"I don't just listen what people say to me, but I listen to how they say it, and what they don't say. I can tell from their tone of voice, phrasing, pauses etc, what is really going on behind their story." - Glynnis McPhee (INFJ)
When I took up the Myers-Briggs personality types test some couple of years back, I was boxed into the INFJ type. And as I read more about it, I got to know that this is one of the rarest personality type, only 1% of the world population fall into this category. This amazed me to be a part of the rarest bandwagon and scared me too. Because that would mean, I would have very less people who would truly understand me and relate to me. That was my thought then. Many times, I was accorded as being too sensitive & of having very deep emotions, tagged as an emotional person. Probably, I was more aware of the dark side of being an INFJ and not the gifts that it possessed. I used to wonder as to what do these personality types possess that makes them rarest. My biggest need all through out my life had been to be included and not accorded as being different. From my school days, I knew I was different and I didn't like being different. I wanted to be included, be a part of my community of people who would accept the way I was. Many a times I underplayed. I played low to be included, I toned myself down too so that I don't come across as different and be same as others. In this process, I did become like the rest but I lost myself. I never knew who I was until when I chose to take pride in my personality type; until when I decided to discover more about me and who I was. Because only when I authentically connect to myself, I will cherish that spirit in others. And today, after having met another person with an INFJ type personality, I was tempted to blog about my type. The INFJ type!
Only when I know myself well, I will be able to let others know themselves well. As a Coach it is important for me to go deeper. The deeper I go, I would be able to awaken that in people I work with, relationships that I form, awaken that awareness in my clients too. Hence, today I choose to talk about the INFJ personality type from my lens more because I can relate to the gifts of being an INFJ, the dark side of being that and the coping mechanisms we adopt to safeguard ourselves, the strategies that we use to keep ourselves safe, the drivers of our inner world, our strengths, our behaviours and what we create as a result of this. What follows is an accumulation of data and good reads on INFJ and this is also based on my personal experience as being one of them. So, here it goes.
What is an INFJ type? It stands for Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging. INFJ indicates a person who is energized by time alone (Introverted), who focuses on ideas and concepts rather than facts and details (iNtuitive), who makes decisions based on feelings and values (Feeling) and who prefers to be planned and organized rather than spontaneous and flexible (Judging).
Gifts of INFJ type: Creative, insightful, inspiring & convincing, decisive, determined and passionate, altruistic, great verbal communicators, highly sensitive to the feelings of others, highly perceptive, able to read between the lines, genuinely care about the welfare of others.
Shadows of being INFJ type: Sensitive, highly vulnerable to criticism and conflict, extremely private, perfectionist, always need to have a cause, can burn out easily.
What INFJ type seek? INFJs want a meaningful life and deep connections with other people. They do not tend to share themselves freely but appreciate emotional intimacy with a select, committed few. Although their rich inner life can sometimes make them seem mysterious or private to others, they profoundly value authentic connections with people they trust.
Unhealthy coping mechanisms adopted by INFJ type: They tend to play ego-defensive survival games when they feel threatened, insecure, or forced to conform. They shut out emotions and become much more robotic in their actions and decisions. They tend to misinterpret other people and assume that they dislike them or misunderstand them. They appear unusually judgmental and self-righteous.
Healthy coping mechanisms adopted by INFJ type: They are comfortable with the fact that not everyone will like them or see things in the same way that they do. They.enjoy learning from a variety of people who are far different from themselves, and this allows them to be more open-minded and accepting. They don't label others as superficial or shallow, realizing that they may not have the whole picture.
Growth strategies for INFJ type:
1. Making sure you’re getting your needs met is equally important (if not more!) as getting others needs met.
2. Build the skill of knowing your boundaries and creating contracts around them. You’ll have to communicate them to the people in your life.
3. From being reactionary, instead be responsive to the triggers. Control your judgments instead of being controlled by them.
4. Choose to understand others than to be understood.
How to spot an INFJ? They often appear quiet, caring and sensitive. They may be found listening attentively to someone else’s ideas or concerns, feel things deeply, they are hard to get to know, fiercely loyal to their own system of values and will not follow others down a path that does not feel authentic to them. When their intuition tells them that someone’s intentions are not pure, they are likely to withdraw.
Famous INFJs (the list is not exhaustive): Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Nicole Kidman, Jimmy Carter, Oprah Winfrey.
To every side, there is a shadow. As we cherish our gifts, it is equally important for us to understand our dark side of the personality too. By doing so, we enable growth in us as a person and we broaden the horizon, the perspective to see through things from various angles. As we own our shadows, we own us in totality and that allows us to become our better selves, our better versions. To experience life in totality, our journey is to embrace ourselves in totality & be grateful for who we are. I welcome you to this reflection & introspection.
Coach to People Leaders, Start-up Founders & Transitioning professionals