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28. INFJs: Are they emotionally skilled?

In this article, one of the MBTI personality types, INFJs, and their relationship with emotions and emotional intelligence is discussed. In addition to being an emotional intelligence coach, I have for over 25 years used the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI - 16 personality types inventory), and I find the relationship between the types and emotional intelligence fascinating.

What is an INFJ?

The INFJ is one of the 16 personality types on the MBTI, a well established and very popular personality profile, used throughout the world. It is based on Jungian psychology, and Jung is thought by many to have been an INFJ.

The 16 unique types, including the INFJ, are formed from a combination of four preferences, each one drawn from a set of four dichotomies. Very simply explained, each type has a preference in each of these pairs:

  1. Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I): Where people get their energy from - whether from stimulation in the outer world or from going inside in quiet surroundings.
  2. Sensing (S) or iNtuition (N): How people take in information - whether they focus more on the details of a situation or on the broader perspective they associate with it.
  3. Thinking (T) or Feeling (F): How people make decisions - whether they rely more on true-or-false reasoning or on feelings, values and the impact on people.
  4. Judging (J) or Perceiving (P): How people deal with the world - whether they prefer to get things decided or to stay open to new information and options. (This is not exactly how Jung intended it but how it has become commonly used.)

The very first aspect to understand about an I-N-F-J, therefore, is that it is formed by a combination of the following four preferences: Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling and Judging. It is the inter-relationship and combination of these four preferences that makes the unique INFJ not the preferences in isolation.

Want a more in-depth understanding of what it's like to be an INFJ? Click here to get your copy of INFJ: What it's like to be one". It explains INFJs in depth by INFJs and why they do the things they do.

INFJs and understanding the emotions of others

Each of the sixteen types has four different elements or cognitive functions to their personality, out of a possible eight. The function stack for the INFJ is:

  • D - Dominant: introverted iNtuition (Ni). 
  • A - Auxiliary: extraverted Feeling (Fe). 
  • T - Tertiary: introverted Thinking (Ti).
  • I - Inferior: extraverted Sensing (Se).

This is important when considering emotions in the INFJ. In some ways emotions are the strength of an INFJ but in other ways they can be their weakness. 

Clearly all INFJs will differ in their levels of emotional intelligence, as personality and emotional intelligence are not the same, but this does not detract from the fact that INFJs are well known for their accuracy in reading other people's emotions and intentions. The extent to which this occurs is well documented and includes the propensity to absorb the emotions of others quite readily. In my research for my new book on INFJs, I found that the INFJ's ability to absorb the emotions of others was common. This is because INFJs have an Auxiliary function of extraverted Feeling (Fe), i.e. they can pick up on feelings in the outer world. 

This can be a big support in the expression of empathy and the ability to understand another person at a deep level. INFJs may typically demonstrate high levels of empathic skills and can be found in many careers but particularly psychology, counselling and health care. They are people people.

However, emotional absorption can be to the detriment of INFJs unless they have sophisticated levels of emotional self-management and emotional intelligence. Why? Because they can get stuck in the emotions they have absorbed. This is not healthy.

One of the contributors in the INFJ book, is an Australian medical Doctor - a GP. She describes how she absorbs the emotions of her patients and how, unless she processes these rapidly she can become overwhelmed by them.

Want a more in-depth understanding of what it's like to be an INFJ? Click here to get your copy of INFJ: What it's like to be one". It is for all INFJs, written by INFJs, about INFJs.

INFJs and understanding their own emotions 

The other downside of emotions for INFJs is that they can get lost in their own emotions and find it hard to work out how they are feeling, in the moment. The reason for this is that they do not have introverted Feeling (Fi) in their function stack, unlike the INFP who has it as their Dominant function. In other words the emotional focus of most INFJs is on other people not on themselves.

In addition, emotional problems may occur in INFJs because they are typically struggling to be understood or accepted by other types. The reason for this is because out of every 100 people they meet only one is likely to be the same personality type. Some INFJs can therefore end up feeling like aliens, or feeling misunderstood, or struggling to get their points of view accepted. Several contributors in the book echoed this sentiment, including the GP:

Growing up, I always felt like an alien. I felt very different from everyone else, and not readily understood by anyone. I always felt like the aliens who dropped me off with my parents must have laughed half-way across the galaxy once they discovered that they'd forgotten to leave the instruction manual with them. My parents certainly didn’t see the humour in this, and throughout my life have remained puzzled by my thinking and behaviour, and disconnected from me. As a child, this convinced me that there must have been some fundamental design flaw in me.

No design flaw, she is just an INFJ, in a world where others are generally not INFJs and she is expected to fit in to the ways of the other types. I wonder if you are an INFJ and what your experience is? Or do you work with INFJs or employ INFJs? Do you know how to get the best out of them or are they just made to fit in and pretend to be like everyone else? 

To find out a lot more about INFJs please read INFJ: What it's like to be one": http://www.theeiinstitute.com/ei-institute-store/infj-what-its-like-to-be-one.html There are over seventeen INFJs, male and female, young and old from around the world who have contributed to the book and who take you inside their INFJ worlds in a way that has not been done before.

Emotional intelligence at work: Get to know your type, increase communication effectiveness and lower conflict

There is so much that you or your team can learn so that you develop greater understanding of, and skills with, your communication, personality and relationships at work and home. The EI Institute has a number of options to help you:

  1. If you are an INFJ or live or work with one, then this 2018 book by Rachel Green, our Director, is a must read: "INFJ: What's it like to be one."
  2. There is superior 1-1 coaching; and the MBTI is included as part of our smart leadership coaching package. You can find out your MBTI type and develop the skills you need, with Rachel Green.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.

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