INFJs may be good at many things, but dealing with conflict is certainly not our forte. If there’s one thing this personality type dislikes, it's the idea of having to confront someone. In our peace-making and harmony-seeking minds, everything should be solved without the need to argue. So when conflict arises, an INFJ will probably sweep it under the carpet, ignore it and hope it never comes up again.
Sound familiar? Read on to discover our best tips to help INFJs manage conflict in a healthier way.
Why do INFJs avoid conflict?
So, why do INFJs avoid conflict in the first place? Well, you could say it boils down to Extraverted Feeling (Fe)—an INFJ’s auxiliary function.
As Fe users, INFJ personalities tend to make decisions based on how their feelings will affect their environment and relationships. As these types value group harmony, we do our best to avoid any disruption that might put our relationships at risk. Most of the time, we fear that by disagreeing with someone, we might hurt that person’s feelings and destroy the harmony we so deeply value.
In addition, because INFJs usually tune into other people’s emotions, we can’t help but notice when someone is getting angry or frustrated in a conversation. Witnessing that emotional instability may lead a caring INFJ to get unstable as well, so we prefer to not even start arguing in the first place.
Here are seven things INFJs can do to overcome their fear of conflict.
1. See conflict as growth, not failure
Often as an INFJ, you think that all conflicts emerge because you failed to prevent them in some way. What you may be overlooking is the fact that conflict is actually a natural part of having a relationship.
In truth, conflict can serve a useful purpose. Sometimes you have to confront people so your relationship with them can flourish and you can both reach a new understanding. It’s an opportunity for growth. So, instead of indulging in feelings of guilt, try to accept conflict as a healthy part of life.
2. Use your empathy to listen
INFJs can truly be walking paradoxes. For we fear conflict and run away from it, even when we’re equipped with one of the best qualities to deal with it: listening. True to their Counselor nature, INFJs are brilliant listeners, so why don’t we use this to our advantage?
During a heated discussion, you can use your empathetic skills to turn the situation around and listen without judgement. In reality, most of the time, what we need to start moving on from conflict is validation. By offering emotional support, you acknowledge that the other person’s feelings are valid, and that can make a whole world of a difference.
3. Don’t take everything personally
INFJs are not only highly critical of themselves, but we’re also very sensitive to what others say of us. As an INFJ myself, I know that not taking things personally can be a real challenge. While the logical side in me knows that everyone gets agitated now and then, the emotional side of me gets offended and shuts down. We’re Feelers, after all.
The solution? Simple, even if counterintuitive—detach yourself from the situation. If you maintain a calming posture, and understand that not everything constitutes a personal attack, chances are, you’ll be able to have a more productive conversation.
4. Stand up for yourself
On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes you need to know when to stand up for yourself during conflict. More often than not, INFJs get drained during an argument, so we either rush for closure too quickly—just to put an end to the fight—or we shut down, and start feeling resentful towards the other person.
What’s more, as Fe users, INFJ types can also be prey to toxic people. That’s why it’s crucial to remember that it is both valid, and healthy, to set boundaries. You can say no, and you can reassert yourself when someone pushes their opinions on you (yes, really!).
As much as INFJs value harmony, we also need to value our integrity and let our voice be heard. Continuing to please others, even when you’re feeling resentful, will only fuel internal disharmony.
5. Talk when you’re calm
INFJs are very perceptive of other people’s emotions, which can be useful during a confrontational conversation. While remaining calm usually allows for active listening and a deeper understanding, sometimes both parties get too emotionally invested to keep their cool.
What to do then? If you sense that the other party is overly emotional, deferring the conflict resolution for later may be a smart move. You’re not actually avoiding talking about the topic at hand. Instead, you’re telling the other person that you care about resolving the issue with them. So much so, that you’re postponing the resolution for a time when both of you have processed things better.
In addition, if you feel unsafe, or sense that the other person is being abusive, step away. It’s completely valid to remove yourself from a potentially harmful situation. In this scenario, you’re not actually avoiding conflict, but protecting yourself.
6. Notice when you’re shutting down
It’s no secret that INFJs have a hard time dealing with criticism, especially when someone has an opinion that goes against our values or beliefs. Instead of remaining open, and trying to understand that there are different points of view, our natural tendency is to shut down, and stop listening.
What can you do to change this behavior? A key strategy is to be mindful during tumultuous conversations. By being aware of your emotions and thoughts during a confrontational situation, you can choose to remain open and listen, instead of dismissing the other person, or having an immediate negative reaction.
In addition, be aware that shutting down a conflict before coming to a resolution may hurt both parties involved. You may feel attacked because someone questioned your values, but the other person might feel completely alienated by seeing you walk away.
7. Focus on one issue at a time
The intensely focused INFJ personalities can have chaotic minds, and often exist in multitask mode. Yet, while most days I can deal with having too many tabs open on my brain, it can also be a little too much. Particularly so, when you’re facing a conflicting situation with another person.
My advice? If you have several issues to discuss with someone, focus on dealing with them one at a time. Trying to manage all problems at once can be, not only confusing, but also damaging to the mentally exhausted INFJ.
The bottom line
Most INFJs are naturally conflict averse, as engaging in conflict threatens their Fe values of group harmony, and stability. Still, what INFJs often fail to see is that conflict can actually serve a purpose. It can initiate positive change and growth in a relationship. So next time you feel like avoiding conflict like the plague, use one of the tips above. Good luck!