I’m an INFJ who works as the assistant director of a performing arts program in the public school system. The head director, the person with whom I work most closely on a daily basis, is an INTJ personality type.
When I first started my job, a close friend asked me how I felt about the professional compatibility between the department head and myself. My response? “I’m pretty sure he’s my actual polar opposite.”
Was I right in that assumption? Kind of. There are ways in which he and I are as different as two people can be. But over time, I’ve noticed several key ways in which we’re actually similar.
After several conversations about our Myers-Briggs personality types, and much personal reflection, I concluded that the ways we’re different complement each other far more than they lead to contradiction; and our similarities, which are oddly enough the qualities that typically separate me from others, align in such a way that makes for an almost ideal working environment.
Allow me to break it down. Although each INFJ and INTJ is different, here are seven reasons these two types generally work really well together.
Why INFJs and INTJs Work Well Together
1. We’re always looking for ways to improve.
Working with an INTJ colleague has been refreshingly free of issues regarding the protecting, harming, or inflating of egos. Like INFJs, INTJs have an almost obsessive inner drive to improve themselves. As a result, both my colleague and I are constantly looking for potential “leaks” in our methods and approaches. Neither one of us wants to continue down a path that doesn’t bring positive results.
When we see something that needs to be addressed, we get straight to the point. While my colleague may be more blunt in his delivery, neither of us are fans of sugar-coating. As an INFJ who is on the sensitive side, I have a nasty habit of taking criticism to heart, but I would rather hear the cold, hard truth than have my feelings spared.
And while I do crave the occasional indicator that my work is valued, too much positive attention feels insincere or unearned. Working with an INTJ is ideal in this aspect because he only gives compliments when he really means it, rather than general feel-good stuff that doesn’t directly relate to my performance.
In short, for both of us, it’s all about what we do and who we serve — not us.
2. We both see the big picture.
INFJs and INTJs are the only Myers-Briggs types whose dominant function is Introverted Intuition. While we experience this function differently, we’re both experts at seeing the big picture. We can easily envision our plans and see the various ways they might play out. While our visions may differ greatly at times, we discuss the differences, assess the strengths of each, and strike a balance between the two.
The greatest benefit to sharing strong Introverted Intuition is the fact that we so easily understand each other when discussing ideas. This just doesn’t happen with other people. For example, I sometimes lose people by jumping tracks mid-conversation, making my thoughts seem scattered and abstract.
Having dominant Introverted Intuition means INFJs and INTJs are constantly making connections between ideas. As a result, my colleague and I seem to fill in the blanks for each other effortlessly. This not only makes planning more fulfilling and enjoyable, but saves us a lot of time we’d otherwise spend backtracking and explaining our thoughts.
3. We balance each other out.
Our second strongest cognitive functions are Extraverted Thinking (INTJ) and Extraverted Feeling (INFJ). Because of this, he focuses on developing the most efficient processes to get the best possible results. My basic approach tends to focus on processes that encourage the people we work with (in our case, our students) to buy in and contribute to a meaningful work environment.
This doesn’t mean he can’t create a positive work culture, nor does it mean I’m incapable of efficient and logical planning. To be honest, these are things we both do well; it just so happens that we naturally prioritize one approach over the other. It’s a good balance.
4. We keep each other in check.
My third function is Introverted Thinking. Despite being a “feeling” type, INFJs are constantly thinking. We do value logic (a lot) and tend to analyze things, sometimes obsessively, searching for the best possible outcome.
The biggest downfall to this function, as brought to my attention by my INTJ colleague, is a hesitation to act or make decisions. While he can think through something and come to a conclusion fairly quickly, I often second-guess myself and probably ask for advice more than I need to. His willingness to both offer advice (something INTJs are fond of doing), and also to remind me that I’m being indecisive, helps keep my Introverted Thinking from holding me back.
His third function, Introverted Feeling, doesn’t come up often at work, as INTJs consider their feelings private, and therefore irrelevant in a professional environment. Because INFJs have Extraverted Feeling, as mentioned earlier, we read others’ feelings well, even when the signs are subtle. My colleague is generally cool and collected, but I notice right away when he’s annoyed, stressed, or angry. Though he’d probably prefer to carry on as usual, as if he isn’t in fact annoyed, stressed, or angry, I can jump in and help.
5. We value our work over status and merit.
Both INTJs and INFJs are miserable in work situations that go against their values. INTJs desire independence and the freedom to construct whatever system and structure that works best for them. INFJs need creative autonomy to be true to themselves and the knowledge that what they’re doing is meaningful. Both take a lot of pride in their work, and consider the work itself to be more important than status, merit, or pay.
Because I believe in my colleague’s leadership and vision for his program, I have no qualms adapting to fit within the overarching structure he provides. Because his top priority is getting the best results as efficiently as possible, he understands when I need to resort to methods that are different than his own — as long as I can back my decisions with adequate reasoning. This gives me the creative autonomy I need to function in my own unique way.
6. We share the same sense of humor.
It’s slightly self-serving to mention, so I’ll keep this section brief: INTJs and INFJs are both pretty clever. This makes conversations much more enjoyable and productive. Similar intellect between these two personality types also leads to a similar sense of humor, which is often witty, sarcastic, dark, and occasionally straight-up quirky. Humor is essential to maintaining a good working relationship.
7. We both share a strong sense of values.
INFJs and INTJs have strong values that they rarely compromise. We both value the truth over prettier half-truths; we value education and constantly seek new knowledge and intellectual stimulation; and, most importantly, we deeply value our work. All of these shared values add up to a united front that more than makes up for our many differences.
Originally, it didn’t seem like my colleague and I were compatible in any way. While no personality assessment can guarantee compatibility in any relationship — professional or personal — as we took the time to find our rhythm as a team, I quickly proved myself wrong. The similarities and complementary qualities of INTJs and INFJs can lay a foundation for an incredibly rewarding working relationship. I think that any other INTJs and INFJs fortunate enough to share the same goals will come to the same conclusion.