What does INFJ mean?
These four letters make up one of the 16 personality types from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment. Each Myers-Briggs type contains a total of four letters (such as INFJ), and for each letter in that sequence, there are two possible options. This creates 16 possible type combinations.
The aspects of personality (according to MBTI), and the options for each letter, are:
- How you interact with the world and what energizes you: Extrovert (E) or Introvert (I)
- How you take in new information: Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)
- How you make decisions: Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
- How you approach planning: Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
Knowing your personality type is not about putting you in a box, or determining how you will always behave under all circumstances and situations. However, it's helpful in understanding how you see the world, make decisions, and interact with others. It can help you understand why you do things the way you do, say the things you say, and think the way you think. Knowing your personality type can be a tool for all kinds of self-improvement and for helping you achieve the things you want to do.
You can read more about the MBTI® tool, and the basis for understanding its results, in this series on what "INFJ" says about you.
How do I know if I'm an INFJ?
There are many websites claiming to give you the four letters of your Myers-Briggs personality type. One thing to note is that these websites may use the same letters of the 16 types in the MBTI system. However, the official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instrument is the only tool that is backed up by decades of research and testing of its reliability and validity. The questions on the official instrument are the result of this research. For this reason, I recommend purchasing and taking the official MBTI instrument. You can do that here.
Another important part of clarifying your type is to know and understand your cognitive functions.
The INFJ Cognitive Functions:
Introverted Intuition (Ni)
This is our primary information-gathering process and it happens effortlessly in the background. Our brains recognize patterns that help us come to sudden "Aha!" moments where we often cannot explain how we came to a conclusion. We're also pretty skilled at seeing things from multiple angles and perspectives. More here on Introverted Intuition.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
This is our auxiliary cognitive function that we fall back on when making decisions. We're concerned with maintaining harmony with those around us and getting their needs met. This makes us very aware of others' emotions. More here on Extraverted Feeling.
Introverted Thinking (Ti)
This is our tertiary information-gathering cognitive function. It's a less-preferred function, but it can help out our Introverted Intuition by using logic to analyze our ideas. This process can, and usually does, develop over time as we mature or get older. In its lesser developed days, our Introverted Thinking can make us really stubborn and critical toward others when they don't agree with a conclusion we've come to. More here on Introverted Thinking.
Extraverted Sensing (Se)
This is our inferior cognitive function, and least developed. It involves taking in information with our senses and it's the reason we find it really hard to be present in the moment. It can also be a source of fun and pleasure for us from time to time. When we're under stress, our underdeveloped Extraverted Sensing can mean we may do things like overeat, over shop, or otherwise indulge too much in our senses to the point of being self-destructive. More here on Extraverted Sensing.
Discovered you're an INFJ?
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INFJ refers to Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging.
INFJs are introverts, although many of us are "social introverts" because of our extraverted feeling.
We mainly use intuition to process information rather than our senses.
We prefer to make decisions based on our own feelings and meeting the needs of others rather than using use facts or data.
The "judging" does not refer to being judgmental. Instead, it describes how we approach planning and that we'd rather have a some sort of plan and structure than none at all. This is why you might need to straighten up your desk or home before you can really think and organize your thoughts.
If you're curious about this type, INFJs in general:
- make up 1-2% of the population, which makes it the rarest of all types
- are interested in never-ending improvement
- more likely to focus on what might happen, or why something has happened, rather than what is actually happening in the moment
- can be greatly impacted by the emotions and energy of others
- tend to be compassionate, sensitive, and emotional
- are interested in creating harmony in a group setting
- have a very strong work ethic
- tend to be very intuitive by recognizing patterns. May "know" things before they happen.
- prefer clarity and closure when it comes to decisions
- have perfectionist tendencies
- tend to be greatly impacted by stress
- are self-critical and have very high expectations of themselves...and others
- are idealists (idealism is not the same as optimism)
- often see their purpose in life as helping others and can often be found in professions such as teaching, healthcare, counseling, etc.
There are many, many other traits of this unique personality, and interestingly, often contradictions. As one example, INFJs most likely have very strong opinions, but may not share these opinions right away, especially if they feel the other person may disagree. If they feel their integrity or ideas are threatened, they may dig their heels in and become extremely strong willed and vocal. As with all personality types, each aspect of a personality can be expressed in healthy or unhealthy ways. We are very complex people, and knowing your personality type should never be used as an excuse for a particular behavior or action.