I'm an INTJ and we need to talk.
Hi, I’m an INTJ and we need to talk. Being one of the rarest personality types, and also being a female (the rarest of all types when being this gender) doesn’t make me feel at all “special”. As an INTJ, I know most people will never truly relate to my thought process even when we share amazing conversation on any number of topics. Talking about something versus the thought process that led you there are two very different things. That being said, there are some things I want you to know about me and other INTJ types that hopefully make me a little less mystical, and slightly more relatable.
Things I want you to know about me.
I want to understand.
I seek understanding unknowingly pretty much every second I’m awake. It’s exhausting, and it cannot be easily or truly ever turned off. It is programmed into my DNA and reflected in my MBTI. It is, what it is. This is also one of the reasons why learning my MBTI has had such an impact on me. Imagine knowing you are very different from a young age, but never being able to put your finger on exactly what was different. Discovering my MBTI type was like reading a memoir that with chapters on all of the times I said to myself “Why doesn’t anyone see this like I do?”. For someone who constantly seeks to understand, being able to finally understand a large part of myself was fantastically rewarding and refreshing. But I digress…
If it seems like I’m trying to read you, I probably am. If you are showing me that you got “x” I am trying to figure out how you got to “x” and why you thought “x” was a good idea. INTJ’s will be pretty upfront about this in dialogue, especially in work environments. It will either be a “Yes, I understand” or a “No, I do not understand”. We have no desire at all to make you think we understand if we don’t, because in the end this will just waste time ... something we never have enough of. One of my favorite quotes I drop often (and I’m sure most other INTJ’s do too) is “I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t understand why you feel that way”. Which brings me to my next point….
I'm not good at feelings.
For INTJ's their emotional intelligence is statistically exceptionally poor. I didn’t know that emotional intelligence was a thing until recently, but always kicked myself when I saw someone in an emotional type of situation during which I SHOULD HAVE given some sort of response. Instead I stare blankly, walk away, or when I rationalize that saying “something” is better than saying nothing, I usually end up blurting out some array of practical advice that is truly out of place.
NOW, just because I have since learned emotional intelligence is a thing, does not mean I am much better. But at least now I can tell you that now I’m trying to work on it. The INTJ, seeks to understand, so it makes sense that I want to work on, understand, and improve the emotion thing! Well, I’ve read books and articles, and STILL test on the emotional intelligence scale in the same range as someone with Aspergers. No joke, that was after like 3 books.
What I want you to know about this is I’m sorry that I probably won’t be able to give you the reassurance and kind words that you deserve in a real time of need. It truly pains me that I can’t give this to you. Like I said, we seek to understand, and rationalize, and there is just something about emotions that doesn't compute. I’ve gotten better at saying things like “I’m sorry this sucks for you right now”, but thats about as good as it gets. I’m good at a lot of other things, but when you are in pain and I’m there, or when you are going through something difficult and need comfort and not advice, I'm sorry. I’m sorry if I don’t seem helpful, and can't offer you the right words but I promise I’m always there to listen. There are so many other personality types that shine in these types of situations. This is why we all need each other at the end of the day.
I don’t take it personally.
You could debate with me for hours about the most serious of topics and at the conclusion anything you said against my view or against me, I will not take personally. Even if you think you are attacking me verbally, I know you are actually just attacking a concept that you don’t agree with. If you say things about me that aren’t true, I already know they aren’t true and thus just know you are wrong and again, don’t take it personally. I also don’t hold your opposing views against you. I know we all come from a variety of backgrounds and educations and we are limited to our own understanding about whatever is at hand. If I’m actually wrong, I honestly have no trouble admitting that I’m wrong. There is no shame in being wrong, its just part of human growth. I don't mind.. changing my mind (lol). If I think I’m right on something, I will try to get you to understand why that my viewpoint is the correct one. If I seem overbearing or mean in these moments, I’m not trying to be, and I don’t dislike you or anything like that. Please don’t get upset at me if I’m trying to explain something to you. I just want you to understand it the same way I do, but it's also ok with me if you don't. If at the end of the day we don’t see eye to eye, I don't take burden home with me. I've already moved on to the next thing in my head.
I appreciate your input … at an appropriate time.
You leaving things to the last minuet that involve me will slowly kill me on the inside. If we are working on a project together, building some sort of “thing” as a team, whatever… If you have input tell me sooner rather than later. INTJ’s are known as systems builders. We have a process to everything, even things that are new to us, and this process is a very effective one. If you have an idea or input, try your hardest to submit that BEFORE these systems are at work. We see the end goal and work on an effective path to get there in the best way possible. You throwing a wrench in the system not only makes it break down, it makes us have to do double the work as we now have to build a new system to adopt your idea (if it is truly good enough to be incorporated). Which leads to the next point…
Don’t take advantage of my ability to do things.
INTJ’s are very able people, probably because we seek so much to understand and become very adept to a wide variety of things. We form the system, get the process moving, and because everyone usually knows we have a good way to do “it” and will actually get “it” done, they just give us the thing and go on their merry way.
Here is where the problem lies because we don’t really prefer confrontation, and usually having that conversation with you about being completely overwhelmed with all of the projects that 20 other people asked us to do is a more stressful idea than just doing whatever your thing is.
So usually just we do the thing.
This creates a vicious cycle of stress and though we appear calm on the outside, on the inside we are boiling in a pot of responsibility. It’s that whole, “If you do your job well, you get to go everyone else job well too.” dilemma. I want you to know I can’t take on everything, I’m not superwoman, and people already take advantage of the fact that I do good work. Please don’t casually fling something else on my plate, and also know if I do say “no” to your project (or whatever) it wasn’t an easy thing for me to do. I do truly want to collaborate with many people, I do truly want to do all the things, but it will literally kill me in the process.
Don’t surprise me with things that involve planning.
Boo, I sound like no fun at all right? As a systems builder, I revel in the process. I don’t like surprises for things that require any sort of planning. Surprise me with food, I love food! Don’t surprise me with a weekend trip somewhere and tell me to pack like 3 important things. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I NEED TO PACK. Please, I will enjoy whatever it is so much more if I just have the slightest window into the planning process. If you want to take the reigns and do the work of booking information, making reservations, whatever…I can live with that, heck I probably need that. But please, don’t let me walk into something blind. I will be annoyed and probably not enjoy myself.
I’m a free spirit …within structure.
INTJ’s can come across as very calm, reasonable, even tempered, and sometimes even quite free spirited. We can very much be these things …within the structure we have created for ourselves. We have a process within our lives that has an incredible amount of detail. I mentally have a calendar going with all my important to-do’s from the second I wake up to literally the second ago to sleep. I don’t try to have that calendar … it’s just there! Damn I wish it had an OFF button sometimes! When something gets changed or flipped around, we certainly won’t have an emotional reaction about it. It does however add to our inner stress and turmoil immediately … but we can hang. I want you to know that structure, timelines, and process are important to me, and they allow me to be the free spirit that you all think I am.
Gossip bores me, and small talk gives me anxiety.
Ok I really can’t stress this enough. You talking about somebody else, gossip, whatever, when it has no application to a current thing I’m trying to achieve, does NOTHING for me. I don’t get it, I don’t like it, I’m sure that person you’re talking about wouldn’t like it if they were here, and can we please talk about something else. Same goes for small talk. I’m not saying I’m always ready to dive into a super deep conversation because I usually don’t really want to talk that much and deep conversations require much talk. However small talk gives me anxiety...kind of like children and emotional people. If you really want to talk to me, ask me about something you know I’m interested in, or tell me about something you’re interested in and ask me for my feedback. I am good at that. If you don’t really want to talk to me but actually just want to hear yourself talk, please do not. My anxiety levels will be through the roof as I try to rationalize a response that would be appropriate for why your trip to North Carolina may or may not require a heavier jacket. I DON’T KNOW LOIS ASK THE WEATHERMAN OR JUST BE PREPARED AND BRING A STUIPD JACKET.
I have a lot of confidence in the things I can do.
Sometimes INTJs may come across as overly confident or give off a “know it all” vibe. Listen, if I myself know I can do the thing, I can do the thing. I am NOT a know it all, but I do like to learn it all…or whatever I find fascinating which is honestly way too many things. Equally, if I am not good at something I am quick to let you know it is not a strength of mine. This is no fault to me, I have plenty of other strengths. I want you to know that I never think I’m better than you as a person. We are all equally brilliant at VERY different things. But If I say I can do something more effectively its probably because I can which leads me to my last point…
The thing I need most from you is your trust.
As an INTJ my brain is constantly firing to build these systems to create the processes that make the most sense and can achieve the best results. I am still an introvert and I will not just say something if I haven’t thought long and hard about it. I am not impulsive. If I do something or say I can do something, it’s because I’ve thought long and hard about it.
I am highly systematic fiercely independent.
You saying that you trust me and my judgment is honestly the nicest, and most freeing thing you could give me. If I tell you something, and you immediately (and often times emotionally) give me a response to discredit my hours of mental work ... you labor my soul.
I understand that you may not see things the way that I do right away, but please know I make no decision lightly. By saying you trust me and my judgment, you are telling me that you understand the fact I have thought about every possible scenario and angle before this point. You know I have already analyzed the outcomes, and what I have given is “the best” I can at this point find. I really appreciate that. It gives me the freedom I need to continue to work at my best. Like I said, I’m not against your input…at the appropriate time. I don’t think I know it all, but what I do know usually serves me well and leads to a lot of success. I need you to trust me, even if you don’t understand me, because I sincerely only want whats best for you, me, the world, and whatever this crazy project is.
Most of all, as an INTJ I love you, from a distance, without touching, and now I'm off to do the other thing.