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Which Are Better—Dogs or Cats?

According to many people, dogs are the ideal companion animals—better than cats, that’s for sure. They find cats irritating. Other people favor cats. The opposing camps maintain that the two species are like day and night. Forget that cats and dogs aren’t far apart on the phylogenetic scale and, in the bargain, they’re the two most commonly domesticated animals.

When dog supporters and cat lovers face off, you’ll sometimes hear them say, Hell, dogs and cats even hate each other. The dog is ready to shake a cat’s neck in its jaws until it’s dead. The cat, on the other hand, will jump on a dog’s back and ride it to hell.

Those of us who own both cats and dogs know this reasoning is more a reflection of the source than of reality. Humans are notoriously ego-invested in their pets. When people are vehement about the virtues of one species over the other, there’s something going on.

A guy has a Weimeraner he’s training as an attack dog. To him, Bruno is an extension of himself. This man has nothing but great things to say about dogs. They’re macho (his dogs, anyway), strong, brave, and self-sacrificing. They would die for you. In other words, everything a guy needs to feel good about himself.

This man hates cats. In his eyes, they are sneaky, self-serving, effeminate, and vain. He’s almost ready to forgive a close friend who has just adopted a cat. (If you can imagine such two guys being friends.)

In the cat-lover’s book, his friend’s Weimeraner is a dirty, unfriendly, sloppy suck-up. The cat lover believes there’s nothing more enchanting than Chloe’s feline grace, discrimination, and independence. He doesn’t expect her to whine with pleasure at the prospect of getting a treat. He admires the way she comes and goes without permission. He even gets a kick out of her clawing on the furniture occasionally, bringing a dead rat in the house, or waking him up at 4 am in the morning.

They’ve both got a point.

 

 

When INFJs and ISTJs Disagree

The INFJ does not live in the same world as the ISTJ. They’re both introverts (I) and judging (J) types, but that’s about it. One is intuitive (N) and the other sensing (S). One is feeling (F) and the other thinking (T).

Differences of Opinion

If you’re an INFJ in a relationship with an ISTJ, be prepared for differences in opinion. As an INFJ, I’ve had problems with some ISTJs in the past, and I’ve seen them happen in other INFJ-ISTJ relationships. As a result, this blog is as much a personal statement as it is the sharing of professional knowledge about Myers-Briggs types.

The ISTJ believes that everything must be seen, heard, or measured to be real. The hunches of the INFJ, frequently based on limited information, may seem outlandish to ISTJs—even though the INFJ is usually correct. Also, the emotional component of INFJ thinking doesn’t make sense to most ISTJs. They believe in making decisions based on hard data. They consider feelings to be mostly irrelevant, except for their own—which they believe are based on reality, not state of mind. INFJs consider ISTJs too literal and lacking in imagination. What’s the use of gathering so much information, thinks the INFJ, when the conclusion is obvious?

How to Handle Conflicts

To negotiate disagreements or differences of opinion with ISTJs, INFJs need to back up their points with literal, objective examples, not subjective feelings or abstract ideas. Discussions should be concrete and matter-of-fact, not emotional. If an argument concerns an expenditure, for example, INFJs should not dwell on how important a desired item is to them. They should focus on needs the item meets, the benefits it offers, and its impact on their financial resources.

Let’s say an INFJ female partner in a relationship with an ISTJ wants to buy a canoe. She’s pretty sure it’s within their budget, although she hasn’t done the calculations. She thinks canoeing would be good exercise for them both. She knows of nearby rivers and lakes where they could launch their boat. But mostly, she wants the pleasure of being out on the water with her partner. This last argument for a canoe is not the first one she should use. After broaching the subject, she should be prepared to go over the family budget with the ISTJ partner, look into the purchase price of canoes, and consult maps about available sites for canoeing. She might even raise the topic of exercise benefits.

Construct: Conflict Resolution

constructThe diagram shows how INFJs and ISTJs handle this type of decision. The triangle represents a construct—the prospect of buying a canoe. (The dictionary defines “construct” as “an idea or theory containing various conceptual elements.”) The green circle at the top of the triangle represents the INFJ, who, as an intuitive (I), generally approaches ideas from the top down, looking at the whole before investigating the parts. The red circle at the bottom represents the ISTJ, who, being a sensing (S) type, looks at bottom-line details first and then decides whether they fit into a larger construct. The question is, how do the two Myers-Briggs types meet in the middle?

The best way for an INFJ to discuss the matter of a canoe purchase with an ESTJ is to deal with information, not feelings. This approach draws the ISTJs mind further up into the overall construct of buying a canoe. If the INFJ and ISTJ are lucky, they will meet in the grey zone in the diagram. Then, hopefully, they can head happily to a sporting goods store.

Despite their personality differences, some INFJs and ISTJs have undoubtedly developed the skills to sidestep conflicts. I was never very successful.

Myers-Briggs Personality Types of Children—Extraverted Kids

Do children’s personalities remain consistent over the years? If they’re happy babies, will they be happy adults? Or do experiences early in life play a major role in what they become?

Psychologists believe that both are true. According to experts in Myers-Briggs personality testing, people are born with certain traits or tendencies. Their attitudes and behaviors may be modified by the environment over time, but they don’t disappear entirely. The child who likes to play catch and climb trees will probably be an athletic grown-up. The one who reads books in her room for hours is more likely to be a scholar.

A previous blog described introverted children—quiet, shy types. This one is about extraverted (I) children—kids who are outgoing and enjoy social activities. There are eight types of extraverts according to Myers-Briggs theory. They differ in the combinations of the other three pairs of traits on the personality test: 1) sensing (S) and intuition (N); 2) feeling (F) and thinking (T); and 3) perceiving (P) and judging (J). The scores on four pairs range from one extreme to another, with some close to the middle.

Sensing (S) kids are observant and aware of all the details around them. Intuitive (N) types are more thoughtful and rely on hunches. Feeling (F) children make decisions based on how they’ll affect other people. Those of the thinking (T) type depend on logic and are less likely to focus on outcomes. Perceiving (P) children are easy-going and move from one activity to another. Those with a judging (J) preference are more focused and like to finish things.

Rambunctious Kids
ESTP: Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving

estp-kidESTP children are rambunctious kids. They think their lives should be action-packed and full of fun. When things get boring, they stir them up. Because of their outgoing personalities, they make friends easily and enjoy group activities.

Many are good at sports and work hard to improve their athletic skills. Dancing and other physical activities that involve cooperation also appeal to them. They appreciate nature and are curious about the things they find outdoors. They like being in the fresh air. School is less important to them than real-life experience and socializing. Parents who look for high academic achievement in their ESTP offspring may be disappointed by the grades they bring home.

Responsible Kids
ESTJ: Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking and Judging

estj-kidESTJ children are logical and organized. They’re responsible, obedient kids, respecting the standards set by adults. They get upset when grown-up rules are changed suddenly—unless they’re given a clear reason. For fun, they enjoy doing things that produce results, such as competing in games. Follow-through is their motto. They don’t understand people who go about things in a haphazard way.

When ESTJ kids take up sports or hobbies, they go to great pains to do them well. The child who wants to learn gymnastics, for example, is diligent about getting to all the practices. They like to have their skills tested. Indeed, they like to have all their accomplishments measured. Parents find that coaching and lessons usually pay off for these kids.

Affectionate Kids
ESFP: Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling and Perceiving

esfp-kidChildren of the ESFP personality type show their generous, caring nature from the time they’re toddlers. They’re warm, active and full of life. They like to be held and show affection by touching people. They want to bring happiness to those around them. Sometimes, though, they’re self-conscious whey they’re on the receiving end.

ESFPs have sharp eyes. Very little escapes their attention. They tune into the moods of people and notice subtleties in their behaviors. They like to include others in their activities. As observers of life, they point out interesting things to family and friends. These bright and sunny children sail though life with little caution. Parents sometimes worry about their willingness to take risks.

Generous Kids
ESFJ: Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling and Judging

esfj-kidChildren with ESFJ personalities are responsible and cooperative. They thrive on praise and personal attention. They’ll put forth considerable effort to gain approval from grown-ups and friends. ESFJs try to do the right thing. Always concerned about the well being of others, they go out of their way to help those in distress—even when it involves making personal sacrifices.

As children, they like order and structure. They follow the rules and generally accept them without question. They’re upset by out-of-bounds behavior in other children. People who tell lies also disturb them. When the rules seem unreasonable, ESFJ kids may feel let down by the grown-ups who made them.

Creative Kids
ENFP: Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceiving

enfp-kidThe natural curiosity of ENFP children leads them into endless adventures. They are full of questions. Fueled by their creativity, the spend hours exploring new ways to spend their time—making sand castles, rearranging indoor furniture for their adventures, making up plays, and so on.

The charm and energy of ENFP kids attracts friends. Because they’re so persuasive, they’re often chosen as leaders by their peers. They like to experiment, even if it involves taking risks. If someone warns them that poison ivy is dangerous, they’re likely to test the person’s advice. Parents of ENFP offspring often worry about what they’ll get into next.

Sociable Kids
ENFJ: Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging

enfj-kidENFJ children are cooperative and lively. Once they learn to talk, they never seem to stop. These congenial extraverts need lots of social interaction. Conflict and arguments upset them.

Bright, and sunny, ENFJ kids are always on the go. At school, they sign up for many activities, not just for the experience, but also for a chance to socialize. They bring warmth and vision to whatever they take part in. They’re at their best in situations that call for sensitivity and tact. ENFJs are liberal with praise for others and are well liked. Parents find them a joy to be around.

Risk-Taking Kids
ENTP: Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving

entp-kidENTPs are lively children who question routine ways of doing things. They rarely accept rules without question. If a requirement seems unreasonable, they try to get around it. Then they justify their behavior with logical explanations.

Because these children love challenges, they often engage in risky behaviors. Frequently, they try to outwit authority figures such as parents and teachers. Due to their appealing personal style, it’s easy for them to persuade other children to join them in projects and adventures. Organizers at heart, they even assign roles to them. Parents of ENTP kids do well to have logic on their side when challenged by their offspring.

Goal-Driven Kids
ENTJ: Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging

entj-kidENTJ children are driven by goals from the time they’re very young. They can be scholarly, athletic, and creative—all at the same time. They’re like to get straight As in school—as much to satisfy themselves as to please their parents. It’s important for them to win games and come in first in competitions. They like to win.

Kids of the ENTJ type tend to take charge of themselves and others in group activities. They’re born leaders. Power and control are important to them because they want to have an impact on what goes on. When authority figures become too dogmatic, ENTJs rebel. If a situation is acceptable to them, they’ll go along. For parents who’d prefer easy-going, compliant offspring, these children can be a challenge.

 

Part 1 of  this two-part series described introverted children.

Myers-Briggs Personality Types of Children—Part 1: Introverted Kids

If your baby comes home from the hospital quiet and easy-going, will the peace last? What about the toddler who enjoys nothing more than turning the pages of a book, while another is scaling every surface in sight? Will their personalities change over the years?

Parents who dreamed of their child becoming a celebrated athlete may be disappointed when he or she prefers staying inside taking a clock apart to playing outdoors with friends. Parents hoping for a Rhodes scholar may be let down when their child would rather climb trees than read books.

Many experts believe that Myers-Briggs personality tests are unreliable in children. Others claim that infants have their basic personalities in place from the time they take their first breath. Personality scores may shift over the years, but they rarely make an about face.

This is about introverted (I) children. There are eight types of introverts according to Myers-Briggs theory. They differ in the combinations of the other three pairs of traits on the personality test: 1) sensing (S) and intuition (N); 2) feeling (F) and thinking (T); and 3) perceiving (P) and judging (J). The scores on four pairs range from one extreme to another, with some close to the middle.

Sensing (S) kids are observant and aware of all the details around them. Intuitive (N) types are more thoughtful and rely on hunches. Feeling (F) children make decisions based on how they’ll affect other people. Those of the thinking (T) type depend on logic and are less likely to focus on outcomes. Perceiving (P) children are easy-going and move from one activity to another. Those with a judging (J) preference are more focused and like to finish things.

ISFJ: Introverted, Sensing, Feeling and Judging

isfj-stickAs children, ISFJs are generally well behaved. They’re little trouble to their parents and teachers. They want to know what’s expected of then, and they quietly follow through. Even when asked to make sacrifices, ISFJ kids take pride doing the right thing. In school, they stick with a few close friends and avoid conflict.

Because ISFJ children try to be certain about their duties, they tend to do only what they’re told. With their inward focus, they have a tendency to worry about things. For this reason, they may perform below their potential. They need encouragement to stretch themselves.

ISFP: Introverted, Sensing, Feeling and Perceiving

isfp-stickISFP kids are quiet and kind. Because they avoid the spotlight, their many gifts may be overlooked. They are compassionate not only with other people, but also with animals—and indeed with all living things. They’re easy to like and attract other kids as friends. When arguments arise, they act as peacemakers.

ISFP children appreciate beauty, often making unique gifts for others that are colorful and beautiful. They enjoy the feeling of their bodies in motion—skating, dancing, and simply moving gracefully.

INFJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging

infj-stickINFJs are complex, even as young children. While they can be outgoing at times and involved with other kids, they’re also quiet and creative, caught up in their private worlds. They’re gentle and dislike violence and cruelty, whether in games or in real life.

It’s not uncommon for INFJ children to make frequent trips to the library, bringing home many books at a time and spending hours in their rooms reading. The next day, they’re outdoors having adventures with friends. INFJ kids can be a challenge to parents who find their inconsistency hard to understand.

INFP: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceiving

infp-stickINFP children are daydreamers, creating their own fantasy worlds. They are quiet, especially in new situations. Sometimes their parents worry whether they’re sufficiently grounded in reality. These kids enjoy getting lost in books. They learn to write at an early age.

Before INFPs even start school, they know what’s important to them. They sense where they’re headed and seldom ask for guidance. They’d rather do things for themselves than get help—to be sure they’re done right. They’re often careful not to reveal their mistakes to others. INFP children benefit from gentle handling and understanding.

INTJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging

intj-stickThe independent natures of INTJ children are apparent early in life. They like to daydream and get caught up in ideas of how the world should be. They can be rebellious when told things that contradict what they believe. INTJs make their own rules and boundaries.

The life of the mind is important to INTJs, so they value their education. They‘re creative and innovative, finding their own efficient ways of doing and making things. These children can be a challenge to parents who would prefer easy-going, compliant children.

INTP: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving

intp-stick1As children, INTPs often enjoy their own thoughts more than the company of other kids. They generally read a lot, going out to play only when invited. INTPs are full of questions, many times challenging parents and teachers with their observations. More than most children, INTPs enjoy inventing things and finding unusual pastimes not typical of kids their age.

INTP tastes are not dictated by popular trends. When these children disagree with conventional ideas, they’re quick to find fault in people’s logic, no matter how important the person. Some parents are baffled by the complexity of children who seem to have such a rich inner life.

ISTP: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving

istp-stickISTP children have two sides—one that observes the world and one that takes action. The observer likes to sit quietly and watch what’s going on, absorbing all the details. These kids want to know what make things tick, taking them apart to see how they work. Children of this type who play outdoors a lot are frequently experts on bugs, snakes, and other wildlife.

Usually, ISTPs are good with their hands and can fix things. They aren’t afraid to take risks with such sports as rock-climbing and backpacking. Parents who enjoy quiet children will find much to treasure in the ISTP.

ISTJ: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking and Judging

istj-stickAs children, ISTJs are well behaved and quiet. They function best in an environment that’s ordered and structured. With their well-developed sense of responsibility, ISTJs do best when given schedules to follow. They want to get their work done before they play. Around new people, they’re cautious and often uneasy until they get to know them. When ISTJs know what to expect, they’re more relaxed.

People of this personality type take a conventional view of life. While they enjoy solitary pastimes at home, they also appreciate traditional group activities such as scouting. Parents of these conscientious children can help them develop a more playful side of their personalities.

 

Part 2 of this series describes the eight types of extraverted children. 

 

INFJ Men as Lovers

INFJ men are complex, warm, and perceptive. They’re drawn to women who are intelligent, creative, and compassionate. While few INFJ men ever achieve perfect relationships, they always wish for them. This is a positive quality when they stay in a committed relationship but it works against them when they move from one woman to another, always seeking a partner who lives up to their ideals.

If you’re in a relationship with an INFJ male, your feelings won’t go unnoticed. He’ll pick up every nuance and shift in your mood. Sometimes you’ll think he can read your mind. He’s a skillful, attentive lover who won’t be happy unless he can give as much pleasure as he receives. He views lovemaking as a nearly spiritual experience and wants you to feel the same.

Have no fear that he’ll leave you on a whim. He’s steadfast and loyal. Hurting people is not what he does. In fact, he has a tendency to hang on to partnerships long after they start going bad. If your relationship begins to deteriorate, you’re likely to see him struggling with himself. If he finally concludes that his efforts are useless, he’s likely to move on quickly. Don’t expect to go through a series of arguments. That’s not his style. There’ll be no shouting or fighting, just a quiet announcement that it’s over and time for him to go.

If your relationship stands the test of time, you can look forward to years of meaningful companionship. You’ll receive thoughtful gifts, favors and compliments. INFJ men enjoy showing their love, but they also like to hear that their efforts are appreciated. Getting material gifts from you isn’t necessary. They’re happy with your words of pleasure and gratitude.

Don’t risk being dishonest with an INFJ man. You won’t get by with it for long. INFJs have little patience for people they consider fake or corrupt. They recognize lies quickly, even if they don’t say anything about it.

You may notice that other women are attracted to your INFJ partner. He may not realize this. He’s hard to resist because of his intelligence, warmth, and consideration. He has interesting ways of viewing the world. He inspires people to be their best. Yet because he’s a selfless person, he doesn’t recognize the impact he has on others. His modesty is part of his appeal.

If you’re lucky enough to find an INFJ man, don’t count on his making the first move. INFJs are rarely the first ones to initiate social contact. Ask whether he’d like to have coffee sometime. If he’s interested, you’ll know. Also, keep these pointers in mind:

1.  On a date, don’t talk about designer labels, top ten music, and other superficial matters. This is a major put-off for INFJs, who enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Money and fads are of limited interest.

2.  Leave your hand-held devices at home unless you need them for directions to a theatre, restaurant, etc.

3.  Don’t flirt with other men. You won’t impress your INFJ man. He’ll worry that you’re an unreliable partner.

4.  Don’t suggest that you’re out for a temporary affair.

5.  Don’t pressure him into going places that involve crowds of people, unless they’re quiet spectator events such as concerts, art shows, etc. Remember, he’s an introvert.

6.  Even though he may talk about expensive places he can take you, let him know that your idea of a good date is spending time one-on-one with him—that you’d rather be picnicking next to a river in his company than eating at a five-star restaurant.

7.  If your relationship moves on to sexual intimacy, take your time at lovemaking. Don’t rush the process. Savor every moment.

8.  Don’t lie to him, even about little things. He’ll pick up on it and your deceits will lower his opinion of you.

9.  Be patient about learning the INFJ’s innermost secrets. INFJs are more guarded than most Myers-Briggs types. If your partnership flourishes, he’ll eventually tell you everything.

Of all sixteen types, the INFJ has the greatest capacity for love and compassion in a relationship. If you find an INFJ man, hang on. He’s one in a hundred.

*   *   *


INFJ Meets ISTP

It’s obvious looking at the letters I-N-F-J and I-S-T-P that these two Myers-Briggs personality types are very different. The only trait they have in common is their introversion. Both types enjoy privacy. They find meaning not from superficial experiences but from their contemplation of them.

 Sensing vs. Intuition

Because ISTPs rely on their sensing preference more than their intuition, they are driven to understand how things work. They usually have good eye-hand coordination, which makes them skilled at fixing things. They use their minds for practical matters and think problems through while working on them. Theories don’t interest them unless they can be put to practical use.

In contrast, INFJs aren’t mechanically minded. They get impatient with details and prefer to head straight to outcomes. The ISTP can be a big help to the INFJ who doesn’t want to bother with, say, taking apart a toaster to see why it’s not working. If the problem is a blown fuse, that may occur to the INFJ intuitively while the ISTP works his or her way to the solution through logic. ISTPs are likely to examine the parts of the toaster before checking the fusebox. The two types have complementary strengths.

When an ISTP and INFJ collect information to make a big decision, such as what car to buy, their sensing and intuitive functions may collide. The ISTP may not be satisfied until all aspects of a model are checked out and the vehicle is examined by a mechanic. The INFJ is more likely to base his or her decision on how the engine runs and if the car feels good to drive. The ISTP’s private opinion is that the INFJ rushes to conclusions without taking enough precautions. The INFJ thinks the ISTP is too fussy about details.

Thinking vs. Feeling

When an ISTP-INFJ relationship runs aground, it’s usually because of thinking-feeling conflicts. ISTPs make decisions based on facts rather than feelings and values. This impersonal approach gives them a tendency to ignore the effects of their actions on others. They may not even be clear about their own feelings. INFJs’ emotions are more likely to influence their decisions, although they do examine the facts. Because of this difference, the ISTP can hurt the INFJ’s feelings without meaning to. The INFJ can get on the ISTP’s nerves with his or her emotional reactions.

Perceiving vs. Judging

Because of their perceiving preference, ISTPs don’t worry much about deadlines and usually finish jobs just under the wire. They postpone starting projects and then rush to finish them on time. They’re often late for appointments. In contrast, INFJs work on a schedule, make lists, and make sure to meet their deadlines with time to spare. They plan projects. They don’t just jump in. In this arena, too, the INFJ and ISTP can get on each other’s nerves.

Making the Relationship Work

It takes effort and patience to make an ISTP-INFJ relationship work. The two must respect each other’s methods of processing information. The ISTP should try to understand the INFJ’s need for emotional support. Often this requires that the INFJ explain his or her needs to the ISTP and make suggestions for meeting them. INFJs shouldn’t expect ISTPs to be their sole source of emotional support. They need to cultivate a few friends who can empathize with their feelings and give them support.

As close friends, INFJs and ISTPs enjoy sharing experiences quietly, away from crowds. They’re most at ease when they’re camping, listening to music, or watching a documentary. Words aren’t necessary. The shared experience is enough.

The INFJ appreciates the ISTP’s ability to enjoy the details of life without over-thinking. ISTPs have a matter-of-fact, uncomplicated way of viewing the world. This can be a relief to the complex INFJ for whom very little is easy. Often the ISTP has practical solutions to the small problems of life: how to replace a bicycle chain, determining what’s causing the funny noise in the car engine, or figuring out what’s killing the roses in the yard.

How Myers-Briggs INFJ Scores Can Change

The Myers-Briggs scores of INFJs can change over the years, sometimes dramatically. Twelve-year-old INFJs who never turn their homework in when it’s due can, by age 17, become academic achievers. That’s because the childhood years of INFJs are devoted to developing imagination and creativity. They daydream, have just one or two friends, and share their make-believe world with only one or two trusted adults. Between ages 6 and 12, their introverted function occupies the main stage.

In their teen years, INFJs become more extraverted, getting good grades and excelling at sports, acting, or other extracurricular activities. They become conscious of their appearance and want to dress attractively. They take on added responsibility, often holding down part-time jobs. At the same time, being INFJs, they always feel a little out-of-step with their peers. They know they’re different and tend to think that something must be wrong with them.

As teenagers, their feeling preference turns their attention to causes such as animal welfare, human rights, and so on. They become more aware of ways they can help others. They may get so involved in these activities that they have little time for themselves—quite a contrast to the reclusive children they were between ages 6 and 12.

From ages 20 to the mid-thirties, socially approved ambitions take hold. INFJs look for ways to become autonomous, run their own lives, and succeed at their jobs. They learn to be smooth and accomplished in many settings, even though inside they may still feel unsure of themselves.

Many INFJs decide in early adulthood that they were too submissive in their earlier years. The INFJ becomes assertive and sometimes rebellious. Family and friends may be puzzled by the change. What happened to the quiet, accommodating INFJ they used to know?

At the same time, INFJs start to tap into their sensing abilities and put them to work. In their early twenties, they may learn to play the guitar, take up oil painting, or collect antiques. INFJs pursue these new interests with enthusiasm, attentive to the smallest detail. Unlike their former tendency toward introversion, the company of others becomes desirable in their quest for new interests.

The departure from the ingrained INFJ style serves their overall development well. With time and maturity, the fully evolved person should be proficient in all eight personality functions.

Readers may get the impression that it’s best to develop all the functions equally. According to Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst who developed personality theory, it doesn’t work this way. If a person dedicates a period of his or her life to, say, sensing and intuition simultaneously, neither function will get the attention and energy needed to become fully developed. The same is true of the other three trait pairs. One of each pair of functions must be dominant at any given time to produce a stable, reliable personality.

The objective of personal development in terms of the Myers-Briggs theory is to have access to each of the mental functions when its use is appropriate. By being able to use the less-preferred functions when they are needed, the person brings more balance to his or her life.

INFJs—Smile!

On days when it seems hard to be an INFJ, it’s worth looking at some of the qualities that come with this Myers-Briggs personality type. We may be only 1 percent of the population, but we have a  lot of work to do in the world.

1. Actively contribute to the welfare of others.

2. Are patient and gentle with others but often hard on ourselves.

3. Lead others quietly; not imposing our will but influencing them behind the scenes.

4. Have an intuitive understanding of the motives and acts of others.

5. Charm people with our intelligence, warmth and insight.

6. Read other people’s emotions often before they’re aware of them.

7. Nurture and protect people, animals, and the environment.

8. Relate to others with compassion, always willing to lend a hand.

9. Listen to people attentively; observe their body language.

10. Value close relationships and nurture them.

11. Seek intimate relationships as a way to connect with the world and grow.

12. Expect relationships to evolve, not remain static.

13. Are often quiet in groups, focusing on what’s being said.

14. Avoid group activities because socializing drains our energy.

15. Look for meaning and purpose in life.

16. Live with integrity, always attuned to our value systems.

17. Behave in a manner consistent in our ethical positions

18. Can quickly separate the authentic from the fake.

19. Are more interested in tomorrow’s possibilities than today’s realities.

20. Are prepared to redefine our values as we grow and mature.

21. When being creative, feel in harmony with the universe.

22. Never rest on our laurels; look forward to the next creative process.

23. While often quiet and visionary, are also productive.

24. Focus on the big picture rather than the details of life.

25. Trust our intuitive judgments over other people’s opinions.

26. Avoid conflict unless the issue is important.

27. Think and problem-solve logically and effectively.

28. Think in images much of the time.

29. Are visionary, almost clairvoyant about the future.

30. Express our complex feelings and ideas eloquently.

31. Are spontaneous and witty when relaxed; find the humor in everyday life.

32. When overburdened, can easily burn out and slip into depression.

33. Are considered colorful, sometimes eccentric, by friends and acquaintances.

34. Often show a mischievous, daring side.

35. Grow up wiser than one would expect for our age.

36. As perfectionists, worry about failing to meet our full potential.

37. Tend to be private and guarded about our personal sensitivities.

 

 

 

 

 

When INFJs Go Bad

When INFJs are on track, they’re creative and insightful. They’re almost clairvoyant. In addition, they’re compassionate and generous. They are protectors of the weak. As idealists, they have strong values. And they get a lot done. While they prefer private time to socializing, they use their solitude productively. INFJs can be depended on to come through—and to come through on time.

How can they miss? Any Myers-Briggs type can overuse or abuse one or more traits.

Ways of Losing Out

When INFJs act on their ideals and do good in the world, all is well. But some INFJs focus on their visions without doing anything except talk about them. If unpleasant realities come along that contradict their utopian views, they try to ignore their existence. Focusing on their single-minded beliefs, they cling to goals that can’t be attained. INFJs who have painted themselves into this corner need to reframe their visions, attune them to reality, and be more flexible in their objectives.

Many INFJs dislike conflicts and go to great lengths to avoid them. As a result, they may fail to be assertive about important issues—only to find later that their ideas are overlooked or played down. People who might have been their allies don’t come through because the INFJ didn’t share his or her thinking.

Similarly, INFJs may be so conflict-avoidant that they’re afraid to voice criticisms that might offend friends or colleagues. Even though their concerns are valid, they keep them bottled up for fear of creating ill will. Their negative energy builds up, like steam in a kettle. When the pressure gets too great, they blow up, causing conflict and making the resolution of problems difficult. In reality, their fears of antagonizing others are mostly groundless. INFJs are masters of tact. They can count on their customary encouraging style of communication to reassure others that their intentions are good.

Another way INFJs lose out is by focusing obsessively on minor details. An INFJ preparing to give a seminar, for example, may get so caught up in preparation of name-tags, seating arrangements, projection equipment, and so on, that he or she doesn’t spend enough time on the presentation itself. The students are there to listen to the INFJ. The housekeeping details aren’t that important.

Getting Support

INFJs are, of course, introverts. Asking for advice isn’t their long suit. But getting help from others is a major ingredient of success. Also, the very process of discussion prompts INFJs to come up with ideas and insights of their own.

INFJ Meets Sensing Type—A Relationship Challenge

INFJs trying to live peacefully in this world face a major challenge in their relationships with the Myers-Briggs sensing type. Unlike INFJs, sensors are not intuitive (N). They’re puzzled by people who rely on hunches rather than hard facts to steer their way through life. Sensing types believe in concrete evidence. INFJs depend on insights. They just know. For this reason, the two types often find themselves at cross-purposes.

It isn’t so difficult for INFJs to relate to their opposites on the other three Myers-Briggs scales: extraversion/introversion, thinking/feeling, and perceiving/judging. Like INFJs, extraverts need some solitude, too. It’s just that they need much less. Thinkers may be mostly logical in their approach to life, but they’re not without feeling. Perceivers are capable of adopting some judging habits when it’s to their advantage. If they antagonize enough people with their tardiness, for example, they may cultivate the habit of punctuality.

Examples

The INFJ looking for a car with a sensing partner may dread the shopping experience. He or she is prepared for a long, tiresome search. Alone, many INFJs could purchase a car in a single morning. They’d do research online the day before, figure out what automobile would be the best buy, and then go out and look for a dealer that has one.

Not sensors. They want to collect lots of information and then go out and look at lots of cars. Even when their brains are full of specs and prices, it may be hard for them to choose. However, pressuring a sensing type into a hasty decision tends to come with consequences when he or she later ponders its wisdom. (“Are you sure the sticker said 27 mpg?” “Do you think we could have gotten a better interest rate?”)

Another problem is that INFJs lose things a lot. Unlike sensing types, they have more engaging things to think about. With their minds elsewhere while checking out at the supermarket, they leave their keys at the counter. When they reach the car, they panic. If they’d taken a sensing partner shopping with them, this probably wouldn’t have happened. The sensor would see the keys on the counter, pick them up, and roll his or her eyes.

INFJs and sensors also handle social situations differently. After a party, sensing types remember who was there and what they were wearing. These details go right past the INFJ. On the way home in the car, the sensor asks, “Did you notice Fred’s orange tie? It was horrible!” The INFJ has no memory of Fred’s tie. He or she says, “Do you think Fred’s having trouble at home? His wife wasn’t there and he seemed tense.” The sensor wonders how the partner could have jumped to that conclusion from across the room.

Earth to INFJ

Sensing types are earthbound. They’re systematic, follow instructions, and collect information before making big decisions. INFJs are creative and free-wheeling. INFJs with sensing partners are in for a rough ride if they don’t respect their personality differences. Neither type is being willful or obstinate. They are simply using their tried and true methods for viewing the world.