Deidre has a Masters in applied linguistics and translation for her 20 years overseas. She's worked as a certified provider of the MBTI®.
What Is INFP?
The INFP personality type is the Noble Idealist. About four percent of people (in the U.S.) are INFPs. Being an INFP means that you have the following personality profile:
You (I)ntrovert your attention and focus on your inner world, and you actually love your time alone. You are energized through reflection on information, ideas, concepts, etc.
By your i(N)tuition you have your own take on people relationships, theories and future possibilities. You also like to have a plan ahead of time, while not in detail; putting that off until later.
(F)eeling means you are always looking to base your decisions on person-centered values and concerns because you want to create and keep harmony. Some may think you have a good "gut sense" about people.
You exhibit your (P)erceiving through adaptability and flexibility. You desire and have quite an openness to new information and knowledge.
Is This Your Personality Type?
Are you a noble INFP? Have you ever had employee screening or career tests and taken a "personality type" test or other tests for employees? If not, and you want to know what your Myers-Briggs personality type is, here's a free place to start.
The INFP may find it particularly difficult to find a satisfying occupation or a fitting job description and job opportunities to match them. Here are some thoughts.
7 Recommended Job Parameters for the INFP Employee
INFPs find work more satisfying where you have these parameters included in your job.
- New ideas are highly valued and given plenty of time to develop so that you can create something unique and put your special mark on it.
- Skill is required in which you feel competent or one in which you can become competent.
- Short-term projects
- There is a balance of both structure and flexibility
- Your contribution clearly helps others
- An organization that recognizes your needs and your competencies
- A high enough salary to comfortably live without the "worry" of having enough
These parameters are based on the INFP personality's natural abilities and interests. Go here for five job hunting tips.
Some Natural Abilities of INFPs
Natural abilities that INFPs use to achieve job satisfaction and which define your natural strengths are like the following. You would be more effective in jobs that incorporate these abilities (listed in alphabetical order):
Befriend; show interest in another; value individual contributions
Conceive of or come up with an idea; imagine something not seen with eyes
Generate something original or unique; fashion a design; invent something new
Empathize; relate to another’s experience; encourage others to reach their ideals
Incorporate information, knowledge or skills into one’s thoughts and emotions
Make a systematic examination about something; investigate, check out
Study or research a topic; read digging for information
Converse with; closely connect to; do things with another
See the Whole
Perceive; see the big picture; dream about the future
Read More From Toughnickel
INFPs Love to Express Inspiration
INFPs are invigorated by the freedom to look for inner inspiration to express a practical, realistic and helpful result. You often take on the role of a harmonizer or a "Big-Picture Maker."
You find satisfaction in and are motivated by realizing the connections between concepts, ideas, events, etc. First, you envision in your mind what it may look like when done. You may ask for clear details about expectations, making sure you think you can meet them while also being drawn to solving puzzling problems. Once you own a task, you put your whole self into it, and work in the details and rework it, as long as your energy will allow and you can see the connection and patterns.
INFPs enjoy working independently on their own project, but in an environment with other people around or even in a small team. As an INFP, you may be particularly sensitive in that you are:
- often drawn to simple needs that could easily be met and immediately benefit from your help,
- often applying some of your creative improvising,
- most productive when working with congenial others,
- an excellent reader of other people’s emotions and wants, and
- glad to help “behind the scenes” to make and keep harmony.
You want your presence to be encouraging and supportive to coworkers.
Interest Areas of INFPs
In another article, I explain six areas of interest, and those compatible with the INFP personality usually involve Investigative, Social and Realistic (or ISR). The combination of the three interests can be expressed as "looking for creative ways to practically help others." Your Investigative interests are expressed in your independence, curiosity, and desire to learn. Social interests are expressed in your cooperativeness, generosity, and service to others. Your Realistic interests are expressed in your thrift, persistence, practicality, traditional values, and common sense.
You INFPs thrive on your ideas and the connections you see, and find it most satisfying when any effort you expend tangibly impacts humanity for the good—in some way, "perfect" the human state of being.
|The INFP would rather....||than...|
work with others
work on her own project without much supervision
work with competitive team members
organize unique projects
those that are not original
plan her work
deal with various complex, interlocking ideas
repetitive projects with lots of details
do research to help society
Weaknesses of INFPs
You INFPs are warm and accepting and employ some fun in your interactions, freely expressing your thoughts with those you know—yet your seeming openness tends to leave others feeling they know you better than they do. You are generally a private person, though you will share openly with family and a couple of close friends you deeply trust.
What's worse is you will exhibit a pattern of anxiety symptoms particular to the INFP personality. Your balanced approach of being flexible and accepting can get knocked out of balance when confronted with a violation of your values. Your response when this happens may be one of fear—fear of losing values which you defend with excessive negativity or criticism.
This isn't too bad if you can manage to get relief from these stressors and get back into balance. However, if relief is not found, it gets worse! When you INFPs ignore your positive intuition, you go extreme. You overreact with imagined insults. Out of character, you may also aggressively criticise and judge others as incompetent and maybe even take precipitous actions.
By that point (if not before), you INFPs must take drastic measures to get back into balance. You must go get some support from others to validate your feelings while avoiding those who try to reason them away.
The heart of the INFP constantly seeks to sort things out into a better, more ideal situation. So, you long to keep your deeply inward feelings and confidence ideally balanced, but this is, ironically, a particularly huge challenge for your type. You INFPs admit to some difficulty when in constant contact with people, as you must constantly guard your emotions against overexposure to the sad and negative, as this can quickly drain your inner energy.
New ideas discovered for yourself are your motivation—so much so that you INFPs become unenthusiastic when this is largely absent from your life. Your mind constantly wants to look for how things and people are connected to the bigger picture. You INFPs have insights most of the rest of us do not have!
The trick is to manage your constant insights and search for the big picture through the provision of an environment that gives what does not come naturally to you—a scheduled routine to your daily life.
Further Reading: INFP as a Boss
- Spineless Bosses - NF Personality Type in Employee Management
The NF personality type, a natural nurturer, is gifted for management. They can become ‘spineless' bosses, however, because of their limited toughness with diverse team members.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2010 Deidre Shelden
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on June 16, 2018:
Paula, Good to get your post! Going with your thought that you are probably NF, rather than NT, that leaves J vs P to be clarified. The main difference between INFP and INFJ is that the INFP uses the favored (F)eeling in one's inner world and uses the i(N)tuition in one's outer world. So this one prefers to analyze input/info in outward situations, etc. and REALLY focuses inward on personal values and personal impact. Whereas the INFJ prefers the opposite. The INFJ uses the favored i(N)tuition in one's inner world and uses the (F)eeling in one's outer world. So this one prefers to look at input/info about the values of others and impact of situations, etc. on them and REALLY focuses analysis inward on understanding one's self. Does this help any? Any questions?
Paula on June 15, 2018:
Hello, I came across these interesting posts, and I like that they are not so technical but describe the personality types in 'softer' terms which makes it all easier to relate to. It is driving me nuts that I can't seem to figure out my type :) I tested mainly as INFP but have also had INFJ as a result as well as INTP, think I probably am NF though. I studied philosophy, then piano accompaniment and now ended up working mainly as an English teacher in the community but still feel like I am searching for my direction. The desire to work within a helping profession is huge but I am hesitant to embark on it more seriously for several reasons. Not that I am counting on the type to give me an answers on what to do, but just can't stop being curious about it..if you had any time and insights on some key differences between these types, that would be amazing.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on January 04, 2016:
jsph, Great to have your confirmation that architecture is a fitting choice for INFPs!
jsph on January 01, 2016:
Dear Ms Dee: Thank you for your artical. Found it very inciteful. . . I also find it interesting that many of the discussions of INFP's possible careers choices do not focus to much on Architecture. I find it a fascinating career choice for an INFP.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on February 04, 2015:
Dear Xenia, You describe well what it is like when for an INFP when overwhelmed. Have you seen this post? https://toughnickel.com/finding-job/Job-Hunting-Ti...
My first guess would be to somehow turn your exercise science specialty into physical therapy, using your concern for a person's development in an inspiring and creative way to help him/her to improve/develop as a person. Another would be to apply your healthcare administration training to masterfully facilitate the shifts and changes that people and organizations always go through.
Xenia on February 03, 2015:
I just so happened to stumble upon your post when looking for jobs that empower people. I graduated with my undergrad in exercise science back in 2012 and I'm finishing up a masters in healthcare administration this year. After reading your post it was pretty much dead on with my personality type. I become so overwhelmed with things that I want to do or need to be done and it leaves me confused and I always end back at step 1 not getting anything accomplished. I kind of feel like I'm just going on with the actions of life and I can't make a decision because I don't want to make the wrong 1. This boils down to everything from career choices to my personal life. I've been trying for so long to find out what it is that I want to do with my life career wise but I'm stuck. Do you have any suggestions on where I can start to find out what career best suits my personality? I want to say so much more but this about sums it up. Hope to hear from you soon!
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on June 25, 2013:
Sam, I am glad to have your comment and question! Your struggle with your current accountant job lacking meaning makes perfect sense for INFPs. Yes, you are right to take the risk of a radical career change so you can do what you love, especially while you can before it would become more and more difficult to make such a change in the future. I do not know much at all about creating race cars. However, as you know, "creating" is the core motivator for INFPs. I'm sure you will, but be sure to talk to those doing this kind of thing with race cars before you jump your current 'ship'. Learn what you can beforehand so that you are as prepared as you can be for the challenges ahead and better ensure a successful change. The realities involved in an idea can be hard for INFPs to grasp. I think as you learn more about it and the realities of it, as well as how others who are doing it have managed to succeed, confidence for such a big switch will grow and the indecisiveness fade. May your new direction prove to be something you enjoy and are energized by!
Sam on June 14, 2013:
Ms Dee, thank you for writing this up. As a confirmed INFP, I find it very helpful.
I am an accountant working at a law firm now. There are couple things I like about my job; writing opinion letters although I find no interest in topics (tax matters) themselves, my own office, relatively nice and polite co-workers, working alone most of time, etc...
However, the nature of my work, helping riches get richer, really bother me. Thus, I can't devote myself to my current job as I find no meaning in it.
So, I am currently thinking about making a radical career change to go back to college for the 2nd degree in mechanical engineer so that I can eventually open my own race car shop where I create my unique version of race cars and perhaps sell them to customers who agree with my intepretation of race cars.
I always love cars and racing in my whole 33 years of life. That's the primary reason as to why I'm considering this wild move. However, I have to sacrifice quite a lot for this, so I am being indecisive yet again...
Would you be kind enough to provide some insights for me?
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on February 20, 2012:
Yes, Indonesia is beautiful. I once lived there :). It is definitely exciting that your INFP sensitiveness makes you a good writer. May you find a good place for these and your other strengths, and good support for your natural weaknesses. Note: We each are born with the personality we have which then develops more maturity as we grow through life.
Sujatmiko Pujitono on February 19, 2012:
Oh, really sorry I forgot to introduce myself that I came from Indonesia (it's a very beautiful country, you know?)
Well, after the events of the past week, my mind is much clearer now. And if it be reviewed again I think what makes it so painful is that this time I thought they were fine (because they apply in front of me sweet) and never criticized me. Therefore, knowing they were whispering behind my back made ??me shocked, angry, disappointed, and so forth. So jumbled! The values ??that I hold as an INFP is like a piece of paper torn by force and then the wind up miles away. About the picture so ... : D
Of course, Ms. Dee the good, what have you suggested was very reasonable and I am sure will help me going forward. Frankly being a leader in this work is really beyond my will (I even think this is called 'destiny'). Now that I think is looking for someone who is really good to be a 'listening ear' for me ...
And actually become an INFP is not bad through, I think. I was prone to 'fall', not good at arguing, and tend to be melodramatic. But it made ??me sensitive to the circumstances surrounding and like most INFP make me a better writer. Some colleagues say my writing (both poetry and short stories) scented romantic ... Exciting is not it?
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on February 14, 2012:
Sujatmiko, Selamat pagi! (Good Morning)
What a blessing to see (possibly) an Indonesian, or someone from Indonesia, has found this and benefited some from it.
I can certainly understand your hurt from being labeled indecisive. I would be too. What to do?
You, like anyone else, have a need for acceptance and respect. You also need to feel you are seen as competent.
The best you can do is tell yourself that it is understandable for people to jump to the conclusion that your trouble with making decisions means you may be an indecisive leader. When you have opportunity, you could seek to explain that this also has the positive side of being a careful decision maker--careful because you want to make the best decision that you can. Then, tell them you would welcome their help, asking them to come to you and mention when they see/feel you are delaying a decision too long. If they are willing, they could offer to be a listening ear for you to think a decision out loud. This kind of support often speeds up the decision process for the INFP.
Those who really do care could also be told that it is quite challenging for your personality type to take criticism objectively, so if they could offer it in a more supportive way it would have a more helpful impact on you. Hope this helps some!
Sujatmiko Pujitono on February 13, 2012:
Selamat siang (Good Afternoon), Ms. Dee
What you say is amazing! All right describe myself. Thank you for such a wide open the curtain on my lifelong question of identity.
Being an INFP is really a big challenge in life today. Moreover, I worked as Head of Quality Control in the bottled water industry. Where do I have to lead so many employees. Of course I have trouble making decisions. Things that make me labeled as an indecisive leader (behind my back, of course). and it makes me sad (and angry).
What do I do? As the narrative above you, I - sadly - become critical, cynical, and snapped at those who dare to wag behind me ... It was very sad ... Though I wanted to be a good person, but feeling 'hurt' it really could not resist ...
what should I do?
Melanie Palen from Midwest, USA on August 21, 2011:
Came up with an INFP joke, thought of posting it here right away.
First INFP: "No, you're awesome! I'm horrible"
Second INFP: "No, you are like a billion times more awesome. I suck."
ESTJ (someone non-NF): "I'm awesome, you guys suck."
First INFP: "What is up with THAT guy!?"
Second INFP: "Yeah, what a pr*ck!"
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on August 13, 2011:
melbel, it is the noble idealism of the INFP that sets such a high personal expectation to do everything correctly (and therefore the worry and wanting explicit instructions). I see what you describe in other INFPs I know. If the INFP can let up, even just a little bit, on this expectation and allow room for even some things going wrong being okay--that all is not ruined--then the worry will also lessen to some extent. At some point you will come to more of an acceptance of the real world we live in. (Personally, I found it helpful when I realized God will turn all my mistakes into his good.)
You have developed a great method for managing your big picture thinking! This is exactly what needs to be done when a goal is too overwhelming :).
Melanie Palen from Midwest, USA on August 13, 2011:
I have to work in an environment that's completely structured and for a few strange reasons:
- I worry about doing things the wrong way
- Having explicit instructions removes a lot of accountability. For example, if I follow rules to the T and something goes wrong, I am not to blame. (That sounds horrible, I know.)
I have a huge tendency to panic when I'm put in an environment where I have to make a decision, which is one reason I am trying to get out of marketing, it's too stressful.
I'm definitely an idealist and I spend a TON of my time focusing on the way things should be -- both with work and with my personal life and it's definitely a struggle. I have a great deal of trouble with coping with the fact that life isn't a movie where everything happens my way in the end.
Perhaps my biggest stumbling block is looking at the big picture. When I make goals and I am forced to look at how far away from the goal I am, I panic and shut down. Because of this, I have to break things into pieces and force myself to forget about the bigger picture. For example, if I am saving for something expensive, I might have something like a 10 piece puzzle, each piece of the puzzle represents 1/10th of my whole goal. As I complete each tenth, I put the puzzle piece in. (I don't actually do that, but it's just a picture of how I do things.)
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on March 10, 2011:
I agree, it really is a revelation in understanding the mental functions and perspectives. Certainly must be God's wisdom for Isabel to build on what Jung started and make it so applicable. Thank you dear INFP wba108 for confirming from your personal experience. May you become all you desire to be as a writer who makes a great positive impact on others.
firstname.lastname@example.org from upstate, NY on March 10, 2011:
I tested as an INFP. Its amazing how accurate the descriptions seem to be. Isabel Myers Briggs must have gotten a revelation from God. I know the experts considered the MBTI to be soft science. Its interesting that research is big for INFP'S because that's a passion of mine. I like your description of an INFP going off the deep end, its really true, it happens pretty much like you said. I really do make it a point to stay away from negative and sad people. Some say that many of the world's great writers are INFP'S, that's something I aspire to.
Sima Ballinger from Michigan on January 18, 2011:
You really explained the INFP personality. I love understanding personality. Personality test present many options for people that never would have thought of. I appreciate your work and will read more.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on December 10, 2010:
Adrianne - the challenge and job security certainly makes sense :). INFPs also are so curious about most anything that comes across their path. Yes, exactly ... the need for variety, plus enough creative expression ... Hubpages is helping me (as an INFJ) with that. How exciting for me to hear the help these profiles have been to you! And you have the special challenge of needing to look at both the P and the J. How about that! Blessings!
Adrianne on December 09, 2010:
Thank you so much for the quick response! Yeah I think you're right about optometry not serving my INFP need for creativity, but the INFJ side of me finds the mental challenge and security of the profession appealing. You were right on about the difficulty in finding balance for INFP's. That's been the toughest thing for me! It seems that one of the most important aspects of INFJ career satisfaction is having a variety of hobbies and interests outside work for maintaining inspiration and creative expression. Thanks, you've helped me so much, these straightforward personality type assessments are some of the best I've read!
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on December 09, 2010:
Andrianne, I just posted a hub about fitting careers from INFPs, https://toughnickel.com/finding-job/Job-Hunting-Ti...
If you could see an optometry role as taking one-on-one concern for the customer making a shift to glasses, possibly counseling them on choice of frames that fit their face shape and their gaining comfort in wearing glasses, etc., would that sound motivating?
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on December 09, 2010:
Hi, Adrianne! Did you see the new hub I posted yesterday, Job Hunting Tips for the INFJ Personality Type? I'll do a hub for INFPs by tomorrow and job types will be listed there. :) My initial hunch would be a concern that optometry would not include the creative expression an INFP craves. However, it would involve serving others, which is more INFJ. Being on the fence between the two types could mean you are either versitile, and easily switch sides, or are not clear as of yet on wich side of the fence is most comfortable :).
Adrianne on December 09, 2010:
Hi Ms Dee, I'm currently contemplating a career in optometry and I was wondering what your thoughts are regarding career fit. I test on the fence for INFP/INFJ. Also, what are some other great careers for INFP personality?
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on December 08, 2010:
Hi prairieprincess. This is very confirming about the INFP description, coming from another one of you who are the expert on INFPs :). Great you have found your love for writing!
Sharilee Swaity from Canada on December 08, 2010:
Mrs. Dee, I, too, am an INFP, and find it really hard to keep that balance, as you say. I get overwhelmed with too much going in my life. I love writing right now, because it allows me the quiet time, but it also is reaching out to others. This was a lovely hub. Take care.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on November 20, 2010:
Oh, how about that, PurpleOne! Yes, it takes a lot of work for very differing personalities to get to know and understand the other...and yes, very surprising! That's the way it is right now with me and a coworker at the office; so different :). It is so easy therefore to judge another unfairly, assuming we think we know their intentions and thoughts when we really don't.
PurpleOne from Canada on November 20, 2010:
This is great, Ms Dee! I am an INFP myself and can relate to what you have written here. As you said, I hate policy, hate making decisions but love doing things like research, helping people, coming up with new ways to view a situation, etc.
Yikes, at 4% of the population, INFPs must be pretty misunderstood. I've been a bit of an outsider my whole life because of my personality. It takes a long time for people to get to know me but when they do, they're often surprised. I have been at my current job for almost 2.5 years and I am just NOW at the point where I feel comfortable around (most of) my coworkers.
Thanks for this!