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It’s pretty obvious that not every workplace is a suitable environment for INFJs. There are jobs that just don’t fit and then there are toxic workplaces. But how do you know which situation you’re in? Here’s some INFJ triggers in a toxic workplace that may help you gather insight into your workplace environment.
My resume looks like you threw a dart at a word puzzle made of job titles.
Waitress, bartender, college student orientation leader, laser tag marshall, movie theater ticket taker, professional home organizer, stained glass maker, 911 dispatcher, construction material procurement…. and now a blogger?
What can I say? Jack of all trades. Master of none (yet).
I’m going to share some of my personal experiences from a mixture of these jobs.
I’m not trashing any bosses or ex-coworkers.
I’m honestly using some of the most petty examples and veiling them with shrouds of anonymaty so I don’t get run over with accusations about which job I was talking about. I even threw some fake scenarios in there just for the hell of it!
So, don’t assume and don’t come for me.
I’m just sharing my experiences and my feelings in hopes that a few of my INFJ friends can relate.
Gossip is part of any workplace.
Seriously, if you can find a workplace that isn’t teeming with gossip, let me know in the comments. I’ll apply today.
But just having gossip in the workplace doesn’t make it toxic….
It becomes toxic when gossip is the main topic of conversation and the actual work is treated like a hinderance.
You can tell when the gossip is out of control.
It’s when the building is abuzz with the whispers of the juiciest ‘co-worker news’ 24/7.
It’s when you walk up to the water cooler and someone says “Bet ya $5 that Bob has his stupid blue shoes on again!”
It’s when you walk into a room and everyone who was whispering stops talking and tries to look like they were busy.
It’s when your desk neighbor leans over and says ‘Did you hear about John? His wife is cheating on him…”
Listen, unless John’s wife brings her new Beau into the office and starts getting hot and heavy on my desk, I don’t need to know about John’s home life!.…..
I think you get what I’m talking about…. the toxicity of flapping gums and unfiltered, unwelcome opinions.
Why Gossip Bothers INFJs
Gossip is like that annoying top-hit pop song.
If you hear it enough, you’re gonna start singing along. Before you know it, you’re singing it with your friends… and then you always feel humiliated when someone hears you partaking.
My last job and my first job were the gossip-iest jobs on the face of the Earth! There was no avoiding it and yes, I got sucked in.
I’d join in while everyone chatted about Caroline who called in ‘sick’ but we all knew she went to a concert.
Once I left the little gossip circle and got into my own head, I would feel immediate remorse.
I was engaging in petty small-talk that was hurtful. Which was 100% against everything I stood for. I hate small-talk and I really hate hurting peoples’ feelings.
It also didn’t take long for me to realize that I wasn’t immune to being gossiped about. I knew that I had been the topic of conversation when I wasn’t around.
If someone is willing to talk about other people to you, then they will also talk about you to other people.
Nothing breaks team spirit, trust, confidence and morale more than hurtful rumors and gossip.
For many, many reasons, gossip bothers INFJs a little more than most.
Mostly because it’s shallow small-talk, but also because it’s just flat out wrong. We all know when something is wrong. It gives you an icky feeling in your tummy and makes you feel bad.
I think INFJs also hate gossip because it’s dehumanizing. I’ve been around some gossip that was so incredibly humiliating. Talking about someone’s botched boob job and how her kid looked like a potato with ears.
For heavens sake!
That’s a person you’re talking about. And they’re living a life that you know nothing about.
I’ve found myself jumping in to defend someone on multiple occasions… only to find that I then became the topic of discussion even more than before.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
The Blame Game
Accountability is absolutely required in any workplace.
Who does what, who is in charge of what…
It’s just a way to make sure that things don’t fall apart.
And I honestly think that most INFJs appreciate the need for accountability because it gives us a guide to work from and it gives us the ability to shine.
However, I’ve worked at a few places where the management team enjoys using accountability as a way to play the blame game without getting the full picture.
Say the policy is ‘Don’t let the phone ring more than 3 times without answering it’.
The business owner calls and it rings 5 times and your supervisor picks up.
The owner asks “Why did it take so long for someone to answer?” And your supervisor says “It’s Morgan’s job to answer phones today”.
Except there’s 5 other people on shift (including the supervisor) that were available to answer the phone…. and you were busy speaking with a customer about a concern.
Then you walk in to work the next day with an ugly e-mail from the owner. A company-wide memo re-iderating the policy about answering the phone and a note about an ‘incident’ that occurred when you were working…..
Did you feel that bus hit your head?
If management is paying attention, this kind of crap can get nipped in the bud before it becomes a real issue.
But it starts to get toxic if the blame game is allowed to continue.
It’s even worse when it is rewarded and people get promotions for doing shady crap, but I digress.
Why The Blame Game Bothers An INFJ
INFJs hate to be misunderstood. Hate. Hate. Hate.
So when someone is making you seem like a lazy, incompetent worker (when you’re not), it really lights a fire in an INFJ.
But, we also hate confrontation, so it’s an odd situation to be in.
You want to clear the air with the owner and let them know that you were busy with a client. However, you also don’t want to start a war with your supervisor!
In this case, the supervisor was being selfish.
Trying to not get into trouble with the boss and make you look bad. So now, you get bad vibes from your supervisor and begin to wonder when they’re going to throw you under the bus next.
INFJs are dedicated to team work and making sure that everyone feels valued.
So when you don’t feel like you’re a valued team member yourself, you feel cheated and unapprecitated.
Once an INFJ feels unappreciated at work, it’s all downhill from there.
The blame game also keeps you from getting clarity! If the owner knew you were with a client, would they prefer that you answer the phone anyways?
The blame game usually results in harsh, unnecessary criticism when a calm, constructive conversation would have sufficed.
A Sense Of Secrecy
While some sense of secrecy in business is expected (and necessary), there’s such thing as too much.
Sausage makers don’t want to publicize how the sausage is made….(there’s some ‘sausage’ being made in every business.)
But I’m not talking about the making of the sausage. I’m talking about the fact that there’s cockroaches in the sausage….
You know what I’m talking about. The secrets that could destroy a business if it was ever made public knowledge.
When I worked at the movie theater, it was no secret to the public that the ‘butter’ for the popcorn was not real butter.
But it was a secret that most of our food was usually expired, the hotdog machine only got cleaned monthly, and the kids party room was the ‘Rated R Staff Party Room’ (not gonna elaborate– just know it was gross).
When you work for a business that has tons of secrets, they remind you often to keep your mouth shut and mind your own business. And if you don’t, you don’t work there anymore.
Why A Sense Of Secrecy Bothers An INFJ
You wanna see something really awkward?
Tell an INFJ a secret, then stand them in front of someone who absolutely cannot know about the secret.
Within 5 minutes, they’ll have made so many awkward facial expressions and hand gestures. They’ll ask about their high school reunion 3 years ago and if they have any pets…
We’re pretty awkward social beings to begin with, but we’re even worse if we have to keep a secret.
So if you expect us to keep a secret from a customer, you’ll soon regret it.
“One of your reviews on Yelp said that they saw your cook take pizza dough out of the freezer, but your menu says you only serve fresh dough. What’s that about?”
“Oh… ya know. He actually went in to the freezer to get his pizza gloves. He always wears his pizza gloves when he makes pizza and he likes to keep them in the freezer….”
INFJs don’t like feeling like we’re lying to someone. It makes us feel like we’re dishonest and we’re cheating the customers out of their money.
Also, we’re bad at it.
It makes it hard for us to form a relationship with the customers. It’s not easy to be all ‘sunshine and rainbows’ when there’s skeletons in the closet.
Lack Of Discretion
It’s 9:05. Melanie was supposed to be at work by 8:45. She’s not there and hasn’t called.
Your supervisor is storming around the building saying “She’s so in trouble. I’m gonna let her have it when she gets here! She’s fired if she’s ever late again for any reason!”
Poor Melanie is on the side of 400 with a flat tire, a crying baby and a dead cell phone. She was on track to be early until life happened.
Melanie shows up (blatantly frazzled by her day already) and gets a tongue lashing from your supervisor.
You say “I’m so sorry he was acting like that. You didn’t deserve that”.
She looks at you through tears and says “Wait. How did you know I just got in trouble?”
*Picture Scooby Doo’s Voice* RUTT-ROOOOOE!
Your supervisor said something to you that should have only been discussed with Melanie behind closed doors.
It was none of your business…. and he made it your business somehow.
Why Lack of Discretion Bothers INFJs
It’s sorta along the same lines as the gossip.
It’s knowing things that aren’t yours to know… and knowing that other people may know stuff about you too.
Stuff that only HR or your supervisor should know, but somehow everyone hears about it.
You might even notice a lack of discretion when a customer calls and asks to speak to you, but a co-worker says “Oh, she went home because her mom and dad are getting divorced”.
Really?!?! Just say “She went home”!!!
We’ve all dealt with small slip ups in HR-related matters, but if it becomes a pattern and the management team is known for having loose lips, things can get toxic quick.
A supervisor talking with a trainer about a trainee’s progress is one thing.
A trainer telling their co-workers that the trainee isn’t “worth the energy to try to train” is another thing.
I’ve literally experienced this first hand… and the trainee was sitting right outside the door and heard it all.
I don’t think I have to explain why this would hurt an INFJ….
Bullying & Cliques
Workplace bulling is a real bitch.
If you’ve ever been the target of workplace bullying, I apologize from the bottom of my heart.
No one should ever have to endure any type of bullying.
But the worst part about bullying in the workplace is that you’re dealing with adults. Who should know better.
Putting an old tuna sandwich in the trainees locker on a Friday so they come back to an ugly surprise on Monday is just pure evil.
Honestly, that’s the only way I can describe bullying. Pure evil.
And don’t even get me started on cliques.
I’m not talking about the group that hangs out outside of work from time to time. I’m talking about the high school-like cliques.
‘Day Shift’ vs ‘Night Shift’….’OG Servers’ vs ‘Newbies’….. whatever. You know what I mean.
It’s almost like gangs… but at work.
One of em always gets deemed as lazy and stupid. The other is the brown-nosers and know-it-alls.
While it would seem nice to not be in a clique, it’s even worse to be the odd man out. You’re sorta vulnerable and open to both sides’ taunting when you’re not in a camp.
As much as an INFJ will try to avoid getting roped into the cliques, they’ll usually end up in the ‘know-it-all’ clique. Which sucks.
I’ve had management teams that were like family. Some that were even closer than family.
I’ve also worked for management that felt like an oppressive government regime.
Your every move is watched, your every word is over-heard and you can’t even fart without getting in trouble.
Formal write-ups, probation and public humiliation are routine.
As an adamant ‘rule-follower’ and people pleaser, I’ve always towed the line.
If I goof up, it was just that: a goof up.
I’m not blatantly trying to undermine your authority or disgrace you in any way.
I hate getting into trouble, so you can guarantee I will follow the guidelines to the best of my abilities.
But when there are 16 pages of policy about how to take a payment…. and 4 memo e-mails sent weekly revising said policy…… any normal human is bound to goof up.
And I definitely want to be told if there is anything I need to work on or maybe something I missed.
But if I put a piece of paper in the wrong folder once, there’s no reason for a written warning and a half-hour meeting with my supervisors…
Why Oppressing Management Bothers INFJs
INFJs do well with order, we do not do well with complete controlled restriction.
We’re pretty good catching on and learning how things work. But if you treat us like we’re 2 years old, we’re gonna lose patience.
We’re a creative, passionate bunch.
If you allow us to, we’ll help you create a productive work environment.
However, if you squash us down and make us feel like it’s your way or the highway, we’re done!
Also, a calmly worded reminder is usually enough to nudge us in the right direction if we’ve messed up.
If we feel like your office is home to the electric chair, you won’t ever find us crossing the threshold to offer any help whatsoever.
I think you all know what I’m talking about with this one.
James said your shift starts at 3. The schedule says to report in at 8. But Linda says you’re due in at 4…..
James says that the yellow slip goes in the top box. The policy says it goes on the shelf near the door. Linda says to shred it…..
Everyone does things things haphazardly and there’s no way of knowing what the hell is going on!
My mom used to use the phrase ‘there’s too many hands in the cookie jar’. I find that someone relevant here.
The rules are different for everyone and every circumstance.
“We’ll take last-minute holiday reservations for Madison, Fred, Jennifer and Thomas, but no one else……….. Unless they’re friends with the chef. (And you’re just supposed to know that).“
Dysfunctional communication in the workplace doesn’t mean a miscommunication. It means that the entire system of communication is broken.
Why Dysfunctional Communication Bothers INFJs
Dysfunctional communication is chaos.
Yes. No. Yes. No. Maybe.
While INFJs don’t do well with a controlling, restrictive rulebook, direction and guidelines are a must!
We need to know certain constants so we can feel confident with our interactions with co-workers and customers.
“We never give refunds for drinks if a customer drank more than half of it.”
“You have to sign your initials next to the time on your clock-in sheet.”
When INFJs work with dysfunctional communication, we feel confused, scattered and torn. Therefore distracting from the actual task at hand.
Businesses that have issues with communication usually struggle with organization as well.
Sticky notes everywhere, random keys that no one knows what they’re for, books of policy that all say different things…
The lack of communication and organization can wear an INFJ out fast. Therefore leading to INFJ burn out.
We’re not asking for color coded files, but it sure is nice if we can locate our business license within an hour or so if needed…
Have you ever had a job where the customers treat you like absolute garbage?
Me too. I think most people have.
When I was waitressing, I would have people talk to me like I was their own personal indentured servant.
And unfortunately, rude people are a part of any job. Unless you’re working a ‘back room’ job where you have zero interaction with the public.
However, I came to realize that it’s not the actual customer abuse that bothered me, it’s management’s response to the abuse.
My management team at my first waitressing job was amazing!
My bosses had a zero tolerance policy with crappy attitudes and I loved it! If a customer was rude, they would confront them and if it continued, they would be asked to leave.
My second waitressing job was not so supportive.
It was a large, popular chain in Downtown Atlanta and we had the worst of the worst customers. Rich, entitled and very condescending.
My boss’ response to an upset waiter was always “Just serve them food and get over it“.
Some of the waiters would let it roll of their back like it was no big deal, but it really upset me.
Customer abuse with no back-up will scare me off faster than anything else on this list.
Why Customer Abuse Bothers INFJs
As an INFJ, customer abuse hits so many of my triggers.
The injustice of people acting rude and getting away with it. The ugliness of these people thinking that they were better than me.
The lack of empathy…
I am only human. *Sorry I forgot your 3rd cup of Ranch, Karen!*
Not to mention the fact that we’re just sensitive.
We hate conflict and really hate being cut down by someone who doesn’t know us.
Without the personal power to step up and say “Don’t talk to me that way” or a management team that is willing to stand up, customer abuse can quickly become toxic.
If you don’t feel like your management team is willing to go the extra mile to make sure someone doesn’t abuse you, you’ll be less willing to go above and beyond for them.
Again, these are only my opinions based on my experiences.
So, I hope you can relate to my opinions, but I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you disagree!
Can An INFJ Survive In A Toxic Workplace?
If there’s gossip and your boss is a bit tyrannical, you can still make it.
If you have the occasional rude customer and the office communication is a bit wonky, you can still make it.
If you love your job and you have a passion for it, you can push through the some toxicity and still find a way to enjoy work.
However, you have to understand how much ‘toxic-ness’ you’re able to handle at work. Be aware of what’s going on at work and take note of it.(I’ve created a free worksheet at the bottom of this post to help you sort through it all, so make sure you get that!
Don’t just try to push through and pray that things get better.
At some point, it becomes self-inflicted torture.
But can you survive? Yes. If the job is worth your time and any anguish you may experience, then you can still make it!
Can an INFJ Thrive In A Toxic Workplace?
I’m gonna say no.
INFJs need to feel satisfaction from our careers.
That means feeling appreciated, valued, accomplished and a part of an overall positive change.
With that being said, most truly toxic workplaces don’t fill this need.
INFJs hold our values so insanely close to our heart. When those values are repeatedly broken, it creates a disconnect.
So if you were 100% dedicated and motivated to help grow the business you work for, but they continue to break your core values…. you stop seeing it as a company that you identify with.
Once the environment is no longer a harmonious, constructive place to be, most INFJs will start to look for the door.
I also honestly believe that noticing the early signs of a workplace turning toxic is incredibly important. That way you can weigh your options and make your escape if you must.
Of course, it’s easier said than done, but your mental health is more important than any job position could ever be.
I’d really love to know your opinions and experiences with your workplaces, so make sure to comment down below!
Also, I’ve created a worksheet to help you analyze your own work environment called the ‘Workplace Toxicity Worksheet’.
You can get it and access to all of my freebies Behind The Wire by signing up for my e-mail newsletter. (Don’t worry, I won’t send you a bunch of junk!)
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