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.

1 reply
  1. Annie says:

    Thank you for this, Barbara. I only found out this evening that I was an INFJ and the above – failing to be assertive about the important issues – hits the nail right on the head! In my case, though, I think avoiding the important issues is more about fearing more disappointment in others than disliking conflict with others (which is true too, but to a lesser extent). Disappointments from the past (insensitivity, superficiality, inability to relate to the range and potential of the issue) have hit so hard from people I would have expected more from, that bringing up those issues again only to be disappointed again in new people would prove too much. Ah, the tribulations of idealism!! But your identification of the problem is a relief to me because it opens up an area I need to explore more within myself, an area I had closed off (yes I’m good at closure) and kept closed in defence. So my thanks again. Keep up the good work, fellow INFJ!

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