How to Talk to People | INTJ Perspective
So recently I was asked a question on the best way to start and have conversations with others. So I thought about it, and thought about it, and realized that this was probably one of the hardest topics I could ever attempt to make content on. Talking to people has been one of the most uncomfortable skills that I have had to learn and grow through. The main reason being that often people can’t relate to or aren’t interested in the subjects that I am well-versed in.
However, this doesn’t mean that I hate talking to people. I actually love deep diving into holes of conversation without any interest in coming back up to reality. It’s just something that doesn't happen all that often.
So let's start off with where I’m great… and then get to my needed areas of improvement and some thoughts on how we can get better at this together.
The Internet: Always Easy
Me: Talking to people on the Internet A+. Talking to people in real life … C-.
What I love about talking to people on the Internet is that the space of the World Wide Web gives me the freedom to fully collect and develop my thoughts before expressing them. Additionally, I feel as though the process of writing helps me to fully formulate the concept I am trying to translate from my mind. This process is comfortable and I can easily do it...pretty much all of the time.
Nerd Talk: Effortless
So when can talking to people in real life can be easy?
There are several instances when talking to people in real life actually can be effortless to me however there is one major condition that applies here.
We have a similar world of interest and loaded information on these similar topics.
If someone has similar theoretical interests, we could talk about those concepts... for hours. I love to learn from people who have a different perspective and a different pocket of knowledge on things that I am already deeply invested in intellectually.
I have a friend who is a genius level mathematician and we both share the same love for theories regarding space, time, quantum mechanics and my favorite... black holes. If you get us in the same room together we will literally create a vortex of energy spouting out theories and evidence related to these topics. It’s pure fun. I love these sorts of conversation because they are based on reciprocation. We are learning and thinking through each other‘s minds and connecting new patterns for ourselves.
I have another friend with whom I can deep dive on conversation related to the forecast of augmented reality, the simulation, and of course personality theory. We could shoot the shit on the differences and applicational aspects of Ti vs Te for hours. I will blink and 3 hours will be lost in conversation. Again… effortless.
Plotting world domination, for fun, effortless.
Making it A Game: Easy
Something interesting I discovered after studying personality theory was my fascination with the applicational insight from the minds of other people. Now I have always been fascinated with the human mind, and the why and how behind their decisions. However, personality theory opened me up to a more specific line of questioning to extract understanding. So this is how it works…
When I am meeting someone new who is able to be open, vulnerable, and authentic ... I love to question them and learn more about their mind. There is a stereotype of INTJs and the ways in which we study people. This couldn’t be any closer to the truth. It’s how we say “I value you” because we want to know more”.
While I’ve always loved studying people, now I feel as though my studies are truly being cataloged into this greater depth of understanding as it relates to all human behavior. All these concepts can be applied! So if someone is cool, and will let me ask them questions about their greatest and worst moments in life.... about how they respond in times of stress...about how they plan and implement ideas...and just about their life in general, we usually end up being great and very close friends.
I’ve also realized that for me, I can’t be what I think of as a “good friend”, until I really understand someone. The downside of this is that for people who aren’t open or aren’t objective with their own view of themselves, these sorts of conversations won’t go anywhere and will be a total flop.
When A Conversation is Hard
The hardest kind of conversations for me to have are the ones about the weather, about superficial things that nobody really cares about; well it’s probably more accurate to say superficial things that I don’t care about. Temporal sensory things are conversations that I simply find almost impossible to speak on.
How You Make it Work
If you are stuck in a situation where the person wants to talk about the weather and for whatever reason you have to engage and be present, your only option is to take control of the subject. Hear me out though - you can’t just take control of the subject and start talking about black holes with someone who doesn’t want to talk about black holes. You need to find a topic of conversation that you feel comfortable with and that they can also relate to.
Your Perspective Changes Everything - Again, make it a game.
One thing that can be helpful here is if you know the person's profession (you can ask too) is to ask them what is new in the world of ______. This makes it so that you don’t have to talk as much, and you can gain some information from someone who is more invested in some area of expertise than you probably are. Chances are that person will have a more enjoyable time speaking about something in which they feel well versed.
You can do the same thing by asking “did you do anything fun this weekend” and then take something they say and run down the rabbit hole with it.
“Oh it sounds as though you’re interested in ____ tell me more about that”.
I think one of the greatest misconceptions that intelligent humans can have is that they aren’t able to learn from other people who may not be “smart” in the same ways in which they are smart. If you think that you are sooo smart and that it is just “wasting your brain energy” to talk to someone - then you my friend are the one who lacks intelligence.
One of my favorite sayings is that everyone is brilliant and something.
Make it your quest to find out how this person is brilliant (yes sometimes it takes some real work), and LET THEM teach you. People who aren’t stimulated by abstract theories, applied understandings, and basic nerd talk, are usually the ones that are more socially brilliant. Sometimes these conversations may not be as stimulating or exciting to you, but just think of them as social research and how this new understanding of how this person works can be applied to future interactions you have with people going forward.