Assertive Mediator (INFP-A) vs. Turbulent Mediator (INFP-T)

Mediators are quiet, private, free spirits who view life as an endless series of idealistic possibilities waiting to be realized. They typically try to get along with others and promote harmony wherever they go. How they do that, however, depends on whether they are Assertive Mediators (INFP-A) or Turbulent Mediators (INFP-T). Identity adds nuance to the expression of the other personality traits. We explore below how that often happens.

Are you a Turbulent Mediator? Check out “Turbulent Mediator Superpowers” at the bottom of this article for the deepest insights into who you are.

The Difference Is in Too Much or Too Little

When it comes to self-regard, as a group, Mediators are more likely to boost someone else’s self-esteem before they tend to their own – even sometimes at their own expense. However, when Identity separates the two kinds of Mediators, a pronounced difference emerges. We find that one personality type tends not only to put others ahead of themselves, but also to be harder on themselves than the other.

85% of Assertive Mediators say they feel comfortable with themselves, compared to 40% of Turbulent Mediators.

Turbulent personality types are typically not comfortable with their current lives. They often use this dissatisfaction to try to become better people. However, when applied to Mediators, this Turbulent quality spins them in a distinct direction. They are likely to use a strongly idealistic filter to assess where and how they need to improve. This drive to correct what they decide are flaws often pushes them to work hard.

But idealism is a demanding standard. Turbulent Mediators are apt to ask too much of themselves and become overwhelmed. When they don’t meet their unyielding (perhaps at times unreasonable) goals, they are likely to be hard on themselves. Self-criticism rings true for any Turbulent individual. But, for these personalities, their imaginations and sensitivity may magnify the damage caused by negative self-talk. Even the smallest flaw may seem more significant than it is. They are more likely to see a mistake as a reason to doubt themselves.

85% of Turbulent Mediators say they consider themselves to be lazy people, compared to 66% of Assertive Mediators.

For example, Turbulent Mediators are likely to describe themselves as “lazy” more often than Assertive Mediators – and most other personality types (all except two). But a neutral assessment may reveal this to be not entirely accurate. All other things being equal, Turbulent people generally work hard to compensate for what they see as a weakness. The “lazy” label doesn’t fit, typically. The poor self-evaluation of their work ethic is just as likely the result of their negative slant as it is a measurable reality.

68% of Turbulent Mediators say they see many of their mistakes as failures, compared to 24% of Assertive Mediators.

Assertive Mediators are more likely to see a mistake as a one-off accident or simple carelessness – as the occasional kind of thing everyone does. But they are unlikely to let it take up too much real estate in their minds. These personalities typically do the same with their flaws. They usually prefer to use their time thinking about positive possibilities.

It’s not that Assertive Mediators are any less idealistic or sensitive. It’s just a different, less pensive expression of these qualities. They tend to filter their caring for others, as well as other things, through a rosier-colored lens. For example, a small majority of them see themselves as “lazy” (as Prospecting personality types tend to do). It’s notably less than the number of Turbulent Mediators who apply the label to themselves. But the word “lazy” is probably not nearly as dire and filled with judgment for Assertive Mediators as it is for their Turbulent counterparts.

87% of Assertive Mediators say they feel confident to face day-to-day difficulties, compared to 48% of Turbulent Mediators.

Assertive Mediators, relying on optimism and self-assurance to inspire them, can put a lot of energy into their humanistic goals. These personalities are usually good at fostering encouragement and hope. But an automatic habit of blanketing everything with a sunny appraisal can fog over areas that need improvement. People rarely attend to the things they shrug off. Where Turbulent Mediators may ask too much of themselves, Assertive Mediators may run the danger of asking too little, if there are problems hidden behind an illusion of everything being just fine.

Emotions and Outcomes

82% of Assertive Mediators say they are usually optimistic about the outcomes of the risks they take, compared to 44% of Turbulent Mediators.

Mediators make their decisions via the Feeling personality trait. They choose a point of view that emphasizes empathy and caring for others. But our research shows a clear difference between the way Assertive and Turbulent Mediators live with their emotions and relate to other people.

63% of Turbulent Mediators describe themselves as prone to crying “often to very often,” compared to 28% of Assertive Mediators.

Outwardly expressed emotions can show up more often in Turbulent Mediators’ lives than in the lives of their Assertive cousins. Crying more than others may not appear like a good thing at first glance. But any experience teaches those who are willing to learn – and Mediators are typically ready students of life. Being familiar with emotional expression can come in handy when relating to others’ feelings. Experience can provide a shortcut to understanding. Sharing similar ordeals can increase the potential for kindhearted listening.

90% of Turbulent Mediators say they often feel regret, compared to 56% of Assertive Mediators.

Assertive personalities, including Assertive Mediators, are often wrongly labeled as arrogant. Being self-important is hardly a universal characteristic of Assertive people. They may sometimes seem less invested than their intense Turbulent peers. They are subject to fewer regrets in their lives and are less likely to feel sorry or apologize for the things they do.

This aura of arrogance is probably relative when considering Assertive Mediators, due to their quieter behavior. Compared to the rest of humanity, they may give the impression of being humble, but standing next to Turbulent Mediators, they may look almost brash.

76% of Turbulent Mediators think the way they express their personality changes significantly when they are at work, compared to 51% of Assertive Mediators.

Assertive Mediators lean more toward presenting themselves just as they are. They are not afraid of just being themselves. Their confidence makes the opinions of others less essential to their outlook and decisions. Being less likely to cave to the views of others suggests that these personalities have a greater tendency to act independently.

This independent approach can allow Assertive Mediators to work unencumbered by the baggage others may try to pile on. This independence is only a problem if they take it too far. They may fail to ask for or accept feedback and advice from others at crucial times. In poll results factoring in all personality types, Assertive Mediators are above average in saying that they hesitate to ask for help even when they need it.

61% of Assertive Mediators find it easy to make important decisions without consulting anyone first, compared to 36% of Turbulent Mediators.

Opinions weigh more heavily on Turbulent Mediators. Having concern for what others think is a typical quality in most Turbulent personality types. But Turbulent Mediators may feel this concern more deeply. Combine their Turbulent nature, the sensitivity that is a core feature of their type, and their ever-changing interests, and together, these features leave them always checking in with others. They often seek the views of the people in their lives to quiet or confirm their nagging doubts.

As people-centric individuals with lingering uncertainty, Turbulent Mediators naturally go to others for encouragement and feedback. Since they value opinions, these personalities are also more likely to take note when people speak. Both types of Mediators tend to see themselves as good listeners, but valuing others’ opinions likely adds to Turbulent Mediators’ ability to pay attention.


  • Self-assessments through an idealistic lens often drive Turbulent Mediators to put in more effort than their Assertive counterparts, but it can also make them very hard on themselves.
  • Positive impulses motivate Assertive Mediators to reach for their humanistic goals and foster hope and encouragement, but these personalities may overlook negatives/problems that need their attention.
  • Turbulent Mediators report feeling negative emotions to a far greater extent than Assertive Mediators, but this can help increase their empathy levels.
  • The opinions of others have less effect on Assertive Mediators and can allow them to be more independent, but it may also leave them paying less attention to valuable feedback and perspectives.
  • Turbulent Mediators’ high regard for the opinion of others potentially makes them better listeners and team players – even if in an Introverted way.

The Differences Are Differences Across the Board

We’ve explored some of the prominent differences between Assertive and Turbulent Mediator personalities. But Identities tend to affect all parts of one’s life, and the principles discussed above tend to generalize into other parts of Mediators’ lives. Using the ideas we’ve presented, Mediators can gain a better understanding of how they see themselves, how they approach the world, and how they interact with others. Mediators of both types can use such insights to better navigate their lives.

Are you a Turbulent Mediator (INFP-T)?

Cover for the Turbulent Mediator (INFP-T) ebook, showing a female Mediator sculptor crafting a living tree from stone in her studio. Her dog lies nearby, watching her.

Turbulent Mediators (INFP-T) have a unique set of gifts – and a unique set of challenges. That’s why we made Turbulent Mediator Superpowers: Finding Joy, Success, and Fulfillment Your Own Way.

If you are a Turbulent Mediator, Turbulent Mediator Superpowers will help you recognize your strengths and knock down the mental barriers that keep you from success and happiness. Because the truth is that, as a Turbulent Mediator, you have so many reasons to be confident – even if you don’t always feel that way.