onlinegentlemanINFJ: Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeler, Judger

I recently received a question from one of our INFJ clients about developing the Harmony process:

“I am very keen on personal development and very interested in developing my co pilot, Extraverted Feeling, “Harmony.” Struggling to understand how I develop this to a skill. I find that I learn quite well from examples and then practice them in everyday life. (I am a dentist and just wondering how I can practice this skill in my job and day to day life). Any examples or advise would be welcomed.”

That’s a GREAT question, and VERY high leverage for an INFJ personality type.

The INFJ type is easily the most sensitive of all the types. And by ‘sensitive’ I mean in the “ESP” sense. Whenever I’m profiling a person and suspect they may be an INFJ I ask, “Do you unconsciously absorb other people’s emotions?” And they generally respond with “all the time.”

This is usually considered a curse to most INFJs and they develop a couple of strategies to deal with it.

First, they retreat to their 10 yr old process of Accuracy to create some psychological distance from other people. If you’re constantly picking up other people’s emotions – and those people happen to be negative, angry, or depressed – running to a mental process that turns everything a little cold and analytical (which Accuracy does) is a nice reprieve.

Unfortunately, this also encourages the INFJ to be judgmental of others, since that’s a good platform for gaining distance.

The other most common strategy is to go to an overly people-pleasing demeanor. Using this strategy, the INFJ becomes eternally long-suffering and puts their wishes dead last. The goal is to make sure everyone else feels good all the time – if you’re going to be picking up their emotions, may as well make sure their emotions are always happy and chirpy.

Unfortunately, the INFJ now loses themselves in their relationships, unsure who they are or what they want until it’s too late.

When an INFJ develops the skill of Harmony they learn three things:

1) When getting everyone’s needs met, you as an INFJ are part of “everyone.” Making sure you’re getting your needs met is equally important (if not more!) as getting others needs met. You can’t run on fumes all the time, and you can’t heal others if you’re perpetually sick.

2) Well-developed Harmony understands the need for and how to establish boundaries. Harmony is the process we use to create and maintain unspoken social contracts. Contracts are designed to know each others expectations and honor them (if we agree with them, of course). Build the skill of knowing your boundaries and creating contracts around them. That means you’ll have to communicate them to the people in your life, make sure they fully understand them and agree to them. In a moment where you feel taken advantage of or ‘thrown under a bus’, ask yourself which of your boundaries has been broken and if it was you or the other person that broke it.

3) You are not only on the receiving end of approval/disapproval – you also give approval/disapproval. Retreating to Accuracy for an INFJ is almost always a defensive strike. They believe they are being judged or attacked in some way, and they run to Accuracy to ‘prove’ to themselves that it’s actually the other person at fault. So the interaction goes: I feel disapproved, so I’m going to disapprove of you. When an INFJ understands they aren’t on the receiving end of approval/disapproval – meaning, they aren’t just victims to other people’s opinions – they are far less likely to react in kind. They are also less likely to see a single behavior or painful emotion as ‘the person’. (Accuracy has a tendency to dehumanize other people when not used well, and INFJs use Accuracy to judge the entire person in a dehumanizing way. Makes sense – if the person isn’t a human, they can’t foist their icky emotions on to me.) Instead, when an INFJ knows they have the same power as everyone else to give approval/disapproval, they take each behavior on its own terms and keep the humanity of the other person. “I don’t like how that person is behaving” is a very different story from “I don’t think that person is a good person.” This also keeps the INFJ from being reactionary, but instead they are responsive to these small triggers. They control their judgments instead of being controlled by them.

A great example of a Harmony celebrity is Oprah Winfrey. She has turned getting others needs met and keeping in touch with current culture into a massive business. Her public persona is actually a great example to pattern after. (I say her public persona since I have no clue who she is in private.)



Want to learn more?

Discover Your Personal Genius

button graphic


  • Jessica
    • Jessica
    • December 19, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Thank you for your comments regarding INFJs retreating to Accuracy, and for showing what that looks like. I was bullied nearly every day in school, and did just that by the time I hit Middle School. If I could pretend to be detached, what people said and did, or my perception that they hated me and I was different, wouldn’t hurt so much, or so I thought at the time. I’m so used to using Accuracy that I mistype as an INTJ very often. Being « logical » was also highly valued in my family growing up, so it reinforced my tendency to go to Accuracy. Time to work on Harmony. I was taught not to value Harmony as highly, right up until I realized by being an exchange student in a place where social rules are well-defined and easier to follow that I actually valued it very highly.

  • Carla
    • Carla
    • January 7, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    What a challenging situation for any conflict-avoiding INFJ!

    I would encourage you, as this person’s supervisor, to view this situation as an opportunity to use your unique INFJ strengths to influence this person for good. We’re put on this planet to see the potential in others and help them become all the were created to be.

    I don’t know specifics of your situation, but here are my INFJ thoughts…

    Find a time to meet individually with this person. Make sure it is a formal meeting, not a chat in the break room. You are the supervisor, not the buddy. If this conversation could be part of a formal evaluation that would be great. If not, it could be framed as a “check-in”.

    Show your Fe by saying you felt the need to check in and hear how this person is doing. Mention your concern for their well-being. State what prompted your concern… showing up late, leaving early, calling in sick, spending a lot of time on personal calls… Then LISTEN, which we INFJs are great at doing.

    Your response will be different depending on if this person is going through a rough patch or if this person is just not interested in pulling their own weight.

    It is good to be caring and empathic by saying things like, “Your plate is really full” or “That has to be really hard.” AND it is necessary and appropriate to say things like, “Part of my job is to help you be successful in your job. What do you think needs to happen so you can be on time, stay your full shift, not have to take so many sick days, and not spend work time making personal calls.”

    In other words, have THIS person brainstorm what needs to change. Fill in with your own ideas. Ask them if there is anything specific you can do to support them. Come to a mutual agreement and set a time to check-in again. Take notes.

    Be a good example of calm and steady under stress during this meeting. That’s really what you’re asking this person to be… calm and steady at their job despite what else is going on in their life. Don’t bring up that you feel taken advantage of. Stay objective. State how this person’s behaviors are impacting the work environment as a whole.

    Again, not knowing your work situation I don’t know if you should talk with your own supervisor before having this meeting. Usually, things like this progress from 1:1 to 2:1 and from check-in to formal warning, etc…

    Re: this person’s tired depressed mood… part of the INFJ’s challenge is how to protect oneself from others’ negative states. Part of the check-in might be naming those behaviors as part of your concern, “You seem tired. You seem down. I know that impacts your workday. Which then impacts everyone’s workday. What could help?”

    Again, have them brainstorm ideas and fill in with your own like Employee Assistance Programs if they exist, etc…

    For yourself personally, spend time taking care of yourself so you have a bank of energy from which to withdraw in your role as a supervisor. Figure out what is the threshold of time and energy you can spend on this employee without turning resentful and feeling taken advantage of. You might think you can handle their behaviors long-term in order to avoid conflict, but trust me, you can’t. If you leave this unaddressed, there will come a point where your Ti and Se will express in ways you regret.

    Your employee is fortunate to have you as their supervisor!

  • Lou
    • Lou
    • December 11, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    Wow! As I read all of these comments, I see a lot of myself in so many of you that are commenting. Thank you all for sharing and I look forward to learning more about myself and how to be the best I can be through your shared experiences.

    I need to work on boundaries and would continue to appreciate hearing how you all better develop your “boundaries”.

    Question - I work with someone who comes into work tired and depressed every single day. I struggle as I pick up on those feelings and try so hard to change her mood in order to continue on with my day. Do I need to approach this person? How do I set this boundary? This person also shows up late on a daily basis, leaves early regularly, spends a lot of time on the phone and calls in sick a lot. I am the supervisor, yet feel taken advantage of, but at the same time don’t like conflict so say very little in order to keep the peace. Open to any INFJ suggestions.

  • Bryan
    • Bryan
    • December 5, 2019 at 3:04 am

    This is how I felt at work for an entire year and I had a hard time, everyone started relying on me to do their work, me being a busy body loved to stay busy and my day goes by faster because I have plenty of work to do. But seeing them stand around all day and have an easy job annoyed the sht out of me. I never took breaks either. This is all a bit new to me, I have only recently discovered I am an INFJ and I am understanding myself better than ever and it blows my mind sometimes. I feel I am on the right path to self discovery and establishing a bit more control over myself.

  • Lukas_with_a_k
    • Lukas_with_a_k
    • August 15, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    Shelby, your comment touched my heart. As an INFJ male, I can relate to your personal journey a lot. I grew up with Social Anxiety, but now I have much better control over that. I’m 25 now and just now feel like I’m living my best life after years of living in fear of others’ judgment and losing myself to their wishes. I highly recommend the work on this sight to grow your Harmony copilot. It’s helped me a lot! Also, as someone coming from the mental health field, I recommend therapy and medication (perhaps an SSRI) for your Social Anxiety. That helped me the best at first so I could get to a point of opening up and socializing. It’s a hard journey but so worth it in the end!:) I’m proud of you Shelby for choosing life. Keep up the work of being your truest INFJ self.

    With love,

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.