Having a Real Conversation with an INFP

Hey there! How are you doing? How is your family? What are your plans for winter break? Have you seen how insane the weather is these days? Oh, and can you believe that it now gets dark by five in the evening? Crazy, right?

Sounds fake and weird, right? All these formal, generic questions, written as part of an introduction for this piece of writing. That’s exactly how an INFP feels, whenever they have to talk to people they haven’t interacted with before. 

You’re here because you want to know how to talk to an INFP that you might have come across recently. Maybe you tried reaching out to them, and couldn’t find an in? Did you start with small talk? I bet you did. Wow, you really do need my help. So, let’s stop wasting more of your time and mine, and get started on learning how to talk to an INFP effectively. 

They despise small talk.

I wasn’t kidding. INFPs really do hate to become entrapped with small talk. If you walk up to an INFP, and start talking to them about the weather, or ask them about a snack that they’re eating, know that they have bashed your head against a wall inside their head about five times before you’ve finished asking your question.

Listen, it’s nothing against you, it’s just that small talk just sounds shallow and mostly fake, an attempt at making a social situation less awkward, when all it ever achieves is ensuring that even more awkwardness lingers in the air afterwards. Seriously, small talk is the worst. INFPs usually look for ending all conversations that have small talk going on in them. 

So, sure, my first suggestion to you might have been what not to do while trying to talk to an INFP, but this needed to be said!

Be weird. Be you. 

See, now you’re wondering, “Well, if I can’t ask them about their day at work, what will work?” 

Answer me this, why do people try and small talk? To break the ice, right? Well, it doesn’t work with INFPs. The reason why they hate it so much, is because small talk usually contains questions about the person on the receiving end. And INFPs do not want to talk about themselves with strangers. It makes them uncomfortable, and they just shut down immediately. 

Instead, to break the ice, start talking about yourself. And I don’t mean telling them where you went to school. Please, don’t. In order to engage an INFP in conversation, you play with their weakness: their interest in learning about people, and getting to know the strangest, deepest of secrets that they have! 

No, you don’t have to talk about how you failed eighth grade. You just have to tell them something about yourself that is going to intrigue them. Think weird. The weirder, the better. Don’t lie or fake it. Just think about the weirdest thing you can come up with, but something that is true and about your own, real self. They are going to be a little taken aback, because they’re not used to people going up to them and talking about how they think that one of their feet is smaller than the other. But honestly, they will definitely be intrigued. 

Do not make things up. 

Seriously, don’t. INFPs appreciate honesty and authenticity more than anything. So, whatever you tell them about yourself, make sure that it is true and that you’re being your own authentic self. They will be impressed. 

Be persuasive, but not forceful.

Even after you have found your way into having a nice chat with them, do not assume that the INFP will suddenly change their entire personality. It takes them time and persuasion to open up to people. 

Persuade them by showing them that they can trust you, and that you are as real as they can get. Even then, you may struggle with getting them to talk. That is when you know it is time to take a step back, respectfully say your goodbyes, and let them be. You can try another time. Just do not be too forceful with them and ask them too many questions about themselves. They will not appreciate that and may find you to be oddly suspicious. 

Know that it takes them a while to find the words to say. 

That’s right. Even if an INFP wants to continue talking to you, they will definitely have trouble with finding the right words to say. Their introverted feelings cause them to be extremely expressive inside of their heads, but they struggle putting the right words together to communicate what exactly it is they want you to know. 

You being too pushy to get them to talk makes them nervous, and they do not like feeling that way. INFPs appreciate being given the space to form their thoughts. This is the reason why they rarely talk in gatherings. They’re not particularly shy, it just takes them a while to form structured points that they’d like to share with other people. And usually, before they can come up with what they wish to say, the conversation moves forward. 

Use alternate means to communicate.

Talking doesn’t always necessarily mean what it does in the most conventional of ways. You can use a texting app to talk to an INFP. They absolutely love to text. Because it allows them to formulate well-thought out ideas and actually gives them time to say what it is that they really wish to say.

INFPs online persona is very different from their offline one. That is because online isn’t in person. Online, there is no awkward silences, no eyes staring at them intently, waiting for them to answer, expecting, and causing them to freak out. 

On text, you get to learn just how interesting, deep and incredible an INFP can be. When they share with you their thoughts about life and their world view. That is when you realize that INFPs really do have a way with words, and whether you agree with their beliefs or not, you just can’t help but admire the amount of thought they put in, and how deep their concepts can be.

So, until you become a part of their inner circle, texting is actually not a bad idea at all. 

Have meaningful things to discuss. 

Once you do get a conversation going, talk to an INFP about things that are meaningful, can make a difference, things that can make them ponder. INFPs do not like to talk about material things. They are always looking for discussions that can broaden their world view. Talk about things you’re passionate about, ask them for their thoughts and feelings, share yours! Talk to them about your hopes and dreams, tell them your fears, and once they begin to share things about themselves, know that you’re on the right track. 

Be respectful, even when you disagree. 

Once an INFP dares to open up to you and share their hopes, dreams and expectations, know that this is a really big deal to them. You cannot spook them by saying the wrong thing. Talking to an INFP becomes really tricky at this point, if your interests and opinions don’t align. 

Because people often become dismissive of other people’s thoughts, beliefs and opinions if they differ from theirs. Not INFPs, though. They appreciate having their own beliefs challenged, and they are always open to new information and experiences. Most importantly, INFPs are respectful of the things other people share with them, and they never judge. 

In return, INFPs expect the same from people. If you do disagree with their point of view, then say that. But make sure that you’re being kind and respectful while doing it. 

Lastly, I would really like to add an important piece of information:

Criticize carefully. 

Maybe they’ve said something inaccurate. Maybe you think their opinion about a particular topic could use some polishing. Maybe they’ve showed you a piece of writing, and you want to help them improve. But while giving constructive criticism, in order to help them improve, really tread lightly. Make sure you’re kind and you phrase your sentences positively. Try the compliment burger method. Begin with something positive, then add the criticism, and finish with pointing out another positive thing. 

Because INFPs are incredibly self-critical. They are way too hard on themselves as it is. They think and overthink about their own appearance, their voice, the words they’re using, and they really get down on themselves hard. It is no secret that INFPs often take criticism too personally, and that can hinder not only in their own growth, but also impact your relationship with them. 

At the end of the day, INFPs are actually really easy to talk to. They just take a while to open up. This may make them seem uninteresting or even boring in the beginning, but upon inquiring the people they’re really close to and comfortable with, you’ll find out that INFPs are actually extremely weird, funny, witty, interesting, and sometimes also very loud people. They are full of life, and you can get to experience that as you grow closer to one of them.

Good luck.