5 Unexpected Personality Traits of INFJs

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on March 03, 2020

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.

Cianna Garrison

Cianna Garrison holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and works as a freelance writer. She fell in love with psychology and personality type theory back in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed continually learning about the 16 personality types. As an INFJ, she lives for the creative arts, and even when she isn’t working, she’s probably still writing.

More from this author...
About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


LJD (not verified) says...

Oh my goodness. I read this and cried. It sounds so like me but any time I have looked at personality typology in the last 30 years (and thats been often) I could never find my home. I have never come out as an N but always very close on the EI,JP and always an F. The contradictions and chameleon sound so like me. I will be putting myself in the INFJ corner for a bit to see how it fits. What type commonly cant "fit" themselves?

Cianna Garrison says...

Hi LJD! 


Thanks so much for your comment. I think there are some types that are commonly mistyped ISFJs, ISFP, and INFPs... And they sometimes mistype as an INFJ! I think it's because we are all "feelers" and share some similarities. 

For instance, my post above could potentially apply to other introverted types similar to an INFJ, if there's one letter difference, there may be some overlap. I wrote based upon what I've discovered, as well as going through internet communities with other INFJs. 

If nothing has really felt like home, I suggest waiting to take the test when you feel most at your true self. Since our emotions and personalities can wax and wane depending on what frame of mind you may be in, or if you've gone through a life-changing event that somehow alters some of your behavior, it's easy to either mistype, or discover that you've been through something that's made your type change! It is personal growth, and our lives and personalities can sometimes be a spectrum, so it's true not everyone remains with the same type all of their life. 



Irene Loy (not verified) says...

This is right on the money, Cianna! I'm an INFJ who has found each of these paradoxes to be true! Thank you for a thoughtful and kind analysis!

Cianna Garrison says...

Thanks so much for your kind comment, Irene! I'm glad that you've found this to be true. INFJs are funny creatures, aren't they? 

I have to stop and laugh at myself sometimes when I realize how nonsensically strewn together my traits can be, or seem to others who don't live inside my head.

Arurima (not verified) says...

This piece of text resonated with me so much. And I was never sure about my MBTI personality type because I had taken many tests and rarely got a particular tyle, as in I sometimes got N sometimes S, sometimes T, sometimes F. It was confusing. But when I read about the 'chameleon' here, the INFJ that I got at truity, was justified. Yes, usually and mostly am introverted but I love partying and dancing, and when I find interesting conversations, my voice is AUDIBLE very much!!!! This fit so well!! Thank you for clarifying!

Cianna Garrison says...

Hi Arurima!

I'm so happy to hear that you resonated with the piece. For a long time, I was not sure if the chameleon behavior was just me, but when I connected with other INFJs and did more research, got into discussions, I think a lot of INFJs feel like this! Thank you for your comment! 


Cherie H (not verified) says...

This is spot on..I actually felt like I was a bit "crazy". It is nice to know others share similar inner workings of the mind. Thank you for this thoughful article it really resonates and brings a certain comfort.

Cianna Garrison says...

Hi Cherie, 


I'm so happy this article brought you some comfort. <3 I hope you are well and thanks again for reading!

~Cianna Garrison

Stacy Just (not verified) says...

Wow! Thank you so much! I've taken 3 different tests and came up with INFJ every time, but I questioned it because I could not "read minds" although I have goid instincts on what people and animals are feeling. I also am clueless sometimes and read a person wrong, especially when I'm too busy in my own head. So many sources make the INFJ out to be so perfect at stuff like reading people. I couldn't reconcile how so many descriptions seem to only partially fit, until I read this. I also hear about how many are mistyped. So, after reading this, and I feel I relate 100% to it, maybe I am an INFJ. How does one know for sure? 

AndyC (not verified) says...

I have read extensively on INFJ personality type since I did several tests to check if I actually was one, and yes, every one came out as INFJ.

This article however, has just described my mind and how I feel earily accurately so thank you for writing this as I now know I am not the only person battling all the time with what goes on in the mind of an INFJ.

It's comforting to know others are similar and it has made me smile and feel a part of something which, as you probably know already, is quite rare as we tend to feel different from most people we know.

I will continue my day now with a private smile on my face so Thank You again !!

Lsmadhurima (not verified) says...

It's like u have described my social and general life in one go. I fit with everyone and like to more on background than forefront.But I will be there. My father will all the way with physical forms of affection and I'm like awkwardly standing with my hands straight. 

Atiniir (not verified) says...

Hah, I was just talking at length with a family member of how I want recognition and praise and strive to be the person people ask for help, but hate actually receiving praise, it makes me feel so uncomfortable and I just dead stop when I receive it because I don't want to say the wrong thing and I'm so embarrassed.

MelissaAmour72 (not verified) says...

This was one of the most accurate descriptions of an INFJ (me!) I’ve ever read. Thank you! :)

TracyH (not verified) says...

I'm an INFJ, in love w another INFJ, and she is a walking contradiction so much so that sometimes I think I could pound my head against the wall!  Thank you for your insightfulness. You've helped me enormously!

Ellen C (not verified) says...

The social chameleon thing has always been an issue for me to wrestle with, so I appreciate this description of why we do this.
My issue has been that it sounds so phony, and my fear is that it might look phony if I were observed doing it! It's definitely not a conscious, intentional act. It's second nature.
But my pet peeve is insincerity. So the thought that I might be a fake was horrible!
But I truly believe that it's a relating tool because we want to really connect with others and make them comfortable and at ease. So, we play a subconscious matching game. If my personality were a prism made up of several unique planes, I'd sense which of my planes matched my partner and show them that side (without really trying or noticing). Then they'd be at ease and we would understand each other. 
It's almost as simple as the idea of speaking French when you're in France. You want to be understood and to relate to others, so speak their language. I don't think that makes us phony. 
I do get a bit uncomfortable though when I sense that someone has seen multiple sides, I feel overexposed somehow. Oh well, another issue for another day!

Novi (not verified) says...

This is so brilliantly accurate!!!

Oshua (not verified) says...


Linny Lindley (not verified) says...

I know absolutely nothing about this and see all these different letters and I have no clue what they mean. I do understand the mentality though. I've always blamed it on being hyper. Very strange how many of those personality traits that I have on a regular basis. Thanks for the info.

Lisa HH (not verified) says...

I have taken the test several times at different times in my life and always come up INFJ.  It is so wonderful to know I am not losing my mind.   All of these traits reflect me..from many thoughts running at the same time to insecurities.   Thank you I needed this.  I am 64 yrs old and wished I had used this in choosing a career path when I was younger - I think I could have had a lot less stress.  

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