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
I had my first role in a supervisor type position this summer and I feel the manager description fit me very well in that situation. The only difference I had was when my boss threw me into crap situations with my subordinates. I several times became very vocally emotional in my rants about what terrible leadership is (which wasn't very professional). Fortunately it helped me win the respect of my subordinates which made it much easier.
5 years ago
Being an INFP myself I agree with almost all points in the article. However, I think many INFP:s like hypothetical discussions, as long as the topic is interesting, as opposed to more "here-and-now" personality types, who seem to be wondering: Why are you being intellectual if you don't have to? Well, I suppose we enjoy reflecting on things and seeing things from different sides. Also, I think we INFP:s have a hard time being impersonal because it clashes with our strong need for authentic relations with other people. Being fake (or work place animosity) is really draining our energy.
5 years ago
I am INFP, and all of these statements are true of me except: "Dislike hypothetical brainstorming sessions or technical discussions". I love hypothetical brainstorming. I do a lot of this in my own mind as part of my problem solving process. And I can get my batteries intensely recharged by hearing or participating in technical discussions when the discussions are on subjects that I am interested in.
5 years ago
I totally agree, I love "what if" conversations and investigating the unexplained. I recently listened to a Joe Rogan podcast where he talks about most people being very uncomfortable in conversations dealing with mystery, but that's his favorite place to be, and I agree completely.
5 years ago
Exactly. I am very much interested in discussions of ideas and the possible and the how's of something that interests me. It's the implementing where I lose interest.
5 years ago
I am INFP and the more praise I get from my bosses at work the harder I work. I thrive on praise. If I get treated unfairly mind you, I take it to heart and then I passive aggressivly show them how hurt I am.
5 years ago
I agree and am an INFP as well. If I am not getting any kudos from the people around me then I think they hate everything I am doing and I shut down
5 years ago
I disagree that INFP subordinates are "Strongly opposed to “Nothing personal, just business” type of thinking at work." This is because INFPs can be quite relentless when it comes to finding a defense mechanism if they feel threatened. If the INFP is distressed and feels incapable to express it, it is likely that they will try first to simply sidestep the things that are causing them pain, and then if the issues cannot be sidestepped, to deal with them while trying to ignore all emotions. However, if they are not unhappy where they work, the statement you used would hold true. I also disagree in part that INFP subordinates are "Extremely dedicated and committed, especially if their efforts are recognized by the management." INFPs take their ethics very seriously, and more often than not, simply will not believe praise. It's much easier for the INFP to believe negative things said about themselves. So 'especially if their efforts are recognized by the management' is not particularly true. But really...delightful article :) Pleasure to read!
Leah L
5 years ago
I completely agree! I'm right there with you. Praise is hard to believe, but I've gotten better at just saying "Thank You" than retorting with a self-depreciating comment. I believe and respond better to management's willingness to let me do more or take on more responsibility than to flat out praise.
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