Being the rarest Myers Briggs type (about 1% of the population) INFJs can often struggle with being different to their peers. They commonly report feeling misunderstood and often do not fall into satisfying relationships with ease, taking a while to find their place amongst likeminded people. Here are some of the usual problems that INFJs encounter socially:
INFJs hate small talk
Because extraverted sensing is their inferior function INFJs don’t naturally spend much time taking in their immediate surroundings. They live primarily in their head analysing patterns – more time processing than gathering input. When an INFJ is engaging with the world in a sensory manner they tend to act in the moment and then forget about the details of the experience because they are more attuned to and interested in overarching meanings and themes. Thus, they might struggle to talk about menial topics or those that require lots of engagement with their five senses. As 75% of the population are sensing types this can make joining in conversations in large groups difficult – talking about a sports game, the plot of a movie or the graphics of a game or anything else that requires descriptions can make them feel muddled and alienated. If an INFJ is quiet during these kinds of conversation it is likely that they are unstimulated by them or the conversation has prompted them to have deeper thoughts that they don’t feel are appropriate to share at the moment. This leads nicely onto our next INFJ issue:
INFJ thoughts are often too ‘heavy’ to share
They often find it easier to chat in small groups or one-to-one because people are socialised to be more accustomed to talking about deep and meaningful thoughts that way. Throwing in a sudden introspective eureka moment into a conversation about last night’s drunken antics might not sit too well with some other types! Because INFJs are aware of how their insights could be poorly received and don’t like to offend others they will hold many of their greatest thoughts for when they will be appreciated but it can leave them frustrated when they have an awesome idea that the INFJ feels they must hold back because they don’t think the group/ conversation can handle the sudden shift in tone.
INFJs can be intense and desire a level of connection not everyone is comfortable with
There is a reason INFJs are also known as the archetypes ‘counsellor’ or ‘psychologist’. They have what I like to call stare-into-your-soul syndrome. They want to know everything they can about their loved ones (and sometimes about strangers too). Not so much facts and back stories although those can be interesting too – what INFJs really long to hear about are the emotional highs and lows of your life and the most eccentric and sagacious ideas you have ever had – what you are passionate about, what makes you cry, your hopes and fears, your take on morality, your experience of love and sexuality. INFJs can talk about those things for hours because alone in their heads they are the topics the INFJ ponders. You can guarantee they have a strong opinion on these things and if the INFJ can coax emotional insights from you to we will relish it!
However, sadly for INFJs, many people feel these questions are invasive and hate having their barriers penetrated for fear of judgement. As an INFJ myself I would personally love that someone had taken enough interest in me to want to understand me on such a level but INFJs often have to wait a long time for a person to feel safe enough with the INFJ for the other person to respond well to these comments. It’s a compliment because INFJs find you fascinating enough to want to know how you work but it can be unwelcome and seen as intrusive by those who value their emotional privacy.
INFJs are emotional and sensitive
Much as they might like to pretend otherwise, INFJs are naturally thin skinned and take comments to heart.They feel the emotions of others readily as we have strong empathy and since we would only make cruel comments if a person really violated them, they receive such comments in this context that the person must really dislike us to say such a thing when it may be their natural mannerism or humour or the person is having a bad day and using anyone close enough as a scapegoat – often others’ mean remarks are not as personal as they might be if the INFJ said the same words and they need to remember this. INFJs tend to want to form long term relationships with others and have for those in their life such a deep loyalty that they can be devastated to learn others don’t value their bond with the INFJ as highly as they do. An INFJ perhaps has a potential to be hurt more deeply than nearly any other type and if we have experienced this hurt before we may become guarded, unwilling to share themselves with others, prone to depression or create a false persona as protection. INFJs usually possess excellent intuition to judge others’ characters but they can err too far on the side of caution for fear of being hurt again, missing out out potentially rewarding relationships.
They don’t automatically follow traditions and trends
Introverted Sensing, that is comparing our present to our stored memory of past experiences, is our devilish function – last in INFJs eight function stack. How that translates in the real world is that they pay little homage to practices just because they are considered ‘normal’ – if they see a better way of doing something they would rather follow their own rules than do something to follow the status quo. Thus some of the INFJs thoughts or behaviours may be seen by more orthodox individuals as eccentric or confusing. Sometimes they dampen down such behaviours to make others feel at ease or avoid ridicule and this can lead them to be perceived as shy or overly-accommodating. Not every place is a place where an INFJ feels at ease to express themselves freely – but when they find such environments they tend to get a lot louder, more gregarious and can even be mistaken for an extreme extrovert!
Despite the social challenges of being an INFJ, INFJs must remember they have many gifts to bring to the table. Their preference for deep and meaningful conversation means their relationships can achieve incredible emotional intimacy, they read others extremely well and can be incredibly creative and inventive. There are lots of reasons to want an INFJ in your life!