INFPs are insightful and extremely perceptive types who care very passionately about their duties and the things they believe in. As introverts they can be somewhat reserved and so their warmth and idealism are not usually evident until you get to know them better.
INFPs prefer to engage with the outer world through their intuitive process. This means they come across primarily as “ideas people”. In a quiet and sometimes low-key way INFPs will engage others in discussions about their ideas and projects. Abstract theories attract them greatly and so they will confidently discuss theories and observations on life and all its mysteries.
INFPs often make congenial company. They can have a wry and individualistic sense of humour. They do not have a great need to talk much in social groups or with talkative individuals. With no strong urge to express him/herself, an INFP will gladly give others the floor and act as listener or observers.
INFPs may prefer to use their intuition in the outer world but they are feelers at heart. The combination of feeling with intuition means most INFPs are sensitive individuals who are acutely aware of “the human condition”. INFPs are more likely to express this sensitivity in writing than in speech and many of our novelists, poets, playwrights and journalists have a preference for INFP.
The types who extravert their feelings (ENFJ and ESFJ) are interested in meeting others’ needs and in living in harmony with them. INFPs, however, as introverted feelers are much more concerned about living in harmony with their own feelings. In effect, this means they have a pressing need to live their lives in accordance with their values. In other words, they have a strong need to be authentic individuals who are true to themselves.
This approach to life leads many INFPs into jobs where it is easy for them to have a sense of mission or purpose. This may be teaching, the clergy or counselling. Many become academics. But it is not uncommon for INFPs to enter careers where it’s hard for them to feel they are living in congruence with their values. Then INFPs can feel dissatisfied -both because they can’t see the social benefit of what they are doing and because it doesn’t feel right for them as individuals. When this happens it is easy for the INFP to feel acutely alienated and unfulfilled. If this feeling persists INFPs can become cynical.
It can be difficult to really get to know INFPs. Of all the types they can be very “deep” and they often claim that other people don’t really understand what makes them tick. Yet relationships are incredibly important to INFPs and they usually need to feel connected to others in some way. They can be very good at reading between the lines and picking up on how others are feeling. They are good listeners and they will sensitively help others talk about problems and come up with solutions which are right for that person. INFPs regularly say they particularly enjoy helping people to feel good about themselves. Others value INFPs’ sensitivity and it is often to an INFP that people will turn for support in their darkest hour. INFPs can, however, be critical and dismissive of people who do not live their lives with integrity.
INFPs will be very courageous if they see other people being badly treated but generally they can be unassertive and indirect in their communications and will usually avoid conflict if they can.
All P types find organisation hard to master, but INFPs find it particularly difficult. They tend to be unmethodical in their approach to tasks and as Ns they often don’t pay enough attention to practical details. Unless they have consciously trained themselves to be methodical, INFPs usually feel under confident in this area of their life, knowing intuitively that at any moment their scant attention to practical details could present major problems.
INFPs have to be careful that their idealism does not make them perfectionists. If it does they may never complete projects, such as writing a book, for fear it is not good enough or they may never have a truly close relationship because they never meet the “perfect” person. This idealism and perfectionism can also be turned against themselves. Of all the types, INFPs and ISFPs, can be extremely self-critical.
Ultimately success in life for INFPs depends on them finding ways to honour their deeply held values and feel authentic while at the same time keeping this side of themselves within useful bounds. Accepting that life is by definition imperfect and full of compromises may be difficult for INFPs but it will help them feel more self-confident and fulfilled. Enhancing their time management and organisational skills is usually important for most INFPs as it can make them more effective.
Words to describe INFPs
perceptive insightful creative
reserved empathetic supportive
committed innovative gentle
idealistic flexible curious
deep loyal compassionate
Careers attractive to INFPs
Counselling, academia, teaching, writing, the ministry, psychology, science.
Needs at work
Anticipated work/team strengths
Potential problem areas
Likely areas for improvement
Common relationship Issues for INFPs
INFPs show caring by unobtrusively getting to know people well and then communicating their empathy when needed often in low-key, sensitive communications –e.g. writing notes or phoning at important times for the other.
INFPs like others to act in ways which show appreciation of them as unique individuals and/or validates their insights or ideas in some way.
INFP Type Dynamics
Dominant – feeling – introverted
Auxiliary - intuition - extraverted
Tertiary - sensing
Inferior - thiinking
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© Carol Craig
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