For the second time in my grad. school experience, I’ve been asked to take a personality assessment and consider how my tendencies will impact my position as a librarian.
I am (still) an INFJ. The “heart” of this type is NF. N refers to intuitive over sensing, and F is for feeling rather than thinking. Together, these two tendencies imply that I might be insightful and more focused on relationships than on facts and data and that I might be growth oriented and drawn to communication, counseling and the arts. These tendencies are certainly true for me.
I have done a lot of these kinds of personality assessments before, and I’ve always landed on an INFJ “diagnosis.” While these tendencies and the descriptions of my particular type aren’t really new to me – I now realize that I haven’t ever really spent a lot of time learning about other types. Our professor included an overview of the other types, and when I read these descriptions, I could see clearly that they didn’t describe me. For example, the NT types were described as preferring work that is competitive. I can say for sure that’s not me, and in fact, competition tends to shut me down rather than bring out the best in me. (I still remember one year when my principals decided dodgeball would be a fun team building experience. That was a sad day.) Understanding and appreciating the differences in others helps us to be better communicators – and that is especially important for a librarian who needs to be able to work effectively with many people.
INFJs are focused on possibility. That means that they are open to change, and this openness is essential to collaboration because if you are going build a working relationship with someone, you have to be open to new ideas. INFJs also tend to be insightful and intuitive, which means that we can “read a room,” and when you are sensitive to people’s feelings you are able to build a genuine and trusting relationships. INFJs also want to empower others, making us natural leaders, that bring out the best in other people. INFJs are motivated by a “larger purpose,” so we keep the big ideas – the important goals – in mind, and we can make sure that the work stays focused.
Several of my classmates noted that while they really feel more like introverts, many people assume that they are extroverts. I think this is probably true for a lot of educators. This isn’t a job that allows us to focus entirely on our inner selves. We have to be good at interacting with people. Teaching is a very performance oriented job, yet so many of us are naturally very introverted. I know that at school if I am not really “on” then my students aren’t engaged. If I am too quiet or step back in planning meetings, that can be off-putting, and it can hinder collaboration. So, it’s important that I take the time to reenergize and “put myself back together” outside of work so that when I’m there, I can give the kind of energy required in order to be the best I can be for my kids and my colleagues. For me this means making time for the gym, indulging in books, dabbling with creative endeavors, and losing myself in a Netflix binge every once in a while.
Many descriptions of an INFJ that I’ve read note that we can be quietly forceful and intense. I think that this is definitely true for me. I’ve noticed that I have the ability to sway the mood of the room. That means that it’s really important that I am conscientious of my energy. It’s important that I don’t bring negativity into a meeting or a classroom. I need to be sure that I am open minded an thoughtful about my feelings and the feelings of my coworkers. Intensity can definitely be a good thing; it can energize others and inspire them, but it can also intimidate, so it is important to gauge my thoughts and actions and to pay attention to how others are perceiving me as well.
If you are interested in learning more about personality types or taking a test for yourself, 16personalities is a great resource.