Me: “So what types have you considered or narrowed down to?”
Client: “Well, I test kind of all over the map. I’ve gotten INFP, INTP, Sometimes ISTP, once ISFP and a long time ago I got ENFP. I could be pretty much anything but a J type because I can’t get my sh*t together to save my life when it comes to staying on top of things like cleaning and organizing and paying my bills on time.”
Me: “Yeah… so… I hate to break it to you but… INFJ”
That is a representation of an exchange I’ve had many times, from both sides of the conversation I might add. My car happens to be full of stuff right now that I haven’t unloaded since moving 3 days ago, and otherwise typically looks like the picture here. Honestly it is often worse – literally knee deep in plastic beverage containers, snack wrappers, junk mail, and papers to the point that it is physically unusable to a passenger. (Yes I consider the image in this photo usable to a passenger, minus the pizza boxes). I factored in 2-3 parking tickets a month (including late fees on them) as part of my cost of living budget in San Francisco where I had to park on the street and they did street cleaning twice a week. For better or for worse, I am still an INFJ (who always “tests” as INTP).
So does this make me and the xNFJ clients (and some xNTJs and xSFJs) I’ve had this conversation with “bad” Js? Anyone who has paied attention to my writing style can probably guess – the answer is No. Not all Js necessarily show up in stereotypical ways of being neat, organized, on top of their budgets and bill due dates, those day-to-day “adulting” things many people do easily without giving it a second thought.
I want to start with INFJs since this is the most common type I encounter this with and I’ll explain why, but there is an organized spectrum as to how “on top of things” different J types are (or aren’t). Something uniquely atypical of the “normal” J stereotypes happens when we combine Ni Dominant and Fe Auxiliary functions and a blind spot in the sensing domain (Se 4th function). The favoritest thing ever for the INFJ is inner world freedom to wander the garden of the mind, which has nothing to do with bringing order to the outer world in and of its self. The next bestest thing is outer world organization from the extraverted judging function, Fe, but get this – it is outer world organization of ***interpersonal dynamics***. Does that have anything to do with cleaning out your car or paying your bills on time? Not necessarily.
Fe likes to know what to expect when it comes to the relationships in their lives, or on a larger scale, social contracts in their culture. This function wants to know what is expected of themselves, what is fair of them to expect of others, where they stand with people. That is what being organized means to an Fe user. So if something doesn’t cause relational tension in their radar range then it isn’t necessarily a priority.
The things an INFJ is most likely to be “on top of” cleanliness-wise are keeping shared spaces inoffensive (which may still have a fairly low bar of not smelling foul or being grimy or crusty to the touch, even though there may be clutter). Spaces used only by them are hit or miss depending on how sensitive they are to visual clutter as a distraction to their solitary mind garden sojourns. Other things they will be on top of are paying bills or meeting deadlines or other “adulting” expectations that most strongly influence their core family dynamics. A single, childless INFJ living independently? Good luck with those bills and due dates.
So who is next on this spectrum of stereotypical “J-ness”? In general I’ll go with ENFJs. They will be more attuned to how the environment affects how people get along, since their extraverted judging function bringing order to the outside world is higher (Fe Dominant), and also their sensing function is higher (Se 3rd function) making them somewhat more in touch with the material world. Still, the ENFJs I’ve worked with can be quite the clutter-mongers in their own personal work space. There’s usually some rhyme and reason to it in terms of convenience to their own action patterns – keeping certain piles of things out for visual tracking and handiness.
Next I’ll say INTJs, ISFJs, and ESFJs are pretty even and more on the stereotypical J end of the spectrum of J-ness. INTJs like their mind garden more than the material world, but oh do they love a good system that runs like clockwork too. They seem a bit more distracted by visual clutter in my experience than INFJs – that Te has a radar for things out of place in relation to the envisioned ideal system. ISFJs get their kicks in the world of things they can mentalize, having touched and experienced them. This is a bit different than the abstract mind garden, and likes to have tangible cues in predictable ways so much more intent on physical order than INFJs. Also tertiary Ti perfectionism + that Si can make for a very fastidious personality. ESFJs get a bigger dose of need to manage the collective emotional experience + that sensory perceiving process means about the same amount of conscientiousness to such things.
ESTJ gets the gold star for Most Sh*t Gotten Together, followed a hair’s breadth behind by ISTJ and ENTJ in a dead heat. ESTJ takes the cake due to that top priority of outer world logical Te order backed up by Auxiliary Si attention to the material world. ENTJ has the same judging/outer world order function of Te, but perceives the abstract world better than the tangible world. ISTJ can go into themselves a little and hold off on taking action to organize the environment, but usually not much since that Si puts their tangible world so much on their mind. Believe it or not I have seen an ISTJ who had a pretty unsightly desk-top file stacking system. But it was still a highly predictable system which didn’t get in the way of the work space section of her desk to distract her.
So are you a “P”, or are you a “J” who is on the non-stereotypical end of the organizational spectrum? Put the question to rest by booking a Personality Type Discovery Consultation!