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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default INFJs ask difficult questions

    Well, I think I do anyway.

    It's something I tend to do when people are venting to me and I want to try to get them to think for themselves and to figure out what they need to do to change the situation. Apparently I can sound just like a therapist when I do this...

    I think that sometimes when I am really interested in someone and probing for more information I can ask difficult/blunt questions as well. I once asked a guy I'd just started dating why our mutual friend had called his ex-girlfriend a bimbo. I recently said to someone else "You seem to be a bit into self-denial...are you sure you're not atoning for something?"

    People usually tell me that they only found me scary when they first met me, which was probably mostly due to the six-foot-tall serious presence. Then they find me less serious and scary when they get to know me better. But I suspect that the difficult questions can be scary.

    I have a weird feeling this is one reason I'm not very successful on the relationship front. I don't think most people want to be in a relationship with someone who asks difficult questions or, for that matter, tries to make them think for themselves.

    All that said, I shoudn't be hypocritical - I can feel quite pressured when I occasionally get asked similarly tough questions.

    I suppose I tend to do this because I ask myself difficult questions. I don't see why others should be spared. I suspect this is an INFJ tendency. Wanting to peel away layers, wanting to help others look into themselves and find what's best for them? That sounds a bit sanctimonious...I don't know, what do others think?
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  2. #2
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    The most important questions are the difficult ones.

  3. #3
    Ginkgo
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    I do this too. Responses are varied, but all are interesting and telling. Whistle-blowers are scary to everyone when they bring to light something uncovered - especially when they are bringing to light something the people "up top" aren't even aware of and ought to be. Another interesting project - find someone who feels dependent on you, but wishy washy in their attitude. You'll find this quite potent in people with daddy/mommy issues, who expect you to fill the roll of parent and child for them. Simply, and lightly patronize them and watch their inconsistencies cave in like Roman architecture without you to be there affirming what they want you to think as "consistent". You hardly have to engage at all. Never let your own prerogatives be caged by someone trying to pin you down, someone who sees your honesty as weakness. Honesty can sting, especially if you force them to be honest with themselves and learn the truth about themselves first-hand.

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    Story of my life!

  5. #5
    Diving into Ni-space Crescent Fresh's Avatar
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    I only ask difficult questions to those who I want to be closer to.


    Though I also consider it as an open invitation of self-vulnerability.

  6. #6
    Senior Member the state i am in's Avatar
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    for me it can at times also be because of impatience and a willingness to throw the dice and see what happens. i'm usually confident we will be able to clean it up if it gets a little bit out of control. also i think this is what i am meant to do, to find ways of articulating others' experience so that the interplay between experience and communicative operating system continually updates. the productive capacity of Pi-Je, of using symbolic means to recognize what something is in a more efficient way, has its own kind of creativity and accountability that can help reorganize thinking/framing experience in ways that can be very helpful, albeit never all-encompassing.

  7. #7
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    I don't think most people want to be in a relationship with someone who asks difficult questions or, for that matter, tries to make them think for themselves.
    i disagree with this, actually... i think most people want a relationship that helps them grow, even though they may not recognize that consciously. i tend to think all people tend to gravitate towards what is better for their souls, even though we can get distracted by temporary comfort. i think we have some kind of driving force deep down that knows better - call it homeostasis or survival instinct or ego or whatever you will. but anyway, being confronted with difficult questions is certainly a way to promote growth... but a particularly uncomfortable one, at times.

    it occurs to me that almost all NFs i know tend to have a proclivity towards seeking "inner" truth and "true"/deep healing... an ENFJ friend of mine is amazing at helping people buck up and get through tough situations, and i think i tend to present people with difficult truths when i'm in "counseling mode". i wouldn't be surprised if all NFs share this tendency to dig straight into humanistic significance and both inter- and intrapersonal "truths", and to both knock down and build up people.

    tbh, i actually have trouble getting along with INFJs IRL, you guys throw me for a loop... lol... (thank goodness for this site, because i have met so many wonderful INFJs who have helped me to see that we just tend to see things in different terms!) i think maybe your questioning tendency is part of it. part of the confusion on my end is that yall tend to be formal but personal at the same time... and usually fairly quiet and serious about yourselves... that's very opposite my own normal way of functioning, plus it's hard for me to know where i stand with you and what your intentions are... whether you're challenging me in a friendly way, or making a value judgment about me and trying to get me to "see the light". and Ni-language is sometimes hard for me... i know you have a point, but i don't know what it is yet, and it feels like it's being held over my head. it's the unidirectional counseling feeling - that we are very different entities on two separate levels and i am on a lower, less-informed one...

    I suppose I tend to do this because I ask myself difficult questions. I don't see why others should be spared.
    this sounds very right and NFy to me, but i have to admit that there seems to be a sort of superior undertone - as you yourself said, sanctimonious - to the whole thing. i know for certain that my ENFJ friend gets a lot of pleasure out of observing people, especially in seeing how they react in particularly meaningful situations, and getting to interpret that, and to be very flat-out honest i know it's not always very altruistic. she knows too, lol. i most certainly believe you do it because you tend to question all things, including yourself, like that, and because you genuinely want to help others, but do you also feel any pleasure in observing others' reactions? it was fascinating for me to learn this with my friend. i am not like this... i don't get particular joy out of watching and analysing Fe things... so, interesting to me!

    anyway, in my relationship with my NFJ friend, i really appreciate that she'll ask hard questions that essentially call me out on my bullshit. i really benefit from someone like that - but i think often it only works because we have very similar values and worldviews, and because i really trust her. but also i see that "darker" side of her pleasure in observation come out sometimes... not so much with me anymore, but she definitely likes to mess with guys and test people. she can become an outsider in her own relationships in a lot of ways...

    so i figure what i'm trying to say is props to you for being willing to ask the difficult questions and get to the bottom of what things are and should be, but at the same time, i wonder if it would lessen the impact and perhaps increase the effectiveness for others (and perhaps help your relationships?) if you're willing to be patient and ease into it with them and open yourself up at the same time as well... to be more an equal partner and less a counselor. but that does expose you much more to the potential of being hurt...

  8. #8
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Random thoughts/replies/questions:

    The INFJs in my life haven't been the sorts of people to ask me difficult questions. I'm not sure why, especially because I know so many INFJs. But I have the deepest conversations with my ENFJ friend, because we both ask each other difficult questions. I love that sort of friendship - the type where you learn new things from each other and go on life's tough journeys together. <-- that was probably the sappiest I've ever been in my life, btw.

    Also, a friend of mine who I think is INTP but tests as INFJ (i know, right? wtf) has asked me very hard questions before, because "you seem like the sort of person who would have thought about this". Do NFJs reserve their deep questions for particular types of people? What inspires those questions? I know that my ENFJ friend, who I was just talking about earlier, has a tendency to ask very deep and personal questions very soon after meeting people (e.g. "What do you want to do with your life? What's your dream?"), but it's the complete opposite with the INFJs I know. What's the motivation there?
    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    i disagree with this, actually... i think most people want a relationship that helps them grow, even though they may not recognize that consciously. i tend to think all people tend to gravitate towards what is better for their souls, even though we can get distracted by temporary comfort. i think we have some kind of driving force deep down that knows better - call it homeostasis or survival instinct or ego or whatever you will. but anyway, being confronted with difficult questions is certainly a way to promote growth... but a particularly uncomfortable one, at times.
    Very true. A wise observation!
    plus it's hard for me to know where i stand with you and what your intentions are... whether you're challenging me in a friendly way, or making a value judgment about me and trying to get me to "see the light". and Ni-language is sometimes hard for me... i know you have a point, but i don't know what it is yet, and it feels like it's being held over my head. it's the unidirectional counseling feeling - that we are very different entities on two separate levels and i am on a lower, less-informed one...
    It's a tough one, with INFJs. They're good at putting up walls, and keeping their thought-processes from people. My better relationships with INFJs have been the ones when the INFJs understood that they had to speak bluntly with me because I didn't understand Ni language*, instead of getting more and more resentful about my lack of ability to understand them. What I mean is: there are INFJs out there who are more blunt and less passive-aggressive - and those are the best ones for non-Ni types, like you and me.

    *And yeah, that can feel a little condescending, but at the same time, they wouldn't be my friend if I didn't have something to offer them, right?
    i know for certain that my ENFJ friend gets a lot of pleasure out of observing people, especially in seeing how they react in particularly meaningful situations, and getting to interpret that, and to be very flat-out honest i know it's not always very altruistic. she knows too, lol. i most certainly believe you do it because you tend to question all things, including yourself, like that, and because you genuinely want to help others, but do you also feel any pleasure in observing others' reactions? it was fascinating for me to learn this with my friend. i am not like this... i don't get particular joy out of watching and analysing Fe things... so, interesting to me!
    This has been my experience with my ENFJ friend. As much as I care about him and appreciate him as a person, it can kind of freak me out, how he seems to approach so many of his interpersonal relationships like a scientist experimenting with lab rats. He's just so in tune with how people work, and so fully and completely in control of his interactions, that he can just play people. A recent example of the sketchier side of that trend:

    ENFJ: You should really meet my Polish friend. He's hilarious! He's a complete narcissist - like, DSM clinically diagnosable narcissist - and he pulls it off so poorly. He's like five feet tall. Total Napoleon complex. It's terrible.
    ESTJ: ... That's not really making me want to meet him.
    ENFJ: But he's so funny! Especially when you get him comfortable with you, and get him to trust you - and then he'll dance for you! It's so funny! The way he dances to Lady Gaga is just INSANE.
    ESTJ: You know, ENFJ, this is not a healthy friendship you're talking about.
    ENFJ: Definitely not. But it's fun!
    ESTJ:

    And on that note:
    Quote Originally Posted by Ginkgo View Post
    Another interesting project - find someone who feels dependent on you, but wishy washy in their attitude. You'll find this quite potent in people with daddy/mommy issues, who expect you to fill the roll of parent and child for them. Simply, and lightly patronize them and watch their inconsistencies cave in like Roman architecture without you to be there affirming what they want you to think as "consistent".
    This may be the most terrifying thing I've ever read on Typology Central. Please don't use your powers for evil! Seriously! Use this technique carefully and only on those who deserve it. And I hope to god I never deserve it. *shudder*
    so i figure what i'm trying to say is props to you for being willing to ask the difficult questions and get to the bottom of what things are and should be, but at the same time, i wonder if it would lessen the impact and perhaps increase the effectiveness for others (and perhaps help your relationships?) if you're willing to be patient and ease into it with them and open yourself up at the same time as well... to be more an equal partner and less a counselor. but that does expose you much more to the potential of being hurt...
    This makes me wonder about the INFJ dynamic with other types. Honestly, I only really know how they interact with ESTJs, and how ESTJ/INFJ friendships progress, i.e. an initial reversal of usual INFJ friendships, with the INFJ being the first person to open up, and the ESTJ being the INFJ's sounding board and the person the INFJ vents at, until they open up much later, when the relationship equalizes a bit more. How does it work with ENFPs? Do you usually open up to them first, and they don't open up to you?
    ~ g e t f e s t i v e ! ~


    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"



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  9. #9
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Yeah, I would actually say that ENFJs tend to be more the ones in my life who are likely to ask difficult questions. They aren't too afraid of seeming confrontational in some circumstances, compared to me. I do ask questions to people, but only because I want to understand them better and I usually only would do it if I thought it wouldn't bother them. I might ask harder questions to the people I'm closest to, but again, I'm more likely to be able to predict their reaction. I occasionally can be blunt with people whose opinion I don't care that much about, who I will never see again or if there's really very little to lose - like an acquaintanceship that's kind of going south anyway, but occasionally being presented with a thought makes the person think about whether what they're doing in their life is working for them or not. Still, that tends to be kind or rare.

    I agree with what EJCC expressed, although I would say that it is not that INFJs put up walls so much as they are easily wounded and they also don't like to be hasty in saying anything. Therefore, they only reveal stuff bit by bit as they feel they can predict the other person's reaction to it and are okay with that.

    It's interesting what skylights said about Ni language. It never really occurred to me until last year that Ni language is confusing to some people. I think the reason that many Ni doms appear to be irritated that someone isn't getting what they say is that it seems like they are being very obvious and clear and so it is felt more as a challenge, disagreement, or just not understanding for one's own entertainment at the reaction rather than that the Ni dom thinks they are dumb or is unwilling to restate it. I've finally realized that my natural mode of communication and even how I arrive at certain conclusions isn't nearly as clear and transparent as I believe it is! It's only when you understand where the differences are that you can make adjustments for them!

    EJCC, I did laugh at your ENFJ conversation as that is something that sounds very much like I would say to a good friend and that is precisely the reaction that my ESTJ used to have when I'd say something like that. He'd express concern that I even knew people like this, let alone would spend any time with them. There was a lady when I lived in Wisconsin who was about my mother's age, who kind of adopted me while I was there - had me over to do laundry, fed me a nice supper, packed up the leftovers for me, watched TV together etc. She was kind of carmudgeonly and overbearing now and then and also had a penchant early in the morning for walking around nude and having conversations that way as she made her bed and curled her hair etc. She was dating a man in California whom she had met online and whom it was revealed had started dating another woman in Fresno concurrently with her, whom he wasn't terribly attracted to, but who he could golf with and play bridge with and move in with. He carried on the two relationships concurrently for years while this woman hoped he'd finally decide in favour of her. She later started dating a man who decided to run for the Presidency (when Obama was!) even though he had never run for any office other than the local library board before, and he was afraid of flying. He also wore touques and a full sweatsuit to bed!!!! I dubbed her Nudie Lady when referring to her because he never remembered who she was otherwise and he thought I was nuts for having anything to do with her. Under her eccentricities and rough exterior though, she was a really good-hearted lady who was very kind to me and also who desperately needed someone to fill a daughter/niece role in her life at the time.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    Well, I think I do anyway.

    It's something I tend to do when people are venting to me and I want to try to get them to think for themselves and to figure out what they need to do to change the situation. Apparently I can sound just like a therapist when I do this...

    I think that sometimes when I am really interested in someone and probing for more information I can ask difficult/blunt questions as well. I once asked a guy I'd just started dating why our mutual friend had called his ex-girlfriend a bimbo. I recently said to someone else "You seem to be a bit into self-denial...are you sure you're not atoning for something?"

    People usually tell me that they only found me scary when they first met me, which was probably mostly due to the six-foot-tall serious presence. Then they find me less serious and scary when they get to know me better. But I suspect that the difficult questions can be scary.

    I have a weird feeling this is one reason I'm not very successful on the relationship front. I don't think most people want to be in a relationship with someone who asks difficult questions or, for that matter, tries to make them think for themselves.


    All that said, I shoudn't be hypocritical - I can feel quite pressured when I occasionally get asked similarly tough questions.

    I suppose I tend to do this because I ask myself difficult questions. I don't see why others should be spared. I suspect this is an INFJ tendency. Wanting to peel away layers, wanting to help others look into themselves and find what's best for them? That sounds a bit sanctimonious...I don't know, what do others think?
    Bolded part, I disagree with. I think it is extremely important for a couple to ask the tougher questions of each other. You should both be pushing each other (delicately!) to be better people, to continue to grow, to not stagnate. I don't think I could be with someone very long if they wanted to just stick their heads in the sand and ignore difficulties. (I know that I usually WANT to stick my head in the sand myself , but I don't because I know it's not healthy.)

    I often creep people out too with asking questions to what I see between their spoken or written words. I usually only reserve it for those I really care about... although sometimes if a person is annoying me enough, Te will trot out with a banner of "get your head back on top of your neck please" before I can say "Rhincodon typus."

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