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.

5 years ago
To add to "Extremely dedicated and committed, especially if their efforts are recognized by the management" I know its not rational, but a really cold boss can be EXTREMLEY demotivational for a once passionate INFP employee...
J Hannah
5 years ago
The manager section is *spot on*. And I loathe the phone. But they couldn't be more wrong about brainstorming sessions, I love those, but maybe its the hypothetical part - I don't like getting off into the clouds of things that I see no way of getting to or that I know will demand too many resources to be tenable. The subordinate part reflects my experiences in that role as well.
5 years ago
"Dislike communicating via phone and loathe interrupting calls" I loathe the telephone. "Dislike hypothetical brainstorming sessions or technical discussions" I absolutely LOVE hypothetical brainstorming. It's my favourite thing to do at work, I am in my element and at my happiest as it uses my imagination to the full and I often can see solutions to where others cannot and work to bring people together. I'm an ideas person and I would say brainstorming is one of my greatest strengths despite being non technical and don't really enjoy technical discussions, true, but have solved even quite technical problems with my powerful imaginary and visionary skills. I love brainstorming with such a passion I was quite irked to see it under 'dislike'. Technical or accounting discussions, yes yawn. Psychological distance from colleagues is an interesting one. I work in film which can be quite extrovert, I can feel a bit out of place sometimes working with a lot of extroverts, on set I can feel a bit lost, but when working in a smaller group in the production office or cutting room I feel very connected, so I think this depends on the environment and personality types where being more introvert is useful, kind of need to be extravert working on set. One particularly useful skill is to know what people need before they have to ask for it, which is being able to be very sensitive to peoples needs and being able to adapt to rapidly changing situations and to be able to think ahead and nip problems in the bud with plan b and plan c and to really assist a person almost seemlessly by thinking ahead to what they may need. Strength of individual traits: I - 28%, N - 56%, F - 64%, P - 24%
5 years ago
Being unwilling to face conflict and always looking for the better good of everyone; I think this is why teachers have very low salaries. Great article, spot on!
5 years ago
Wow, such an accurate assessment of my personality!! Although there were a few things that weren't quite 'me', the comments of "May find it very difficult to discipline or criticize somebody in the workplace" and "Likely to become very emotional in stressful situations" were spot on. As a manager I had to giver performance appraisals to up to 12 clerical staff twice a year. I hated that part of the job, and they hated getting the reviews. Despite the daily record keeping showing what they had accomplished they somehow were surprised at their performance at review time. They would be crying and yelling and up in arms. By the end of the review, I'd be in tears! Yes, I found it difficult to criticize somebody and yes, I became emotional in stressful situations. I just hated that job!! I was not a good manager!! I'm still not sure what possessed me to stick with it for 13 years....
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