5 Things I Wish Extroverts Understood About Me as an INFJ

INFJ personalities are complex, and they are rare. It’s difficult for some other personality types, much less an extroverted type, to comprehend what goes on in an INFJ brain. This has left me feeling misunderstood more than once. I have been called cold and hard to get to know. I am baffled by this, because I often believe I feel too much. If I don’t show my emotions, it’s usually because I’m not comfortable sharing that side of me with you yet.

And yes, it does take a little extra effort to get to know an INFJ. I promise you, it’s worth the effort! If you could truly understand where I’m coming from, building a strong friendship would be easier. These are a few things my extroverted friends should know about me.

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5 Things to Understand About an INFJ

1. Sometimes I’m quiet because I’m processing so much.

Yes, I’m quiet. Although I’m not ashamed of that, when you call me out for being quiet (especially in a group), I feel embarrassed and undervalued. What I want you to know is I am listening. I am hearing everything you say, everything you don’t say, and practically everything the people at the table next to us are saying.

I am also processing on a level so complex that I don’t even understand how I’m doing it. I am relating everything that is said to what you said last week or even last year. Yes, I remember what you said, and maybe even what you were wearing when you said it! I am creating a cobweb of thoughts in my brain, linking everything together at lightening speed — even when I’m not saying any of it out loud.

Please, my dear extrovert, know that I’m quiet not necessarily because I am sad, angry, or bored. I am perfectly content to listen. After all, what would be the point if everyone was talking? Who would listen?

When I do share in conversation, it will generally be something I have put a lot of consideration into. Please acknowledge me when I speak — there are thoughts and ideas I want to contribute, too. If I am frequently interrupted, spoken over, or disregarded, I will share less and less. 

However, feel free to disagree with me. There is nothing I enjoy more than a deep conversation with thoughtful opinions that really get to the heart of the matter.

2.  I’m not an extrovert, I’ve just practiced.

Although at times I am quiet, other times I seem extroverted — but I’m not. When someone first meets me one-on-one, I can appear very outgoing. This is partly because I have practiced — a lot!

Life teaches us introverts pretty quickly that this is an extroverted world. Required class participation, group projects, collaborative and open work spaces leave no doubt that extroversion is the preferred style, so I adopt the required behavior. This might sound fake to you. For me, it’s survival.

Another reason I can seem extroverted is I am truly interested in people. Learning about what makes you tick fascinates me as an INFJ. I can empathize with most people on an incredibly deep level. There is no problem too messy that I wouldn’t be willing to sit with someone in need of comfort. Because I sense your need for comfort, I might seek you out, although generally I will wait for you to come to me. People are often drawn to INFJs when they need someone to listen.

It can seem confusing when I switch from being extroverted to my comfortable introversion. I know I have disappointed my friends at times. I can only maintain an extroverted persona for a limited time before I become exhausted. Literally physically exhausted! I can’t control it or explain it any more than to say, when I’m done, I’m done. It’s not personal.

3. If you want to get to know me, ask questions.

I’ve been told I’m difficult to get to know, and I’m always confused by this judgement. I feel like I’m an open book, but I know I am not perceived that way. I will not shy away from talking about myself when asked with sincerity. I’m no different from anyone else in that I love when people are interested in me.

That being said, I know when you are asking just to be nice, and when you have a true interest. In my experience, most people like to talk about themselves, and I tend to encourage that. Like most introverts, I don’t care for small talk, so getting other people to open up and carry the conversation relieves some of my social awkwardness.

I will share based on my level of trust and our connection. I am cautious because I have been hurt and taken advantage of before. In typical INFJ fashion, I will generally offer a test piece of information about myself. The way you respond will tell me everything I need to know about whether or not I can trust you as a confidant. To be honest, very few pass this test, but if you do, we will likely be friends for life.

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4. I need plenty of time alone to sift through my thoughts.

After spending a lot of time with others, I need downtime. As an INFJ, I am constantly taking in so much information, and I get cranky if I can’t be alone for a while.

I will replay conversations in my head over and over (generally when I should be sleeping) while trying to put all the pieces in place. I am constantly reviewing things I have read or seen, and I need time to mentally put them in order. If I said or did something that I’m not comfortable with, I don’t just forget it and let it pass — I will probably beat myself up for weeks. Trust me, it’s exhausting being me!

Sometimes I just need time to not think so much. I may spend this time reading, writing, browsing social media, or anything that enables me to chill out. Having time when no one needs me and I’m not tuning in on other people’s emotions helps me regroup. Alone time is a non-negotiable part of my mental health.

5. If your phone doesn’t ring, it’s me.

I don’t answer my phone. If you care about me at all, you will text. There is not even a debate when my phone rings. I don’t even look at it. If you leave me a message — or better yet, text me — it gives me time to process, draw energy, and prepare to call you back when I’m ready. 

I am very aware that this may seem crazy to extroverts, but I’m just trying to be honest with you, my friend. Probably I will text back because that is my comfort zone. Really, I think about you all the time. When I see something you would like, I think about you. I might even send you a text or a cute little meme that reminds me of you, but it is very unlikely that I will call.

It can seem like a daunting task to understand the INFJ personality. Believe me, I’m still working on understanding myself. However, I can promise there are few capable of understanding you the way INFJs can. Not many can know you on a deep level and still give you space for the idiosyncrasies that make you, you.

To all my extroverted friends: Even though we are quite different, I appreciate the things that make you unique. I love when you are genuine. I want to be your closest confidant; all I ask is you give me the space to be who I am, too.

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