What do Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Morgan Freeman, Martin Luther King, and Nicole Kidman have in common? They’re all INFJ’s! The string of letters, INFJ, might not mean much to you, but together, they represent an unusual combination of personality traits. So unusual, in fact, that only about 1 or 2% of the world’s population is estimated to have this personality type. Here’s how to find out if you know someone who’s an INFJ (or if you’re one yourself!).
A Quick Guide to the 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Types
Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, developed a theory about understanding basic personality traits. He was the first to differentiate between introverts and extroverts. Inspired by his early work in personalities, Isabelle Briggs Myers and her mother Katherine Myers outlined 4 key traits that helped give insight into someone’s personality, the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator:
- Introverted vs. Extroverted: Do you tend to focus internally or externally?
- Sensing vs. Intuition: Do you tend to take things at face value or add extra meaning?
- Thinking vs. Feeling: Does your decision-making tend to be based on consistent “rules” or individual circumstances?
- Judging vs. Perceiving: Do you prefer structure, or do you like to ‘go with the flow’?
This combination of personality traits is expressed in a 4-letter string, like INFJ. Some modern Myers-Briggs personality trait experts also add a fifth trait, which is:
- Assertive vs. Turbulent: Do you tend to be self-assured or do your emotions greatly depend on your circumstances?
What is an INFJ?
Someone who can be described as introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging is an INFJ. There are quite a few things that are special to this rare personality type, that most other people simply can’t relate to.
1. They Have Eery Gut Feelings
The INFJ’s intuition is one of the most prominent personality traits. They can usually sense when something is off with a friend’s relationship before they do. Their first impressions of people are generally quite accurate, and INFJ’s feel like they can know more about a person than what’s on the surface. They’re experts at reading between the lines.
2. They’re Usually Fantastic Writers
Being both introverted and natural leaders, INFJ’s tend to gravitate towards writing to express themselves. They have a very rich internal experience. They’re usually grappling with extremely complex issues in their heads, but they can have trouble properly expressing all of their conflicting feelings to others in real time. Creative writing allows them to organize their thoughts in a way that’s easier for other people to understand.
3. They’re Often Quiet, But Are Fierce Advocates for Things They’re Passionate About
INFJ’s learn to keep a close eye on their social “battery”, and often won’t engage in surface conversations if they don’t have to. Their quietness can sometimes be misinterpreted as shyness or even rude disinterest, but the truth is, they’re simply preserving their limited energy for the things that matter most to them.
Even the most introverted INFJ would gladly speak to a stadium full of people and advocate for something that matters to them. The INFJ is a classic idealist, and their empathy often leads them to social justice issues.
4. They Can Be Private to a Fault
While almost all introverts prefer to have a small circle of confidants, the INFJ often has periods of withdrawing from everyone, even their partners. INFJ’s can sometimes be overwhelmed with cognitive dissonance- they prefer order and structure, but they make decisions based on each individual circumstance, and their intuition can often make things more complicated with added layers of information.
They often hold themselves back from expressing their feelings to the people who care about them, for fear of not being able to represent all of the complexities involved. This can lead to feeling more isolated and lonely in a group than when they’re actually alone.
Plus, INFJ’s are very selective about their inner circle. If their intuition tells them that a person isn’t being completely authentic, they won’t bother to open up to them about any details of their life.
5. They Can be a Bit Too Intense for Other People
Okay, so there’s such a thing as the “INFJ stare”, and if you’ve ever had a conversation with someone who seemed to be making unblinking contact with your soul, you’ll know what this means. Youtuber Frank James perfectly explains why INFJ’s do this. Trust us, just watch:
6. Without a Purpose, They Can Feel Lost and Unmotivated
INFJ’s are all about the why‘s and the what for’s. If they don’t see the point in something, it becomes almost impossible to do it anyway. They have an ‘all or nothing’ approach. It’s important that they have careers that are meaningful to them, and they’d usually be willing to sacrifice a higher salary in order to do work that they think can be personally fulfilling.
The unique thing about INFJ’s is that they are both dreamers and doers. Their idealism gives them a clear vision of what life could be, and their preference for order allows them to have a keen sense of what details need to be in order to actually have their vision come to fruition.
7. Their Romantic Relationships are Intense, to Say the Least
INFJ’s are very selective about the people they let into their lives, and they trust their instincts when it comes to reading people’s intentions. It takes them a long time to open up to people, but when an INFJ finds a partner, they dive whole-heartedly into the relationship.
INFJ’s are extremely caring partners, careful listeners, and have a strong sense for what their significant other needs. The unique combination of being in tune with their internal selves and the people around them often results in deep heart-to-heart conversations that foster a very meaningful connection. Don’t date an INFJ lightly!
8. They’re Extremely Sensitive
Whether they have the assertive or turbulent trait, INFJ’s are very perceptive to others’ feelings towards them. They can be more aware than most of others making subtle negative comments. Assertive INFJ’s, however, tend to be less phased by the awareness that they’re not liked by everyone.
One thing in particular that many are sensitive to, however, is guilt. They hold themselves to very high standards and can get caught up in ruminating over their missteps, especially when they have a negative impact on others.
9. When the Going Gets Tough, They Persevere
Loyalty is one of the strongest motivators among INFJ’s. Whether it’s loyalty to a cause or to a loved one, they’ll dig in their heels through adversity and stick to what they believe. They care very deeply about other people, but this can sometimes leave them feeling drained because they put so much energy into the needs of others.
10. They Notice More Awkward Situations Than Most People
For people who tend to avoid small talk, the social intuition of an INFJ often surprises people. They’re very empathetic to those around them, and they often feel like they can interpret more about a person than meets the eye, so they’re one of the first to know when someone in the room (even accidentally) says something that could offend someone within hearing. They can easily perceive discomfort in people’s body language, and they can tell when people feel hurt, unincluded, or tired.