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To the INFP personality types life is a long quest for meaning and harmony and their personal values are so important to them. This means that it is essential to the INFP that their beliefs and their actions are totally in sync at all times. An INFP is unlikely to take any action which they don’t believe in their heart is right. Yet there is a crusading side to the INFP which would surprise even those who knew the person well. When a personal value, or belief is trodden on, then the INFP can become outspoken and turn on the transgressor. They are so private that their values are usually well hidden so that other people may not realise, but the INFP becomes like a champion of the cause and will be expressive, animated and at times go for the jugular.
The INFP has two contrary characteristics, curiosity and shyness. They love to know what's going on, feel excluded if not kept informed but prefer to be more in the background and not wanting to be the centre of attention. The INFP always wants to be invited to the party - even though the chances are they won't show up. There is a sensitive, caring side to the INFP which means they will see the interconnections between people and pick up on the verbal and non-verbal cues.
Sensitive, caring and empathetic INFPs are excellent in supporting roles where people have to be looked after - especially if those people are close to the INFP. Because it can take so long (if ever) to get to know the INFP, others paradoxically may see them as slightly aloof, as they engage best when they have allowed someone into their inner sanctum. Optimistic and extremely positive, INFPs are the ultimate dreamers. Forward thinking and focused, they love the possibilities that life might bring.
An INFP does not like to be categorised. They value their autonomy, and feel 'different,' and any system, (including this one), which tries to 'define' or 'explain' them would be denigrated. The INFP would say, 'You can't put me in a box, I'm different,' indeed they would all say this. Optimistic and extremely positive, INFPs are the ultimate dreamers. Forward thinking and focused, they love the possibilities that life might bring. INFPs are extremely future oriented individuals who enjoy flights of fancy and savour potential and the many possibilities unlike their ISFP counterparts, who prefer to stop and savour the sensory, real experiences of “this moment” to the maximum. The ISFP will look down, immersing themselves in actual experiences whilst the INFP will always look up and forward, dreaming big dreams and loving the anticipation of what might come.
INFPs have the ability to see good in almost anyone or anything. Even for the most unlovable individual the INFP can have (often misplaced) empathy and even pity. Their extreme depth of feeling is often hidden, even from themselves, until circumstances see them project a seemingly uncharacteristic impassioned, and extraverted, response. Of course, life is not always harmonious, so INFPs are not immune from all of life’s problems, frustrations and disappointments that we all face.
However, they feel a duty to a higher calling, the greater good. So, although essentially idealists and extremely gentle individuals, INFPs, when their values are contravened, can adopt a more strident, crusading ESTJ type of role, to sort things out, which will surprise even close friends who have only seen the gentle, quiet soul. But then, once they’ve made their point, their energies will be depleted, and they will disappear back to their own, quiet, introverted world of possibilities and harmony, often questioning whether they should have been so harsh and worried that they haven’t either shown too much of themselves (always a concern for the extremely private INFP) or, worse still, that they might have caused hurt to someone, which is never their intention.
Linking ‘type’ and ‘careers’ would be easy if it was just about listing specific jobs that perfectly fit specific personalities. However in truth it is more difficult than that as ignores other, more important issues, such as the organisation, the values and the culture, which are far better determinants of suitability than a job title. Also individual jobs vary widely from industry to industry, organisation to organisation and person to person. Therefore our focus on ‘type’ and ‘careers’ will be far more on you: your personality, your aptitudes, interests, likes, strengths and weaknesses and then matching these to the sorts of environments, cultures and norms within organisations that will allow you, given your character, to thrive grow and flourish. We spend a lot of our time at work and so it is important to get these issues right or we could spend a lot of working time unhappy, unproductive and unfulfilled.
The INFP inhabits the internal world of imagination and creativity and are not bound by traditions or the usual conventions. They won’t deliberately go and buck the system they will simply withdraw and do things their own way. INFPs have the maxim ‘live and let live’ except when something encroaches on their personal values and then the INFP can change and become inflexible and judgemental. INFPs will need to consider the wider ramifications and any activity, task or project must have some bigger meaning or be part of something to which they feel they can expend their emotional energies and, if this is the case, the INFP can be so productive and even sweep up the detail - provided there is a clear causal link to the bigger picture. In some organisations it is the fact that an INFP is committed to the cause that makes things tick although they prefer to remain independent of spirit and of control they can, paradoxically, be excellent organisational people. The INFP has an interesting, unique take on the world, will be generally seen as reserved but their passions know no bounds if they are committed to the task/project/people/organisation. INFPs, although quite shy and under the radar, nevertheless need harmony and in its absence will work hard to create an environment where everyone rubs along.
If the work has no meaning INFPs will struggle to maintain interest and their minds will drift off to loftier thoughts. They are not naturally detailed individuals but also do not respond well to deadlines or targets preferring to feel bought in to activities, or cultures and then they will work long and hard for ‘the cause.’ This need for meaning pervades the INFP world and motivating INFPs is around making them feel valued for who they are and then their contribution will be fulfilling and immense. The INFP need for harmony means that they may struggle in a tense or aggressive atmosphere and also that they have trouble giving negative feedback as they don’t like to upset the equilibrium. Facts and details bore INFPs and they tend to ignore them in favour of big picture, future orientation and meaning. They are optimistic and positive types which is great at acting as the glue and raising morale among people but it may negate them accepting or even seeing anything negative as they tend not to ‘confront the brutal facts,’ focusing on what might be rather than what is. This optimism and positivity also means they do not like to be constrained or micromanaged needing flexibility to do things in the way that is best for them and, to be honest, this approach will get the best out of INFPs allowing them to contribute more.
The INFP prefers an environment that fosters harmony and cooperation. If they do not find such environments they will help create them. They are people-centric even though they are introverts, and will look to nurture, care for and support people. They make excellent nurses and carers as they do not get constrained by rules, they are so insightful they pick up the cues on how people are feeling and they genuinely ‘feel’ others’ pain and want to help. The ideal world of the INFP is one where they can immerse themselves totally in some interesting and personally meaningful tasks and reflective activities. The INFP will however be devoted to things they personally see as valuable and so can make excellent supporters of organisations and causes. They are not naturally practical and indeed may have to force themselves to do the mundane. However if the INFP can see some clear meaning in tasks, that it is part of a wider cause and the contribution can make a really difference, then they will work long and hard on all aspects because then it all makes sense to them and they feel part of it.
The INFP does not respond well to being constrained by rules and regulations, and they dislike the routine and the mundane. Colleagues will probably see the INFP as flexible, positive, gentle, carting yet difficult to understand. INFPs like to do things in their own way, in their timeframe and just get on with it, uninhibited and not wanting to be micromanaged. The INFP would not appreciate criticism or a hard taskmaster or an environment where rules, regulations or targets are the norm. INFPs tend to be hard workers but they will become demotivated if there is pressure or, as they would see it, ‘harshness,’ as they are free spirits and need to be trusted to do it their way. Environments, which are non-cooperative or where there is competition, would not be one where the INFP could thrive and bring their talents to bear. INFPs in themselves are individualistic but they like cooperation and harmony and to see people taken care of. INFPs often have a unique style of managing projects and performing tasks and so doing things by rote, processes and procedures will not work for them.
Although the extremely caring nature often means INFPs will pursue overtly caring professions such as nursing, or other careers where looking after people is key and harmony is needed, they tend to bring these qualities to any organisation they work for, often acting as the glue or the counsellor whatever their role. They naturally tune in and feel what other people are feeling and have genuine empathy. They do however require a reason, some sort of meaning and context to their roles so that each task is linked to something bigger and more important.
At work the INFP will bring a sense of conviction and what is 'the right thing to do.' Although quiet, the INFP can glue the team together and ensure that all members' views are considered and given equal weight and the INFP will actually become vocal in their support of new ideas and contributions.
INFPs are superb at supporting members in their strengths, building upon suggestions, underpinning team members, improving communications throughout the team and generally fostering great team spirit. They are socially orientated and often gentle and sensitive. The INFP has a great ability to respond to people and situations, and to promote team spirit, although they can be indecisive in moments of crisis or conflict. They are genuinely concerned about the welfare of others and this makes them incredibly flexible and adapting to different people and situations. The INFP is very perceptive and diplomatic, building trust easily with other team members. They are superb listeners who genuinely ‘feel’ other peoples’ pain and given their nature they are usually popular team members. The INFP looks out for others and has low ego need for themselves.
Disliking conflict INFPs are good at preventing interpersonal problems arising in the first place within a team and their understated value is to be the glue, ie the person who allows all team members to contribute to the team. The INFP will take great pains, and go to great lengths, to avoid friction. INFPs are great at diffusing tension and ensuring that everyone has a voice. The authentic and caring nature of the INFP means that others rarely feel threatened and so open up to them allowing the INFP to get close and so be a better help and support. They are often, from an external perspective, undervalued but those in the team recognise the crucial role played by the caring harmoniser. They have a lubricating effect on the team and people cooperate better and moral is raised by the subtle intervention of an INFP.
Although gentle and sensitive the INFP will bring a sense of conviction and what is 'the right thing to do.' Though quiet, the INFP can glue the team together and support others fostering great team spirit. The INFP will tend to prefer a less visible role as their strengths are working from the back and supporting others, using their insight and wisdom and lack of ego rather than being the leader.
The INFP personality type does not want to be constrained by rules, and they dislike the routine. Others will see the INFP as flexible, gentle and difficult to understand. They do not appreciate criticism or a hard taskmaster. Adaptable and spontaneous INFPs will need their space and freedom to work their way, then they will be loyal and diligent and productive. Spontaneous and creative the INFP inhabits the internal world of imagination and is not bound by traditions. The ideal world is one where they can immerse totally in interesting and meaningful tasks.
INFPs have unusual, contrary qualities in that they are shy and reserved, but like to be included, like they want to be invited to the party, they may not show up, but they love the fact that’s they’re invited. Getting close to an INFP would be difficult, especially initially. They are caring and supportive, genuinely so, but give very little of themselves away as they are deep, private and difficult to know. INFPs are super patient, optimistic, kindly and really supportive of people, tuning into others, often the glue among the team, but more in a one-on-one setting, more behind the scenes. INFPs can actually feel what other people are feeling, and these feelings can stay with them. INFPs are OK with emotions, emotional language and with others coming to them for support, they are genuinely tuned in and empathetic. But in an INFP opening up to people, that would take time and trust and a lot of patience, and a position that not many people will get to.
Because they’re quiet and private, INFPs often say very little, and will hold their own counsel, which all adds to that ‘difficult to understand’ view of them. Also, INFPs will often display their reactions to their feelings, rather than the feelings themselves, and so may bottle things up which then can leak out at strange moments, adding to their enigmatic image. Also, an INFP does not like to be tied down to specifics, as they will often not say what they mean, or what is actually happening and instead are more likely to allude to how they’re feeling, rather than what they think
It’s difficult for INFPs to make objective, less emotional decisions as INFPs feel things intuitively, they really feel things and so to step back and make a dispassionate analysis of a situation or a person is hard for them. This is because INFPs are so driven by their own internalised value system and these values run very deep and are very personal to them. They also take things very seriously and very personally, and can take criticism to heart, getting deeply wounded by a slight remark but, rather than explore this with the other person, the INFP will withdraw and dwell on it internally. As INFPs are difficult to know and their value system is very personal, people may accidentally say or do something that offends, without ever realising it had transgressed an INFP value. INFPs also need their beliefs and actions to be in absolute sync and so they’re unlikely to do something that they don’t believe in their heart is right.
The starting point for an INFP is always to see the ‘good’ in people. They have a real need for karma, for balance and at all costs, harmony. They are gentle types who care deeply and will want to create and maintain harmony and peace. Friction really jars with an INFP and they will work hard to smooth it over, or they will withdraw, as it saps their energy. Paradoxically, the gentle, quiet, INFP can on occasions, become more outspoken if someone is being hurt, or there is a deep injustice, they will speak out, they just have to. But then they will withdraw, slightly embarrassed that they had become uncharacteristically forthright and displaying what they thought to the world.