Finding Community In Variety

There’s something magical about meeting a person who “gets” you. It’s like your minds work on the same wavelength and you’re instantly talking as if you’re old friends. The two of you think so much alike that there’s no struggle to explain yourself.

This sort of connection often has to do with personality type. Our Myers-Briggs types describe the way our minds work (click here for tips on finding your true Myers-Briggs type). When we meet someone else whose brain processes the word in a similar way, we’re likely to experience a connection with them, especially if we have overlapping interests.

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In contrast, when we seem to clash with someone for no reason it often has to do with differences in how we process the world. To use a fictional example from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark don’t just conflict ideologically. Their ISFJ and ENTP types are exact opposites, which means the mental process Steve is most comfortable using is the one Tony finds most stressful (and vice versa).

Many of us seek to surround ourselves with people who think like us. They’re the people we’re most comfortable with, the ones who identify with us, the ones with similar priorities and goals. Often this type of community is based around interests, such as spending time with people in your church, joining a bird watching club, or hanging out with friends at a ballgame. Personality similarities in these groups are typically accidental.

For those with rare personality types, though, it’s hard to find communities of like-minded people. Only about 30% of the population is made up of Intuitive types, and among those INTJ and INFJ are the rarest. How do you find community when only 1-4% of the world’s population thinks like you?

Searching For Like Minds

The internet has opened a marvelous world of inter-connectivity that’s not tied to location. Whereas only 1-4 people out of every 100 you meet in real life might be INFJ, you can go online and find groups of them gathered together from around the world. Same for other personality types. Track down some bloggers who share your type and start commenting on their posts if you want to get a dialogue going with people of your type.

One of the best ways I’ve found to keep in touch with the INFJ community is on Facebook. There are several INFJ groups on Facebook, and you can find similar groups for INTJs and other personality types as well. You might have to join several before you find one that’s a good fit, but it’s a great way to meet others in your tribe. Also, don’t just confine yourself to groups with one type. You can also find community with people who share other similarities, such as introversion or intuition:

Strength in Variety

Let’s talk about The Avengers again for a moment. How do you think that team would work if every single person thought the same way Tony Stark does? a team of ENTPs could come up with some truly world-changing ideas, but there wouldn’t be anyone to keep them grounded in reality or hold them accountable to human society. On the other hand, would an entire team of Steve Rogers be much better? a group of ISFJs would be far more effective protectors, but they’d also have a hard time adapting to new situations and run the risk of losing themselves in trying to save others. The rest of the team is also a mix of types, including ISFP Scott Lang, ISTPs Black Widow and Hawkeye, ESTP Bucky Barns, and INxx (introverted intuitive something) Bruce Banner.

We risk losing out on building a stronger community if we only surround ourselves with people whose minds work just like ours. If you always agree with the people around you, you’ll never learn to respectfully engage with those who challenge your ideas. If all your friends enjoy the same activities you do, you’re never pushed to learn something new. If the people around you all think the same way, you’ll ignore alternative solutions which might work better. For example, when my siblings and I put our INFJ, INTJ, and ENFJ heads together we can generate some pretty innovative ideas, but our ISFJ father is much better at coming up with elegantly simple solutions (that actually work) to every day problems.

Even within groups that share a common interest variety is a gift. Take the church for example (since this is as much a Christian blog as a personality type blog). God didn’t intend for the family He’s building to exclude any personality types. The mix of personality types within the churches is a strength. You have something in common — belief in God — and learning to work within a common framework with different personalities strengthens community. With the mix of personality types, you get people who are naturally good administrates, who connect emotionally with others, who exercise hospitality as easily as breathing, who can rationally handle finances, and a whole host of other skills. Our differences provide an opportunity to create a balanced community that promotes growth.

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4 thoughts on “Finding Community In Variety

  1. Great post! Thank you for stressing the importance of fostering community with those who think differently. That’s something I’ve learned to appreciate over the past few years.

    I am an INFJ, and I find that I most naturally am–by far–drawn to INTJs (I even married one), and I have been my entire life. However, I’ve really struggled to converse easily with INFJs. Maybe it’s because we’re introverted? I’m not sure why, but conversation just doesn’t flow the way it does with INTJs.

    What about you? With which type do you most easily converse (in person)? Are you naturally drawn to a particular type?

    Liked by 1 person

    • ENFJs. I find them incredibly easy to talk with and I love being around them. We think enough alike that it’s easy to communicate, but their extroversion draws me out in a way I’m more comfortable with than when talking to most other extroverted types. I also connect really well with INTJs and INFJs (but am less likely to maintain a close friendship with the INFJs I meet. More like sporadic conversations).

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      • Thank you for responding. I realized my error in suggesting the difficulties when talking INFJs could be their introversion, when I had previously said I do well with other introverts (INTJs).
        Do you know why you’re less likely to maintain close friendships with other INFJs?

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        • Not entirely sure. It’s not like I’m actively pushing them away, it’s just that I don’t really think about contacting them unless I have something specific I want to talk about. And it seems they do the same thing.

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