Are you an INFJ that finds yourself questioning why you feel so different? Maybe you’ve read the description of the INFJ personality type and that’s made it a little easier for you to understand yourself. But…something’s not quite gelling. The typical run-down of INFJ personality traits includes sensitivity, empathy, introversion, creativity, a strong values orientation and organization as some of your top strengths. But what about the other traits you observe in yourself? Are they part of the INFJ personality type or are they just unique to you?
Well, I’m here to tell you that INFJs are called contradictory for a reason! People of this type think, behave and conduct themselves in a colorful way because many of our traits are in a never-ending boxing match. Some of our most unexpected traits come from this odd paradox within ourselves—but they’re still typically “INFJ.”
Let’s take a look at some of the more unusual quirks to the INFJ personality. These five traits are often left beneath the dust and debris of the INFJ’s commonly discussed behavior responses, but the small stuff is important too.
1. INFJs can be really impulsive
Yes, INFJs can be impulsive and when they are, it can shake up the world around them in a way that is either positive or negative. If you’ve spent some delving into the INFJ profile, you’re most likely aware of the quiet, reserved and cautious side of the INFJ. While INFJs are not explicitly called cautious, the type prefers order, structure and organization. With their calm and collected approach, it’s unusual to think of this type derailing and heading down a spontaneous, impulsive pathway.
But INFJs are also Feeling types, rather than Thinking types. Sometimes, our emotions take the lead, resulting in a bout of impulsiveness. INFJs often get emotionally driven when they desire to make a difference or they find themselves in a stressful situation that they didn’t predict.
When I’m stressed out, it can be all-consuming. This is what sparks a cautious INFJ to react on impulse. In my experience, other factors can cause a flare of impulsivity, like an over-packed routine, a feeling of stagnation, or a lack of social interaction. If the last one throws you for a loop, remember the INFJ is one of the most extraverted Introvert types, and meaningful relationships are of the utmost importance to them.
Luckily, I’ve found impulsiveness isn’t always a bad thing. It can be constructive for an INFJ who’s tightly-bound in their decision-making. If a sudden itch does come, you may not want to challenge it straight away. Do err on the side of caution if your intuition is telling you step back, as the INFJ gut is a good predictor of outcomes.
2. INFJs can be completely oblivious
INFJs are observant and intuitive. We’re good at picking up on the emotions of others. Like many INFJs, I have an odd talent for listening to several conversations at once and reiterating them in summaries. When tuned into my surroundings, I can tell you what's going on in a room with ease.
But there are many, many times I find myself oblivious to what’s going on around me. Although INFJs have a knack for recognizing a friend’s heartache or which song is playing over the radio in a matter of minutes, there’s a big caveat to our abilities. And that is our inner world.
For example, I may walk into a café. Once in line, I'll think about the deadline I have tomorrow, ideas for creative projects, how I can lessen my carbon footprint, and how to prepare for an upcoming event. During all this, someone I know begins to talk to me. I ask them how they are while I'm contemplating these other topics, deciding which beverage to order, and wondering whether I should pay cash or card.
I should recognize that this person is experiencing a lot of stress. I should see behind their wall and think, “They have something they’d like to discuss with me, I can help.” Instead, I'm too stuck inside this inner-world cycle to pick up on what I'd normally see in a matter of seconds.
This is how I lost my glasses in the dishwasher last month after failing to notice they’d fallen from my shirt, only to find them a week later after they’d gone through a cycle or two.
Losing touch with what's happening around us isn't unusual for an INFJ. Remember that when our profiling focuses so much on our intuitive talents and forgets to describe us when we're more askew.
3. INFJs crave and fear recognition
While being humble is not an unexpected trait of the INFJ, there’s an odd juxtaposition of us desiring recognition, yet refusing to accept it when it's given. Many INFJs struggle between wanting to make a difference in the world and owning our achievements. We are terrible at praising ourselves and accepting praise from others. After some time in life, you might say, “Thank you,” and leave it at that—but you might not take the compliment to heart.
For me, it's like I'm unable to give myself a true pat on the back. Where this may be due to my desire to be—and remain—humble, it may also be due to my high expectations for myself. In my mind, I’m never quite where I’d like to be. So recognizing my accomplishments for more than say, five or ten minutes, feels somewhat gauche. Even if I know that I’ve done an outstanding job, the odds are you won’t hear me bragging about it by the water cooler. If someone else compliments me, I may squeak out a hesitant, “Thank you,” but only because I've squashed the urge to tell them everything that was wrong, broken down in a detailed bullet-list.
Although a touch of humility is healthy, I do believe INFJs deserve to take a moment of recognition. The INFJ phobia of praise could use a bit of balancing out.
4. The INFJ mind is never quiet
Someone told me once that I exude an air of peace and calm, with an infectious, easygoing nature. That’s not an unusual description of an INFJ. We’re often characterized as peaceful and appear so to others. On the inside, however, it’s a completely different story. INFJs have this inner energy; an endlessly restless mind.
For instance, my mind is constantly analyzing people, the energy in the room, my situation, and the state of world affairs. These thoughts of mine are often on lockdown in front of my peers. But on the inside, they are whizzing by at 100 miles per hour.
Some degree of inner restlessness is common to all introverted types but, for INFJs, the thought processes feel a bit different. It's like having too many internet tabs open at once and being unable to file them away. While the INFJ can control their mind, it's hard to keep it from wandering. I often find myself thinking about five to ten things at once, and despite my efforts to divert to one focus, it usually comes back full circle.
5. INFJs can mesh with almost anyone
INFJs are social chameleons. While we definitely have a preference for introversion, others are often surprised by this, seeing us as extraverted types. That’s because an INFJ has the ability to ‘chameleon’ and make themself appear extraverted, partially because they love people, but also because they are used to adapting themselves to better fit the world around them.
Camouflaging to fit specific social groups or people, others might accuse the INFJ of being fake, but that's not the case.
The INFJ works hard to chameleon around others. Feeling misunderstood is part and parcel, and I've learned to adapt my behavior to suit situations. For example, I'm more of a jokester with one friend, an Introvert with another, and an intellectual with another. It's like showing myself in pieces. Because someone may not understand who I am as a whole, I curtail myself to suit our relationship.
Summing it up
It’s important to note that every INFJ may have a different experience, like any of the 16 personality types. While INFJs have a baseline of traits in common, it doesn’t mean you will resonate with every single one. If you’re an INFJ who’s had that ah-ha moment after taking a personality test, you may feel you resonate with these unexpected INFJ traits as much as I do.