The INFJ, one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, is an oddball in many ways — that’s one of the reasons we’re called a bundle of contradictions. But one of the ways that we especially torture ourselves is in communication.
We are seemingly great at communication, if you witness us while we are writing stories, poetry, or even texting. Many of us can weave elaborate tales of suspense, passion, and beauty, using words that intertwine with each other to form beautiful sentences that punch you right in the heart.
But when you meet us face-to-face, we may stumble. We may spend our time in absolute silence, as if we have taken a vow at a monastery. Or we speak really fast, so fast that our words jumble into one another, and the people around us have a hard time understanding what we’re saying.
Either way, we are stuck in limbo — where no one understands us, and no one gets us. This is the primary complaint of many INFJs. We just want people to get us.
Why INFJs Go Quiet
I have been in many social situations where people kept prodding me and asking me to say something. “You’ve been really quiet today, Boom. Why don’t you say something?”
And I would just sit there, uncomfortable, ready to zoom out of there, at rapid speed.
One of our major pain points as INFJs is because we have been misunderstood by people so often in our lives, we assume that will never change. We presume that our lives are going to continue in the same vein, where people misunderstand us, judge us, and shun us. We may be so used to this idea that we into every social situation with that presumption in our back pocket.
“Of course, no one is going to understand me if I speak, so why bother?” Thus, we may end up staying way too quiet for way too often.
What Happens When INFJs Do Speak
Sometimes we are excited about something, perhaps someone brings up a topic we like to talk about, or we just had something awesome happen to us, and we are just bursting to tell someone about it. In those situations, we will turn into the opposite of a person with a monastic vow of silence.
In those cases, you may not be able to shut us up. We will start jabbering away a mile a minute, and because we are so excited, our tongue can’t keep up with our brain that’s working on overdrive. We stumble over words. Or we mix up what we were going to say. Or we jump from topic to topic, in a way that makes sense in our heads, but doesn’t make sense to anyone else.
And then, horror of horrors, we look up and see everyone staring at us with that look on their face. They are completely confused, their eyes have glazed over, or they are looking at us like we are absolutely insane, and need to be institutionalized.
Instantly, we stop talking. We blush, we apologize, and we crawl back into our holes.
Communication Is a Skill That Gets Rusty Without Practice
The problem is a lot of us haven’t had much practice with having conversations in so long that we are out of touch with that skill. We just don’t know how to do it anymore. At least, that’s what happens for me.
For example, I will go into my “introvert cave” for a few days or even a week at a time, and when I come out, I have invitations to a couple of social events. I dress up, excited to be around humans again. But when I get there, I realize, yet again, that I have no idea how to be around people and converse like a normal human being anymore.
This is not a joke — I have to relearn the skill of conversation by mimicking the people around me, and little by little, stepping into it again.
It’s a terrible thing, because I feel like a newborn baby again, trying to learn to speak and walk. It feels awkward, and I would rather be doing anything else.
That’s one of the reasons I started my YouTube channel. I noticed I became a bumbling fool every time I went to social events, because I work from home, and I rarely interact with any humans face-to-face anymore. I decided I needed to start working harder on my communication skills, and for me, the best way to do this was to do a video a day. I started talking about INFJ stuff, and I have been doing a video a day for almost three years now, which has boosted my communication skills like nothing else.
But even then, sometimes it’s not enough. If I don’t go out at least once a week, if not twice, and chat with people face-to-face, I am still at a loss on how to behave around people. I end up sitting there silently, wondering what I am doing there. Or I end up expounding on why we should think about death more often, because we are all dying slowly but surely, and if we don’t think about death, we won’t live our life to the fullest.
If this happens to you, too, I have found a couple of things to be helpful. If you’re not already, try attending at least one or two social events a week, even if it’s as simple as coffee with a friend. This results in continued practice with chatting with other humans. And, although you may not record YouTube videos like me, a Skype call with a close friend, or even doing a Facebook live video when your dog is at the vet can do the trick. Anything that gets you communicating with others will be beneficial.
I hope I was able to help you feel less alone and misunderstood in this world. It helps to know there are others like us out there, INFJs who feel exactly the same way and who have difficulty sometimes communicating what’s going on in their heads. Remember, you are not alone, and you can definitely get better at communication! Good luck.