To my fellow INFJs,
I understand how tough being social can be for our personality type. After all, we make up only about 1 percent of the population, so when we socialize, we’re going to be dealing with a wide variety of personalities that don’t exactly match our own. It’s no surprise that you can feel drained pretty quickly, and maybe you’re hesitant to go out if that’s always how you feel by the end of a social event.
But it can get better. We might not be extroverts who feed on social activities, but we have plenty of inherent traits we can use to our advantage. Being quiet, reflective, and sensitive don’t have to be your “weaknesses” when it comes to socializing.
1. Find a group that suits your interests.
Not all social outings are created equal. An INFJ can blend into almost any environment, but only in a few settings will they feel understood. It may take some time, but the best place to start is to look for social events or groups where you can share your deepest passions with others. If you love creative writing, try a weekly story writing group. If you’re more of a gearhead, then perhaps a local auto show is right for you.
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Thanks to the web, sites like Meetup have made it easier for INFJs, and introverts in general, to find each other. See if there’s an introvert (or INFJ) meetup in your area. You might be surprised how talkative a roomful of introverts can be.
2. Visualize your success ahead of time.
Thanks to our heightened intuition, INFJs can easily get lost in our heads. And when we’re under stress, we can all too easily imagine how poorly things might go–like picturing yourself being judged after you’ve made a faux pas on an upcoming job interview or date, well before you’ve actually shown up to the event.
However, that’s not all INFJs can do. We can use that same near-psychic ability to read into our future and project a more confident version of ourselves. It can be as simple as holding up a positive mental image of yourself–you’re smiling and gracious through whatever conversations you might have. With enough practice, you might start believing you really are confident.
3. Manage your empathy (your blessing and your curse).
You like people. A lot. You want to make them happy because that makes you happy, and when someone’s in a bad mood, you feel it as if it were your own. This is something that INFJs have to confront on a daily basis.
Fortunately, being empathetic doesn’t mean you have to stay a wallflower forever. Visualizing yourself as a confident and secure person while talking to someone new can filter out some of the worst feelings you might receive from others. At the same time, you can channel your empathy to pick up cues from other people and work those insights into the conversation. Or, when you notice someone is feeling sad or upset, you can make conversation about the things you know that person will enjoy and diffuse their emotional weight.
4. Don’t let your high standards stop you from having a good time.
It’s true that the INFJ type has a solid perfectionistic streak. We expect the best from ourselves and from the people around us. And yet, sometimes the most fun at a party or hanging out with friends comes when we let our guard down and go with the flow.
5. Don’t feel bad about your mind wandering off during conversation.
This might be a real hurdle for any introvert. Our minds rarely take a break, even when we’re not ready to talk. This goes double for the INFJ, especially with our strong introverted intuition and our weak extroverted sensing. It’s easy to lose track of a conversation when your brain is too busy processing something you heard 5 or 10 minutes ago.
However, in a small gathering, it’s okay if you don’t want to contribute to the conversation right away. And in some situations, being able to sit and let your brain chew on what’s been said can be helpful later on. This is how you can have great insight into your friend’s problem—not to mention the chance to come up with a catchy one-liner that will have the whole table laughing.
6. Be helpful to the people around you.
There’s a reason the INFJ is known as “The Counselor.” We’re so sensitive and attuned to the needs of other people that we feel compelled to put their needs above our own. In a social situation, remember that you don’t have to feel so pressured or self-conscious to meet everyone’s needs. If you’re finding little ways to help your group, that’s enough. It can be as simple as offering to get drinks, giving someone directions, or holding the door open for a friend. You might also find yourself in a group where you can be the sympathetic ear or therapist to someone who needs to vent, which will put your natural empathy to work.
I know many introverts can feel like social doormats because they’re not as loud or outspoken as extroverts, but INFJs can channel a quiet confidence through small, kind actions and understanding words.
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Read this: An Open Letter to Single INFJs