I am an INFJ. My current boss keeps telling me that I don’t challenge people / push back enough on the spot in terms of what colleagues/clients tell me and that she sees me just accepting what they say, for example:

1. A teacher says they are not using the virtual platform we provide to their school at the expected usage rate for X reason e.g. Intermittent Internet connectivity, basic infrastructure issues disrupting their ability to use the platform etc. I’m supposed to push back against what they see as obstacles and get them to solve these issues so that they can increase their usage of the platform.

I’m actually satisfied that they’ve gone from zero use to some use looking at the obstacles they face and don’t think we should be pushing them for the sake of increased usage when they’ve figured out a way to use the tech meaningfully within the limitations they are facing.

2. A team member informed me that we were not supposed to deliver a training session for a client in English (I was away from work when this happened and so just assumed she was filling me in on a decision made by my boss). I didn’t think to question her as I had no reason not to trust that the information wasn’t accurate.

Turns out she mislead me but my boss used this as an example of me not challenging people enough. In fact, when my boss raised this with me I didn’t even explain to her why I didn’t feel the need to question my colleague. I just took it rather than have an argument.

From my point of view whenever someone tells me something, my lack of objection doesn’t mean I’ve accepted what they are saying. I find I need time to ruminate on what has been said, understand where they are coming from before I can come to a ‘judgment’.

Is my lack of immediate pushback associated with an INFJs’ cognitive process or is this a function independent of personality type?

If it is associated with type, will working to overcome this and thinking more on my feet be an uphill battle or should I just let go of getting validation from my boss/company expectations and make this job my own by exploiting my so-called INFJ strengths?

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1 reply
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    First, no one has more trouble at work than an INFJ. Because you are really competent yet work is often really stupid in ways that only INFJs can see.

    What your boss is really saying is that your boss doesn’t care about your values and you should just toe the company line. Your boss just doesn’t know how to say it.

    So, in the first example, it’s your job to increase usage. That’s what you get paid to do. You are not getting paid to make a determination about how some classroom or school is best run.

    And, honestly this is what most jobs entail. People do not pay you to operate according to your own values. I know you probably think this is crazy, bit it’s pretty much only INFJs who have this problem. Most people in the world either don’t care about values or they are flexible about when and how to apply their values.

    And most people who manage an INFJ run into the problem your boss has – which is that you are unmovable when it comes to your values, so you are difficult to manage; it’s your boss’s job to get you to do what the company wants and its hard to do that with you — with all INFJs.

    Something that will really help you is just getting context. Did you take the course I created for INFJs? You should take it. You see more than most other people see (like, that the classroom should not increase usage). You need to understand how to use that incredible insight of yours to do well in your career — while holding onto your values. The course will show you how to do that.

    Here’s a link:
    Be your real INFJ self without feeling frustrated

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