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When INFJs and ISTJs Disagree

The INFJ does not live in the same world as the ISTJ. They’re both introverts (I) and judging (J) types, but that’s about it. One is intuitive (N) and the other sensing (S). One is feeling (F) and the other thinking (T).

Differences of Opinion

If you’re an INFJ in a relationship with an ISTJ, be prepared for differences in opinion. As an INFJ, I’ve had problems with some ISTJs in the past, and I’ve seen them happen in other INFJ-ISTJ relationships. As a result, this blog is as much a personal statement as it is the sharing of professional knowledge about Myers-Briggs types.

The ISTJ believes that everything must be seen, heard, or measured to be real. The hunches of the INFJ, frequently based on limited information, may seem outlandish to ISTJs—even though the INFJ is usually correct. Also, the emotional component of INFJ thinking doesn’t make sense to most ISTJs. They believe in making decisions based on hard data. They consider feelings to be mostly irrelevant, except for their own—which they believe are based on reality, not state of mind. INFJs consider ISTJs too literal and lacking in imagination. What’s the use of gathering so much information, thinks the INFJ, when the conclusion is obvious?

How to Handle Conflicts

To negotiate disagreements or differences of opinion with ISTJs, INFJs need to back up their points with literal, objective examples, not subjective feelings or abstract ideas. Discussions should be concrete and matter-of-fact, not emotional. If an argument concerns an expenditure, for example, INFJs should not dwell on how important a desired item is to them. They should focus on needs the item meets, the benefits it offers, and its impact on their financial resources.

Let’s say an INFJ female partner in a relationship with an ISTJ wants to buy a canoe. She’s pretty sure it’s within their budget, although she hasn’t done the calculations. She thinks canoeing would be good exercise for them both. She knows of nearby rivers and lakes where they could launch their boat. But mostly, she wants the pleasure of being out on the water with her partner. This last argument for a canoe is not the first one she should use. After broaching the subject, she should be prepared to go over the family budget with the ISTJ partner, look into the purchase price of canoes, and consult maps about available sites for canoeing. She might even raise the topic of exercise benefits.

Construct: Conflict Resolution

constructThe diagram shows how INFJs and ISTJs handle this type of decision. The triangle represents a construct—the prospect of buying a canoe. (The dictionary defines “construct” as “an idea or theory containing various conceptual elements.”) The green circle at the top of the triangle represents the INFJ, who, as an intuitive (I), generally approaches ideas from the top down, looking at the whole before investigating the parts. The red circle at the bottom represents the ISTJ, who, being a sensing (S) type, looks at bottom-line details first and then decides whether they fit into a larger construct. The question is, how do the two Myers-Briggs types meet in the middle?

The best way for an INFJ to discuss the matter of a canoe purchase with an ESTJ is to deal with information, not feelings. This approach draws the ISTJs mind further up into the overall construct of buying a canoe. If the INFJ and ISTJ are lucky, they will meet in the grey zone in the diagram. Then, hopefully, they can head happily to a sporting goods store.

Despite their personality differences, some INFJs and ISTJs have undoubtedly developed the skills to sidestep conflicts. I was never very successful.

Extraverted or Introverted? A Test for Partners


Sometimes it’s hard to tell an extravert from an introvert. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Many introverts have a public persona that seems to say, “I’m a people person!” Yet being sociable is something the introvert can’t maintain for long. After an hour or two in a group, the introvert is ready to head home. Extraverts, on the other hand, are just getting started. They are energized by social contacts. It’s too much solitude that wears them down.

Introverts

Introverts are private by nature. They may have one or two close friends but don’t enjoy doing things in crowds. They require time alone. They’re also independent thinkers who don’t need others to help them make decisions. They dislike conflicts but they’ll stand up for what they believe in. If the issue is important, they can be surprisingly forceful.

Extraverts

Extraverts recharge their batteries by relaxing with other people. They’re outspoken most of the time, not just when they have strong feelings. They often prefer talking to listening. When the phone rings, the extravert is likely to jump up to answer. The introvert is glad to let him or her do it. If left on their own for long, extraverts get jumpy and start looking for people to talk to.

Where Do You Fit In?

If you’re wondering where you and your partner stand on the extravert-introvert scale, take these two quizzes. When an answer seems neither totally true nor totally false, pick the more correct of the two answers. Using the scoring key below, figure out the total points for both of you. A score of 8-10 indicates pronounced introversion. The introvert may have a couple of close friends but generally dislikes being in  crowds. A score of 4-7 means the person enjoys spending some time alone but likes to socialize, too. The person who scores 1-3 needs to be around people a lot of the time and may get uneasy if without company for a long period.

TEST A

TEST B

TEST 3

INFJ Meets ENFP

INFJs are generally attracted to energetic, friendly ENFPs. ENFPs understand people and connect with them easily. They read the motives and behaviors of others with almost psychic accuracy.

Life is fun with ENFPs, who never tire of developing new interests. They’re at their best in situations that are fluid and changing. Even in their day-to-day activities they look for new ways of doing things.

Similarities and Differences

INFJs and ENFPs are similar in their curiosity and enthusiasm, but the INFJ is less demonstrative. If the two spend much time together, the INFJ may weary of the ENFP’s inexhaustible sociability and want some solitude. Even away from crowds, INFJs can find the energy of ENFPs demanding. Once ENFPs get excited about something, it’s all they can talk about. INFJs aren’t big on extended conversations.

Another difference between them concerns punctuality. The INFJ is rarely tardy and gets things done when promised. ENFPs have a tendency to be late. They lose track of time, because they underestimate how long it will take to finish what they’re doing. They miss deadlines or are slow in meeting their commitments. This happy-go-lucky attitude often annoys INFJs, who consider it irresponsible. ENFPs, on the other hand, may consider INFJs clock-watchers.

Romance

Whether male or female, ENFPs can be seductive. They know how to appeal to the opposite sex and make themselves desirable. Sometimes they go too far in their quest for affection, making the INFJ feel pressured. When this causes the INFJ to back off, the ENFP is likely to get anxious and become even more needy.

A discussion about the need for boundaries may help ease the ENFP’s jittery response to a partner’s withdrawal. They both need to understand that extraverts are energized by connection with others while introverts get tired of it and seek solitude. It’s nothing personal.

Family Life

INFJs who marry ENFPs find that they’re enjoyable to live with. They also make good parents. They know how to turn family chores into enjoyable activities. If there’s a task that’s boring, they’ll find a way to make it interesting. They infuse family life with creativity and avoid letting their home get too structured, with no room for imagination. When the free-wheeling goes too far, however, the INFJ may complain that things are getting out of control.

ENFPs may consider themselves organized in their home life, but INFJ partners can take issue with this. The ENFPs’ desire to be open to new possibilities is usually stronger than their need to keep things neat and tidy. When they fix meals, the kitchen is likely to be a mess. Their offices or dens are cluttered. There’s always something more interesting to do than clean up.

Outside the Home

ENFPs need work that offers more than a paycheck. They must feel fulfilled and know they’re making a worthwhile contribution. Because of their wide-ranging interests, it’s common for them to change career tracks more than once. Partly this is due to their success at landing jobs for which they’re not fully qualified. If the family needs the income, INFJs married to ENFPs may get frustrated by their partners’ tendency to quit jobs or get fired.

Common Ground

The need to look after the welfare of others is shared by the INFJ and ENFP. They’re champions of causes. They promote services that help people, animals, and the environment. When they’re given a leadership role, they ask for advice from people around them. They’re generous with their praise to friends and co-workers who have helped them. They make good partners.

Famous Examples

twainMark Twain was an ENFP, famous for his engaging stories. Andrew Carnegie said of him, “The public knows only one side of Mark Twain: the amusing part. Little do they suspect that he was a man of strong convictions on political and social questions and a moralist of no mean order.”

Like many ENFPs, Mark Twain had insights that were almost clairvoyant. He once said, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year and I expect to go out with it.” Indeed, he died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, one day after the comet’s closest pass by the Earth.

mother-teresa

Like most INFJs, Mother Teresa was a risk taker, able to enter dangerous situations with courage and insight. She was independent and spirited, willing to explore new roles and ideas. True to her type, Mother Teresa was articulate in expressing her beliefs and putting them into action. She had visions of a world without poverty and took steps to make that a reality.

Myers-Briggs Personalities—When Opposites Attract

Is the old saying right—that opposites attract? Is this good or bad?

Anne and Fred

Anne has always been emotional. Strong, silent men make her feel safe and protected. So that’s the kind of man she ended up with. She married Fred, a successful contractor. The problem is, after they’d been together for a while, Fred’s macho qualities lost some of their appeal. Anne didn’t know how he felt about things. The emotional climate of the relationship grew chilly. Whereas Fred once listened to Anne’s problems attentively, he now criticizes her for being too “clingy.” Who’s got the problem, Anne or Fred?

Anne’s attraction to strong, silent men is partly due to her insecurities. She never learned how to stand up for herself—to view herself as a strong, independent adult. Fred, on the other hand, was discouraged from showing his feelings as a child, or even from having them. He was brought up to be a take-charge male. Anne looked for someone who supplied the parts that were missing in her. Fred did the same.

 Matt and Laura

Matt is an easy-going guy, liked by many people. However, he’s usually late to social engagements. When decisions are needed, he’s apt to put them off. Then he meets Laura. She’s smart, productive and on top of things. He admires this. The two begin dating. Laura has gotten into the habit of picking Matt up because her car runs like a top and his doesn’t. If their date is for 7 pm, she’s there by 6:59. When she arrives, Matt hasn’t shaved and can’t find a clean shirt. Soon Laura gets critical of his chronic tardiness. She feels taken for granted. One day she says, “Why don’t you get your car fixed? Why do I have to pick you up all the time?” Who’s got the problem?

Matt grew up a happy-go-lucky kid. His parents were lax in their discipline and cleaned up his messes. He seldom got his homework turned in on time. As an adult he expected others to continue taking up the slack for him. Laura was the middle child in a dysfunctional home. Often, she was the one in the family who prepared lunches for her sisters and her to take to school. She made sure they met the school bus on time. She learned to take care of not only herself but other people, too.

Heredity and Environment

These four people adopted ways to get along in the world that were consistent with their upbringing as well as their genetic tendencies. Anne—never an assertive child—needed a man who would replace her parents. Fred needed to feel strong and manly. Matt depended on others to make up for his irresponsibility. Laura had the habit of bailing Matt and other people out as a reaction to her over-responsible childhood

The problems of many couples are due to their personality traits, not whether one is right and the other wrong. The partners simply look at the world and respond to events differently.

Myers-Briggs Personality Traits

When couples take the Myers-Briggs inventory, they’re often amazed at their differences. In the case of Anne and Fred, Anne’s scores are heavily weighted on the feeling side, while Fred’s are weighted on the thinking side. Thinking types are rational and have cool heads. They base their decisions on logic, not feelings. Feeling types are soft-hearted and easily moved. Fred thinks that Anne is a cry-baby. Anne wonders whether Fred has any feelings.

On the Perceiving/Judging scale, Matt has mostly perceiving points. Laura scores high on the judging scale. Perceiving types tend to do things at the last minute. They like to keep their options open. Judging types prefer closure. They’re conscientious about their commitments. Matt thinks that Laura is too controlling. Laura thinks that Matt is irresponsible.

Instead of trying to understand their basic personality differences, couples tend to get into the blame game. This only escalates their conflicts. Rarely does either party change. Myers-Briggs personality typing gives partners a fresh look at themselves and each other. It helps them appreciate their unique strengths and their differences. When they have a better understanding of how each functions in the world, they can put their relationship on a higher plane—with no name-calling or blaming.