INFJs are gentle and empathetic personality types who often feel very alone and strange in the world. The MBTI system can help with that because it not only teaches them how to develop in ways that are natural for them, but it also connects them to other people who are just like them. But this system is less effective when there are mistyping mistakes that cloud the information they can learn from it.
INFJ General Strengths and Weaknesses
INFJs are incredibly empathetic, perhaps more than any other type. This gift, combined with the famous INFJ gentleness, means that this type often ends up being everyone’s preferred confidant. This skill with other people and with emotions is one of the INFJs most important strength. They have the ability to engender trust almost without trying and also make the people around them want to open up to them. This allows them to make strong connections with others. But this warmth doesn’t mean that INFJs automatically believe and trust in other people. Their dominant function is introverted intuition and it combines with their extraverted feeling auxiliary to give them an almost magical insight into the motives and goals of the people around them. INFJs can see and sense things about other people that few others would notice and they usually use this insight to encourage other people to be more honest and live better, more compassionate lives.
The INFJs sensitivity to emotion is also their greatest weakness. This type can become overwhelmed by the emotions and the needs of the people around them. Because they’re so aware of other people’s emotional states and feel compelled to help, they can end up feeling overwhelmed and burned out by all the negativity and pain. This can cause INFJs to withdraw from the people around them in order to protect themselves, particularly if they haven’t developed strong barriers to this kind of input. This emotional sensitivity also makes INFJs sensitive to criticism. Any type of critical exchange can deeply wound this type, though they tend to withdraw into themselves so few people can see it.
Common Type Confusions
Most commonly, INFJs mistype as ENFJs. This might seem like an impossible mistake because most INFJs are unmistakably introverts and need a lot of time on their own to process and feel healthy. However, they also use extraverted feeling as their auxiliary function. This cognitive function is focused on other people, on sensing their emotions and trying to meet their needs. This is why people who use this function need a lot of social contact to feel healthy and balanced. Developing this function is the key to INFJ development, which is why INFJs on this path need to spend a lot of time with other people. This can make them look more like the extraverted feeling dominant ENFJ from the outside. This is yet another example of the mistakes that can occur when people type based on behavior rather than on the underlying cognitive functions.
Common Confusions Comparisons
The easiest way to tell an INFJ from an ENFJ is to look at their dominant function. No matter how much people develop, their dominant function always shines through. This is what they like to do most in the world, their most natural pastime and the primary way that they gather energy and balance themselves. INFJs use introverted intuition as their dominant. This function may not reveal itself in social settings, after all it isn’t very social to sit in a corner and stare into space, but it will always show through eventually, usually when the INFJ needs to recharge. In contrast, ENFJs use extraverted feeling as a dominant. This means that ENFJs actually get more energy during their social interactions whereas INFJs will find it draining even when they’re enjoying themselves.
Unusual Type Confusions
INFJs can also mistype as INTJs. This typing mistake seems even more unlikely than the first. After all, INFJs are warm and charismatic and like to be around other people while INTJs are cold and logical and prefer to be on their own. These are stereotypes that need to be left behind if you really want to understand the MBTI system and use it correctly. INFJs often bury or hide their feeling function because they feel as if it makes them vulnerable to other people. There’s also a subtle bias in today’s society that devalues feeling functions and this may lead to some INFJs thinking that this function is chaotic or childish and suppressing it.
In contrast, the INFJs tertiary function, introverted thinking, is much more comfortable for them to use. As a result, many INFJs end up bypassing their auxiliary completely and trying to force introverted thinking to act in its place. This strategy doesn’t work very well for a number of reasons. For starters, it tends to isolate the INFJ from the external world because it means they’re using two introverted functions. And secondly, the INFJs introverted thinking is underdeveloped, so they will never be able to make good decisions when they try to use this function in this way. This doesn’t stop some INFJs from trying to operate in this way though, and when they do they can look a lot like INTJs, who also use a thinking function to make decisions.
Unusual Confusions Comparisons
The best way to tell an INTJ from an INFJ is to look for signs of extraverted feeling. This function naturally makes INFJs warm and approachable, whereas INTJs tend to be more businesslike. It also drives the INFJs decision making process, causing them to focus more on people and on which decision is best for the greatest number of people. INTJs use extraverted thinking as their decision making process, so they’re naturally more objective and look for metrics and data to make decisions. INFJs are also more comfortable expressing their emotions to the people around them. In contrast, INTJs tend to believe that their emotions are private and avoid showing them even when they’re amongst people they trust. These differences are quite easy to see once you understand the cognitive functions behind them, and they can clear up this INFJ typing mistake.
INFJs like to learn and to develop and the MBTI system can teach them how to do that in ways that nurture their unique minds and hearts. Ensuring that they’re typed correctly has to be the first step on this journey, and INFJs can only accomplish that when they type themselves based on the cognitive functions rather than by using other criteria.
- Storm, Susan. “ENFJs, INFJs and Empathy Burnout“. Dec 26, 2016. (Retrieved Apr 2019).
- Branson, Charis. “INFJs, the Secret to Living a Better Life Is Using Extroverted Feeling“. May 3, 2017. (Retrieved Apr 2019).
- Granneman, Jenn. “INFJ vs. INTJ: How to Tell These Similar Personalities Apart“. Mar 2, 2018. (Retrieved Apr 2019).
- INFJ – The Counselor.
- ENFJ – The Mentor.
- INTJ – The Mastermind.