The INFP Shopping Experience
Emotional Intelligence. You gotta have it. You gotta be able to read an environment, a person, some non-verbals—I mean, come on. Sales guys are too often like the guy who only has a hammer in his tool kit, and goes around trying to drive screws, replace window panes, and greet his granny with a hammer. Not everybody wants that big extrovert, crush-your-hand-shake, and all that assumed permission for intimacy and interaction that comes with it.
If INFPs ran a store, we would have every customer first pick up a little tag to wear on their shirt, indicating their Myers-Briggs type. How great would THAT be, not only for us, but for the store! You would get exactly the kind of salesperson to fit your Myers-Briggs type. Man, whatever we were selling, we would sell like hotcakes.
When I walk into a store and an ESTJ struts up to me and says boldly “What can I help you find today, sir?!?”, all I can think of is “A store where you don’t work?”, or “A cliff for you to fall off of?” or worse.
Every word beyond “Hello” that I hear from Sales Guy is too many, and each word decreases by 2% the prospect of my buying anything from him. DO the math. At fifty words, there is not a chance in hell I am buying anything from him.
But if I were shopping in Santa Fe with my INFP sign on, the sales person would know exactly how to handle me. And that would be to silently hand me a business card that reads “INFP. Cool. I’ll be in Arizona if you need me. Here’s my cell number. No hurry. Bye.”
Then we’re both good. Once I am left alone, I have no problem calling him to ask “do you have this shirt in blue, 16-33?” Then, with my permission to interact, he can help me out. All good.
Do not ask me if I need a tie with that shirt—it jeopardizes the shirt sale. You’re pushin’ it.
It’s not that we do not LIKE to talk to other people at all. It is more like “Do you explicitly or energetically have my permission? Is this consensual conversation? Did I invite you into my energy field? If I have, and if it is, we can sit, the two of us, and talk all night. Even if you are a sales person. But if you do NOT have that permission, and are just assuming it is consensual, or will be once I realize how helpful and great you are, you’re just freaking wrong.”
…So anyway, it’s a shame. The INFPs are clearly the best arbiters of social and emotional intelligence, and we most certainly should run the world. I don’t think there’s any question about that.
If we did, you would never again be asked “Did you leave some room for dessert?”
People would just respect each other, and make the respectful assumption that you know what you want, and if you don’t, you will ask. There is no reason for them to intrude into your personal and energetic space to fulfill their own selfish needs, and if they do, it is really a boundary issue, an intimacy we did not ask for, and do not want.
“You let me know when you want some help finding that tie, Slick!”
“OK, I will—how about never? Would never work for you?”
Jim Nolan, Card Carrying INFP, and
President of Southwestern College