INFJs are gentle, compassionate, and accepting, yet given to streaks of
extreme stubbornness. The INFJs' driving force is their iNtuition (N),
which is directed inward (I), generating a never-ending stream of
possibilities and ideas. In fact, the more the INFJ introverts, the more
malleable and open-ended life can seem. But the external world has a way
of interfering with this flow of inspirations and creativity because
INFJs feel called upon to render service to humanity (F) in a very
orderly and demanding way (J).
Consequently, when INFJs are committed to an ideal or cause, the
stubbornness surfaces. These otherwise compliant, reserved individuals
become extremely rigid and demanding of themselves and others, when
pursuing a goal in the external world.
Easily influence many people
INFJs are dreamers whose genius, caring, and concern can be an inspiration to many other people. Their quietness gives them a low profile and their concern has a way of being intense in most situations in which they find themselves. In almost any interpersonal activity, from a board meeting to an intimiate family gathering, the INFJs' quiet strength is felt by others. Their hope, aspiration, and caring have limits, however, and those
limits can be invoked by the INFJ at any given moment. Such limits may have no apparent relationship to external events, and may leave others feeling frustrated, confused,
possibly even deprived.
Need an Extravert around
INFJs often need an Extraverted type to tap the reservoir of their inner richness. Otherwise it can be lost, either in the INFJ's introversion or as a consequence of
pressure from the typically scheduled life of those who prefer the Judging function in
their outer worlds. When in the presence of more Extraverted types, they are likely to
share jokes, ideas, whimsical thought, and many inventive models or theories. Those close to the INFJ may feel frustrated that so much of what is
inside the INFJ is so rarely fully tapped. The frustration continues as those
close to INFJs recognize that while they must respect INFJs' space, doing so diminishes INFJs' contributions to the world.
INFJs often have, without formal training, skills in group dynamics. Almost psychically, they are aware of various levels of interaction between and among people. However, such awareness remains largely their own, and effors to make
these observations known to others can be frustrating to INFJs.
Though they may maneuver themselves to receive affection, INFJs may be quite sparing in dispensing it to others because of their naturally Introverted manner. For the INFJ,
talk is cheap, and the resulting sparsity of their communications can have a negative
effect on relationships at work and home.
Gender differences can be seen with the INFJ. The female INFJ clearly has the advantage.
As a Feeling type, she has the nurturing qualities traditionally associated with
femininity. Often, however, because of her Introversion, the INFJ female does not project those qualities, even though they are very much a part of her nature. At home as well as
at work, she tends to be aloof, so that the sense of her caring and concern is ultimately lost, particularly to those types more demanding of overt affirmations. A
common complaint about the INFJ female is that she is "nice but seems removed". People
feel this about her even though they would admit that in fact she's always there when
needed, quietly dependable, steady. Female INFJs must work hard to be understood and
may find themselves being taken for granted because of their own failure to make their
needs known. Consequently, when they do express their needs, it seems out of character
and can lead to general disbelief, which, of course, is frustrating to the female INFJ.
Male INFJs have a more problematic situation because the qualities
naturally preferred by INFJs are not those traditionally considered
to be "male". To counter the image of being weak, male INFJs
can become stubborn, often to a degree disproportionate to the situation
at hand. They are capable of taking a seemingly small issue and making
it seem as if the entire world -- or at least their masculinity -- were
riding on the outcome. This behavior unfortunately belies the fact that
both male and female INFJs are reservoirs of quiet, intellectual
introspective imagination who can inspire insight and growth in men and
woman alike. INFJs are often great thinkers whose pondering of the
immense can bring great ideas to the forefront. Typically, they seek to
spread their ideas in a quiet, deliberate way -- more typically by the
pen than by the sword.
At home, INFPs are given the ultimate arena in which to act on both
their idealism and their humanitarian concerns. Their longing for
harmony is such a driving force that they sometimes create tension in
their relationships by working so determinedly to eliminate it. They
would do better to work out tensions within themselves than to focus
on external conflicts, because they often carry very heavy inner
burdens. In some ways, this fosters a sense of martyrdom typically of
Feelers generally. Over the long term, the inner tension that plagues
them as a consequence of imperfectly realized aspiration toward total
harmony can do little except induce guilt in INFJs and others. The INFJ
goal of harmony is particularly difficult to achieve because the model
for it is rarely articulated, though the drive towards it is nonetheless
Parenting to an INFJ means accepting intense responsibility to help
young minds and spirits develop on their own. By example and by direct
involvement, the INFJ exerts great energy to see that all children are
afforded every intellectual opportunity available. There is considerable
allowance for differences -- as long as each individual exerts himself
or herself. The INFJ parent strives to be stimulating, resourceful, and
helpful in everything. A young spirit is considered a terrible thing to
waste. Toward that end, if a child shows interest in any kind of
self-development, no matter how different from the preferred activities
of the INFJ parent, that interest would still be encouraged. To the best
of their abilities, the INFJ parent will provide whatever is necessary
to foster growth.
At home: a bit of a mess
The home and living style of the INFJ seem relatively neat to outsiders,
but just below the surface lie a million books, articles, and projects
to be addressed at a latter date. It is more important for the home
atmosphere to be congenial, stimulating, and accepting than for it to be
precisely neat and tidy. The home is a reference library for a wide
variety of interests and pursuits. Most everything has some symbolism or
meaning and rarely is anything discarded. The fantasy is that some day,
the INFJ will wander through the Pandora's box of goodies and attend to
each of the many projects contained therein. Usually that remains only
a fantasy for the INFJ.
As children, INFJs are frequently very complacent. Except for the
stubbornness exhibited around values they prize, their love of harmony,
coupled with a general curiosity and hunger for knowledge, makes them
compliant children and excellent students. If anything, parents,
especially Extraverted ones, may be amazed at how content the INFJ
seems, though somewhat concerned about their daydreaming. But the
dreaming typically gives way to good scholarship and the INFJ child
finds school, at most levels, quite rewarding. Clearly, their
Introverted-iNtuition prefers theoretical and abstract course work, but
their desire to please teachers and parents make them successful and
productive in most subjects. Learning enriches the mind and the INFJ
learns very early on that his or her mind is the gateway to the world.
Family events are opportunities for INFJs to explore and learn, so they
are attended with eagerness and satisfaction. INFJs are especially
sensitive to family tension and have a tendency to personalize those
tensions, even blaming themselves for problems they did not create. If
family events are sources of tension, INFJs will tend to shun them,
even be terrified by them. If, on the other hand, they are filled with
warmth and joy, INFJs can become quite involved, though often in a more
passive than active way.
Wherever the INFJ is, there is work, particularly if the work offers
some opportunity to grow and learn. As managers, INFJs are fairly open
and very interested in both the people and the product. Though usually
slow to give positive strokes, they are nonetheless inwardly proud of
their subordinates' accomplishments and open to their desire for
self-improvement. The biggest bane of the INFJs' work is conflict and
tense interpersonal relationships. In general, INFJs are adept at
helping others actualize their goals and eager -- as both workers and
managers -- to actualize their own. They are at their best in situations
that encourage personal enhancement.
Later in life
INFJs can benefit from their mature years if more leisure time and less
compulsiveness give them the freedom they need for dreams and
inspirations. To daydream, fantasize, theorize, read, build something,
or simply "follow a star" allow the INFJ to bring forth all
sorts of inner creations. Later years can also be pleasant for INFJs who
allow themselves to drop the world's many troubles, problems, and issues
from their shoulders. Though this is very hard for them to do, and few
succeed completely, it can be sweet relief for a type that, by virtue
of their unique combination of preferences, tends to allow many of the
world's cares to be heaped upon them.
Famous likely INFJs include: Thomas Jefferson (whose creativity, genius, and idealism
helped to forge the Republic, even though his own aristocratic value system was different from that of the Constituition he helped to author); Jimmy Carter (whose Introversion kept him from being understood, and whose iNtuitive-Feeling preference enabled him to be a powerful mediator in bringing Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat to an accord); and Sigmund Freud (whose iNtuitive psychological theories revolutionized the world, and whose strong Feeling preference kept him working to help people his entire life, although others' criticism of his work made him ever more rigidly entrenched in his own beliefs).