Hi everyone,
I'm INFJ and I seem to struggle to communicate with people.
I'm doing a lot of volunteering work and we have common chats for that on the net where all volunteers are gathered for exchanging information. For me it's heaven, because it's my favorite way of communicating with others: by writing. I always choose my words carefully, try to write as authentic as possible, using a lot of emoticons for nuance.
If anyone of you has done any volunteering work then you know that communication can be tricky. And most of the volunteers aren't very organized. I, on the other hand, can see clearly how everything works or where problems will/can occur. I'm always on top of things. I always look for ways to make everything better, so that it all works smoother and that we can find the best way to be of service as volunteers. I find flaws in the system easily. And... because writing is my passion, I'm not afraid to write about how I feel.

So, to make a long story short: recently I've found another flaw in our working system and communicated this in the chat, with a few probable solutions. I only received positive reactions and constructive responses. Everyone seemed to be open to recognize the flaw and find new solutions to get it fixed so that we could make things better. Not everyone said that in so many words, but I did not receive criticism, nor did anyone object. So I thought everything was okay.
On our next meeting and volunteering activity everything went great. Great collaboration, a good vibe, happy people, etc... I thought: YES! Score!
But I noticed someone was not present. One of the volunteers did not show up.

So, I asked another volunteer about this person. She answered me that he had his concerns about my recent writing in the chat. He felt personally attacked and therefor he decided that he would not want to be part of it. Also, he hated communicating through the chat so he didn't want to discuss it there. He decided to just stay at home instead of coming over for the volunteering activity. The horror was: after asking around, everyone knew about this matter, except for me and my husband (who's also volunteering). I felt betrayed. But the other volunteers made it clear that they didn't want to take part in it, which I could understand because he was making it a personal conflict between him and me.

Still, he left me completely in the dark. His wife, who is also volunteering, asked my husband and I to try to contact him by phone or meet irl to discuss the matter. I felt immediate resistance. Every fiber in my body wanted to resist having to call or meet him. My time and energy is very limited and I did not want to risk engaging energy and time in something that would not get me anywhere. First of all: I'm not good with telephone conversations, especially if the person on the other side of the line does not really want to talk to me (otherwise, he would have called me already, would he have not?). Second: meeting him in person is asking for a big commitment from me, because of all volunteers I live the furthest away from the volunteering centre (40 minutes drive) and I simply don't have the time to plan this in my schedule at the moment. It's already difficult for me to plan the volunteering activities on a regular basis. He knows this. He only lives a 5 minutes walk from the centre. I just don't want to invest so much time and energy in someone who did not even take the effort to let me know there IS a problem.

Now I feel torn. I feel like I cannot be myself with this person. And I feel awkward because everyone seems to already have had a conversation with this person but me, about this problem. If he takes initiative to let me know he has a problem to sort out with me, then I'm more likely to say yes to a meeting. But like this, with the silent treatment he gives me? No!
The fact is, his wife contacted me again yesterday, reminding me about his telephone number. I have not responded yet, because I hate the situation, especially her pushing me to do something about it. I don't like the fact that she is sort of 'the middle person' in this communication (or lack of communication). What are they like, 12 years old? He's a fully grown man of 40+ years!

I don't know what to do. And I'm scared to ever communicate my feelings/observations again in the chat.
I feel betrayed. I don't know what will happen. I love this volunteering job. I love the people I work with and I do feel we can make a difference as volunteers. I don't want the people I work with to know that behind the scenes a lot of sh*t is happening. I work with traumatized people and they do not need this kind of burden. I strongly feel that this person who has a problem with me makes it into an "ego thing" rather than put the people he works with up front. I hate it.

And now I feel so frustrated. I made it my problem while it is actually HIS problem. I can't sleep and I'm constantly worrying about it. At the same time nothing happens. He still communicates in the chat, with chitchat, wishing me and my husband a fine Holiday, etc..., but he is silent about this as if nothing's the matter. It's hypocritical!
I don't know what he thinks, how he feels, ... and it's driving me crazy. I don't want this volunteering job to be compromised because of this, because I love it so much. I wish he was out of the picture, but that will not happen any time soon :/

I would love to read your feedback on this.
Thank you in advance.

Grtz,
Inanna

Comments

Guest Sandy (not verified) says...

I can relate to this. Here's my take. The person you're dealing with is one of those type of people that prefer face to face interaction rather than an expression of feelings and concerns by writing. There are many people like that, but few have the courage to express it. Without going into personal situations, especially online, I can tell you that I'm familiar with people who appreciate the strengths of an INFJ but they don't like their method. They want more face to face interaction which to them indicates your true loyalty.

I understand how you feel it isn't logical to get into meeting people because of distance and time. I really understand that. But I also understand that you will lose some significant others because of your practicality, logic and unwillingness to give in to things that just don't make sense.

The reason I think it worries you is because you really do care. But my experience is that some people won't get it. And those that get that you need privacy, prefer to help at a distance usually take the good from the relationship and let you do things your own way. They generally aren't looking for more with the relationship. That's fine.

I want to leave you with this: Being an INFJ has it's challenges: this is the biggest one: caring for issues and people but also remaining committed to your values, privacy and practicality. As you mature into this personality type, you'll have to realize that some people don't understand it, don't want to understand it or they want to meet with you on their terms. I've found that the solid relationships eventually get smaller. Sometimes the closest friends are those who are compatible with the INFJ personality type.

I think this issue will challenge you to be the INFJ that you are in totality or stretch yourself outside your challenge. The question is: Is it worth it to you?

Good luck with your process.

daisy.deboevere says...

Hi Sandy,

Thank you so much for your input.
This gives me a lot to think about.

At this time, I am really in doubt. Should I go through with engaging in this activity the way I did so far, or should I retreat and put my energy in something else?
I missed out on our last meeting because of being abroad for a Holiday and there has been no communication whatsoever about the passed meeting. I've been left in the dark again. And I'm tired of taking initiative to keep myself informed. I can conclude: this is not working, at all!

You know, I'm struggling with the fact that this kind of situations keep on happening to me for quite some time now. I've been putting my everything in my volunteering work in different organizations and even as an independent for almost a year now (I work with refugees). But all I seem to get out of it is conflict, because of how I understand and communicate things. I've been ignored by so many co-volunteers by now that it doesn't surprise me anymore.
As for systems: I can't help but see the flaws and wanting to correct them. But that is the opposite of what many volunteers want: they just want to keep doing what they're doing. It's like they don't want things to improve, because they reject/fear/... change. But for me, change is everything: it gives me a purpose, room to breathe, space to explore and practice my talents. I haven't met my image yet amongst co-volunteers about this matter.
And so again: I'm in this conflict, because I wanted to change something for the better, but it seems that I'm the only one wanting this :/ (except for the refugees themselves, because I talked to many of them and they welcome the change for the old system isn't working).

So, whenever something like this happens, I tend to withdraw myself from the situation and let others have it.
But at the same time I'm feeling really unhappy and sad, because pulling back means that I'm making myself smaller so that others can feel bigger. It's that constant fight over power I seem to have and I'm always the one taking a step back and give in for the sake of the group or for others.
And I feel bad and guilty towards the refugees I work with because they are being kept in the same old system. And it doesn't work. But they will not confront the volunteers, because they don't want to be ungrateful towards the volunteers who do this work, yeah... voluntarily of course.

So nothing changes. But it's changing me for the worse :-(

Withdrawing myself seems the only working solution, because pushing through could mean that the refugees come in contact with our conflicts and that could be very harmful. I always put their best interest first. But in the end: I'm the one feeling very unhappy with the situation and I'm sure this radiates on them too, because if I feel unhappy and guilty towards them, they will notice.
So yeah... I feel lousy. I could try to push through and meet my co-volunteer face to face, but I'm scared I will bump into resistance once again and I don't think I'm strong/confident enough to face it while facing him. If I could write it, it would be no problem at all, but 'talking' about it is a real problem because I can't keep my head cool and think straight, because I'm too overwhelmed and intimidated when communicating that way. So yeah, he would win if he gets his way in communication. But I would be able to listen more and keep everything in perspective if I would get my way in communication. Is there something in the middle?

I'm sure I have much to learn from this situation, especially because it's like a pattern in my recent life. But I lack insight right now.
I'm too caught up with my emotions for the time being. But if feels good to ventilate. I'm going to give this some more thought.
I appreciate your feedback.

Grtz,
Inanna

daisy.deboevere says...

Hi everyone,

After hours of contemplating, letting go and talking with (= writing to) kindred spirits, I discovered a probable solution.
I was stuck with black/white options and both felt very uneasy. So I could not make up my mind. Very stressful.

But after a conversation with someone I really trust and also knows of the situation, it hit me: I could just be creative and think of other ways to do "my thing" without getting in the way of this resistant co-volunteer. She pointed me in the right direction by asking me if it was really necessary to keep me focussed on that particular activity, instead of just creating another activity that suits me more, with people who understand me more (or do it alone). YES! That's it!

I decided to just let go and think of new solutions, like organizing some alone time with refugees and work with them on personal themes, instead of putting my everything in that one group activity that does not meet my expectations. I could just change my focus and try to create an activity of my own, so that I can maybe inspire others instead of fighting them. Because I know my talents and I'm sure I can be of help in some way, next to that group activity I'm struggling with.

In that matter I can choose to join in the group activity whenever I feel like it... or I can just leave them be when I don't feel like participating. Because I have other things to focus on I don't need to be omnipresent in this group activity and therefor others won't feel the need to meet my expectations or change the way we work. They can just muddle along and if it's unbearable or tiring to me, than I'll just leave. Plenty of opportunities for me to go on without getting caught up in his (that particular co-volunteer) mess. If he does not want any changes than he can have it. But that doesn't mean I cannot start something of my own.

So, it doesn't feel like withdrawing and feeling left out anymore. It's making smart decisions that benefit both my own needs and that of the people I work with and giving myself room to be INFJ without any compromises. I started launching this new idea yesterday and I already have several refugees who want to meet up and work with me. The organization is supporting me. They even suggested that I could just create another group activity like the one I struggled with and then refugees could choose which one to attend (or attend both). Feels so much better now.

I understand that as INFJ I need to be true to myself, my unique personality, and yes, not everyone understands this. But that's okay. I'm creative and smart enough to find new solutions to problems and act on it. I just have to remind myself from time to time that not everything is black and white: the possibilities lie in the gray zone. I just have to expand my thinking, open my mind to that gray zone instead of limit or restrict myself to black and white thinking.

Yes, I am still a bit angry with this co-volunteer for the way he acted out his discontent. It's quite cowardly, but on the other hand: everyone is fighting their own battles. His insecurity took me off the rails for a bit (because it triggered my own insecurity) but I chose not to hold myself back by this situation and therefor I kept on searching for ways to transcend it, instead of keeping myself unhappy and small. I'm very proud of myself for doing this and I hope, when a new situation like this occurs, I will be stronger and more open-minded and find solutions even faster with less stress and worrying.

Still, it's difficult in a way: I really want to change the world and it's extremely difficult for me to understand that a lot of people don't have that same ideal or ambition. Maybe they once had but they have given up because of various reasons I'll probably never know. I always want to challenge them, fight them, but I guess that does not work. On the contrary, they even become more resistant. So, instead I remind myself from now on to just inspire them and leave them to be. It's not my battle. If they don't listen and cannot work with me, than I should just take a step back, think of other solutions that work for me without having to bother them, and go forward.

I'm curious if other INFJ's recognize this :-)
Thanks for reading & replying.

Grtz,
Inanna

Funshiny says...

INANNA
I am an INTP and my observation is you have excellent communication skills and are very effective at what you do. You will always run into a bit of muck since you are working with people and not machines. You are very strong when you need to be and you don't give up. You know when it's time to turn down the intensity and divert it as needed to continue to give your personal best. Your account of what you were dealing with resembles a personal family conflict I have dealt with. I was helped by reading this and I admire you and how you are focused on what you can do vice allowing yourself to be pressured by anyone to do something you believe would do no good and likely make things worse. PS I was reading INFJ because it's supposed to be a good match however my guess is you are not male which I am looking for as I am a hetero female in VA

daisy.deboevere says...

Thank you for your wonderful reply, Funshiny :-) Haha, no, I'm no male. I'm a hetero female living with my husband in Europe ;-)

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