Advocating for the Atypical: INFJ This is a type distribution table for the population of the United States based on a sample of 3009 individuals. As you may notice, INFJs only comprise a mere 1.5% of our population. Because it’s rare for us to encounter INFJs, we may sometimes overlook the characteristics – and therefore perhaps the benefits- that this particular type combination brings to relationships, teams, and organizations. Therefore, being the ‘SF’ that I am, I thought it important to represent this small but very important demographic in this week’s blog. Maybe you can try to emulate some of these behaviours in your own interactions! Characteristics of INFJ Individuals with these preferences have a gift for intuitively understanding complex meanings and relationships. They often find that they empathetically understand the motives and feelings of others and combine this gift with the drive and organization to implement big-picture ideas for optimizing the lives of people. They are often very inspiring when and if they articulate their vision for others. However, because of their introverted preference, they may only share their intuitions with those they know very well; others may describe them as hard to know and may categorize INFJs as somewhat private or mysterious. Though reserved, INFJs will be assertive – and sometimes stubborn – if their values are threatened. Important INFJ Contributions INFJs can be described as ‘altruistic strategists’; they usually work and lead through their vision of what is best for others and for the organization. They strive to build consensus amongst people, and can typically do this quite effectively by motivating and encouraging others while being strategic and persistent in their objectives. Before moving forward with decisions, they will likely seek out the opinions of those impacted to find out what each individual wants and needs and therefore, those who work with INFJs typically describe them as very approachable, supportive and catalysts of a harmonious workplace. Because of their commitment to people alongside organizational values, INFJs are very loyal to both. Some Blind Spots Because of the value they place on harmonious interactions, INFJs may avoid tough decisions that may affect people negatively and may focus on people to the extent that it delays or diminishes effective task completion. They may be tempted to personalize feedback or exclusion at work and their feelings may become hurt and along the same vein, they may also have trouble delivering direct feedback, with a tendency to ‘sugarcoat’ the critique. When working with an INFJ Keeping in mind an INFJ’s tendency to lead through vision and harmony, try to find out what is important to them and try to foster a relationship with this teammate. Try to include them and keep them informed as much as possible and remember to reinforce, validate and support their efforts. When trying to get them on board with your ideas, the best approach is to explain why these ideas align with your personal values while explaining the benefit to the individuals on your team as well. INFJs will usually find favour with goals that support people and progress, even if they do not necessarily line up with their own agenda. Need more INFJ? Since INFJs are so underrepresented in the population, chances are – you won’t often come across them on your work teams. If you do, there may be only one! To capitalize on their benefits, make sure you give them the opportunity to contribute by recognizing their strengths and building those strategic relationships with them. More importantly, try to emulate some of those brilliant contributions in your own work – not only will this help compensate for the “INFJ missing piece” if they do not have a place on your team, but will make you even more effective by remembering to flex outside your natural preferences. To inject some INFJ in your own work, try the following: • Remember to seek out opinions and expertise from your teammates before moving forward • Keep in mind the impact of your decisions on people and always implement with tact, support and consideration • Work to build personal rapport with colleagues, supervisors and subordinates; by finding out what is important to them, you enhance trust while learning what motivates those you work with. This can be a valuable tool for communication and leadership • Look for opportunities to connect other people to one another based on values, motivations or ideas; by bringing others together – sometimes across departments – harmony is further perpetuated and new ideas are often generated Trademarks.