Getting along with people and connecting with them are two different experiences, both of which require different social and cognitive skills.
First, it's important to note that one of the most helpful skills to navigate any social situation is the skill to "read between the lines." People aren't always going to literally mean what they say, and even when people do speak literally, it is still important to have a keen awareness of the intentions they have behind their words. The cognitive function, Introvert Intuition (Ni), is the cognitive function we use when we are perceiving hidden meanings and making inferences. Thus, personality types with Ni have a strength in being able to read between the lines in various social situations.
When it comes to interaction and connection, however, Ni must work with two different functions: Fe (extravert feeling) and Fi (introvert feeling). Fe is objective and authoritative, while Fi is subjective and flexible.
Expressing Fi = establishes connection
Expressing Fe = establishes interaction
Types with Fe in their main cognitive stack include ESFJ, ENFJ, ENTP, and ESTP. Their Fe influences them to prioritize a positive interaction with people. While this is helpful for keeping an interaction going, this leaves almost no room for genuine connection, because interaction over superficial things gets prioritized for the sake of keeping a positive interaction.
Types with Fi in their main cognitive stack include ISFP, INFP, ISTJ, and INTJ. Their Fi influences them to prioritize authenticity when they interact with people. Those who refuse to share their inner world and values also leave no room for connection, because they aren’t open to accepting certain things that may be said about themselves.
Thus, for accommodating a variety of people during an interaction, the combination of NiFe is much more helpful. But for connecting with people on a deeper level one-on-one, NiFi is much better.
NiFe: focused on the social reality, its deep meaning, and how the individuality of every person fits into it
NiFi: focused on the individuality of every person, its deep meaning, what it implies about the person's good or bad potential
Therefore, INFJs are excellent as understanding each person as a member of a greater machine, while INTJs are excellent at understanding the "essence" of people.
INFJs and Social Harmonizing
INFJs can talk with someone and without seeing them in action, the INFJ can see how the person fits within the societal flow. NiFe can see automatically the modus operandi of the person without knowing exactly the behind scenes.
INFJs’ Fe is balanced by Ti (introvert thinking). The Fe-Ti cognitive axis makes it so that while INFJs do long for a deep connection and to authentically express themselves, they can detach from these urges, as long as their Ti sees it as a reasonable decision to keep a relationship going. Meaning, if their Ti can logically see how interacting with a person can be beneficial for both the person and themselves, they can focus on using Fe, which means focusing on how they are making the other person feel to keep the relationship intact (instead of how they personally feel). They get more caught up in the logical analysis of how they are making the other person feel, rather than how they personally feel in the interaction. They can thus more easily walk away without feeling as awful about their inauthentic presentation as long as they have a Ti justification for why they had to act that way.
INTJs and Social Connection
The INTJ talks with someone and cannot help but only sees the person's soul, not the person's social function. INTJs long for genuine connection because of how NiFi sees through the person and focuses on their individuality. When the INTJ interacts with someone who is only showing their social character instead of their real self, the INTJ cannot help but see the interaction as pointless.
However, Fi is balanced by Te (extravert thinking), so as long as the interaction is superficial, the INTJ can bear it because the justification would be that it is Te interaction: prioritizing efficiency over meaningful emotional connection.
On a more personal level, those who abuse of their Fe presentation can be exhausting for the INTJ. The tendency for people to avoid showing their Fi is another strong reason for why the INTJ can feel good in the middle of a conversation to later feel miserable after the interaction ended.
Having Fi in any part of the main cognitive stack makes it easier for the INTJs themselves to be authentic and thus easier to deeply connect with others. However, the challenge is just getting past the barrier of why there should be a connection in the first place. In general, it is often hard for INTJs to connect with someone NOT because they are afraid to show their Fi, but more because their Fi doesn’t see the value/the point in opening up for connection in the first place. But once they get past that barrier and see the value in connecting with someone, maintaining connection and building on it is a smooth sail from there.
For maintaining a positive interaction, the INTJ needs to use both TeFi to emulate Fe since they need to see people in action to perceive them as objects which are part of a mechanical reality. After seeing the person in action several times, the INTJ can see the pattern with Te from a mechanical perspective and use Fi to add the positive essence to that mechanical aspect, and therefore tap into Fe to keep a positive interaction.
Authenticity: The Key to Both a Positive Interaction and Meaningful Connection
There are two ways one can become inauthentic and end up feeling disconnected from an interaction:
- Not showing the true self because of a fear of getting your core values/passions stomped on by others (INTJ tendency, because of Fi being private and preservative of their individuality)
- Not showing the true self because you were too focused on presenting yourself a certain way to get others to fulfill some underlying logically-justified motive (INFJ tendency, because of Fe being attuned to how others can fulfill a holistic purpose)
However, types with Fe have a strength in keeping an interaction going and helping people feel good with them, even though there’s no deep connection. The cons are that you don’t fully get to know the people you’re interacting with or feel close to anyone.
Types with Fi have a strength in deeply connecting with others and having those involved in the interaction expressing themselves authentically. The cons are that it’s hard to get everyone involved comfortable enough to share anything worth connecting over, so the interaction isn’t as enjoyable during the first few stages as it would’ve been with an Fe type.
Types with Fe: good at making the interaction enjoyable initially, until people get tired of being superficial. They will have to learn to help others feel encouraged to share their Fi (and their own Fi) to keep the interaction going.
Types with Fi: good at establishing a deep connection, but takes longer to open up enough to allow one, because they lack interest in interacting enough. They will have to learn to express their values so that others can feel comfortable bouncing back with their own and stimulate an Fe-like interaction.