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Thread: INFP and Negative Work Environments

  1. #31


    I've had some pretty crappy luck with jobs, and worked in very unhealthy (emotionally toxic) environments. In each case I have no idea what *type* my coworkers were, other than assholes. In each case I've simply walked away. But I also realize a few things about *myself*, as an infj that have contributed to me feeling unhappy.

    First, we've got all this emotion, ours and other's, flying around, and no way to get rid of it. So we internalize it. If a person is in a bad mood and curt, it instantly becomes our fault, even if it probably had nothing to do with us. Or we get annoyed that they're taking it out on us, when they're probably just trying really hard to mind their own business and not involve anybody. If there 's drama, we instantly want to get involved and sooth ruffled feathers, largely because we can feel the tension and just want it to stop. We also don't take criticism well. That's important, because some people have a hard time expressing it in a way that's positive and fluffy enough for us to not be threatened by it.

    Another thing that occurs to me, and this is really important, of all the types, we are probably the first ones to feel any tension or toxicity, simply because we're so damned sensitive. An INTP, for instance, could easily work in a place for years and not even notice, because he's in his own little world and so long as he's stimulated, the goings on of mere mortals means nothing.

    One thing I realized very early on in my first job, is that not matter where you work or what you do, there is always going to be at least one person you don't get along with. If it's your boss or someone higher up than you, this can be a real problem. If it's a co-worker, depending on how much you interact with them, it's generally not quite so bad. Another thing I found works is to try very hard to just shut off the noisy emotions around me, or simply consider the source. I've only been at this job 8 weeks, and everyone I work with is more or less happy, except one. This person is, I believe, very much an INTP, and he has to talk to (what he considers to be) stupid people on the phone all day. Imagine the hell he must be in...that would be an INTP's worst nightmare. So yes he mutters and bitches and makes negative comments, and I give him what he wants: I leave him alone.

    If you're in a toxic environment, you can't change it. Just get out. Figure out what your forte is, and find a job that suits you. I love people, and I love being around them, even if I don't always want to interact, so a large company is suitable for me. Being challenged with new things all the time, almost to the point of being overwhelming is what I excel at, and I've found that in my new workplace. But yet I have no one looking over my shoulder, and the company recognizes that good people have quirks and idiosyncrasies that need to be accomodated. Also, sometimes just faking can help too. Being more E, for instance, or definitely less J. And above all, just do your own time.

  2. #32
    almost nekkid Array scantilyclad's Avatar
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    Jul 2007
    4w5 sx


    i'm not angry at all, and i think you perfectly described my last working experience.
    INFP 4w5
    The pain won't let me get away.

  3. #33


    Quote Originally Posted by denial View Post
    Hello. I'm new here, but not new to MBTI....
    This is about INFPs, but of course, all types are warmly invited to reply. With this being said, I would be particularly grateful to any INFPs who share an opinion that comes from inside the situation that I'm talking about here.
    have you also asked this over at infpgc? there are very few infps here and many here are pretty hateful towards infps at times; so unless you just want affirmation of your bigotry, you might do better to ask at infpgc, esp if you really do want infp responses.

    This situation is really about INFPs who appear to contribute to, develop and ultimately champion toxic work environments.
    i have been in a lot of toxic work environments but they were all toxic when i arrived, and all i ever did was leave them--infps don't have armor like most of the other types and especially "Js"--most of the toxic environments i have been in have been "J" dominate environments.

    What I've seen -- from the outide, though (if I may say so) like most INFJs I do tend to introject with unintentional clarity -- is the following formula:

    1. An INFP becomes unhappy with how they are being engaged by their workplace. Specifically, an INFP feels that they aren't being appreciated for their unique talents and potential. This can express itself personally, in the INFP not being able to 'do' what they want to do, or it can express itself more abstractly, in the INFP not being able to 'be' what they want to be.
    how do you know the person you have in mind is an infp? i find that most people seem to confuse the isfps/isfjs in their midst with infps--chances are that any infp in your organization has barely spoken to you or to anyone else there, except to say hello and goodbye and have a nice weekend.

    actually, what you describe sounds like an intp to me, they get subversive pretty easily and tend to be snarky in general--infp tend to be hyper-conscientious, we go above and beyond, even when we are suffering, until we get sick or depressed or lash out, and at that point you never see us again. we internalize all the negativity around us--taking responsibility for it and often blaming our selves.

    2. This INFP starts to "test workplace boundaries." This starts out small and pedestrian, such as being a few minutes late for work, and if unmet by some entity that the INFP considers an authority (maybe a manager, maybe not), grows into overt, stark insubordination.
    again this sounds like an intp to me. we don't "test." we do or we don't do. and if we aren't doing, we usually have already quit. we might try to get our hours changed or get transferred to a new assignment, but we just ask that is all, or we try to ignore it and try to avoid the people causing us stress--only those closest to us will know we that we are upset about it and then they will wish we would shut up about it already =)

    BTW why do you feel it is wrong for someone to raise, with someone who has the power to change things, an issue they are having about where they spend most of their waking hours?--that actually seems pretty positive and constructive to me. it is almost like you seem to believe that just questioning the status quo is a sin in itself.

    3. This INFP, unhappy with the quality of feedback they're getting from #2 (this can range from neglect to a continued unwillingness by others to see the INFP as unique/special), starts to *actively convert other people* into a General State of Misery (GSOM). This is especially noticed when new people enter the work environment; they are swiftly recruited by the INFP and told, in absolute terms, that life in that work environment is living hell.
    infps are "NPs," like all "NPs" we need data or we go nuts--i had trouble with the lack of feedback i was getting where i work now--i asked for information to fill in the gaps, so as not to jump to the wrong conclusions--why is that wrong?

    you see infps latching immediately onto complete strangers? and gossiping? that seems more like angry, cliquish "sj" behavior to me. the day i tried to quit last week, i simply walked in and handed my keys to the secretary--she had asked me several times over the weeks if i was "ok," to which i said as always, "yeah, i'm fine thanks" followed by a big smile. that day she wanted to know what happened and i just repeatedly said that i didn't fit in and that nothing had happened.

    a person i cared for greatly used to joke that even if he was up a tree with a noose around his neck, he'd still say he was fine if anyone asked. that is me to a "T." infps feel deeply but we don't share our feelings easily.

    4. This INFP becomes the "anti-INFP" -- maybe like a very, very, very unhealthy ISTP. The only word I have for this is 'toxic', and it fits: whatever they attach themselves to becomes corrupted, polluted, destructive and unhealthy.
    sigh, i am so sick of hearing this crap. why is it that any bad, ill, unhealthy, person is automatically labeled "infp?" did it ever occur to you that the person in question was an istp for fucks sake?

    I realize that the INFPs reading this may be growing angrier by the sentence. I apologize for this. Please understand that I'm hyper-sensitive (as I think most INFs are) to 'bullshit questions' -- questions that are simply vulgar, cowardly attempts to make statements (i.e. asking "why can't people be nicer" really means: "people aren't as nice as me.").
    yeah, i do think this is exactly what this is--i work in a IxxJ dominated environment--it is the most toxic environment i have ever had the misfortune to work in and that includes the top ten law school i attended (which was ExxJ dominated).

    "NFPs" are by and large, live and let live people, but basically what you are complaining about is that an infp is going around trying to subvert and overthrow your rigid little "J" environment...

    well, maybe your environment needs to be overthrown, maybe your environment does suck, and maybe you are actually the one creating the toxicity?

    i work with an infj and i can say that almost all of the negative crap i read on these boards attributed to infps, is really infj behavior--chances are you don't even have a clue who the infps in your environment are unless we tell you.

    and if one of us is acting out in the presence of strangers than something is seriously wrong, either s/he suffering severe personal issues (and i mean diagnosable issues and in is need of professional attention) or the environment we are in really is super toxic to the point we can't function.

    My question is authentic and based on a great deal of painful interaction with INFPs who have (if I may say so, empathetically), "gone bad." INFPs who have...reacted to what they perceive is a negative, trapped situation.
    well, maybe the situation really is negative and bad, but since in most places in the world you have to work to eat (esp here in the US), people in those situations really are trapped, quite literally, which makes the situation even worse.

    My question, ultimately, is this: can one, many or ALL of you tell me what's happening here? What is going on inside this situation? Obviously, there has to be an interiour depth that I can't access, regardless of my intent, motivation, or whatever. I have my own baggage and obstacles.
    my answer is to deal with your own baggage first before judging others and badmouthing them and blaming them for all the problems. even if you are right in your assessment, until you deal with yourself it won't make any difference anyway.

    you will never access the interior depth of the infp, we only let people in we trust deeply--i certainly wouldn't let someone in who i can tell despises me.

    I'm not claiming -- though it may seem so, because of the way in which an internet forum is structures -- that all INFPs do what I've described above.

    I'm simply saying that I've experienced this several times -- more than I would consider typical -- and I'd like to know, as much as can be conveyed in words in a forum -- what's happening inside.
    if you have experienced this several times, and you know for a fact you are dealing with infps, then i suggest that you are probably the source of the problem--your behavior and communication style must be deeply disturbing to the infps you have come into contact with, so much so that you cause them enough stress that they act out, which is rare for us outside of our closest circle.

    if you behave at all like the female infj where i work, it is because you are a hyper-judgmental and hyper-regimented. you believe that your way of doing things is the only way, not just the best way, and certainly not just your way; and your displeasure with your infp oozzess out of you, like a miasma, which the infp picks up on, and is suffocated by--and probably without knowing why you are unahppy with him/her, because you won't say anything directly to the infp, you will just gossip about him/her to all your other "J" co-workers/bosses, and then act shocked when the infp asks is there is something s/he is doing that is bothering you--and then come on line saying your Fe can't handle those crazy infps.

    Ultimately ultimately, my meta-motive is selfish. I'm hoping that someone will say something, and an understanding within me will shift and open up, so that I can STOP HATING THESE INFPs. I want to let go the resentment, and dealing directly with the INFPs who have inspired this post isn't possible at this time.
    well there's your problem right there--why do you think that people you hate, will skip around, showering you with flower petals or not be able to pick up on (and resent or be disturbed by) the fact that you hate them? i promise that you really know almost nothing about the infps you work with no matter how well you think you know them (we share nothing--even if you have known us for years, you probably know nothing about us but trivia). hating people is pretty fucked up BTW.

    dealing directly is the only way, just talk to the infp (however this will only work if you are willing to listen and take your share of the blame)--so start by looking in the mirror and owning the part you play in the problem (though i still believe that you are not dealing with an infp).
    Last edited by Meursault; 10-03-2007 at 09:17 AM. Reason: cleaned up a little bit
    none of us, no, not one is perfect, and were we to love none who had imperfections, this world would be a desert for our love

  4. #34


    I could probably provide you with quite a detailed insight with regards to what you are looking to find out

    i have just spent three years in that very environment, and hell would definately be in the top 5 choices for words i would use to describe the experience, which im happy to do so as long as you are open minded to the fact that you may well have been quite a contributory

    That wasnt by any means at personal attack aimed at you, but you have to understand that infps, well in my own experience are massively perceptive of the people around them, and can be directly affected by the non physical actions of others

    i will come back to that later, but something else i always found i struggled with is accepting any sort of role that has a product at the end of the process, however large and on whatever scale, it just provides pure monotony

    Waking up everyday knowing everything you have to do to try and fit in with regime of waking up, becoming irritated following someone who is holding you up from arriving at somewhere you dont want to be, waiting on traffic lights and then spending the whole of your daylight hours stuck amongst a lot of people who have no idea how you really think and occasionally only one or two who are able to comprehend the way you mind works in any sort of way, is hugely depressing, regardless of the monotony of the task itself, repeatedly, day after day, week after week

    something which i have often and always envied others more capable of being tolerant to that environment, life would be so much easier

    in my personal experience, something i always struggled with was not being able to concentrate on something that is boring, days spent day dreaming in stead of being "focused" along with the rest of the "team" the team whose members would look forward to their end of year christmas do, in august

    theres so much constantly going on and so much to think about and so many places to be, all the while you get to them and rather wouldnt be there at all

    i remember a a colleague of mine on a similar training scheme genuinelly enthralled by the thought of " a few more years of keeping your head down, directorship, pension etc, spot on" and i sat there thinking how much of shame it was that thats all he sees

    i have to admit i was definately a canditate for the most similar description of what you have described, and i should imagine many of my co workers felt like you did, fair enough - i never handed a piece of work back late or below a certain standard, i just absolutley hated every single week of my life for three years, and a bit longer

    as for what i said i would return to, as much as you are aware of how someone elses behaviour can affect you, and now hopefully you might be slightly more aware that you could be provoking the same reaction in another person, meaning they make you feel the way you do, you might try and think that they are sitting ther unhappy because they are confined to a space they find uncomfortable for a regimented amount of time ( go to the zoo and watch a tiger pace round its cage)

    not intentionally , having any affect on you and would probably feel even worse than they already do if that was the case

    what value can you place on somebody making your day easier, try and work with them and they will work with you

    take car parts from a honda and then some from a porsche, they will do the same job, but might not neccessarily work together

    its the same with people and compromise is the only real option!

  5. #35


    i actually hadnt seen the post above mine when i wrote this, and that is spot on

  6. #36
    Reason vs Being Array ragashree's Avatar
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    Nov 2008


    Ultimately ultimately, my meta-motive is selfish. I'm hoping that someone will say something, and an understanding within me will shift and open up, so that I can STOP HATING THESE INFPs. I want to let go the resentment, and dealing directly with the INFPs who have inspired this post isn't possible at this time.
    If I were you I would let go of some of that FJ judgement and examine YOUR role a little more closely; never mind trying to analyse others. It is at the end of the day your own anger and not theirs. You are effectively accusing these people of using passive-aggression to manipulate others. There is a strong implication in your post (I seriously can't be asked to quote all of it) that you believe strongly in a "group ethic" and dissapprove of people speaking out of turn. I don't know what area you're working in, but I would guess that if you feel that multiple INFP's have *caused this problem* it must be one where feeling types predominate. Maybe if you were working in a different area which attracted, for example EN*P's, you would be geting a similar problem with them? Other types certainly can and do speak out of turn too. It's called expressing oneself. What you seem to think is that they SHOULDN'T. Other P types can be relatively unreliable with things like timing and organisation; it's in the nature of being a P: they may not be happy about it themselves, especially if they are INFP's, who tend to be highly self-critical. Reading dark and sinister motives into this kind of behaviour and taking it as a personal affront is not going to help either them, or yourself.

    I would suggest in MBTI terms that it would help you to learn to make more effective use of your inferior functions. What you seem to be doing is identifying very strongly with a group ethic and having a strong kneejerk reaction ( secondary Fe) when anyone (INFPs in this case) does anything which seems to you to be going against this ethic. You then appear to be using your dominant Ni to justify your initial Fe reaction, and do so by intuiting a range of motives for their behaviour, invariably negative ones as you are trying to justify your already negative feeling judgement. There your process stops, and you have the conclusions you have currently arrived at. I think you have a serious need to work more on using that tertiary Se for some reality testing here, to see whether what the INFPs are doing is actually causing excessive friction or deterioration of work standards. A little more application of inferior Te wouldn't hurt either, as I don't see you being very objective here.

  7. #37
    Senior Member Array Anja's Avatar
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    May 2008


    I've worked in a number of emotionally toxic environments and will make a few brief comments.

    It really doesn't matter to me what type your workplace monster is, but I will comment that when INFPs go bad we go particularly bad. Heh.

    First of all, from my observation, most work environments take on the aspects of a family. If the family is dysfunctional you will have all the roles acted out by the individuals working there. This is frustrating and can be especially so if you come from a dysfunctional home. (Not making any assumptions here. Speaking from experience.)

    Secondly, we in America are a nation of emotionally unhealthy people. My POV.

    Third, apparently your boss is hiring unhealthy people. And either doesn't recognize the snowballing discontent, feels comfortable with it for his own personal reasons, or is unable to figure out how to address it.

    I make that assumption that the boss is hiring people who are emotionally unwell based on your statement that the INFP is able to control others' feelings. A healthy person does not allow others to control their emotions. And, yes, birds of a feather flock together. I doubt that the INFP is a Svengali with exceptional powers over others and the others may have their own personal reasons for being negative and allowing him to influence them.

    Lastly, it's my experience that focussing on others and how they make you feel is falling into the "powerless trap." Your own feelings and behavior are ultimately all you are able to control in any given situation and to maintain your own good mental health it may be necessary to learn how healthy detachment works or to find a different workplace.

    Good luck to you.
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

  8. #38


    I just showed my INFP boyfriend your post who is also (heh) currently unhappy with his own work situation and he agrees (as do I) that while stages 1 & 2 sound correct, step 3 begins to go astray and step 4 is not INFPish behavior.
    "There is no god; there is only us. Savage and fragile."

  9. #39
    Reason vs Being Array ragashree's Avatar
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    Nov 2008

    Exclamation Warning - thread resurrection

    In case anyone else is tempted to post in this thread, please note the start date back in 2007 and that the person who made the OP only made 7 posts and has not posted for over a year. I sensotardishly managed to read right through the thread myself the first time without noticing these rather salient details, otherwise I very much doubt I would have posted myself. It doesn't seem likely that Denial will be back to read any of your carefully thought out responses, so unless there are any other people around who have learned too little about type to do them any good and developed a surreally obsessive prejudice against INFP's as a result, you are likely to be wasting your energy. Deployed Imagination, I appreciate you feel strongly about this due to your recent experiences, but was it REALLY necessary to ressurect this thread to in order to talk about it? There are quite a few other options for talking about your own experiences, including starting your own thread. Maybe others will think differently to me -I'm just posting this so that no-one else is misled into spending time giving an in-depth response to the OP. It seems a bit pointless now.

  10. #40
    Senior Member Array Anja's Avatar
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    Laffin'. Is that what happened?

    Sensotard! Yes. . .
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

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