How To Spot An INFJ

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.

Read more

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Just Be Yourself (The Way I Want You To Be)

“Just relax, have fun, and be yourself.”

Usually when I hear this phrase someone is trying to talk me out of being anxious about something. I’m sure they mean well. It’s supposed to be reassuring. Maybe they mean it as a promise that I’ll find acceptance and enjoy myself if I just stop thinking too much about things. But when someone says, “Just relax, have fun, and be yourself” what I hear is, “Be the person I want you to be and have fun doing it.”

What if my real self simply can’t relax in that situation? Or “myself” doesn’t have fun with activities like the one you’re trying to talk me into? In that case, I assume that you’ll either judge me for failing at such a simple instruction or you’ll feel bad that I haven’t enjoyed myself. So instead of actually being myself when I hear this, I want to try to be whatever version of myself I think you expect in response to what you said.

To Chameleon or Not To Chameleon

INFJs interact with the outer world using a function called Extroverted Feeling. Personality Hacker calls this mental process Harmony because it’s concerned with creating and maintaining harmonious relationships between people. It’s often (but not always) something that INFJs are tempted to skip developing because it’s more comfortable for us to stay in our introverted side with Intuition and Thinking.

When you pair a Harmony process that isn’t very well developed with anxiety (not all INFJs have anxiety, but I do), you end up with the sort of situation I described above. You try to “chameleon” into what other people want desperately trying to keep things in a comfortable state of non-confrontation. Read more

The Importance of Living Authentically As An INFJ

As an INFJ, you’re good at picking up on other people’s emotions. And when you pick up on what other people feel you also start to get a good feel for their expectations. For some of us, that seems like a good thing. We know what’s expected of us in different social settings and from different friend groups. We understand who we need to be so we can fit in.

But is that really a good thing for us? Does being able to fit in help an INFJ?

We call it the chameleon effect when an INFJ leverages their unique combination of mental processes to blend in with different groups of people. Chameleon INFJs might even appear as if they’re a different personality type in different situations because they’re automatically shifting toward being extroverted around the extroverts, logical around the thinkers, and interested in the real world around the sensors.

Blending in feels like an advantage at times. That’s why we do it. Fitting in feels safe. It seems like a way to protect ourselves from negative attention. But in reality, using our gifts in this way doesn’t just protect us from bad things. It also blocks us from really being seen and appreciated as ourselves. Read more