INFP in the Workplace

In the workplace, INFPs face the challenge of taking their work and their profession personally. To INFPs, if it isn’t worth doing, it isn’t really worth doing, and this sense of moral purpose in their work colors everything from how they respond to authority to how they express it. Though the way the INFP personality type shows through depends on the position, there are a few basic truths about what INFPs seek in the workplace: they value harmony, need an emotional and moral connection to their work, and loathe bureaucratic tedium.

INFP workplace habits

INFP Subordinates

As subordinates, INFPs prefer latitude, and would much rather immerse themselves in a project, alone or with a close team, than simply be told what task to do and move on. People with the INFP personality type aren’t looking for easy, forgettable work that pays the bills, they’re looking for meaningful work that they actually want to think about, and it helps for their managers to frame responsibilities in terms of emotional merit rather than cold rationalization or business for its own sake. INFPs would rather know that their work will help to deliver a service they believe in than to know that the bottom line has been boosted by 3%.

If these standards are met, managers will find an extremely dedicated and considerate employee in INFPs. As idealistic opportunity-seekers INFPs may not always work well in technical applications, where the facts and logic really matter and critique is often necessary, but they work beautifully in more human and creative endeavors. While some types, especially Analysts, respond favorably to negative feedback, taking criticism as an opportunity to not make the same mistake twice, people with the INFP personality type would much rather hear what they did right and focus on what to do, rather than what not to.

INFP Colleagues

INFPs feel most comfortable among colleagues – they aren’t interested in controlling others, and have a similar distaste for being controlled. Among their colleagues, INFPs will feel freer to share their ideas, and while they may maintain some psychological distance, they will make every effort to be pleasant, friendly and supportive – so long as their coworkers reciprocate. INFPs don’t like conflict or picking sides, and will do everything they can to maintain harmony and cooperation.

Most of this comes down to good communication, which INFPs prefer to conduct in person, for that personal touch, or in writing, where they can compose and perfect their statements. People with the INFP personality type avoid using phones if they can, having the worst of both worlds, being both detached and uncomposed. INFPs also like to feel like their conversations are meaningful, and while they enjoy exploring philosophy more than most, their patience for arbitrary hypothetical brainstorming or dense technical discussions is limited.

INFP Managers

As managers, INFPs are among the least likely to seem like managers – their egalitarian attitudes lend respect to every subordinate, preferring communication as human beings than as a boss/employee opposition. People with the INFP personality type are flexible, open-minded and give their subordinates the tools they need, be they responsible delegation or an intuitive and receptive sounding board, to get the job done. Keeping their eyes on the horizon, INFPs set goals that achieve a desirable end, and help the people working under them to make that happen.

There is a downside to this style, as sometimes the boss just needs to be the boss. INFPs know how they feel about criticism, and are reluctant to subject others to that same experience, whether it’s needed or even welcome. Further complicating this role, when INFPs are under stress, as when someone really does warrant criticism, they can become extremely emotional – they may not show it, but it can affect their judgment, or even cause them to withdraw inwards, in ways that can really hold back their team.

Greg Orman
4 years ago
It's funny, this fits me very closely. Like all good INFP's my dream job was (and is) to an author and a college professor. I knew there was a reason I was even more obsessed with J.R.R Tolkein than most growing up!!! With my job, I have had the pleasure and uncomfortableness associated with being an INFP subordinate, colleague, and manager/trainer. I definitely have more an affinity and interest in creative, psychological, and philosophical job types. I absolutely hate mindless, wasteful, and pointless brainstorming, as well as, overly technical or tedious jobs. I will straight up walk away in the middle of it if I see these things happening. I absolutely work harder, faster, more efficiently, and with more "pep," when I have an emotional connection with my work and/or have received a positive response to my work (almost in an unconscious way, it just happens). I don't take straight, negative criticism well, and I tend to (despite my conscious efforts) not be objective about it. I hate divvying out orders to people or giving criticism (absolutely hate it!), I hate telling people how they have to do things, and I also hate feeling managed. The only thing I would disagree with is that I don't mind talking on the phone. I feel like I can pick up moods, meanings, and emotions from how people talk on the phone (maybe not as well as in person, that's for sure; but, well enough to be ok with it as a mode of communication). The workplace communication method that I do hate (...I don't actually "hate," that's a strong word that I use often, but don't mean often :-) ) is IM-ing. That is a tough one for me. I prefer: in person, phone, and email communication over all else, I think.
4 years ago
I was already impressed how well the INFP personality type described me, but when I read "People with the INFP personality type avoid using phones if they can, having the worst of both worlds, being both detached and uncomposed." I was amazed! I've always disliked talking on the phone, I usually stop by doctors/dentist offices to schedule my appointments and I will be really short with people on the phone sometimes because I would rather talk to them in person when I see them. Thanks 16 personalities, this profile is spot on for me.
4 years ago
most of this is true for me , creative jobs, courses, people .. were always the only ones to say to me 'please dont go' that says it all to me.
4 years ago
How is this so spot on? I am always bettering myself to help others, that's my number one goal in life. I feel as though if I have not helped others, I am simply no good. Its also true on what they said about many INFPs wanted to become an author when they were growing up, I love writing and its the only thing I can put my creativity and imagination in. I'm glad I was able to find who I am, so I don't feel like I'm different from everyone else.
4 years ago
Pretty much me. I just want my co workers to stop fighting and like each other. Also, I hate phones. Hate it. I do a lot of emails instead.
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