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Discussion Starter #1
This is a report tailored to me, though it might provide insight to INFPs...

Your most likely preferred style, based on your responses to the questionnaire, is refered to as the Idealist.

The following section describes the meaning and implications of this style in detail under the following headings:

1. A brief summary of your preferences
2. Why do you work?
3. What kind of work do you want?
4. What is your style of working?
5. Who do you want to work with?
6. How might others see you?
7. Your main assets
8. Areas to consider developing
9. Career ideas to explore

As you read the report, make a note of what you agree with and where you disagree. Where you disagree it may
be because your answers were not reflecting your real style and motivation or it may be that it has
over-generalised from what is true of most people but which does not apply to you. Remember that the report is to
stimulate your thinking rather than to limit your choices.

1. A brief summary of your preferences

You have indicated a preference for the Idealist style. This style is one that attempts to integrate all aspects of life - work, home and leisure. Idealists are uncomfortable with boundaries and react against being 'one person at work and another at home.' They see such incongruence as a form of dishonesty. Idealists need to feel personally committed to whatever they do and are constantly trying to find a fit with their deeper beliefs and values. To them, a job should be a calling and when it is not they feel they are wasting their time. To the outside world they can appear to be gentle and gracious which tougher types interpret as compliant or even bland. However, underneath there is often an intensely felt idealism and drive - associated with an eternal quest for realising their inner ideals. They care deeply about people and issues although they may not express these very often. When engaged with a cause they make enormous sacrifices, take a strong campaigning stand and often show creativity in promoting and achieving their ideals.

2. Why do you work?

The purpose of work

Idealists enjoy being thoroughly engaged with their work. It has to have purpose and meaning which aligns with their deeper beliefs and values. A job is never just as a job. They seek reasons to justify their time and
commitment. If they do not achieve this they only give a fraction of what an Idealist has to offer. This may not be a problem since their level of skill and talent may mean that they can make a valuable contribution even without being fully committed or enthusiastic. However, in the longer term, it may mean that there will not be enough intrinsic satisfaction to keep them motivated. Idealists seem at their best in situations where there is real purpose and benefit and where there is a strong bond between the people involved. At their 'career best' they live and breathe their work, their projects or their causes with passion and commitment. This is not to say that such deep feelings are always obvious to others - in fact Idealists have a reluctance of being too public, demonstrative or expressive. This is why outsiders are prone to misjudge them, fail to understand their reasons, purpose and commitment and then be caught totally off-guard by sudden expressions of passion and commitment.

In summary
• To enable the expression of strong personal beliefs and values
• To bring benefits, to serve a 'greater good'
• To feel their passions and beliefs are engaged
• To be consistent and integrated at work and elsewhere.

The work environment

Tough, abrasive and thrusting cultures are not for Idealists. They enjoy working where people are given quiet respect and where contributions are sought and encouraged. They dislike the idea of confidence, loudness and competitiveness being the measure of which contributions are heard and recognised. They prefer an environment where support and consideration is given and where people are given time to reflect and express what is most important and meaningful to them. They also want an environment where they can do things at their own pace and in their own style and this applies to both work and to interacting with others. This sometimes makes them difficult to manage - especially when part of a large team where many interdependent tasks require careful co-ordination. However, it must be borne in mind that an Idealist's need for independence co-exists with an equally strong preference for co-operation and working in harmony. This can make an Idealist complex to understand - especially as they are not always the most expressive of types. For these reasons, people can be quite surprised to see an Idealist tolerating or even enjoying certain kinds of job to which they don't seem suited.

For example, they sometimes tolerate an environment where there are strict rules and procedures simply
because they like the people involved and recognise the need to fit in with the structure to maintain harmony. In such situations you often find that the Idealist's commitment and persistence is because the role rewards them at a deeper level - perhaps because they feel they are contributing to something of great value.

In summary
• Provide a supportive environment with positive relationships
• Create a 'personal' atmosphere
• Allow time and space to contribute in their own, individual way.

3. What kind of work do you want?

Types of activity
Idealists need a job that allows them to believe they are fulfilling something important. They want freedom to put their own personal stamp on things - especially if it can involve their imagination and vision. They enjoy introducing new or creative ideas although they may not want to do this in a high profile way. Idealists have an automatic bent towards complexity and subtlety which makes them avoid jobs where there is too much emphasis on the concrete, immediate details or where the environment is too impersonal. For this reason they are less often found in areas such as science and engineering unless they can bring in some real personal value and meaning to what they do. They are also less likely to choose the cut and thrust of the business and sales world.
Idealists more often choose socially oriented work, or work where there is concern for human development -
particularly through one-to-one relationships. They also like a job where they have a chance to withdraw, reflect and re-engage. This means that jobs where there is great pressure driven by external demands - such as continually reacting to phone calls, customers, staff or other circumstances where they need to be responsive and reactive - can eventually become quite a strain.

In summary
• Opportunities for creativity and self-expression rather than following systems and procedures
• Concepts and complexity rather than facts and simplicity
• Opportunities for initiative, flexibility and intuition
• Time for independent reflection rather than group thinking
• Contributing to socially meaningful ends rather than purely commercial goals
• Opportunities for self initiation rather than reacting to others.

Types of contribution

Idealists bring ideas, vision and values to their work. They strongly resist people's tendency to simplify - which they often see as a tendency towards oversimplification and superficiality. If you want people to pause, reflect and see the bigger picture, an Idealist will be there to champion your cause. Their ability to work with all the complexity of people and situations and to introduce meaning and purpose beyond the present activities and details earns them the title "the world's natural philosophers" - but this can result in the criticism of being too abstract or woolly. However, this illustrates how Idealists are most suited to roles involving abstract concepts,creativity and purpose rather than action, detail and delivery.

In summary
• Seeing beyond the present and providing a vision, purpose or philosophy
• Recognising the full complexity and subtlety of people and situations
• Adapting, changing, reframing and making connections and patterns.

4. What is your style of working?

Managing time

Idealists are happiest when they manage their own time in their own way. They tend to dislike too much structure and thrive on being responsive and adaptable. A consequence is that they are not usually keen on planning ahead. Together with the fact that practicality is not their driving force means that they can sometimes appear disorganised. They tend to have many things on the go at once which, when they are effective means that they get a lot done, but they are in danger of splintering their effort and starting too many projects at once.

In summary
• Prefer to manage their own time and work at their own pace
• Prefer broad guidelines and loose anticipation to detailed forward planning
• Remain flexible and adapt schedules to changing demands
• Can multi-task and enjoy having several activities on the go.

Getting results

Normally, an Idealist will want greater opportunity for personal reflection than most and this can make them seemless action oriented than some types. They prefer to focus on long-term vision than on short-term results, which means that they can approach matters more strategically than many of their more activist colleagues - but only when they are deeply engaged and focussed. When this happens they can be extraordinarily effective at getting results. However, they are always in danger of drifting off on another tack, losing focus and leaving lots of unfinished projects behind them.

In summary
• Want time to reflect before taking decisions and leaping into action
• Focus on the long term goals rather than the immediate deliverable - but can show an extraordinary delivery focus, working all hours, when deeply committed to a project
• Initiate rather than finalise - which can leave projects unfinished.

Managing change

Idealists are continually questioning the status quo. This may not always be apparent since they are prone to doing this inside their own head and do not necessarily make it public. However, this means that Idealists can be a great asset - both in terms of generating carefully thought through ideas for change and in terms of supporting people in the change process. However, this pre-supposes that they believe in the changes themselves and this is most likely where they have been consulted and given the opportunity to make their own contribution to the process. When this does not happen they are likely to remain disengaged and on the periphery - an outsider looking in.

In summary
• Enjoy the idea of change and constantly questioning the status quo
• Consider the personal impact of change and help others to understand what is happening and why it is
• Do not always engage with change and become 'outsiders looking in'.

5. Who do you want to work with?

Interaction needs

Idealists seek environments where people matter. They need a supportive climate and usually have a strong
dislike of impersonal, thrusting and abrasive cultures. It is also very important for them to get the right balance of people contact and working alone. It is not sociability that attracts them as much as feeling that they have personal and meaningful contact with others. However, they can enjoy a noisy and social workplace as long as they don't feel pressured to join in and that they get the chance to withdraw and reflect. The underlying issue is always their need to feel a connection with people. They seek harmonious relationships and, when this happens, they contribute fully and remain motivated. If these conditions are not met they can be moody, distant and unable to give of their best.

In summary
• A personal environment where people matter
• People who are warm, patient and supportive
• Strong orientation towards creating positive and harmonious relationships
• People who share their deep seated values - can find it hard to get on with people who have different values
• Close, meaningful or intimate contact.

Relationship style

People tend to see Idealists as quiet, thoughtful and considerate. They are not the most socially exuberant or expressive but this must not be mistaken for a lack of interest in people. Most Idealists are very keen to have positive relationships with others but this generally means developing closer and more intimate contact. They like to have the time to get to know people well and can be very dismissive of small talk and superficiality. This means that they like to get behind or beyond purely social interaction, which means that they can be good listeners with a keen interest in getting to know and understand people. On first meeting, an Idealist may come across as slightly distant and reserved but, once they connect with you, they are warm, patient and supportive often showing unusual perceptiveness and understanding. Those who take the time to get to know them and who share their fundamental values are likely to develop a deep friendship based on fierce loyalty and long-term commitment. However, Idealists are not the most expressive of types and this means that some people find them hard to get to know.

In summary
• Quiet, thoughtful and considerate - not prone to superficiality
• Can be reserved and distant at first - take time to get to know
• Not always explicit and expressive
• Show warmth, patience and support
• Listen carefully and often show perceptiveness and understanding.

6. How might others see you?

As a leader

Idealists do not generally thrust themselves into leadership positions. They see their role as enablers who will
help others rather than direct them. However, those that make it into leadership positions usually get there
because of their vision and inspiration. Their influencing style tends to be subtle and indirect which has the effect of facilitating rather than directing the process. An Idealist would be more likely than most to hear their followers quote Henry Miller who said "the real leader has no need to lead - he is content to point the way." They encourage people by appreciating what they have to offer and can be generous with praise as long as they don't forget to express it! People who follow Idealists do so because they identify with their strong value system and because they recognise their strong sense of honour and commitment - all of which builds trust and loyalty. Rather than working to create tight knitted co-operation, they encourage independent thought and action in a supportive climate.

In summary
• Subtle and indirect leading to a facilitative rather than directive style
• Inspire through vision, passion and commitment
• Encouraging and generous with praise - when they remember to express it
• Create independent followers who know the goal and have freedom to act.

As a manager

Leading comes more easily to an Idealist than does managing. Their flexible and inspirational style is combined with a dislike of systems and procedures. They may establish the goals but fail to monitor progress. They may generate ideas but fail to establish who needs to do what. Whilst this can work very well with independent and competent staff, it can also become a liability. Idealists are sometimes seen as a soft touch who will listen, help and support but who do not monitor and hold people to account.

In summary
• Manage with low supervision and high trust
• Make little use of systems and procedures
• Create the climate but do not monitor the activity
• Expect independence and commitment - sometimes seen as a soft touch.

As a decision-maker

Idealists make decisions on the basis of their own personal values. This can make them very committed to a
decision once it is made but they also have a tendency to leave things open and wait until things are clearer. This can lead to a degree of procrastination. They can also get the reputation for being overly subjective. This becomes less of a problem when they have learnt to differentiate between situations where the yardstick "how do I feel about this personally" is less relevant.

In summary
• Decisions based on personal values - objective evidence is of secondary importance
• Can be quick to decide when the issue fits their values easily
• Prefer to collect plenty of evidence and to reflect - which may make them prone to procrastinate over some

In resolving conflict

This can be the Idealist's "Achilles heel". Their desire for harmony makes them keen for people to sort out their differences. They will encourage and support people as much as they can. However, they are uncomfortable with direct confrontation. This means that one of their strategies can be to withdraw. This may make them feel better but it may do nothing to resolving the external issues. They need to beware that some circumstances require a more direct approach than is their usual style and they sometimes get the reputation of avoiding difficult issues and situations.

In summary
• Can be expert at managing conflict
• Use their understanding of issues from both sides to create common ground
• Motivated to find agreement and harmony
• Can avoid and withdraw from difficult situations.

7. Your main assets

At their best

Idealists are clear but flexible, willing to accept interruptions - but only from the right people. They can show a willingness to take initiative and to get things done as long as they can do it their way. The things they bring are:

In summary
• A deep sense of purpose and vision
• A desire to help others to realise and reach their potential
• A need to integrate people's work purpose and their personal values
• Innovative ideas and creative solutions
• Highlighting particular cause or the plight of others
• Inspiration for others to work towards a greater goal.

8. Areas to consider developing

At their worst

An Idealist's flexibility means that a schedule can be too easily overridden by the needs of the moment. They
can be procrastinators who fail to think ahead and who only do the things that please them. The things to
consider are:

In summary
• Learning to influence more effectively through greater expressiveness and sometimes with greater
• Learning to recognise the need to attend to the day-to-day details and to resist the tendency to avoid plans and structure
• Teaming up with a respected colleague who takes a more concrete and analytical approach and learning to
appreciate their value and contribution
• Choosing to get involved in certain more action oriented projects where it is appropriate to practice a more
immediate and decisive style.

9. Career ideas to explore

Idealists like to have their heart in their work. When they achieve this, the organisation will get the full benefit of their energy, creativity and facilitative style. Otherwise, it will be 'just a job' - which may be perfectly acceptable since their skill and talent may still make a valuable contribution. However, Idealists usually give of their best when:

The Role - allows the opportunity for self-expression, creativity and the chance to put their own stamp on what they do

The Environment - is flexible, allows independence and a chance to reflect

The People - are supportive, friendly and considerate

The work purpose - appeals to their deeper values and fits some 'higher purpose'.

More popular occupations
• Alternative Medicine
• Artists
• Counsellors or Psychologists
• Healthcare Professions
• Librarians and Archivists
• Psychiatry
• Religious Occupations
• Social Scientists
• Social Workers
• Teacher of self-expressive subjects
• Writers, Editors and Journalists

Less popular occupations
• Accountancy and Book-keeping and Administrative Roles
• Dentists
• Engineers
• Farmers
• Lawyers, Judges, Police
• Management
• Mechanics
• Transportation Workers

An examination of the above lists together with the descriptions earlier in this report can help an Idealist to
consider the extent to which their current job/role or future anticipated job/role fits their style and motivation. However, it is important to remember that there are always exceptions to the rule. Some Idealists are perfectly happy in roles that, on the face of it, would not be their preferred environment. Sometimes the fact that they are different from the other people around them is a motivation in itself. This report is intended to stimulate ideas rather than prescribe solutions. Where an Idealist has a sense of dissatisfaction or is looking for ideas to explore, the above can serve as a useful stimulus for change, a prompt to explore occupations not previously considered or to ask searching questions about what the appeal of a particular occupation might be.

1,603 Posts
Thanks for this. :happy: It helps me understand why I've disliked many of the jobs I've had up until now. I'm unemployed at the moment and wanting to make a career change so this info is helpful.
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MOTM Dec 2011
8,651 Posts
Fits me pretty well. :laughing:

My vehicle is INFP, 9w8. Vroom vroom!!
1,600 Posts
And I'm about to be a "Teacher of self-expressive subjects," a music teacher! I could not be a teacher of a subject where they hand me the curriculum I'm supposed to teach... That's the most stupid thing I've ever heard of. I need some freedom. The students need some freedom. Music is a worthwhile goal.
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