Although gentle, and preferring to be out of the limelight, the INFJ personality type will work long and hard behind the scenes to maintain harmony but they are also intensely independent, of both of thought and spirit, and will be outspoken in their defence of human values, the downtrodden, and the oppressed. Earnest and responsible INFJs often see themselves on a mission, and they take their missions very seriously. The views of the INFJ are very personal, built up over a long time and so anything which may be perceived as questioning their values may be dealt with in an unusually direct way, surprising those who saw only the quiet INFJ.
The INFJ is the rarest of Jungian types and as such is in many ways the most enigmatic, difficult to know and difficult to understand. So, people can often read the INFJ wrongly. Serious minded and caring, values are just so important to the INFJ whose word is not just a bond but tied in with who they are intrinsically as people. Integrity is the watchword and they will be excellent listeners, patient, supportive and with a strong desire to ‘do the right thing.’ Their perceptiveness means that others will ‘open up’ and they are often the catalyst for making things better. Although quite gentle and preferring to be out of the limelight, the INFJ will work long and hard behind the scenes to maintain harmony. But they are also intensely independent - both of thought and spirit - and will be outspoken in their defence of human values. An INFJ's values have been honed over some time, deep within their own heads, and they may not be happy to share these. This can make it difficult to get close and may mean that other people see them as a bit strange or quirky. The INFJ would not see the need to alter this view and will generally work quietly until a value is contravened. The problem is that INFJs are so complex, individualistic and un-forthcoming, that the other person may not realise that some value or deeply held belief has been transgressed and be quite surprised how sharply the INFJ can react and how outspoken, assertive and stubborn they can suddenly and uncharacteristically become. This is because the INFJ is sensitive, in both directions, outwardly to the needs of others and inwardly.
The INFJ may be so committed to the cause that other issues take a poor second place. The introvert side means that so much internal processing and reflection goes on but once the course of action has been agreed others, who perhaps perceived a quiet inactive individual, may be surprised by just how decisive, energetic and single-minded the INFJ is. The responsible, serious nature of the INFJ means that they may have to learn to ‘lighten up’ as devotion can take its toll in missing out on the more fun and less intense moments life occasionally throws up. INFJs can make inspiring leaders, (as followers will believe in them and want to ‘sign up’) and have a devotion to the cause that borders on evangelical and certainly those following will have a crystal-clear vision of how it could be.
Like the INTJ, the INFJ has the ability to understand complex processes and systems but the INFJ will use these primarily to understand people, and make things happen for them. Even though they are likely to project to others as quite shy, and certainly quiet, INFJs have a keen interest in others and will work hard and behind-the-scenes to achieve their goals. Never over-exuberant or gushing, trust would take quite some time to build with INFJs, as they do not readily share their emotions with other people. The INFJ likes complexity and theorising, providing the subject-matter is not about them. They value respect, both for themselves and for others, and will only be really forthcoming when hurt or when talking through some complex issue. Those who are campaigners, (many INFJs adopt such roles), are there because they believe in the cause, rather than for personal glory or political power. Astute readers of people, they are naturally suspicious about others' motives. They are friendly and sympathetic, but highly selective about their friends, as to them friendship is something not to be taken lightly so getting emotionally close to an INFJ would take some time - if ever. INFJs are an unusual combination of idealist and go-getter, and so they will have strongly thought through views, and a desire and ability to make it happen.
Linking ‘type’ and ‘careers’ would be easy if it was just about listing specific jobs that perfectly fit specific personalities. However in truth it is more difficult than that as ignores other, more important issues, such as the organisation, the values and the culture, which are far better determinants of suitability than a job title. Also individual jobs vary widely from industry to industry, organisation to organisation and person to person. Therefore our focus on ‘type’ and ‘careers’ will be far more on you: your personality, your aptitudes, interests, likes, strengths and weaknesses and then matching these to the sorts of environments, cultures and norms within organisations that will allow you, given your character, to thrive grow and flourish. We spend a lot of our time at work and so it is important to get these issues right or we could spend a lot of working time unhappy, unproductive and unfulfilled.
The INFJ is honest and trustworthy, exuding integrity and sensitivity, and have a single-mindedness which will see them plan, organise and work tirelessly to achieve their goals. In this lofty pursuit they may be difficult to deflect from their chosen course of action, not as with the ESTJ from a desire to ‘get it done,’ but from the standpoint of ‘it’ being a worthwhile cause and having been arrived at by tortuous deliberation, therefore it must be right and the INFJ will always do what is right. As their focus is so much on ‘the bigger picture,’ and their primary drivers their values and the desire to ‘do good,’ sometimes the INFJ will find that reality or factual details get in the way of their lofty ideals, their serious schemes and their dreams of a better tomorrow. ‘Facts’ which do not support their ideas or which get in the way of the grand scheme may be ignored in their aspirational desire to reach Nirvana. INFJs value harmony and authenticity and they will bring an incredible work ethic and duty of care to anything they perceive as worthwhile and they will be unlikely to work on any project they felt was not worthwhile. They combine an idealism with a structured approach and tireless work and thus can effect real, lasting, change in the organisations they work in. The INFJ may not be the most easy to know but they will want to support and nurture others.
Although caring, kindly and amenable the INFJ has a very strong set of values, which, if transgressed, can make them crusading vocal and extremely stubborn. Their single-mindedness can be such a positive and energising trait, creating genuine breakthroughs and coming up with such creativity. However, they can struggle when their ideas are not workable and may neglect to paint in the brutal facts of reality into their lofty ideals. The INFJ also often takes on too much and this can see them become overwhelmed and de-energised and withdraw to bring their energy levels back up. Their idealism also means that at times the INFJ may be unrealistic about timescales and how much they have taken on, becoming ‘snow-blind’ to problems as they carry on regardless as their mission is so all consuming and important to them. At such times the INFJ sometimes struggles to remain open to other people’s ideas as they are focused so much on the goal, which is of course linked to their ideal. Although they can be vocal on issues that are important to them the INFJ does not generally like conflict and may simply withdraw when the situation becomes tense or loud or where there are multiple, competing viewpoints as the INFJ is intensely introverted and so they prefer to speak when they have a clear purpose and a point to the discussion.
The key word in the INFJ vocabulary is ‘meaning,’ and any role they assume or any organisation they work for will be ‘vetted’ to ensure it fits with their belief system and deeply held values. The INFJ would not take ‘just a job,’ they prefer a cause, something they can believe in and into which they can channel their incredibly serious and earnest energy. They often take charity roles, or roles that require standing up for people, and such roles satiate their need for meaning, and provide a platform for their values. The INFJ thinks so deeply and so intensely about their actions and everything needs to fit into their values ecosystem so that work, life, beliefs, people are all connected to the whole. Once they buy in they are incredibly hard workers who will assume roles and responsibilities even in areas others might avoid as they are true crusaders for whom the cause can be everything. INFJs will need an outlet for their imaginative and innovative side and whatever it is the organisation does, product or service, will be important to them so they can immerse themselves in it.
INFJs prefer an environment that values independent thought and an outlet for their creativity and so a repetitive, ‘job’ would not be for them. Their independence is important to them and so being micromanaged or having no freedom of expression will stifle them. INFJs also need to understand the bigger picture and so work without context or meaning would not bring out the best in them nor would the organisation get the buy in that is important to the INFJ. They also have high moral standards and so prefer a cause, or a stance so that what they do actually means something and will make a difference and then they will apply their considerable energies and work long and hard to drive towards a conclusion. INFJs like to come up with unique solutions, they are dutiful and organised and will want to immerse themselves in something that they believe in and in an organisation that values them, indeed where there is mutual respect and people are valued and where harmony reigns. To show up, do a day’s work and then go home does not really fit with the INFJ need to care.
The INFJ will thrive and flourish in an organisation where people are valued and where there is a product, service and environment they can both be proud of and believe in. INFJs are often found in charities, government organisations, etc where they feel they can make a difference and so routine roles where there is little meaning or opportunity to express their caring nature and creativity would not bring out the best in them. They prefer structure to chaos and want to get their teeth into activities that they feel are important and that will help people.
Meaning is just so important to the INFJ and they would only really buy in to a team that was trying to achieve something special, or lofty or that will help do something worthwhile. The INFJ can be an intense team member, reminding the group of what is ‘right’ and what their obligations are. They often, once bought into the team, will take on so much responsibility as they have such a strong need to drive things through. They will not deviate from the agreed course of action as such a course will have been arrived at after painful and serious deliberation. The INFJ is unlikely to do anything that abrogates their belief system but their strong ‘J’ means that when they think it’s right, they will drive relentlessly for closure and become animated and outspoken in defence of the cause.
The INFJ personality type will come up with genuinely radical and different ideas and solutions and will be a great driver for the team. Less concerned with self and ego than with the cause the INFJ will work both tirelessly and selflessly in pursuit of the teams’ goals, once these are clearly and completely aligned with their own. Indeed, they often take on far too much, but this is simply due to the INFJ desire to complete. Once they have arrived at the conclusion that this is worthwhile, a process that will see the INFJ be quietly and at times tortuously reflective then they want to get on and do, and quickly. Others may find this paradox perplexing: that a quiet, introspective individual can transform in an instant into a crusading leader. And this transformation is binary, with no granularity; the INFJ will be reflecting or crusading, nothing in between.
Although introverted, the INFJ has very strong opinions, honed over much private reflection and will voice these strongly, less concerned with self and ego than with the cause. INFJs can make inspiring leaders as followers will believe in them and want to ‘sign up’, having a devotion to the cause that borders on evangelical, so people will have a crystal-clear vision of what could be. Strongly humanitarian, INFJs tend to be idealists, but because of their desire for closure and completion, they are generally ‘doers’ as well as dreamers, who take on a disproportionate amount of responsibility.
Meaning is at the heart of who the INFJ is and they would not be motivated by ‘doing a job’ but need a cause, something which is important to them, something to believe in. Strongly humanitarian, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their desire for closure and completion, they are generally ‘doers’ as well as dreamers, who take on a disproportionate amount of responsibility.
INFJs are notoriously private and guarded individuals very much their own person and so getting emotionally close would be difficult, especially at first. They are incredibly independent, and they’re driven by a complex personal belief system that ‘outsiders’ would find it difficult to enter, they’d have to be invited and that would take trust, and trust takes time to build. INFJs are incredibly caring and they are friendly, just slightly closed off. They are quite intense and take their relationships seriously, as indeed they do with everything, and with those allowed close to them they would have a real friend for life, who would do anything for them, unless that trust was broken. Taking relationships so seriously means INFJs will take on a lot of peoples’ problems so much so that they will often need to shut the whole world out to recharge as their energy will become depleted as they can give so much to others, so much emotional energy.
INFJs are great listeners as they want to go deep and understand issues at a complex level. You get their undivided attention as they’ll take the issue so seriously and want to help. They are not forthcoming themselves, giving very little of their feelings away, except to those who are close, but even then these may have to be gently teased out. However, so quiet and gentle are INFJs that when they are vocal in can be stridently so and this will occur when a value is crossed or when something happens that they see as unfair or unjust. Their values are important to them as they have been built carefully over time and if one is transgressed an INFJ can be uncharacteristically crusading and direct. The problem often occurs as INFJs share very little of themselves and so people wouldn’t know they were hitting a nerve until it was too late. INFJs also have a very strong moral compass, right and wrong, fair or unjust and crossing that line would also see them become far more animated, before heading back into their shell.
As INFJs are such serious-minded individuals that, of course, they take their time making decisions as getting it right will be really important as would making sure any decision aligned with their deeply held value system. INFJs do not flipflop and will weigh everything up in their heads, often holding two opposing views, thinking deeply about the consequences and the big picture, letting very few people into that process until the answer pops out, complete, perfectly formed and incredibly well-thought-through, but still not shared with anyone other than those close. This is why their value system is so important to them, it is deep complex and seriously thought about, never, ever taken lightly or with knew-jerk reactions.
INFJs like quiet, privacy and, when they are interacting, harmony. They do not like the limelight or being the centre of attention and prefer one-to-one conversations and even then, would like that to be on serious, important issues close to their hearts rather than chitchat or conversations for their own sake. INFJs set great store by meaning and so they prefer everything they do to be linked to something higher, some overarching context that they can think deeply about. The only thing that will make an INFJ really come out, uncharacteristically so is, as outlined above, a value being transgressed or an injustice. With everything else they will engage in their normal way, giving away very little or withdraw completely.
Choose another personality type to compare side by side the different approaches work, attitudes to conflict and the way they engage with others.