How to compliment an INFP?

The Moderators of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator world have built a reputation of being the mysterious ones. Which is why it is only fair that you’ve found yourself to be on this page today, trying to answer the mind-boggling and often exhausting question: how does one pay a compliment to someone who lets out very limited information about themselves? And really, it is all in the name.

The INFPs are introverted individuals who tend to feel their way through life. Focusing on the facts that they’re intuitive and have a prospecting personality also play an important role in identifying effective and helpful ways to give them compliments which stay with them. 

So, whether you have a close relationship with an INFP and are trying to seek ways to let them know they’re appreciated, or just a work friend/ acquaintance, looking to get in the good books of the INFPs in your circle, stick around as we dissect this personality type and get into their heads to best help you! 

When we take a look at how the minds of the INFPs work, in general, we realize that their dominant cognitive function is that of Introverted Feeling (or Fi, for them psychology buffs). This means that while the INFPs experience a great depth of feelings, being introverted means that they largely process their feelings and the emotions they experience internally. That can be tricky when we try to compliment someone like that. Because INFPs, when paid a compliment, tend to not have the best reactions. Even when they do react, it is more internal than an overt one, so it may be perceived by people, especially extroverts, as being an odd thing. 

Now, attach that to the fact that the INFPs do not like to be the centre of attention, and prefer to stay out of the spotlight, a compliment would draw all the attention to them. So, even if they wish to react outwardly, they might be taken aback at a moment like that. Not the best combination, right?

It gets worse. Even though INFPs are all up in the feeling of it all and are highly empathetic of the people around them – to the extent of wanting to make the world a better place – they do not like to have their compassion plastered all over the walls for the world to see as “something great”. 

Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s still hope for you! The INFPs do love to hear they are appreciated for who they are as individuals. Who doesn’t like being appreciated? They like to know that the people in their lives see them as important. But becomes tricky with them, because they don’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea of being complimented. As explained above, they struggle to react appropriately whilst receiving praise.

What matters to the INFPs is when they are paid compliments which aren’t mainstream or generic. They appreciate well-thought out, sincere, and genuine compliments. We all know that the INFPs have Extraverted Intuition, or Ne for short, as an auxiliary cognitive function. Which means that they engage with the world by using their intuition. And a strong intuition means that they can see right through the fake compliments, or when people say things to them that they do not really mean. It is, therefore, best to steer clear of trying to butter them up.

Which is why the INFPs especially prefer and enjoy being complimented by people who are close to them, people whose opinions they value and trust. When they know the person complimenting them, the INFPs know that it comes from a place of real love and appreciation, and can also easily detect when they’re being deceived or even made to feel better by redaction of truth. 

That being said, your INFP friends appreciate words which compliment a personality trait or who they are as a person over compliments about an ability or a skill they might possess. Because while most people would gladly take compliments about an amazing piece of writing or a nicely embroidered pillow, when such compliments are given to INFPs, it often ends up putting unnecessary pressure on them to do better the next time, and gives them performance anxiety.

So, if you must compliment a skill, it is helpful if you focus on appreciating or encouraging them for doing things in their own distinct way. This satisfies their need to maintain their individuality without putting any sort of pressure on them. Leave it to an INFP to always find a way of doing the most mundane of things in their own unique style – that just comes to them naturally.

There can be different ways, though, how an INFP may or may not react to a compliment even if it’s well-thought out and genuine and follows all of the specific INFP protocols. The different lies in the barely distinguishable but very clearly different sub-types within the INFPs. 

As a whole, Mediators have the tendency to struggle with self-esteem, to the extent that they’ll be more likely to help someone else boost their self-esteem than they will their own.

The “T” in INFP-T stands for “Turbulent” and if we look at turbulent personalities individually, they can often be seen constantly trying to become better human beings. When a Mediator has a turbulent personality, they feel a constant urge to self-improve, which may seem like a positive thing, but can become problematic for them too. Because while the idea of bettering oneself is healthy, as a turbulent mediator, an INFP might put themselves under constant scrutiny and become overwhelmed by expecting way too much from themselves. 

When you compliment a mediator with such a negative outlook on their personality and achievements, they are more likely to dismiss positive feedback as untrue, or worse, pity. They tend to not believe that any person would see them in a positive light, because their self-image is distorted and they are never enough for themselves, even when there isn’t anything essentially wrong with their personality. You know what they say, it is hard to love people who struggle to love themselves. 

On the other hand, INFP-A or Assertive Mediators see things quite differently. They are more optimistic than their turbulent counterparts, and rely heavily on the concept of self-assurance. They see mistakes as just that – mistakes. They prefer not to dwell too much on them, because everyone messes up once in a while. This makes INFP-A people more open to accepting compliments. And our hope for them is that their nonchalant attitude towards their mistakes and the habit of romanticizing things quite often doesn’t impact the parts of them that actually could use improvement.

In conclusion, paying compliments to INFPs may seem like a complex task, but it is quite simple if we know enough about them. INFPs do appreciate compliments which come from the heart, because they’re always up for people expressing their genuine feelings to them. They react more positively to compliments related to who they are instead of what they do, which explains why they are more likely to accept compliments from the people who really know and get them. 

Despite all of that, try not to get disappointed if the INFPs in your life do not react well to the compliments you give them. They may feel ecstatic upon learning that their efforts are being noticed, deep down, but on the surface, they might really struggle with giving an appropriate reaction, especially if they’re put on the spot. They can sniff out insincere compliments, so steer clear of them. And of course, INFPs appreciate compliments that are about them as people, but might be a little, if not a lot, sceptical of words of endearment related to shallow aspects like the way they look, smell, or talk. 

Happy complimenting!

Citations:

Myers, I. B. (1962). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: Manual (1962). Consulting Psychologists Press.

https://www.myersbriggs.org

Drenth, D., 2021. Introverted Feeling (Fi) vs. Ti, Ni, & Fe | Personality Junkie. [Online] Personality Junkie. Available at: <https://personalityjunkie.com/12/introverted-feeling-fi-vs-ti-ni-fe/> [Accessed 1 November 2021].

Cherry, K., 2021. INFP Personality Profile and Characteristics. [Online] Verywell Mind. Available at: <https://www.verywellmind.com/infp-a-profile-of-the-idealist-personality-type-2795987> [Accessed 1 November 2021].

 Erik Thor. 2021. 10 Ways to Make an INFP Happy. [Online] Available at: <https://www.erikthor.com/10-ways-to-make-an-infp-happy/> [Accessed 1 November 2021].

Stafford, S., 2017. How Each Personality Type Reacts to Compliments – Personality Growth. [Online] Personality Growth. Available at: <https://personalitygrowth.com/how-each-personality-type-reacts-to-compliments/> [Accessed 1 November 2021].

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