People often confuse the INFP and the ISFP, as they are both quiet, laid back, gentle and enigmatic. In terms of Jungian type, often both will say, ‘you can’t put me in a box, I’m different,’ which is an interesting take and to a large extent, true. But with type the reason we do put people ‘in a box,’ is so that we can ‘take them out of the box,’ and see the differences as well as the similarities. People, like organisations, are like some other people, all other people, and no other people.
So where are the similarities between the INFP and the ISFP, what can we learn? Well, they are both intensely private individuals inhabiting their own internal worlds. Both are astute observers of life, caring and loyal, and very gluey and harmonious, adept at diffusing tension and acrimony, and tuning in. Neither are forthcoming types, both love the new, both dislike too much structure or being controlled.
But there is a major difference: INFPs are future oriented dreamers who enjoy flights of fancy and seeing many possibilities while ISFPs prefer to stop and savour the sensory, real experiences of the moment to the max. however the INFP will look up and dream big dreams, thinking more of ‘what could be,’ than ‘what is,’ and loving the endless possibilities. The ISFP will look down, immersing themselves in actual experiences, loving and revelling in actual sensory experience, the ‘what is,’ where the future seems a faraway place and to be thought about tomorrow, or perhaps the day after.
They experience the world in very different ways: one through the senses or present reality, the other through being captured by the art of the possible. The INFP will want to see way beyond the here and now and the ISFP wanting to remain there until their need for experience is satiated and they can move onto the next, one of hopefully so many more to come, new sensory experience.
These are subtle differences, at times imperceptible, but they help us better understand the two, character types, which, paradoxically, are often the most misunderstood. Our understanding of other people is often helped by a comparison of these, the more subtle points, the characteristics that really matter, and highlight the differences, but which can often go unnoticed. Try comparing your type to a friend, or colleague and see how uncovering the subtle issues really help: INFP vs ISFP.