4 Tips for INFJs Who Want to Make Themselves Heard

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.

Molly Owens

Molly Owens is the founder and CEO of Truity. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. Since 2006, she has specialized in helping individuals and organizations utilize personality assessments to develop their potential.

In 2012, Molly founded Truity with a mission to make robust, scientifically validated personality assessments accessible to everyone who may benefit from them.

Molly is an ENTP and lives in San Francisco, where she enjoys elaborate cooking projects, murder mysteries, and racing toy cars with her son.


Guest (not verified) says...

I'm really thankful for these articles. I feel so understood, and I learning to accept and understand myself. Thank you.

Jennifer Lee (not verified) says...

Three things have helped me to be a happier person, recently. One is Buddhism, which helps me to be kind to everyone, including myself. The second is the internet. I got my first computer last year, and I've been really enjoying my little version of activism; signing petitions for worthy causes and posting comments about current events and politics. The third is retirement. I don't have to be concerned about trying to please my employer and customers. I can speak my mind without fear of reprisal. I spent the previous 31 years at the same retail job. (Finding out that I'm an INFJ and what that means goes a long way toward explaining why I put up with such a low-paying job for so long!) I had to walk on eggs every day, trying not to upset anyone in any way; and some people aren't happy unless they can complain about something. My employer even forbid me to openly express myself on any form of social media! The freedom I experience now is wonderful.

Guest (not verified) says...

Jennifer Lee's comment prompted me to write this. I retired in 2008 and bought my first computer later that year. I am outspoken on social media and I've found that I see the world more clearly, for good or for bad. I "speak" with 50 to 200 people daily, I've never done that in my life. I've always had a different, new age perspective and now I can share it. I am a spiritual person who keeps my beliefs to myself. I've realized that I don't have to have a religion to communicate with my higher power. I too stayed in a job at an insurance company that paid poorly for sixteen years! It wasn't really the security I thought it was. I worked at a government job for twenty-five years which was much more profitable. I found that many of those I worked with were self-centered, borderline sociopaths who acted like bratty children. It was a trial every day to be there. At one point, I worked with three people who talked loudly and constantly so that at the end of the day I ached everywhere. Picture the consequences of that for an INFJ! Now I can sit at the computer in the morning, have coffee quietly and not be forced to be in close contact with certain people. I have my space and I treasure it!

nataliashitana says...

This really helped me a lot, i struggled for years to understand myself and why i do things the way i do, but i couldn't until i found out that i'm INFJ, I please people at all times and even those who hurt me, i look at it as if i'm the wrong one even though i'm the one who is wronged. I try so hard to avoid conflict, i rather keep my pain inside then to say it out for me to maintain peace. Reading this kind of articles helps me a lot.

Julie A (not verified) says...

It's kinda crazy scary how much I relate to these articles. The description of the INFJ reaction to the friend being late was spot on. But I would never say what the article suggested,lol. That's WAY too bold for me. I would probably let it go and give the friend grace eventually... after I stewed about it for a few days. ;) I'm just trippin out on these articles though. It's nice but also kinda odd to realize I'm not alone in my INFJness. I wonder what we would all do in a room together! There'd probably a lot of deep conversations and socially awkward interactions going on but nobody would say anything to make anyone else feel bad because we still want to be liked. :D

Guest (not verified) says...

Lol. Only INFJ in a room would be good fun and would definitely be interesting to see what happens !! :)

ChampaignChris (not verified) says...

So thankful to discover I'm not weird or unmanly and that I don't need to change! What an epiphany to learn that I am who I am greatly because of my INFJ personality. Thank you so much for writing these articles.

Guest (not verified) says...

This will probably begin awkwardly...too late ;) Anyhow, I too, am greatly thankful for these articles & for this website. And I love that other INFJ's are expressing gratitude for these articles. What great insight & advice here!

Guest (not verified) says...

I feel like all those people out there think I'm like stupid or something
They probably think I don't have an opinion. Just because I don't say anything it doesn't mean I don't havve an
opinion.I just have no interest in them knowing it.they're all so superficial sometimes. Just yesterday one guy asked me if the reason I don't say anything is because I find it hard to keep up with the conversation..... Seriously!! I was thinking'wow' ..whatever..

Guest (not verified) says...

I can relate to this comment. It seems most other types are in a race to be heard & noticed. Its difficult to be seen as different & quiet (as INFJs). But different we are. I do not have a solution to the issue, but I do feel your pain...

Hobby Tailor (not verified) says...

" at the last minute your friend calls you to say they are going to be extremely late."

I was thinking on that. He or she would never do that.
I got angry when a new friend was pushing the line ahead all the time, there was no clear target or goal. We sorted it out, and I hope that he'll never do that again,
I want the FULL story or goal, or I'll leave. He tried to give me money, but I refused, I see it as an adjustement phase.

"chameleon-like tendencies"
it's really horrible. I didn't have self confidence to hide stuff, or change stuff, the other person is often too overwhelming, I feel that I lose my own personality, I just change myself to him or her, often discovering a new nuance of my "personality".
So I avoid those who don't make me feel good, I think: "can I accept myself when I am with him or her?" If not, I run away. The Fe are really a curse.

I try to be more socialable, I think of babysteps: two steps forth, then one back.

Robyn Peterson (not verified) says...

Although this article has some good ideas, I'm not sure how realistic "mean what you say" is. I'm all about using feeling words and I do it in my every day language. The problem is I feel that most people can't deal with that level of honesty the author suggests in her example. And let's be honest, if there's an opportunity for plans to be cancelled, we're usually ecstatic.

And for me, it's not that I don't open up to people because I'm scared I won't be liked but more of knowing they won't understand so I'm not going to expend that level of energy.

The journaling idea is a great one and I'd also like to add that processing something when you're alone out loud works well too.

And I definitely agree that we need to be more vulnerable with people we trust. That's one of the quickest ways to bond and make the connection we so desperately need.

AllisonA (not verified) says...

”The problem is I feel that most people can't deal with that level of honesty the author suggests in her example. And let's be honest, if there's an opportunity for plans to be cancelled, we're usually ecstatic. 

And for me, it's not that I don't open up to people because I'm scared I won't be liked but more of knowing they won't understand so I'm not going to expend that level of energy.”

Truer words have never been spoken! I really appreciate the article and it was of profound help to me through an issue I had a moment ago, but I do feel like interactions usually go the way I thought that they would, not because of a self-fulfilling prophecy effect, but because we know to a great extent the people that we communicate with, especially if we’re at a point that we’d consciously open up to them. We know how they would react, and usually that’s how that s### goes down. Surprise, surprise, we were right again. Which reinforces the idea that “no one understands”, no matter how directly we put it.


Great article, though. Lovely to see different points of view.


Doglover@75 (not verified) says...

I'm just starting to delve into the Meyers Brigg world...the descriptions and articles I've read about INFJ's are eerily accurate. It's nice that I've finally started to figure myself out after so many years of feeling marginalized and completely misunderstood.

Amit (not verified) says...

what would have I done if mbti was not proposed! thank you all infjs and psychologists....Thanks a lot!

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