'Ship Series: INFJ 4-1-1

Sunday, January 13, 2013 6 Comments A+ a-

Inside the library - this
view isn't far from where I'm
sitting today.
Hey, guys! Greetings from the Champaign Public Library!

I've just recently started coming here to write. It's not my hometown library, but it's a lot bigger, offers longer hours, and it's virtually impossible for people I know to run into me and interrupt my thought process, lol!

Today I'm at a table by the window, sipping my coffee and watching people bravely sliding down the sidewalk. Yesterday was warmer and a bit rainy, but the temp plummeted last night and froze everything over. Part of me wanted to stay home and watch TV all day by the fire. Alas, I have e-mails and comments to respond to, posts to write and a book to finish. There is no rest for the INFJ author-wannabe!! :-)

So, coffee? Check. Quiet place to write? Check. Laptop and earbuds? Check. All systems are go. Let's get started...

The INFJ is a rare and beautiful creature. Before I start looking at how we interact with and relate to other types, I want to make certain we're aware of our basic inner workings. The way we're stacked up (functionally speaking) is going to have a significant impact on how we view other personalities, not to mention how they view us.

INFJ Functional Hierarchy

Dominant - introverted intuition (Ni)
Auxiliary - extraverted feeling (Fe)
Tertiary - introverted Thinking (Ti)
Inferior - extraverted Sensing (Se)

At first glance a functional stack can look a bit intimidating. Lots of technical words, lots of funky letter combinations. But there's meaning here, and also some noticeable structure. We use our Ni/Se for taking in information (perceiving) and our Fe/Ti for coming to conclusions (judging).

Our Ni dominates the way we view the world. As our strongest function, we use it naturally and without much conscious effort. Ni is what gives us our "gut" feelings and impressions, our ability for big-picture and visionary thinking, and our abstract minds. And it's an introverted function, so we tend to conceal it rather than project it outward.

Fe is our second-strongest function. Sort of a sidekick to the Ni, it works by supporting and balancing our dominant function. As an extroverted function, our Fe reaches out and shows itself to the world. It allows us to pick up on the emotions of people around us and adjust our behavior accordingly. This contributes toward our reputation for compassion and warmth, as we can often discretely discern a person's emotional needs and provide an accurate response.

Our ability to think introspectively comes from our Ti function. While it's not as strong as Ni or Fe, it still provides a great contribution to the INFJ profile by giving us the ability to analyze and categorize data in a logical manner. As with our Ni, we have a tendency to conceal this function. Put the Ni and Ti together, though, and problem-solving becomes almost magical.

Last--but certainly not least--on the list is Se. Because it's our weakest function, we aren't usually dominated by our senses. But we do project our extraverted sensing on the world, and it picks up on just about everything in an effortless and unconscious manner. This function gives us a keen sensitivity to touch, taste, feel, sight, and sound. It also feeds data into our Ni on a constant basis, contributing to and supporting our gut feelings and impressions.

So what can we conclude by looking at our functional hierarchy? Well, a lot, actually!

  • For one, we're introverts. Our dominant function is introverted, and that types us as introverts. We prefer solitude for recharging and reflection, are drained by overstimulating environments, and usually enjoy a small, intimate circle of friends.
  • We're natural counselors/protectors. Our Fe acts as a radar for other people's feelings, which we then intuitively (Ni) figure out how to help or resolve. Being able to get to the root of a problem and also glimpse future possibilities gives us an edge when it comes to taking care of those around us.
  • We're judging types! Not critical like Judge Judy, however, as many people seem to think. Our Fe is what defines the "J" in our INFJ. Judging types like to build conclusions. Despite our incredible imaginations and affinity for artistic pursuits, we do prefer order, structure and closure in our lives.
  • We're deep, complex thinkers. Our Ni and Ti work together to theorize, build systems, find root causes, make connections, and solve problems. Yes, we can talk about the weather, but not for very long, because we're too busy thinking up solutions for hunger and world peace.
  • We're psychic. Okay, maybe not, but we often strike others that way. Some say this is because our Se is an expert at gathering data and supplying our Ni everything it needs for instant impressions and feelings. Others speculate that our functional stack is so unique that we make divine connections from invisible sources that no one else can discern. Either way we baffle the world, no doubt about it.

Suffice it to say that we stack up in a mysterious, complex way that will attract some types and repel others. Here are some other facts about INFJs that may factor into relationship issues:

  • We're idealistic and often perfectionists.
  • We have strong core value systems.
  • We can be extremely stubborn.
  • We're intellectual and easily bored.
  • We often think in terms of images and metaphors.
  • We often experience life in an intense manner.
  • We can see issues from multiple perspectives.
  • We base decisions heavily on our feelings.
  • We like to be surrounded by beauty.
  • We value authenticity.
  • We're not easily manipulated.
  • We can don masks and slip into other role-types as needed.
  • We are adept at working equally out of the left and right sides of our brain.
  • We excel at expressing ourselves in writing.

As you can see, our basic characteristics make us truly interesting creatures. We have layer upon layer of intense, passionate personality combined with unlimited imaginations, beautiful vision, and a desire to connect with humanity in a meaningful way. Is it any wonder we are rare?!?

"We walk a path less taken."

Now to try and keep all of this in mind as we start looking at how we relate to other personality types. Yikes, we might be in for a wild ride, people :-)

Until next time, take care and have a great week,

P.S. Here are links to web sites that I've been studying in preparation for this series. Though I didn't quote directly from any of them in this post, I'll be leveraging their material to complete the series.

Personality Junkie
Type Logic
Personality Pathways


Write comments
January 14, 2013 at 12:23 AM delete

Having been wandering around in previous posts I would have to say that you've summed up a lot of information you've posted previously in a lovely fashion. One thing that stood out to me in this one is your mention of the dual roles of counselor and protector. That's very much a part of how I live. I actually find myself getting most depressed when I'm not helping/protecting someone. Some how this facet of our personality type seems to be most closely linked to my purpose. I have to laugh at myself when I realize I'm wishing a friend would bring a problem to me. Not that I'm wishing problems on my friends intentionally, but somehow it seems to be part of so many of my key relationships.
I've often described my ability to "don masks" as being a chameleon. In high school there really weren't too many people who couldn't hang out with me. I floated pretty much at will through most social cliques, and I think much of it had to do with this ability to appear close to what people wanted to see. And yet strangely no one ever tried calling me two-faced for being able to pass so easily from group to group.

January 14, 2013 at 9:10 AM delete

The function stack is really interesting to learn about! I've been spending some time on personalitycafe.com and so many of those folks seem to be able to type based on their knowledge of the functions and simple observations of other people. I am always skeptical when they type someone as INFJ just based on their observations, because just as Jonathanrenck said, we're very capable chameleons.

What resource are you using for information on the function stacks, Meridian? Are you going to breakdown all the types by function or just your ESFJ husband? If just him, I'll be happy to do ISFJ and send you my stuff. ESFJ and ISFJ covers almost half of the female population, as I understand it.

January 14, 2013 at 3:30 PM delete

There's a good reason many sites refer to INFJs as guardians. One of my favorite INFJ inspirational posters has a picture of Gandalf swinging his sword. The caption reads: "We're remarkably empathetic and kind. Until you threaten some defenseless hobbits." We seriously love coming to the aid of others :-)

Sadly, I wasn't a good chameleon in high school. I felt like a fraud when I tried to change myself to fit in with other social groups. I had a few good friends, but other than that, I walked alone. Still do. I can and do slip a mask on easily, but it feels funny after awhile, and I can't wait to be alone and take it off. Everyone around me sees my masks, but I haven't yet found a person whom I trust with my true face, lol...

January 14, 2013 at 3:38 PM delete

I've read articles that speculate the percentage of INFJs might not be accurate due to our ability to blend in. Kind of intrigues me how covert we are. Like the Men in Black.

You know, I struggled with how to "source" this post. I never did quote any one site, and a lot of the information was just stuff I already knew. It's hard to know what's considered general knowledge and what should be cited. But I did read a lot in order to prep myself for the post, so I'll go back sometime later today and indicate all the web articles I was browsing before I wrote the post. I'm glad you brought this up, as it's always good to give credit where it's due :-)

January 14, 2013 at 5:52 PM delete

P.S. I would definitely like to address the functional stacks of each type. Am going to try and format each post in a similar way. If I work them separately, it will take forever to get through them all. I do want lots of your honest feedback on the ISFJ comparison, for sure! Data is one thing, but experience provides irreplaceable insight!

October 4, 2015 at 2:10 PM delete

These explorations of INFJ are truly a revelation. Example -- I always knew I was unique but didn't fully understand why until learning I am an INFJ. That was a few years back, and I was shocked at that time to find that I stood alone when our fairly large employee group was asked to divide into types. Literally one in a million, folks. The comment above that someone made about high school and floating from group to group -- that was me. I just didn't know why. Throughout a long career of working with large groups of people, I found that I could easily blend with almost anyone. One of the told me that they couldn't figure out why I got along with everyone, including people who couldn't stand each other. Interesting stuff.