7 Challenges INFPs Experience at Work

IntrovertDear.com INFP work challenges

I think one of the hardest challenges for INFPs is finding a career path that not only interests us and gives us meaning, but also pays the bills. We often find ourselves stuck in jobs that feel meaningless and don’t give us room to grow, and as a result, we feel drained. However, it doesn’t always have to be this way. Here are some common challenges INFPs experience at work, along with some tips to help overcome them:

1. Completing repetitive and detail-oriented tasks

INFPs use Extroverted Intuition (Ne) to focus on the big picture, so doing things that force us to deal with details can be tough. I find that I, as an INFP, am only able to accomplish mundane tasks in small amounts before I become completely drained. For instance, while I attended university, I was a part-time data entry clerk. I found the job to be extremely tedious, repetitive, and boring. Unfortunately, sometimes we have no choice but to suck it up and do tasks that we don’t like. When this is the case, breaking a task into small chunks and taking breaks when we start to lose steam can help. And, keep things in perspective: As long as we’re able to find room to be creative and free in some other way, we’ll probably survive. My other advice would be to try to avoid careers that require you to do frequent repetitive, detail-oriented work.

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2. Finding variety

Building off the previous point, sometimes we see ourselves stuck doing work that won’t allow us to grow and be creative. When we are in our head space for too long, we often allow ourselves to be confined to doing repetitive work instead of learning new things. To get out of this rut, we have to use our Ne to find ways in which we can try something different, whether it is to learn a new skill set or take on a new project or challenge. For example, you could conduct some research and see what’s trending in your industry, and then come up with ideas to help you and your company improve. Let’s say you work as a counselor, and you discover that a certain type of workshop would be helpful for your patients. Or, if you work at a coffee shop, perhaps you can find creative ways to draw attention to your shop or deliver better customer service. INFPs have a love for learning and discovery, so finding new ways to challenge ourselves in our careers can be extremely fulfilling.

3. Setting boundaries

I remember how overwhelmed I was when I first started out in my career as a content marketer and didn’t set solid boundaries with my coworkers and supervisors. I was managed by three different people at once and was constantly being interrupted and bombarded with more projects than I could handle. It was important for me to regain control over my schedule; I was able to do so by blocking off time for myself in my calendar and creating a spreadsheet on Google Drive so that everyone was aware that I was busy working on other projects.

4. Being recognized for our work

It’s especially important for INFPs to feel recognized for the value that we bring to the industry. However, we can’t always depend on others to notice it. We might have to “brag” a little about ourselves and our contributions, which entails mentioning some of our noteworthy accomplishments from time to time. But, don’t think about it as bragging — instead, think of it as simply telling the facts of what you did. For example, if you found a way to make a process more efficient, saving the company time and money, bring that up the next time you’re talking to your boss. Simply explain what you did; it’s not bragging if you’re just stating the facts. This is especially important if you want to get a raise or promotion.

5. Giving ourselves space to recharge

Not only do we need to take care of our well-being by allowing ourselves to physically recharge (which includes eating well, getting enough sleep, etc.), but we also need to replenish our soul with activities that nourish our Introverted Feeling (Fi). If you find yourself having to do a lot of work that does not feed your soul, make sure to set aside time to recharge. This can be as simple as giving yourself more time for fun after work or changing the way you work. If possible, try a new role or task. Ultimately, if your work does not give you reasonable flexibility, maybe it’s time to consider looking for a new job.

6. Negotiating a raise

Susan Scanlon, the editor of Type Reporter, observed that Feelers (like INFPs) are often underpaid because they are too modest and less comfortable with the notion of asking for a raise. For instance, an INFP might say, “I keep asking myself, ‘Can they afford it?’ and ‘Am I really worth it?”; on the other hand, an INTP would say, “I don’t consider negotiating a game, I consider it a point of clarification.” Although money isn’t everything, I believe it is important to be valued for your work in the form of compensation. Negotiating a raise is something that INFPs may have trouble with, but I believe it’s worth the challenge.

7. Handling criticism and feedback

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, says the number one thing she looks for in someone who can scale with a company is a person “who takes feedback well” since these are the “people who can learn and grow quickly.” Being able to take feedback well can pose a challenge for INFPs because we often feel personally wounded when someone tells us we have room to grow. Taking feedback well entails putting your feelings aside to learn from the situation and not letting your emotions get the best of you. This is why it’s important for us to learn to take things a bit less personally.

Do you find this article helpful? Discover more INFP career advice in my book.

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Read this: 10 Contradicting Things About INFPs


  • njguy54 says:

    All great points. I would also add the challenge of advancing in an organization without getting on the management track. Not all INFJs are comfortable managing, and would prefer strengthening their skills, learning new ones and taking on more challenging assignments instead. Fortunately, more organizations (especially in IT) are realizing that simply promoting high performers into management roles makes for unhappy managers while killing the proverbial golden goose. Not to say that INFJs can’t be good managers, but many would be happier at organizations that have an extended individual contributor track, with higher salary bands based on competencies and skills.

    • Catherine Chea says:

      Hi niguy52, thanks for commenting! I think you brought up a great point. It would be nice for intuitive feelers, especially, to be able to advance in our careers without having to take on a management role. Perhaps this also depends on the nature and size of the industry/organization.

      • njguy54 says:

        IT definitely has a lot of potential for independent, individual contributors, simply because development, documentation, quality assurance and related skills are in demand. Any field that requires individual initiative and creativity is a good fit for INFJs, including advertising and marketing (I was once a copywriter).

  • Preoccupine says:

    In response to #1, I have experienced the opposite. In all of my data entry jobs in the past I have excelled above expectation. Something repetitive is a bit soothing to me. I am able to zone out, using just enough brain-power to complete the task at hand, and think about creative things. All of my most wondrous creative thought has been when my hands and part of my brain was pre-occupied with repetitive work.

    The first job was abstracting data from very legal leasing documents and inputting them into a system. This one required lots of attention to detail, but once I had the process down I could ‘automate it’ and zone out and think about all the amazing things I wanted to do in my free time. My second job was working for a blood testing laboratory. I am super sensitive, and I had no idea I’d actually be interacting with the specimens (ick!) yet once I got used to that, I’d work at record-breaking pace for the company and still have time to write down my thoughts, ideas, even poetry on napkins next to my desk.

    In jobs that are less repetitive and require more intentional creative thinking (keyword intentional, forced) I find it a lot harder to stay focused. I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin trying to put action steps to very vague and ambiguous instructions.

    I’m not saying #1 is not true at all, I’m just sharing my slightly different story. For points #2 – #7 this is so spot on for me!!! Thank you for your writing 🙂