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.)



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  • Antonia Dodge
    • Antonia Dodge
    • July 29, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    I’m glad it’s helpful!


  • Awa Emery (Tao of Badass Member)
    • Awa Emery (Tao of Badass Member)
    • July 19, 2013 at 7:09 am

    thankyou for the article Antonia

    Ive been keeping up post in the message area of the tao of badass and find the thing you spoke of regarding accuracy to be something I struggle with and do go into a defensive strike pattern be it through a cheeky remark

    I have been aware of dehumanising people and try not to re-act unconsciously but I do feel inside an ouch if you could call it that and sometimes I dont know how to place it so I do go on an offensive strike at times which is guise under big picture metaphor if that makes sense so I can have my say without being to overt about it

    Im learning heaps from this article

    thankyou :-)

  • yellowsog
    • yellowsog
    • July 19, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Thanks, Antonia. This is really interesting and helpful.

    i do not fully understand your third point, though. As an INFJ, I can be perfectionistic, overly analytical, and a little dense about social rules. The Simpsons character I am most like is Lisa. INFJs (and let us consider Lisa one) are frequently on the receiving end of other people’s negative assessments. Lisa gets shouted down at town hall meetings in Springfield fairly often, when she is the only one speaking up for a cause or the only one who sees the cravenness of a Burns or Quimby scheme. How can she both harmonize and analyze in these situations?

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