; I value harmony. But Im definitely curious about the human psyche. From hard hit learnt experiences I realized that escapism and idealism can lead to bad decisions when aimlessly trying to figure how to fit in with others and I learnt that analyzing and accepting myself, in its authentic form (it’s hard) while finding or having a purpose in life rooted in my core values is a must! I’m most confident in that place and space.
I actually have never responded back in one of these comment threads before. Just a silent reader, reading and learning in the background over the past years. Reading your post is nostalgic because I’ve been there and remember that feeling. So yea I guess I “ felt” I needed to post; you know say something to a fellow INFJ lol. Every type of Myers-Briggs personality test I have taken has led me to INFJ. I had to grow to accept it, as I wanted to be that social butterfly I innately wasn’t. Finding your purpose and finding a way to include it in your life makes it easier to minimize the social anxiety; it gives you more topics to talk about with strangers; breaking the ice or can lead to a good intense conversation. I love speaking with ENFP’s! but yea It gives me the chance to learn more about people on a deeper level, some people I prefer not to really connect with them, I’ve come to learn and I’m still learning my type of people. Not everyone is for me. Some people, just by how their mind processes does not coincide with mine. But I find something intriguing about people genuinely; that includes understanding myself. I’ve come to learn in life you can never completely know yourself ; you’ll learn more about yourself as you go through the course of life; the life changing moments and discover other natures of yourself during those times.
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“It’s like there’s a mental block when I’m trying to see myself from other people’s perspectives.”
I have a bigger blind spot there than the Grand Canyon.
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Thanks for sharing! I noticed that sometimes people think I’m nervous, when I’m definitely not nervous. And when I’m really nervous, people tend to think that I’m very confident!! It puzzles me.