I've been thinking over some of the threads I've read, the discussions I've had with others about INFJs, and my own experiences. I thought it would be interesting to summarize what I've found to be the most common sources of misunderstanding, as well as some of the most frustrating (perhaps type related?) issues that seem to have come up in my relationships/close friendships. I'd be interested in your own thoughts on this as well.
1)Delayed processing time - INFJs often seem to be basing their responses to the person in question on the last interaction they had with them, more often than the current one. They prefer to have time to think things over, which is why it's not a great idea to try to push an INFJ into making a decision before they feel they have had enough time to mull everything that has been brought up.
2) Need for resolution - What may look to some like being nitpicky or unforgiving or even holding onto the past often has more to do with their need to get everything put away in it's proper place before closing the chapter on it. Without doing so, it keeps coming up again and again.
3) Considering every hobby, person or idea expressed as an extension of themselves - INFJs tend to be very self-protective, and rarely bring something up unless they have already implemented it into their main framework of thought or affection. Therefore when any of these things are dismissed or mocked, they will feel it as a personal rejection, unlike someone who tends to verbalize new ideas out loud. Similarly, INFJs will sometimes be confused by someone who seemed committed to a thought or a plan, only to abandon it later.
4) Dislike of emotional surprises - this leads INFJs to sometimes inconvenience others in their effort to know what to expect. I'm fine with a change of plans, but find it harder to quickly adjust to someone's sudden annoyance, to a change in something I had really been hoping for/counting on etc. Makes me more likely to try to be the one to take on any inconvenience because that is more predictable. I also tend to need to watch a situation for awhile (either social or skillwise) before I am comfortable jumping in. I think with maturity we can become less focussed on their own reactions and feelings and also realize that someone else being upset is not the very worst that can happen. Sometimes avoiding that happening actually creates more conflict.
5) Hold those close to them to a higher degree of accountability than those that are less important to them - This may seem judgemental and unfair, but because those close to them are an extension of their own self, integrity is paramount to them and they choose to invest heavily in a few close relationships, they expect more of those people than they do of casual acquaintance friends. When they feel you are worth risking conflict with and you start hearing the negatives about yourself as well as the positives, you're in!
6) Easily embarrassed and quite private - May mean that they take awhile before talking about something that is painful to them. This doesn't mean they don't care about the support you could give them. It's just that they need to get it thought out in a framework and untangled before they are ready to be more open. I tend to talk about it more after I think I'm going to be alright.
7) Long gaps in correspondance or putting off a job that matters a lot - This seems to be linked to wanting to do an excellent job of it and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of time or effort or organization required. The longer it is put off, the worse we feel. As a result, it is usually my most valued friends that I correspond with least. Usually I try to overcome this by phoning them, catching up on the bulk of it, and then writing the rest.
8) Not creating clear enough boundaries for people around them - there's a tendancy to respond to those who are most actively demanding attention, especially when younger. Also the need to be sure that they've looked at everything from all angles, made a correct assessment of all possible motivations and exhausted what they can do to impact the situation before really drawing a hard and fast line. I think this improves with age.
9) Find it difficult to assess when is the time to make a Big Deal out of something - Their reaction to something really depends on the other person's response. They may find it easy to forgive something or deal with it on their own if the person recognizes that they are making a concession. If the person trivializes or continues on with more of the same behaviour, it's the last straw (in a very big load of straws!) and the other examples of where they have seen the same behaviour will be brought up.
10) Hate being not in control of their emotions, yet sometimes underestimate how strong those emotions are till they are swamped by them. - (Note, not a good time for Ts to talk about how over-sensitive and emotional they are, as they despise being that way and are already terribly embarrassed).
11) Get less receptive to advice if the other person tries to skip over the venting that they need to do in order to bleed off excess emotion or when they feel the person hasn't taken enough time to understand the situation. Often their solutions are gained primarily from discussion with someone, not from getting the answers from someone.
12) Sometimes have a hard time recognizing when they need to pull back or give less so that they can continue doing so cheerfully. This seems to be the case especially with Ts.
My own (maybe INFJ related) problems
13) Tendancy to be poor with paperwork, locating items quickly under pressure - I've largely solved this by having a big lanyard for my keys, carrying a decent sized purse and having a file folder that things go into immediately.
14) Am a responder more than an initiator - as a result I've missed out on many good friendships. I've learned that people respond much more warmly when you go out on a limb and make the first move. I've been working to actively improve this.
15) Not good at paying attention to detail (in my environment, and in instructions) - This is why I try to stock a lot of sensors in my life. They are happy to fill in my gaps and give me reminders when needed. They also tend to think in terms of smaller practical details that must be attented to.
16) My intimidation by Te, and some oversensitivity leads me to sometimes not express my opinions when I should - working on this one. Thinking it out ahead of time helps.
17) Over-indulgent when under stress - eat bad food and buy make-up/magazines that I don't need - Am working to replace these responses with exercise, drinking water etc.
18) Put off jobs that are unpleasant or that I am not sure how to do - I'm sure this isn't totally type related, but I think avoidance is a greater tendancy with INFJs than Te driven people. Sometimes Ni and Ti create a loop that doesn't work well.
19) Stubborn - I tend to need a lot of convincing with a new idea before I will adopt it, because it involves changing the whole structure over again.
20) Promising more than I can actually deliver - I want so badly to take care of everything that sometimes I overestimate what I am able to do. I've learned as a teacher to promise less and make sure I actually do it every time.
21) Lazy about figuring out technological stuff or leave it to others - This one probably isn't INFJ related. I usually wish that some nice ENTP or ESTP is around to give me the Cliff's Notes on something new. While I am very curious about some things, I am not interested in discovering something for myself because I enjoy the process.
22) Sometimes my very closest friends may feel that I disagree with them but don't express it. That is occasionally true, but if it is not a huge issue of integrity, I'm not sure how expressing it would be helpful. And yet, I don't think that I have to change my mind about it either, as long as I still like and respect them and am not being passive-aggressive. I think INFPs are much better friends in this respect.
I'm wondering if any of these traits are influences by enneagram (1w2 so/sx) or if they fit with other INFJ's experiences (or those of other types with INFJs). Oh yeah - and did I mention long-windedness? ...