You’ll often find INFJs observing others using their introverted X-ray vision to read into what they really think, feel, or desire.
I’m an INFJ, the most rare of the Myers-Briggs introverted personality types. We’re known for characteristics such as being empathic, perceptive, and sensing things others may miss. For example, you’ll often find me observing others at a party or in the workplace, using my introverted X-ray vision to see behind the veil and read into what they really think, feel, or desire. And the thing is, I’ll pick up on this through their nonverbal cues and body language if it’s not coming across in their words. I’ll often think back to these moments later that day or week, analyzing them and intuiting reasons for different behaviors.
Sure, sometimes zoning out into this inquisitive daydream makes me forget to actually contribute to the conversation in the moment, but I’m still sure it’s one of the most powerful traits we INFJs have. We don’t just read people like this for our own amusement (though I can attest to the fact that this alone can be pretty fulfilling). Rather, we can also translate this into ways to help others. Here are the top five ways that we can use this superpower for good.
5 Ways an INFJ’s Ability to Read People Can Help Others
1. They can help a fellow introvert feel more comfortable in a social situation.
I know (only too well) the feeling of being at a party, only to find the social exhaustion setting in and my words disappearing, just when I feel I need them most. It’s often in this state that I enter a period of intense observation of others, examining what makes them speak or dance like that, or wondering whether their family members are as funny as they are. (Is that why every sentence is comedy gold?)
However, I’ve found an even more productive way to use this mind space is to focus on the ones who aren’t talking. Who’s that guy who is standing in the corner on his phone looking a bit nervous? Or that woman, who looks really friendly and has a great smile, but hasn’t said anything all night? Could they be fellow introverts looking for something to make them a bit more comfortable?
I’ve tried, and tested, approaching these people and the results have been great — for all of us. If it doesn’t seem like they want to chat, you could ask if they’d like to step outside to get some air and, literally, take a breather. If they are wearing a T-shirt with a band on it, why not show them a video on your phone as a low-interaction way to bond and help them feel at ease? Even asking them to show you where the bathroom is could be just the ticket to make them feel seen and give you both a much-needed break from the pumping party room. In the end, you might even make a new introvert friend who totally “gets” you.
2. They know when to leave somebody alone when they need it.
Having been on the receiving end of situations where people have outstayed their welcome, I’m pleased to have a strong sense of when to leave someone else alone. We INFJs can read the subtle body language that signals someone needs me-time and, because we understand exactly how they feel, we can make sure they know that it’s okay (which is validating for them).
Similarly, we intuitively know when a get-together is over, just by reading the vibe of the room or the look on the host’s face. Having spoken with my “hostess with the mostest” pals, this is something people appreciate highly in a friend.
At work, too, introverts (like INFJs) might find themselves noticing that a colleague is struggling with a meeting and help them make an exit. As a manager, when I noticed someone I supervised feeling the strain of such a situation, I always offered a quiet room, without them having to ask. Time and time again, I was told this made them feel seen and valued, which I appreciated.
3. They offer much-needed help, even when someone does not ask for it.
As INFJs, we don’t always outwardly express our feelings, so we can fully understand when someone else needs help, but finds it difficult to ask for it. In fact, for many introverts, asking for help is a huge challenge, simply because they do not want to burden someone else with their problems or are unsure of what they need to feel better. Having the ability to read people well means INFJs know when others are silently begging for help, even when the words are absent.
On a related note, when something terrible happens to someone in your life, it’s common to receive radio silence. Being able to read the person — and know when to leave them alone and when to offer help — is an undervalued skill. INFJ or not, honing it can give those around you a pick-me-up, even in the darkest of times.
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4. They can excel in helping professions.
As a social work professional, I know that there are millions of introverts in this line of work, as well as in medicine, counseling, public health, human services, and similar industries — and I bet they’re excelling at their jobs. Why? Because they can read between the lines, hear what is not being said, and read complex personalities.
In these professions, this translates to incredible relationship-building qualities, a friendly and calm bedside manner, and the ability to make space and be a person-centered practitioner. The result of this is happy patients, clients, and families, who trust that their loved ones’ helpers see them as fully formed people and not numbers.
5. A listening ear is the “Helper of the Year.”
Due to INFJs being considered people who tend to think a lot before speaking out loud about what’s on their mind, they are great listeners — and they also know when to be quiet (and generally do not find this difficult). This is a huge help to everyone in our lives when they just need someone to listen to them chat, vent, or cry. Everyone wants, and needs, to be heard, and those lucky people who have an introvert in their life know that they can rely on them for a kind and open ear.
We don’t tend to leap in with our own opinions too quickly; instead, we allow space to understand what a person is expressing. Paying attention to the smaller details makes others feel understood. And, by asking a few, but well-crafted, questions, we help them work out their issue themselves, something that is key to coming up with constructive solutions.