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.

Jeremy Smith
4 years ago
I would like to share a slight disagreement with what case of this personality type I feel I have, with this one here: "Strongly opposed to “Nothing personal, just business” type of thinking at work" no not if it is within certain contexts. I am a freelance developer now (learning logical programming has been allot of fun), but worked for a company when I was made redundant, for which a manager told me it was purely business related. I took it in a personal sense but had complete respect for the company and I hope they get through this hard time to which was why I got left redundant :) Other than that slight difference for me personally it's exactly spot on!
4 years ago
Very accurate! A couple things not quite me, but perhaps it's my experiences rather than my nature in general? All in all though, very spot on. Loving this site.
4 years ago
2 particularly accurate observations are "Prefer flat hierarchies and do not see themselves as stereotypical managers" and "Extremely dedicated and committed, especially if their efforts are recognized by the management". I deeply value those who lead with humility and I am more interested in helping your reach a shared achievement than performing a directive for you. I agree with others in saying that hypothetical brainstorming is not something I avoid but rather thrive in. Few things make me come alive more than sharing dialogue about ideas with others.
4 years ago
I would have thought that because INFP people are pretty closed off with their deeper emotions to acquaintances that they would be better to think "nothing personal, just business" but have trouble receiving it back. I love brain-storming, I work best when I have a great person or group to bounce ideas off of, it's a great feeling to inspire people, I donno why it's under dislike as that can be a very creative and imaginative process. I can go with cold rationalizations if there is sound logic behind it, even if it doesn't sit with me too well if it breaks my moral/ethical standing.
5 years ago
I can definitely relate to this. I hate phone calls! Thankfully my work phone has the quietest ring in the world, so I just ignore it. A lot of this explains why I dislike my job. I am a line manager and find it difficult to lay down the law or give criticism. I like team work where everyone is working well towards a common goal but hate it when the apple cart is upset by the 'nothing personal, just business' types. We also have a management structure which doesn't recognise achievement which I have found to be particularly demoralising. I have been happiest at work when my boss has been a mentor and supporter too - I guess i am lucky to have had that in the past. The only thing i don't relate to from what I've read about my personality type is the supposed dislike of logic or hard facts.
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