Unpredictable as weather, INFJs are difficult characters to peg down. Intensely private, but with a strong desire to share themselves with the people they trust. Highly idealistic, but with a deep sense of justice that prevents them from using their energy for personal gain. These contradictions become especially apparent when an INFJ is facing conflict. Although they will do everything they can to keep the peace, if conflict is unavoidable, they can fight back in quarrelsome, irrational ways.
That’s not to say that INFJs are deliberately erratic. Rather, they adopt chameleon-like tendencies because they are both people-pleasers and very sensitive to being misunderstood. Better to hide your true nature than take the risk of people not liking you if you do open up.
The problem is, if you never speak in your authentic voice, you’re never going to get what you want. Here are some tips to help INFJs find their true voice and gain the confidence to express themselves.
Turn your Feelings inward
As an INFJ, you are highly adept at intuiting other people’s feelings, problems and emotional baggage. Interestingly, you may find it more difficult to spot and understand your own emotions. According to classical Jungian theory, this is due to the fact that the INFJ's Feeling function is directed outwardly rather than inwardly. To open up, you’re going to have to recognize and accept that your feelings are just as important as the feelings and needs of others.
Writing is a useful tool for the INFJ wishing to hone their self-expression. Grab a journal or open up a Word document and let the feelings flow. By setting your thoughts and reflections down on paper, you will become clear about who you truly are and what truly matters to you. This is your authentic inner voice, and you will refer back to it each time you find yourself struggling to make yourself heard.
Say what you mean & mean what you say (but don’t say it meanly)
As an INFJ, expressing yourself through your feelings is critical to your psychological well-being. The trick is to confess your feelings with confidence, assertiveness and kindness.
Let’s look at an example. Suppose you are meeting a friend after work. You rush to get there on time, but at the last minute your friend calls you to say they are going to be extremely late. How do you react?
If you are a typical INFJ, you probably will internalize your anger and disappointment. You will carry on as if your friend’s tardiness is acceptable (to avoid confrontation) and rage about it when you get home (to let out your true feelings).
A better option is to be honest about how you are feeling from the start. For example, you might say: “It’s frustrating when you are late, because I really want to spend time with you. Right now I’m feeling sad that you don’t value my time and I’m afraid that I won’t be in a good mood when you do arrive. Can we reschedule to a time that works better for both of us?”
Notice the use of the feeling language in this communication? You may not feel safe or comfortable being so honest with your friend. But when you use feeling language in your communications, especially if there’s some kindness around it, you are far more likely to get a positive response.
Choose your moment
People talk for the sake of talking, and small-talk does not sit well with INFJs. You prefer to dig deeper into a conversation and will often try to interact with people on a more profound or intellectual level. If no one bites, you may get discouraged and feel that you have to repress a whole side of yourself to avoid conflict.
There's no sure-fire way to have thought-provoking conversations on demand, but some social situations will be more conducive to this than others. If you are at a bachelorette party where everyone is making dumb jokes, you’re out of luck. But if you are on a long journey with a friend or having coffee with them, they may be more receptive if you make an observation about social responsibility, or ask them if they’re really happy with life.
Remember, it is truly in your personality to want to talk about deeper subjects. These topics are the cornerstone of your values. You need a regular fix of “deepness” if you are to speak authentically and let your personality shine.
Give yourself permission to be awkward as you begin to express yourself
This is not an easy transition for the perfectionist INFJ to make. You want to get your communication right. Knowing that you may not get your point across as precisely as you would like, or that others may not like what you are saying, is tough for you to handle. But you need to accept that no one is perfect and grant yourself the same degree of grace that you are willing to give to others.
Here’s the thing. The way to be liked is not to come across as faultless. In fact, the opposite is true. Our vulnerabilities and imperfections are the things that make us human, and so much more likeable as a result. Start by opening up to the friends you trust the most and then work your way up to your wider social circle. The first time you let your guard down may feel awkward, but it's often mixed with a sense of relief at finally getting your thoughts and opinions out into the world.