“Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.”
The Advocate (INFJ) personality type is the rarest of all – something they’ll proudly tell you.
But they don’t settle for a mere label – Advocates define themselves by their principles. As Introverts, they’re not always the loudest voice in the room, but they’re often passionate about changing the world. So their label fits: they are Advocates for hopes, beliefs, and the causes that match them.
What form this takes is up to the individual. Advocates’ advocacy can be more than just passionate belief – like swaying hearts and minds toward the causes that are important to them. That’s what this article aims to help with. (But you can share it with any personality type.)
The message here isn’t “You’re doing it wrong.” Our goal, just like in our Premium Profiles and Academy, is to highlight opportunities for growth and help you achieve your grandest potential. Because change in the world starts with you. (You probably know a famous quote along those lines.)
However, not everyone functions the same, and stepping beyond what’s normal for you can help you reach (and influence) other personality types. In this article, we’ll explain some ways to enhance the already inspired advocacy style of Advocates.
Outreach and the Introverts’ Dilemma
The holy grail of advocacy is gaining new supporters for your cause – preferably, those who’ll give more than just lip service. But such allies must be sought, found, and convinced.
Face-to-face promotion isn’t always easy for Advocates, for reasons that aren’t necessarily related to the strength of their beliefs. Certain core personality tendencies come into play, and it’s important to acknowledge them.
What do we mean? Well, let’s look at what Advocates themselves have told us:
- Only 46% of Advocates agreed that they feel comfortable discussing controversial subjects, even with people they barely know.
- 80% of Advocates agreed with the statement, “Sometimes you do not express your ideas because you are worried that other people may see you as naive.”
- 73% of Advocates agreed that, while talking to people, they often feel their body getting tense.
- 90% of Advocates said they cannot stand feeling uncomfortable or tense.
If these numbers seem to form a narrative, it’s no mistake. (You probably even feel what we’re getting at if you’re an Advocate.) As passionate as these personality types can be, reaching out to exchange ideas with new people can be stressful for them. This can make it harder to advocate for a cause effectively.
But that’s only one side of the coin. Advocates have a well of willpower that they dip into when something’s truly important to them – especially when big things are at stake. As a reminder of what they’re capable of, let’s consider another Advocate research stat:
- 82% of Advocates said their actions are guided by how they benefit others.
Heartfelt humanism can inspire Advocates to push past any social reluctance. This is an especially effective motivator when they can connect emotionally to how their actions will help others.
You can support yourself with simple visualization techniques. A few minutes spent quietly focusing on the meaningful outcomes you hope to achieve can build your energy to move forward. Focus on tangible evidence too – you’re a part of everything your chosen cause or organization accomplishes in the real world.
Here’s another motivational stat:
- 60% of Advocates enjoy challenging other people’s opinions.
The fact that a modest majority of these personality types have the grit to argue for what they believe in can serve as an inspiration to shier Advocates. But challenging others’ opinions doesn’t necessarily require conflict or negativity.
As an Advocate, you can promote your ideas while rejecting the acrimony and cognitive bias that are endemic to activism (especially online). Taking the high ground strengthens your position – and anyway, you may catch more flies with honey than vinegar, as the saying goes.
The point is, even if some Advocates have difficulty with the more social aspects of advocating for a cause, that won’t necessarily stop them. Besides, such feelings are totally common for any Introverted personality, and there’s no need to take on more than you can handle.
So take a deep breath, remember what you’re fighting for, and do what you can – because you can. Let’s think about how you, dear Advocate, can up your advocacy game.
Tip #1: Be Open to Diversity
Did you know that only 30% of Advocates said they consciously seek out friendships with people who are very different from themselves? And even some of them might not be totally on the level – it’s not comfortable to admit to any tribalism. But the truth is, people are much more inclined to like people who are like them.
That can mean a lot of missed opportunities to advance your cause. If your life’s path truly includes fostering progress in the world, you might consider expanding your social network beyond those personalities who think and live as you do.
People can come together for a single shared reason, even if they don’t have a lot of other commonalities. (One might even see that as a noble goal unto itself – breaking down barriers between “tribes.”) But don’t worry – associating with very different people for the sake of a good cause doesn’t mean becoming besties.
For example, you could take a casual acquaintance – even one whose politics conflict with yours – to an animal rescue charity event. Would setting aside your differences with one of “them” for an evening be worth raising a little more funding to ease the needless suffering of innocent animals? (That’s right, we’re lobbying your feelings.)
Is your goal worth practicing tolerance for? It’s something to think about.
Tip #2: Be Cautious about Promoting Idols
A famous face or quote can draw attention to a cause – but it can also be a double-edged sword. Any given famous person might not be as universally appealing as a cause itself. When you hold up a celebrity (for example, by posting an inspirational meme), their baggage may repel some people who’d otherwise be open to your underlying message.
That celebrity might have a distracting stance on an unrelated issue. Or maybe they have something questionable in their past that you can excuse (or don’t know about), but others may find inexcusable.
In some cases, you might be better off placing the cause itself in the limelight and being its voice. You can extoll an objective, why it’s important, how you’re working on it, and how others can help. The idea that a “regular person” can make a difference is a powerful inspiration. Your real-life example is more convincing than you realize.
So, don’t be afraid to be The Advocate. Show people how wonderful it feels to make a positive difference and invite them to join you in your own warm way.
Tip #3: Back Your Feelings with Facts
There are a lot of personality types you can sway with heartfelt personal convictions, so it’s a good approach to advocacy. But what about others? Gaining the support of more empiricist folks (typically personality types with a strong Thinking trait) usually requires more than emotional appeals.
It’s not fun to deal with what some might call “coldhearted realities,” especially if they don’t fit well with imaginative idealism. But optimistic possibilities won’t always convince those who respect evidence more than rationales. And such people make incredibly valuable allies, specifically because of the way they think. Get them on your side, and they’ll add greatly to what you can accomplish.
What’s tested and proven has a big influence on reality – and how some personality types see it. If you want to reach as many people as possible and do as much as possible for your cause, you’ll need to muster truthful evidence as well as compelling belief. So do your research and build smart, solid, rational talking points – and not just from sources that take one side of things.
(This approach has its own merits, beyond communication. If broader, objective facts do not naturally emphasize what you’re passionate about, you may want to reevaluate your beliefs.)
Tip #4: Appeal to Individual Interests
There’s a lot of social pressure to be a good person, which leads to plenty of claimed (more than lived) virtue. Even people who truly care about improving the world have habits that fail to meet strict standards of “the ideal thing to do.” (Basic consumerism is a pretty solid example.) It’s daunting to try to live up to popular ideals of virtuousness.
To reconcile this, people find ways to justify their personal motivations and desires against such external standards. They might not be comfortable saying it, but not everyone cares about that which matters to you, no matter how noble. Altruism’s limits are nearer in the real world than on social media.
But if you can show people how your cause can improve their lives, as well as the broader world and the future, they’ll be much more likely to support it in a meaningful way. Try to make your goals personal to them. One approach is to point out practical benefits that speak to people’s self-interest as well as appealing to their morals.
For example, a spay/neuter program can reduce suffering, so people may donate to it if you call on their compassion and kindness. But you could also point out that it can reduce the number of stray animals knocking over trash cans, using yards as toilets, and spreading diseases to beloved household pets. Such truths don’t always make for the prettiest of appeals, but they can speak powerfully, nonetheless.
You’ll gain traction if you can help people see how they’ll benefit from your cause, as well as how it’s the right thing to do.
Final Thoughts: Winning Hearts and Minds
Advocates are known for taking a heartfelt, sincere approach to their values.
When it comes to spreading those values, one of the best things about Advocates is their compassion. It doesn’t just drive them to make the world a better place – it can also guide how they do it. With their Intuitive and Feeling personality traits, Advocates have not only the mental flexibility to walk in others’ shoes but also the empathy to care about the paths they tread.
But caring doesn’t have to end with those you want to help. It can also extend to those who seem to stand in your way – if you’re willing.
It’s frighteningly convenient (and common) to view those who think and feel differently as “others” who are somehow less deserving. But 82% of Advocate personalities agreed that, to them, it does not matter what someone believes in, as long as they are a good person. Demonstrating your kindness and respect – even when it’s not returned – is a beautiful way to change shared human reality.
The truth is, even when people seem closed-minded, you have an opportunity to reach deeper than you know. Don’t settle for dismissal – theirs or yours. Every mind is evolving, every heart feels, and you have the power to affect both. Your words and deeds will generate a response, even if it’s not obvious. It’s a seed being planted.
Both good and bad things can grow, so make that seed of the best variety. People will remember how you treat them, and that reflects not only on you but also on what you stand for. A positive example will take root and spread, and if you gain even an inch of ground in someone’s mind, that gain can be repeated. That’s progress.
You can “be the change you wish to see in the world” – and it will be whatever you make it.
- Don’t think that Advocate personalities can be good leaders? Think again.
- In fact, Introverts of any personality type have much more potential than they might realize. Sometimes it just requires getting past popular myths of Introverted leadership.
- Seeking out new people to join your cause has a lot in common with networking. Luckily for you, we have some powerful, real-world advice and exercises that can help you branch out and make contacts, no matter what your goal is.