Speaking INFP




The Care and Feeding of INFPs, part 2

Speaking INFP

INFPs can be great communicators when they want to be. That’s the big catch: when they want to be.

By default, INFPs do two things that cause great frustration to other types.

1. Moving from point A to D while skipping points B and C.

Conversations with INFPs at times seems like a string of completely unrelated topics. I know I do that. I could be talking about Ethan Hawke and the next second, I could be talking about locus of control theory. The connecting thoughts are: Ethan Hawke was in Hamlet –> famous Hamlet quote “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” –> your thoughts are one of the few things you can control –> amount of happiness is proportional to how much control you feel you have in your life –> locus of control theory.

INFPs don’t vocalize those connecting thoughts. Conversations may seem like random jumps from topic to topic but those topics are related in the INFP’s head.

Most of the time, those connecting thoughts aren’t important in general conversation with friends. However, INFPs get so use to not vocalizing connecting thoughts that it’s a cause of problems in relationships. You could be discussing how the toilet isn’t fixed yet and then your INFP could end up mad at you about their birthday dinner next week.

The connecting points could be: The toilet is broken –> you promised to fix it –> you promised a lot of things but forgot about it because you’re too busy –> you promised to take your significant other to a fancy restaurant for their birthday –> now your INFP is mad at you because that dinner might not happen.

It’s at times like these you have to slow your INFP down and make them go through Points B and Point C with you.

2. Not realizing that sometimes Point D isn’t really the point.

Let’s break down the previous broken toilet to mad about dinner plans scenario.

a. toilet is broken
b. you promised to fix it
c. you promised a lot of things but forgot about it because you’re too busy
d. you promised to take your significant other to a fancy restaurant for their birthday
e. now your INFP is mad at you because that dinner might not happen

So here you are assuring your INFP that you’re not going to forget out their birthday dinner, and your INFP is still mad at you. Even worse, they don’t know why they’re still mad. Maybe the birthday dinner isn’t the issue.

Perhaps the issue is really Point C: you’re too busy. Being mad at you about dinner was only a symptom of a deeper issue. So why doesn’t your INFP come right out and say, you need to spend more time with me? Mostly likely, the INFP might not understand that’s the real issue. INFPs are great at understanding themselves, but not so great at understanding themselves in relation to another person.

That’s where the slow things down approach helps. Getting your INFP to slow down and go through their thought process not only clarifies things for you, but it also clarifies things for them.

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52 Responses to “Speaking INFP”

  1. Ann

    Jan 2, 2010

    10:02 am

    More than once I have had the following two differing responses to my unedited speaking style (I am an INFP on Keirsey):

    “N” (intuitive): finishes my sentences, because they have followed my intuitive leaps, “gets” exactly what I am trying to say before I even finish.

    “S” (sensing–a more literal 1+2=3 linear thinking style, doesn’t read between the lines) “Please explain what you are talking about, I can’t follow you at all.”

    I have learned to adjust, particularly when I am in a business setting, such as training a newer employee. S types want you to tell them your topic first, then explain. They need a process broken down in a linear fashion, just what to do first, then next, because they won’t figure it out intuitively. They generally don’t have a burning need to know why something is done a particular way, and the lack of that knowledge does not stop them in their tracks before they can go further in learning. Why explanations are actually irritating to them many times.

    Therefore, the way I naturally begin explaining something, by giving context and background, is an utter failure with extremely fact/linear based thinkers.

    In mixed rooms of trainees, which is generally the norm, I have had to redirect the ones who want “why” or more complex answers that satisfy their curiosity, offering to talk to them on a break. I may enjoy that sort of thing myself, but with time limits, it becomes a distraction.

    My “S” spouse, who receives my unedited style, often tells me he needs me to stop and concentrate on one line of thought, not combine them. He also needs me to describe over and over again processes like “copy/paste” on the computer. He asks me how to do things that I can’t explain in words without going back and doing them physically, then noting what I am doing.


    ockhamdesign Reply:

    I think that’s why I learned the MBTI in the first place. It was a guideline to how to interact with other people. I was an extreme introvert for so long which didn’t matter in high school. It’s a big deal when you move out and can’t interact with people.

    The MBTI made it easier. I talk to S’s differently than I talk to N’s.


    Jumpingjoy88 Reply:

    Well it’s not always true. I have an INFJ friends and we keep having various versions of the same conversation. Even though an INFJ is an “N” her intuition is introverted, which get’s the conclusion first and then connects the dots (whereas I think eN starts with the dots).
    An INFJ will get after you for not having “a point” or from “jumping from one random thought to another.” An INFP will get “hurt” cause they feel their thoughts are being seen as “unimportant.”


  2. Corra McFeydon

    Jan 9, 2010

    4:12 am

    Oh, that’s why I do that!

    I skip around all over the place and generally can’t remember where a conversation started. It makes me crazy when people can’t keep up or question my conversation technique. It all makes sense in my head.

    Of course I could go from shovels to the meaning of life in two seconds – hello? It totally relates!


    Great blog.

    ~ Corra

    from the desk of a writer


    ockhamdesign Reply:

    That’s where the MBTI typing comes in handy. I can pick out most people’s type from various cues like how they describe events or situations. I usually adjust my conversation style to fit the few STs that I know. Most of the NTs and NFs I know don’t mind the jumping around.


  3. Jeanine

    Feb 2, 2010

    8:30 pm

    I skip around like that all the time. The biggest problem is that after a while, I forget where I started or what point I was trying to make.

    And usually my partner is just watching the conversational butterfly fly and doesn’t remember either!

    Great blog!!


    darling Reply:

    HAHA. So true. I completely digress like 5x in my attempt to provide a response to a simple question.

    The problem is I think, INFP are very intellectual and like to connect all trivial matter (that they consider) to the bigger picture. All of a sudden, your friend asking you for help on ingredients for a recipe becomes completely a philosophical matter. Or even better, when they ask you which dress to wear, you may even come to conclude with Hamlet’s soliloquy, a matter of “to be or not to be.” Yes, that’s the question heard, by an INFP.

    I think I just did it again..haha


  4. D

    Mar 5, 2010

    1:08 am

    I’ve just turned 30 an have just started getting interested in my personality since I’ve started dating about 8 months ago. About three months into dating I was thinking about all kinds of crazyness 🙂 an a thought came to me about understanding myself to better my relationship with my Girlfriend which is a INTJ( after I’ve took’n the test an told her a few weeks laterwords an she told me that she had taken one years ago but took it again to see if it’s change , but hasn’t.) , so I googled personality and found you could take a test was “WoWed” that they had tests to find out what, who a person was, At first it said I was a INTP but after reading more about that personality an taking another test found out I was/am a INFP, So far the more I read about it (here in the last week or two) the more it fits me (sadly enough. lol) an after reading thist her..it pretty much comfirms it, cause when I try an tell a store tor try to explane something that has happened I all over the place jumping from point A to F back to C than to partially B an so on to where I myself is even lost in the story that “I” was try’n to tell.
    Very interesting to read how others deal with it and not just what INFP “are”, This is all a learning process for me after 30 years an just now finding a little of myself.
    yer do’n a good job. 🙂


    ockhamdesign Reply:

    INTJs are a good match for INFPs. Someone has to pay the electric bill on time. I’ve been happily married to an INTJ for 13 years now.


    koesn Reply:

    Yepp… My wife is an INFP. And every single bill schedule are programmed by me (lol). I am enjoying deep conversation with INFPs, since my sharp INTJ mind complemented by wide spectrum of INFP’s mind.


    Charles Reply:

    My response to this comment:

    “DAMNIT. [types bank website url, pays credit card bill] “


  5. Glenda

    Apr 30, 2010

    7:15 pm

    Good lord, its like youve known me my entire life…


    ockhamdesign Reply:

    All INFPs have commonality that binds us. Even though INFPs may differ in belief systems, we go about externalizing those beliefs in the same way, especially in the way we communicate to others.


  6. Morgain

    Jul 5, 2010

    12:31 pm

    I had an amazing conversation like that with a person I was dating. We jumped around from topic to topic all night long. It was really crazy. We never finished a topic because we jumped to a relating but totaly different topic before the first topic was finished. We both did it, we both could follow the line of thoughts and we both didn’t mind or tried to get the conversation back to the first topic. I had never done the topic hoping before.
    Are there other MBTI types that are really good in it and really like doing it or could I presume that the guy was INFP too?
    beside that: great blog!!!!


    Corin Reply:

    It’s not so much an INFP thing as it is an N and P thing. I find N’s usually less linear than S’s. I find it non-linear conversations easier with P’s because J’s usually have a point where for P’s, the conversation is the point.


    Yvonne Reply:

    Very well put! I’m dating an INTJ as well. I agree that INTJs and INFPs could be a good match but one thing I get very frustrated with is that, like you said, they always “need to make a point”. There have been many times that I have been excited to share something that I had experienced and everytime i attempted to share the story, he always said that I wasn’t sharing ALL the facts and would continually stop me throughout my sharing to ask questions. This has always bothered me because I’m just excited to share my experience. As I reexperience it while sharing, he interrupts the experience with his necessary questions that are necessary for him to ask in order to form his understanding. Slowly, my excitement fades throughout this process. I always ask him to listen and save any questions I may not have answered for the end but he’s not capable of remembering and it’s difficult for him to best process and understand that way. WHAT TO DO?


    Dmd Reply:

    I’m dating an INTJ as well and know exactly what you mean! The worst is when he asks me something, I start to answer and he interrupts me, mad, because he thinks I’m not answering the question. My brain doesn’t see things as so linear and he’s trying to get better at waiting til I’m through before assuming that I’m not answering. He does similar things with stories, too, and he’ll even accuse me of not being totally honest just because I didn’t specify the whole timeline from the start or something.
    Anyway, I know what you mean and would love to know how your INFP-INTJ relationship works out.
    I love mine, we connect on a very deep level, but the surface level communication is where we’re really falling apart.

    dev Reply:

    I personally find INTP’s are great- I am married to one but my whole life I’ve attracted and been attracted to INTP men. The best relationships I’ve been with have been INTP men (probably because my ideal guy growing up was my highschool sweetheart who happened to be the mould from which INTPness comes from). Their Thinking aspect really helps articulate the wonderful ideas that come and go- they will think out the steps of abstract thought and add to the rich playing field of ideas without hesitation. My husband never questions my line of thinking, though he also doesn’t assume I’m right- he just “gets” it and crystallizes them with concision.

    I once dated an ENTJ without knowing it: big warning here, that dominate personality will crush your tendering, loving soul and turn you into a cynical, withered, INFP who hides in the closet. I should have known he was the wrong one, as my mom is an ENTJ and growing up with her was like being stuck with an evil genius with a penchant for sadistic torture. In my opinion, avoid the ENTJ, ESTJ types- those guys are the most likely to be sadistic with INTJ’s coming in a near third and ISTJ’s dabbling in mind-games now and again. It’s like they can’t help it- they see us as mentally weak and inferior because we can’t “explain” our train of thought and they get frustrated and act out accordingly…or maybe I am just really annoying to talk to? Idk…

    My sister is an INTJ and while she is not power hungry like my Napoleonic mother she has got a real sharp streak on her that she will use to dice up the dreamy wonderland we NFP’s live in.

    (my brother and dad are ENFP’s and I’m the INFP. As a kid I was always mediating the arguments between my ENFP dad and my crazy, evil ENTJ mother).

    J’s are just bad news IMO. Yes, they are a naturally occurring and necessary evil to balance out and materialize the every day commons of life…. but they are a soul-killer if you want to ideate and dream.

    Elyrusa Reply:

    I’m an INFP. My husband is an ENTJ and he’s nearly perfect for me! They’re not all bad:) I feel like the entj works well with me because I need someone extroverted to handle social situations for me and to be more talkative (because I’m kind of awkward and not talkative). Also he is intuitive, and typically understands the way I feel about things when I explain why I feel a certain way. Plus he gets vibes about people and things and he’s usually right. Also, when I’m stuck in a rut, his thinking and judging mind helps me come up with logical, concrete ways to fix issues I’m having. He is grounding and I appreciate that. Plus he’s a leader and naturally has great ideas. He is affectionate and extremely loyal and honest. He isn’t very romantic with his words as much as I’d like, but his actions show he loves me and that’s really important to me. Cause a person can be poetic and lovey dovey with their words of affirmation, but also act like a damn selfish idiot. He’s not selfish or an idiot. My main point is that not all entjs are evil, and my husband is proof:)

    Katie Reply:

    I relate to Dev, above. My first love (pre-K!) was an INTP, and I’m very happily married to one now. I made the mistake of marrying an ISXJ first. Oh my LORD what a missmatch!!

    My INTP husband gets me. We spend an inordinate amount of time wandering around in our heads laughing. We both speak the same language. He finds my funks cute, whereas they nearly drove my poor ISXJ ex- husband to voluntary admission to the funny farm.

    Life is good with an INTP. Yes, we need a nanny, accountant, social advisor and/or secretary. But we manage to survive AND thrive! 🖒


  7. Rétromantique

    Jul 26, 2010

    11:42 am

    I believe this is common to all INs (Introverted Intuitive) types, not only INFPs (like Corin says). I’m an INTJ and what’s going on in my head for thought process is pretty much the same.

    1) Introversion makes one keep things inside, not expressing them, which explains why the communication is harder and that the person won’t express point B-C.
    2) Intuition makes one’s thoughts more abstract than Sensing types. Therefore, they make links in their thoughts which are very “fluid”, if I can say.

    The Feeling aspect only affects the nature of the thoughts the person process. I am not a 100% sure of Corin’s point with P vs J affecting this really, although I agree that ” J’s usually have a point where for P’s, the conversation is the point.”

    That is my “Rational Mastermind” two-cents 🙂


  8. L.A.

    Oct 1, 2010

    11:52 pm

    I’ve always wondered why I do that but most people I interact with don’t… Jumping around from topic to topic in conversations with others, or begining an explanation of some procedure or process or task at work by exlaining the reasons for the steps and the possible consequences of doing the thing differently that I’ll eventually get around to providing unless I forget… I’ve been told that I have a very circular way of thinking and that if I can’t think in a more linear fashion, that certain individuals will simply stop listening to me, and then realizing later, sometimes weeks later, that I never finished a particular sentence and the person I was talking to therefore probably got a very twisted — but possibly quite entertaining — picture…


    darling Reply:

    i think the circular thinking happens because INFPs are info gatherers and become overwhelmed with the overload of the information.

    On top of that, the information is unconsciously gathered to feed our internal fantasies, which gets us lost in our expressions when we try to relate the info to the real world.


  9. BoPeep

    Dec 19, 2010

    8:33 am

    My husband is an N like me but my form of conversation drives him crazy. The best I can relate it to is if my final picture is a flock of sheep, in order to create that picture I have to herd all those escaping sheep into view, one or two at a time, positioning each one in relation to the other ones. Will you get to the point is my husband’s most frequent comment before he starts pacing! It all seems very logical to meeee .. Lol


  10. chex

    Feb 6, 2011

    8:48 pm

    When I have a conversation with someone, I find that points B and C are too obvious to speak out to someone. As if that person I’m talking to knows about B and C already so I just skip all the way to D. By doing this, I cause some confusion for others because I’m not explaining enough to them. I want to stop thinking inside my head and express what I think verbally instead of internally. Is there anyway to practice how to do this?


    Corin Reply:

    I think writing is one of the better ways to practice verbalizing what’s in our heads. I have a zillion thoughts in my head. Some of it is just random bits. But when I write thoughts down, especially for the purpose of communicating those thoughts to others, it forces to to be linear, to write in a way that makes sense outside my head.

    Consider keeping a blog. Write for the purpose of communication, not expression. Expression is when you leave it to others to interpret. Communication is when you take the responsibility to make sure the others understand your point.

    Eventually with enough practice with written communication, your verbal communication will follow suit.


    SingingBird Reply:

    Hello Corin. Have been browsing your site and so helpful, I’m a very happy to be solitary INFP but with a value drive that has taken me to senior level in public organisation, lots of influencing and communicating to do. Problem is I prefer invisibility, but have to function in arena of Board meetings etc where being articulate is very difficult and painful, and exhausting!! As above I can’t assemble and communicate clear thoughts, feel very exposed by this….your comments so helpful


    Colleen Reply:

    Hello SingingBird! Your response could have been written by me. I just retired as a senior school administrator and Deputy Superintendent of school district that served 10,000 high school students a year. My career required I occupy a position on the Board and present at California State and National conferences. All I truly wanted was to be invisible. I did not choose my career. Like you, my values and integrety lifted me to a place were my career seemed to have a life of its own. My health suffered as a result. Please take care of yourself. Even with due diligence, I did not succeed. Much of my failure to do so was a result of my INFP temperament. How could I not help someone or not make myself available to kids or projects that would benefit them? It is a tough balance to find. Good luck and God Speed.

    Corin Reply:

    Going from written communication to being better at verbal communication is challenging but gets better with practice. I started in web design in 1998 so it was constant client contact. It was especially difficult when the client and I disagreed over the direction of the design work where I thought the changes over the design would conflict with their goals with the audience. So before I would talk to them I would write down my talking points on note cards before I met with them.

    For me, there’s two parts to verbal communication. Being comfortable with speaking and focusing on what I have to communicate. Being comfortable got easier as I became more social in my personal life and learning to be at ease talking to people. As for what I was communicating, if it was to clients, I prepped what I was going to say the night before and used note cards. Otherwise, I used email as much as I could because I was much clearer in writing.

    Dmd Reply:

    I know what you mean. Sometimes I feel like it’s an insult to someone else’s intelligence to spell things out in such an average way. But, at the same time, I usually feel disappointed with people when they don’t jump straight from A to D with me, and then they get confused, and I’m left thinking in my own head again.


    SingingBird Reply:

    Hello all, very moved to get your comments. Thank you Colleen for sharing your experience. I think it’s unusual for INFPs to reach senior leadership positions, Es I imagine just thrive having a platform/audience and opportunity to transmit thoughts. My thoughts as you all say just aren’t linear and don’t fit expected patterns at all, so seems I just leave people feeling/looking puzzled!! There’s a definite style of Board speak but my brain resists this as not authentic for me. Perhaps just notmy environment but Corin going to take time out using your goal setting to think about this….
    Ordering thoughts to speak makes rational sense but the physical experience of speaking to large groups is exhausting. Thanks for your very generous thoughts


  11. Colleen

    May 11, 2011

    4:17 pm

    You made me smile! My thoughts flow like water but they can be organized. My father was an engineer. My husband is a scientist. I am a teacher. I think you understand my challenge.

    When speaking to another INFP, and I am, I don’t have to insert b and c. I know that you fully understand the issues without the detail.

    So how did I meet the challenge, by imagining a vessel or structure for my thoughts, a check list of sorts for my linear-sequencial thinking love ones and students. Corin is correct writing helps so does reading. When we see how others structure communication for the masses, it helps to create a pattern for our own communications.


  12. Allison

    Jun 9, 2011

    2:17 pm

    This was so totally helpful for me. And it made me laugh. Now I have a better understanding of what my husband must see from his side of the conversation. I’ll have to be a little more understanding when he acts as if my thoughts aren’t connected to each other. 😉


  13. dana

    Dec 1, 2011

    2:17 pm

    Love your article…..so true about the way we think….how it’s all connected like a spider web. I recently experienced a very short relationship with a person that ended abrubtly because of our communication styles. The person would not give me a chance to explain where I was coming from with my feelings. I think they could possibly be an ESTJ or ENTJ. I wanted to meet and explain myself, but they would not give me a chance. This really hurt because I like to be understood and maintain harmony, if possible, with others. Oh well….


  14. Rodger

    Jun 29, 2012

    10:24 pm

    I am an INFP and totally relate to the comments on this page. In regards to writing I used to find it difficult writing in a linear fashion because my thoughts are very non-linear. Eventually I learnt to work with my thinking style by first capturing my thoughts and then reorganising them into a linear presentation. Once I learnt to do this I found I could write faster and capture more depth in my writing.


  15. Julia B

    Aug 4, 2012

    6:59 am

    Love this post. I usually have to “ideate” out loud to understand what I really think about something even after I’ve had a pretty strong internal reaction. My husband, an INTP, takes this to mean that I’m an extrovert. But I don’t think out loud with everyone else, just him. INTs are great at getting to the heart of an issue pretty quickly. I like your statement:
    “INFPs are great at understanding themselves, but not so great at understanding themselves in relation to another person.”


  16. Optimouse

    Nov 18, 2012

    5:51 pm

    I remember even 10 years ago before knowing anything about MBTI, when falling into this I called it jokingly the html phenomenon, even before one can get this today by reading a wikipedia article and jump from link to link to something entirely different after half an hour 🙂

    It really was and really is dominating my process of thought and unfortunately it’s even a plague when I am writing my thoughts in a blog (maybe because I also am too hasty writing and publishing there too) and they tend to be much bigger and more confusing than I ever wanted. I need to correct this if I want to pass my ideas lightly.

    Anyway, a fun thing is that fairly recently, I develop that skill, when I fall into this, after say 8 subject jumps, I pause and wonder how the hell did I got here. And then slowly slowly I follow my logic in a backwards fashion (what was the 7th subject that made 8th jump, what was the 6th that made 7th, etc) and feels great when I reach the root (it’s mostly like a game :). Sometimes, that subject jumping happens even in conversation with 2-3 people where we one remembers something irrelevant from something the other said, and then he says “You interrupted me and I forgot what I wanted to say” but somehow I’ve learned to go back in time and deduce where the conversation started and I can remind him. Kinda useful skill 🙂

    Something irrelevant, besides all other stuff, I get this thing of talking excessively with myself alone or when I am walking in the city. It’s weird, I know but I am wondering how/if it is connected with INFP or NF or anything? I think, I am doing this because there is a process where I want to express the things that matter back to me so that I can feel them better. Maybe I listen to the passion of my words, my emotional stance, maybe I am not confident about them, but it’s a process of trying to hear loudly and feel strongly my thoughts (and not my need to find more friends as people have assume). So, do you or any INFP talk to yourself alone and what do you think about that?


    cheryl Reply:

    yes i do find myself talking to myself. it does not really bother me. ive even done it in the supermarket if im deep in thought about something that im trying to figure out. its ok.


  17. Samantha

    Nov 15, 2013

    2:54 pm

    Well, I talk to myself excessively a lot, mostly about how I feel about stuff, because when I am with others, I am always talking about what I think about stuff and blurting out “well..its probably more this, because..blah blah” explanations which leaves me wondering if I am an INF or INT. I tested as an INFJ, IEI, level 4 thing.. I am not sure if INFJ is my true label, because I am not totally empathetic all the time, though I do tend to read people and have a lot of intuitive feelings. I definitely have a lot of feelings, but I’m not entirely sure if they come across as introverted or extroverted feelings. I analyze everything and when I excessively analyze in front of people, I am aware that I am annoying to others and I start to annoy myself. I give people advice based on my perspective that “you can do this, that or that, but it might be better if you do this”. I go on big monologue trips when talking about deep thoughts and feelings to someone, and I feel like maybe my thoughts are all over the place when I do. I have a lot of thoughts in my head, and it seems like I have 3 different thoughts going on at once some times with background music as the cherry on top, which is pretty overwhelming a lot of the time. I feel totally disconnected with my body when out in public and even when alone sometimes. I just want to know what my type is, haha, because I am researching and obsessing and I feel like I need the closure to put a label on my ridiculous thought process and analyzing and outer body experiences


  18. TK

    Nov 22, 2013

    4:01 pm

    I’m an INFJ in a relationship with an INFP. Understanding our differences via MBTI and cognitive functions has helped a lot invarious ways over time, but I’m currently a little stuck in relation to the INFP introverted feeling function.

    I came to this article in large part because I’ve been thinking about INFP introverted feeling dominance as yielding a language I don’t organically speak and may need to translate somehow. I don’t see a direct connection to this in the article but wonder if there is some connection, or if not if you and/or any visitors might be willing to shed some light here.

    So here’s a recent example of INFP communication, from my outside perspective and experience (note: I’m selecting specifically the parts of this communication that I’m struggling with):


    INFP: Our mail carrier doesn’t pick up our mail some days. I’ve been tracking this for months. He’s not doing his job! I can’t stand it when people don’t do their jobs! I can’t trust the mail delivery here. And I’m going to put in an official complaint.

    Me (INFJ): But is it actually the carrier’s job to pick up the mail when we have no mail? Our box isn’t at the curb and it’s extra time to come down to the front door, maybe he doesn’t have to.

    INFP: Look, the post office is supposed to deliver and pick up our mail. That’s what the post office DOES. And in my past experience (different house/area of the city), they have always picked up non-curbside mail. This guy is not doing his job. Someone needs to complain because he is not doing his job! And I can’t use this address for my mail, I don’t even know if it will get delivered the day it comes in.

    Me (INFJ): I don’t think lack of pickup on certain days means that the delivery will necessarily be compromised. I haven’t had any problems with my own mail getting to me when I expect it to get to me.

    INFP: [tries to find an example of me not getting my mail on time, but there is no such example]

    {Interlude. The next day, I call our local post office and am told that it is their policy that carriers don’t go to non-curbside boxes if there is no mail to deliver. I ask for documentation, they say they’ll get back to me. I tell this to my INFP}

    INFP: See, that’s just what I told you, they’re not doing their job! The post office exists to deliver and pick up mail.

    Me (INFJ): [Confused because yesterday INFP seemed convinced it was the *carrier* not doing his job but the information is that he is doing his job as given to him]: But what you thought was happening isn’t happening, it’s not the carrier.

    INFP: No, this is what I thought was happening, they’re not doing their job! It is the post office’s job to deliver and pick up mail.

    Me (INFJ): Well, I don’t know that mail delivery to non-curbside boxes really is part of their job, the legislative mandate for the post office seems pretty vague and I don’t know what exactly they are required to do. You’re using your own value system to say what their job should be, but I don’t know what it actually is.

    INFP: [Visibly irritated, starts talking about how they are a business and she isn’t going to give them her business because they are not doing their job – and what that job entails is not a value or opinion but is “a simple fact”]

    {Interlude. I continued seeking information. As it turns out, my own digging yielded some evidence that, to my own direct perception, suggesting that something is messed-up/wrong in whatever is going on with the post office. But I still don’t know what, exactly the root or source of the problem is.}

    Brought the information up to the INFP. She said that she knows the post office is a messed-up entity and she really doesn’t care what, specifically is wrong, or what level it’s at, she just knows something is wrong. She said her focus in that is on how it affects her personally.

    And, she said, she certainly wasn’t wrong in her first assessment. The carrier isn’t doing his job. And it is a simple fact, not a value or opinion, that the post office’s job is to pickup the mail at our place every mail day.

    (At which point I want to tear my hair out in large messy clumps)


    So I’m playing with the idea that it might be useful for me to take her values-statements not in terms of accuracy of description of what is actually happening, but rather as a sort of language she uses to express “something is wrong here.”

    I’m also wondering if by focusing so much on the specific claims of her values- and past-experience-driven statements about reality and “facts,” I’m getting distracted from the part of the communication I can engage without questioning her accuracy.

    Overall, I’m wondering if I can find a way to usefully hear/translate this kind of communication that doesn’t require me to sacrifice my own interest in accuracy but also doesn’t irritate me the way the above exchange has done.

    I would appreciate any insights you or others have to offer.


    Sarah Reply:

    I followed this perfectly as an INFP. 🙂 Basically your INFP is upset because the mail should be delivered/picked up each day. The idea that it is not happening shows the post office isn’t doing their job (daily mail deliver/pickup) She is worried that when an important mail deliver/pickup needs to occur that it might not happen because the post office carrier/office isn’t doing their job correctly.

    Oh good grief – I am having the same problem as your INFP. Case Point: She worries about post office not doing their job correctly and important items can be lost/misplaced.


    dev Reply:

    OMG, laughed so hard- this is like the *EXACT* rant I had about the USPS system last week. I mean, the words and reasoning your wife used were the exact same things I said to my husband. I was livid- I can only relate too well (this also happens to me at restaurants or when other similar services aren’t being conducted properly).

    Unlike you, however, my INTP husband didn’t focus on specifics or try to suss out the logic of my INFP postal complaints. He has long realized that doing so will only provoke the rage that is the shattering stain glass of my INFP ideals. He listens to me, agrees and then asks me what I am going to practically do about it. If I can’t do anything about it he might offer some fix it solutions, but usually the best thing he does is just comiserate.

    INFP Me: OMG! USPS wait lines are over 1 hour long but they only have one person at the counter- this is absolute bullshit! What the hell am I paying tax money for if my own postal system won’t offer me the service I need and I use my whole lunch up etc etc etc Where the heck is all the money going to the USPS if they aren’t hiring the right amount of staff [more related anti-USPS rants]??!

    INTP husband: That really sucks, I’m sorry you spent all day in line….[long pause so I can see he is taking me seriously. He begins to do a Google search]…I found some articles about how the USPS is being reviewed by such and such Congressional board for blah blah…[begins to delve into a conspiracy-like theory about how the government is awful and that somehow ties to USPS being inefficient and poorly managed etc.]

    INFP: [at this point I am somewhat calmed down, having been entertained and distracted by his theory about UPS corruption and I begin to breathe and realize what I’m really upset about is the fact that I’m a) hungry and b) angry that I didn’t get to spend my lunch knitting and c) I’m scared that if I fall behind in my knitting the house will get cluttered with my knitting projects and if this happens then d) I begin to feel crazy like I’m a failure and this is why I hate the USPS because they stole 1 hour of my life that was going to be used to prevent me from being a knitting-hoarding-failure. Damn them. I begin to cry about being a knitting failure hoarder, my INTP husband rushes to my side, comforts me and tells me it’s okay if I don’t complete my projects as long as I am happy and he is going to UPS tomorrow and will drop off whatever it is I need for me).

    The End…

    so to conclude- your INFP wife is deeply upset about something else- whether that’s the crushing blow to whatever dream she had about how going to the USPS store should be roses n’ peaches or some other weird, creeping anxiety taking hold in the back of her subconscious.

    It all relates in her dreamy maxtrix- don’t challenge it, just go with the flow and it will unravel to the deeper issue with time.


  19. Sarah

    Dec 5, 2013

    12:22 pm

    I do this all the time and it’s a major problem hen I write essays for school. Without an outline my papers are all over the place I’ll be typing about one topic and all the sudden my head tells me that this topic relates to a totally different topic. I also do it while holding a conversation but usually I jump then work backwards to how I got that conclusion but usually by then the person I am talking to is super confused and I end up apologizing for my randomness.


  20. Bre

    Jan 29, 2015

    9:26 pm

    This is funny- I just recently found out I’m an INFP, and it’s a relief, actually, to fit into some kind of category for a change. I never have before.
    I don’t know my SO’s personality type yet, the conversation with him is almost opposite of what is described here. He digresses and wants to go into too much detail about the point he is trying to make, but my INFP mind has already leaped ahead to the point. It results in a mannerism I am trying to overcome, rotating my hand forward repeatedly and rudely in the “get to the point” gesture. I’m working on it!


  21. Lisa

    Jun 2, 2015

    3:08 am

    Brilliant! I will SO slow things down for others… and sometimes for myself when I am wondering why I am ‘choked’ about something… this is such GREAT insight! Thank you!

    Often when I begin talking in response to what someone else has said, I let them know that my story does relate to something they just said, even though as I begin, it doesn’t sound like it does. It will relate if they can just hang on through the ‘intro’…helps others realize I did really hear what they just said, and I am ‘in’ the same conversation still… not jaunting into something completely off topic.


  22. shambhavi

    Jun 22, 2015

    10:42 am

    i m shambhavi, 17 yr plc girl.. i m INFP , aqarius and on top of that left handed
    . so i m like the rarest of rare… i feel really lonely and sad becouse i have no best friend and no one understands me…no guy is interested in me.. my life totally sucks


    Colleen Reply:

    Shambhavi, rejoice in your uniqueness. However, if you utilize characteristics inherent in being an INFP, you will build strong and durable relationships. Everybody wants someone in their life that is a empathetic listener who truly understands the way they feel. My challenge has always been to be selective about the number and quality of my friendships and relationships. As an introvert, I need down time to regenerate my personal energy and as an empathic individual, I needed to learn how to separate other’s feelings from my own. I sympathize that you do not feel understood; unless you have another INFP in your life, you will probably continue to feel that separation from other people but your life does not need to “suck” or be lonely. Just be careful to select people to share your life that contribute good things and treat you well. You do not need to be understood to loved, appreciated, and treasured.


  23. dev

    Jul 30, 2015

    1:27 am

    agh. i wish i had seen this years ago. my poor husband have been spared hours of staying up with me trying to figure out why my INFP self was so flustered about seemingly, stupid little things….



  24. Ninad Pathak

    Oct 22, 2015

    12:11 am

    Holy crap! This was hilarious!! I couldn’t stop laughing while reading this post! It is so like me/us/infps?
    Wow! Not sure if this is common for all INFPs or not (never tried writing), but your writing style is so … idk awesome? not the right word.. Splendid? idk .. You fill the blanks here with whichever word you love the most! 😀

    I’m a dedicated fan now XD


  25. aninditya

    Jan 7, 2017

    8:46 pm

    Thanks for your every post in blog. It help me in some ways. Not many article that really easy to be understood by me. Oh, sorry if my english so poor.


  26. Tan

    Sep 9, 2017

    12:10 am

    Reading this breakdown will definitely save my life when it comes to relationship hahaha


  27. Rachel

    Sep 2, 2018

    12:38 pm

    I really love this. I am not a talker. To me I assume everyone knows points b and c and to state them would be stating the obvious. But usually this is not true. I just don’t like talking!! Lol


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