The easiest way to know if you are an INFJ is to do the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or any other similar personality tests online.
But what if you keep getting different results? One test says you are INFJ, while the other says you are an INFP, ISFJ, INTJ or ENFJ.
How do you tell the difference between INFJ personality type and the other personality types?
How do you know if you are really an INFJ?
One letter makes all the difference.
I’m an INFJ and my elder brother is an INFP. Even though our MBTI type is only one letter apart, our personalities and approach to life are rather unlike each other.
One letter can change the whole functional stack and the order of our cognitive functions. (If you don’t know what a functional stack is and want to know how your eight cognitive functions affect our behavior, you can read this blog post on INFJ.)
For this blog post, we will discuss the similarities and differences between INFJ and the other personality types:
- INFJ vs INFP
- INFJ vs ISFJ
- INFJ vs INTJ
- INFJ vs ENFJ
I’ll be using the cognitive function to explain the differences as it is the best way to understand the differences. But I’m going to keep it simple so that any person without this knowledge can understand the differences.
Let’s start with the most common confusion that people have — what is the difference between INFP and INFJ?
INFJ vs INFP
Even though INFJs and INFPs prefer to use their intuition and feeling to perceive information and make decisions, we use these two functions very differently.
INFJs’ intuition and thinking functions are introverted in nature, while our feeling and sensing functions are extroverted in nature. INFPs, on the other hand, is just the opposite. Their intuition and thinking functions are extroverted in nature, but their feeling and sensing functions are introverted in nature. Our functional stacks are nothing like each other:
This means the energy we directed inward and outward are not the same.
1. INFJs and INFPs have different interests (different dominant functions, Ni vs Fi).
Both INFJs and INFPs are idealistic and compassionate, but an INFJ is led by introverted intuition (Ni) while an INFP is led by introverted feeling (Fi).
INFJs love to seek meanings, understand concepts, and form patterns. We love to help people because we understand their pain (Fe), but at the same time, we are also intrigued by the people around us. Why are they so different? Why do they behave in a certain way? We draw insights (Ni) through understanding other people’s thoughts, feelings, and pain. Helping people is partly to satisfy our deep curiosity for people.
INFJs seek meanings, whereas INFPs have strong preferences.
INFPs, on the other hand, care about people, but they don’t care about the human insights as much as we do. Every time I talk to my brother about the insights I have on people, he shuts off.
INFPs have strong internal values and principles. They only spend time on something they care about. If something is not of interest to them, they don’t bother with it. For example, my brother has specific likes and dislikes when it comes to clothing, food, entertainment and etc. He’s very clear about his preferences whereas, for me, I lack preferences in these areas and usually just go with the flow.
2. INFJs and INFPs have different values about people (Fe vs Fi).
Another reason why I don’t have strong preferences is that my feeling function is directed outwards (i.e. extroverted). Therefore, I’m usually more concerned about what the group wants than what I want. When it comes to dining places, I usually let my friends or family decide because I value social harmony more than what I want to eat. Over time, I ended up not developing any strong preference for food because I had been so accommodating.
On the flip side, my brother has his feeling function directed inwards (i.e. introverted) so he’s very clear about what he loves to eat and what he absolutely doesn’t want to eat. INFPs are more individualistic. But they can be accommodating to others too, especially if they are with the people they value like their friends and family.
Furthermore, using their extraverted intuition (Ne), they usually can come up with many different suggestions that cater to their own preferences while satisfying the needs of people they care about and create a win-win situation.
INFJs care about humanity, whereas INFPs care about friends and family.
Even though both INFJs and INFPs are diplomatic and eager to please others, our intentions are rather different. Due to our extraverted feeling (Fe) function, INFJs is like a social chameleon. We can talk to anyone including strangers and understand their problems if we want to. INFJs want to help humanity — everyone. We don’t want to exclude anyone.
INFPs, on the other hand, are more selective with people they let in. They only share their personal feelings and thoughts with people closest to them such as their friends and family. They want to direct their time, energy and resource to people they care about.
3. INFJs and INFPs generate ideas differently (Ni vs Ne).
For INFJs, we need time alone to process information before we can develop insights. But for INFPs, they thrive at having small group discussions with others. They are quick at having ideas on the spot and they can bounce off many ideas from others when communicating with them.
As an INFJ, I almost hate brainstorming session. I usually have nothing to contribute when I don’t get to prepare beforehand. Plus, I get a little frustrated when people are brainstorming in front of me because I can’t focus and reflect on the problem internally. So I tend to get standoffish in group discussions.
Due to my extraverted feeling (Fe) too, I tend to listen and would appear to agree with everything people have to say. But deep down inside, there might not be my real opinion. It’s not that I don’t dare to voice out my opinion. It’s just that I haven’t processed the information yet, so I don’t have a conclusion.
When INFJs have one insight, INFPs have a creative burst of ideas.
INFJs’ creativity can be described as convergent. We are focused on finding the truth and we tend to narrow or distill different ideas and points of view to only one insight by thinking deeply. INFPs’ creativity can be described as divergent. They are very good at having a lot of ideas. When I present a problem to my brother, he comes out with many different ideas and ways to do something. The more I talk with him, the more ideas he has and he has a harder time deciding on just one idea.
4. INFJs and INFPs handle emotions differently (Fe vs Fi).
INFPs understand their own emotions better than INFJs. As an INFJ, I understand other people’s emotions better than my own. We are so empathetic that we sometimes confused other people’s emotions as our own.
Both are empathetic in a different way.
INFJs understand other people’s experiences and emotions even though we might not have the same experience before. INFPs understand other people’s emotions from their own experience of the same emotions. So if an INFP has never experienced depression before, he or she would have a hard time understanding someone who has depression. But for an INFJ, we will understand the pain of a depressed person even if we have never been depressed before.
INFJs are also more willing to be vulnerable and talk about things such as feelings and dark sides. INFPs, on the other hand, doesn’t feel as comfortable expressing their emotions. They rather keep these feelings to themselves.
Also, since they are better at understanding their own feelings, they probably know how to dissolve and let go of their emotions before they get out of hand. Unlike an INFJ, we may accumulate a lot of emotional baggage from others before knowing how to process our emotions or realizing there’s a need to do so.
INFJ vs ISFJ
INFJs and ISFJs look very similar in terms of personality on the outside, but when you get to know both types well, you will realize we are fundamentally different.
Even though the functional stack lists down our top four preferences, we use our dominant function most of the time. Both our tertiary and inferior functions are usually used when we are stressed or when we exhaust our dominant function. Even for our auxiliary function, we only use it when we have to deal with the other world i.e. the outer world for an introvert and the inner world for an extrovert.
As INFJs and ISFJs have contrasting dominant functions (one is based on intuition while the other is based on sensing), we are actually very different in how we operate.
1. INFJs focus on the future, whereas ISFJs focus on the past (Ni vs Si).
We INFJs lead with introverted intuition (Ni) so we are always idealistic and have a grand vision for the future and how we want to change the world. ISFJs lead with introverted sensing (Si). They are more conservative and more concerned about the past and making good memories.
I have a couple of ISFJ friends. I’m amazed by how much details they can recall from the past. For INFJs, introverted sensing (Si) is our last function and we tend to have poor memories. Even though I remember events which have an emotional impact on me, I usually don’t remember the details such as the names, the exact location or the time. If I don’t write down something, I tend to forget it. So I’m a serious note-taker.
INFJs is open to changes, while ISFJs don’t like changes.
As INFJs love to daydream and forward-looking, we are more open to changes and experiences than ISFJs. Even though ISFJs don’t like changes and less likely to take risks, this is not a bad thing at all. This makes them very dependable and realistic.
To find out if you are an INFJ or an ISFJ, ask yourself: What does your mind think most about — the past or the future? When an INFJs make a decision, we usually take the future into consideration. But for an ISFJ, they usually based their decisions by comparing the present with the past.
2. Both INFJs and ISFJs are accommodating (same auxiliary functions, Fe).
Just like INFJs, ISFJs are friendly and accommodating. They care about other people and value social harmony. The difference, however, is the way we care for others.
Like what I mentioned in my previous post, INFJs love to help people by sharing our insights with them. We don’t really like to do the tangible stuff. ISFJs, on the other hand, are more likely to do something tangible like buying or making a special gift for others. They help others by doing things for them.
If INFJ is a counselor, then ISFJ is a nurse.
Again, this difference is due to our dominant functions. Due to our introverted intuition (Ni), INFJs live in the world of concepts and patterns. They feel more comfortable and better at helping others see the truth and giving them advice. ISFJs has a sensing dominant function (Si), so they are better with their five senses and details.
Whenever you have a technical issue or a hands-on problem, seek an ISFJ. They will most likely give you a precise answer or help you fix the problem. But if you are stuck in a problem that you can’t see any solution, an INFJ can help you see a fresh perspective.
INFJ vs INTJ
I was confused about whether I am an INFJ or INTJ for years before my auxiliary function (Fe) was more developed and I was aware of it. Due to the same dominant function (Ni), INFJs and INTJs share the same inner world, a world of concepts and patterns.
But they are rather different when it comes to interacting with the outer world. INFJs have extraverted feelings (Fe) as their auxiliary function while INTJs have extraverted thinking as their auxiliary function. In other people’s eyes, we appear differently.
1. INFJs and INTJs make decisions differently (Fe vs Te).
Both INFJs and INTJs think about the big picture and long-term when it comes to making decisions. But for INFJs, they are more likely to be swayed by the people involved due to their extraverted feelings (Fe), whereas INTJs are more likely to base their decisions on facts (Te).
One of my INTJ friends is an entrepreneur. He told me that he fired someone on the first day because his or her work is sub-par. If I were in his shoes, I would probably give the other person a chance to improve and understand what is causing their poor performance.
INTJs are more objective than INFJs.
INTJs is known to put their emotions aside when making decisions. They do this so well that others misunderstand them as cold-blooded. But it’s not that they don’t have emotions or don’t care about people. They just process emotions logically.
For INTJs, they understand conceptually when someone is feeling sad, but they don’t feel the emotions as much. For INFJs, we feel other people’s emotions as though it’s our own. We are empathetic and internalized other people’s suffering. Thus, it’s hard for us to separate other people’s feelings when making decisions.
2. INFJs and INTJs different communication styles (Fe vs Te).
One sure way to tell whether you are an INFJ or INTJ is to notice your communication style. Both INFJs and INTJs might have the same insights on things, but the way they share it is different.
INTJs are blunt, whereas INFJs are approachable.
INTJs is direct, candid and blunt in their communication. If their friends want to do something that INTJs think it’s stupid, they will tell their friends so and let them know what’s the better way to do it upfront. They don’t beat around the bush.
But for INFJs, we tend to “sugarcoat” the truth. We will listen to our friends’ suggestions, understand their perception first, agree with them, and then suggest a better way to do it. Seldom, you will see INFJs force their insights on others or demand others to believe what they say. That’s why we appear more approachable.
Neither of them is the right way to communicate with others. For some people, you have to be direct with them so that they can hear the truth. But for some people, you can get the message across better if you use the soft approach.
INFJ vs ENFJ
This is an interesting combination. Both INFJs and ENFJs have the same top four functions but in a different order. These two personality types also have the same dominant and auxiliary functions but in reverse order.
Even though people might get easily confused between an INFJ and ENFJ, we can be quite different. Our dominant function is what we identified with the most and the two types have a very different dominant function.
1. INFJs make decisions and take actions slower than ENFJs (different dominant function, Ni vs Fe).
Our judging functions (i.e. the feeling and thinking functions) help us to make decisions, while our perceiving functions (i.e. the intuition and sensing functions) help us to perceive information.
For ENFJs, their dominant function is a judging function (Fe), so they can quickly assess the mood of the environment and decide what action to take. For INFJs, their dominant function is a perceiving function (Ni). They would prefer to perceive all the information available first, then make a decision. It takes a longer time to reach the decision-making process.
Extroverts are usually more action-orientated than introverts.
Not to mention that ENFJs have their extraverted sensing (Se) as their third function, which is higher than INFJs. They are usually more in tune with the surroundings and spend more time interacting with the physical world than INFJs. Thus, they are more comfortable with dealing and taking action in the outer world than introverts.
When I went on a holiday trip with my ENFJ friend, I’m very impressed by how fast my friend can decide which direction to go. He’s like: Go left, go right. Then, go straight. Even if we make a wrong turn, he can quickly correct the course, so I trust him to lead the way.
If I were to lead, I would take up a map and slowly plan which way to go and take a lot of pauses along the way. Or even worse, I might just be stuck in an analysis paralysis, figuring out what’s the best way to reach the destination.
2. The amount that INFJs and ENFJs socialize is different (Fe in a different order).
Both INFJs and ENFJs are friendly and can talk to anyone easily. We care about other people’s feelings and we socialize quite similarly because we share the same extraverted function (Fe). However, the biggest difference is how much we socialize.
INFJs are more private, whereas ENFJs are more sociable.
INFJs have their extraverted feeling (Fe) as their second function. We use it more as an afterthought when we need to connect with the outer world. ENFJs show more interests in people than we do. If INFJs have a choice, we probably would stay at home all day reading books or thinking about life. No kidding!
But of course, it is unhealthy when we are in our heads so much. So the next best thing for an INFJ is to go out and socialize with others and understand how they feel and their problems. One of the reasons why I like going out to teach my students is I have a commitment to fulfill. I’ve to go out even though I really feel like staying at home. This keeps me sane.
INFJs also tend to get exhausted more easily than ENFJs when it comes to socializing. We need more downtime and alone time to recharge. So INFJs appear to be more quiet, while ENFJs appear to be more friendly and sociable with others.
Figure Out Your Cognitive Functions
If you are confused about your MBTI type. I encourage you to learn more about the eight different cognitive functions to figure out your preferences. Then, work backward to find your MBTI type. This will give you a better understanding of your personality type.
If you want to learn how to love yourself as an INFJ, be sure to download my free eBook, Self-Acceptance for INFJs.
Featured Photo Credit: Sisters, Back to Back / Jason Pier in DC Follow