А complete idiot's guide to INTJs


As you may or may not know, yer 'umble servant 'ere is, in fact, a deep introvert. An extreme introvert, in fact, whose tolerance for nonsense and BS is incredibly low even by the standards of people like me. It is no coincidence that most of my readers are also deep and/or extreme introverts, with limited capacity for socialisation and no sympathy whatsoever for people who deal in lies, half-truths, misdirection, or shallow and vain pursuits.

But I'm not just any kind of deep introvert - and yes, there are different kinds. We are all unique little precious snowflakes, after all. (That was sarcasm, in case you missed it.)

I am what is known according to the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator as an INTJ. So too are many of the readers of the blog. This article will serve as mere amusement for most of them, but its purpose is actually somewhat serious, because you see, we INTJs have a serious problem on our hands.

The problem is that the rest of the world - outside of the freewheeling realm of chaos that is our heads, beyond the anarchic chorus of voices and ideas madly scrambling over each other to be heard, past the very weird blend of brilliant logic and absolute lunacy that is an introvert's headspace - does not quite understand us.

This actually suits most of us just fine. We do not claim to like most people, and chances are that if you are loud extrovert, we really do not like you at all, unless you have earned our respect and trust in some manner.

That said - there are plenty of people who find us really freakin' weird. It is for those people that the following notes have been compiled, so that they understand what makes us tick and why, as a general rule, we do not particularly care for them.

Of course, the sense of pitiless honesty and brutally harsh code of integrity that drives every INTJ demands that we admit that the reason why this list, and others like it, exists is so that other people might learn to leave us alone, so that we can pursue our plots of world domination in peace.

You must understand, after all, that we plan to take over the world and administer it harshly but fairly simply in the name of greater efficiency. It's for your own good, you see.

Don't worry, though. The reality is that almost none of us will ever actually execute our grand plans - because that would require us to work with people that we do not know outside of a strictly professional context. Which we find distasteful, to put it mildly.


How to Know Whether You Are an INTJ


Kind of a trick question - most of us know quite well whether we are or not. Nonetheless, if you are somewhat confused about whether "is you is or is you ain't", here are a few telltale signs from a rather handy guide on the subject:

You often sense the problems in a system as soon as you look at it—whether it’s how a restaurant is set up, a client’s Internet marketing plan, or the features and settings on an app. You don’t need to be an expert on any relevant subject, you just have a sixth sense for inefficiency.

You have absolutely no desire to meet your friend’s friend, until they say something about a topic you find academically interesting. Then you want to bond with them for hours.

Your innate response to any personal problem is to look for answers and solutions, not to simply sympathize with the person. You cannot understand why this isn’t helpful, and you may get frustrated when people don’t want the help.

There’s always a “right way” to do things in your head, whether it’s how to dress a sandwich or how you load items in your grocery cart. Following the system might help make small tasks more efficient, or it might simply make sure you get the specific result you want. The only problem is you’re often bad at mentioning that you want things done a certain way, or explaining why. As a result, you may get super annoyed when someone doesn’t follow the “plan.”

You casually but thoroughly devour information on a given topic until you are a near-expert, then get bored and move to a new topic.

It’s hard to say why, but your tastes have always run toward classical and elegant things. You can find pleasure in a grungy dive bar or greasy spoon diner, but there is something about timeless beauty and dignity that meets a need in your soul—and you can see the failings in anything that falls short. The result is a desire for high quality things in your life.

Talking about small details is physically draining, and you have a hard time not daydreaming during casual chitchat. You’re more likely to be thinking about new technologies, space travel, medical advances, the evolution of humankind, the age of the universe, or competing understandings of the cosmos. When you meet people who can discuss these same topics, you hold them close like precious treasure.

If any of these traits describe you - congratulations, you might just be an INTJ. Take the test and find out, then join the club. We have T-shirts.


How to be Friends with an INTJ


Don't bother. If we consider you worth our time, you will know PDQ.

OK, that is a bit trite. There are ways to deal with us. You simply need to understand that there are some things that we simply cannot do without:

Introverts can’t survive on a diet of small talk alone. “How was your day?” or “How ’bout this weather?” won’t be enough. Introverts tend to dive deep, both in their interests and relationships. They need something more: What’s one new thing you’ve learned lately? How are you a different person today than you were 10 years ago? Does God exist? Of course, not every conversation has to be deep. Sometimes introverts really do just want to know what you did this weekend. But occasionally, to feed their minds and souls, they need those wide-awake-at-midnight-can’t-stop-talking kind of moments.

Introverts won’t attend every party or get-together. They do enjoy some socializing, but it’s all about dosage. Too much, and their sensitive systems will have them begging for their beds. They need friends who understand that sometimes they just can’t “people” anymore today. These friends know that once introverts have had downtime, they’ll be up for another (laid-back) adventure.


How Not to Annoy an INTJ


Generally pretty straightforward:
  • Don't be repetitive
  • Don't be boring
  • Don't be a pretentious asshole who cannot stand to have his ideas challenged
  • Don't take 30 minutes to say what could have been said in 5
  • Leave us alone when we show clear signs of "people fatigue"
  • Expect us to challenge any half-baked assertion or assumption that you make
  • Be prepared for debate and discussion - we love tearing ideas apart
Understand that if you do annoy us, we have a few different ways of making our displeasure extremely obvious.

The most likely one is that we will simply ignore you - this is our default response when dealing with incompetent people, especially those in managerial positions who insist on wasting our time. We may also resort to extremely esoteric and subtle insults couched in verbal witticisms that you will in all probability fail to understand because they are rooted in highly obscure cultural and literary references that only we know about.

Failing either of those things - particularly if you insist on being an annoying little twerp who continues to get all up in our business - we will simply engage "smile and nod" mode.

And if you really get to be too much, we will just get up and leave. You will not see us again. If you are genuinely stupid or crazy enough to follow us to carry on what you think is a conversation and what we think is an acid-bath, physical violence is VERY likely to ensue. So be warned.


How to Work with an INTJ


Follow these simple rules and you will get along splendidly with us:
  • Be on time
  • Have a plan
  • Stick to the facts
  • Don't be an incompetent jackass
  • If you are an arrogant ass, that's fine as long as you can back it up with actual skills
Everyone else thinks of us as arrogant assholes. We are used to carrying this stigma around with us. Many of us came to terms with this reputation by the time we hit our late teens, and almost all of us are at peace with this notion by the time we are in our early twenties.

The one thing that we absolutely positively cannot tolerate is irresponsible incompetence. If you screw up and take responsibility, we will tear you a new one - and then help you fix the problem. But if you screw up and refuse to take responsibility, we will do everything that we can to ensure that you never work on any project that we are involved in ever again.

If you do not like having your ideas challenged, or if you expect an easy ride from someone willing to overlook small details and let imperfections slide - boy, are you going to be in for a rude shock.

If, however, you are the kind of person who likes to be given a general idea of what to do, a set deadline by which to get it done, and is then left alone to just get on with the job, then an INTJ will likely be the best colleague or boss you will ever have.

We do not micromanage. We do not back-channel. We do not back-stab. We do not particularly care what you think about us - unless you have earned our respect, in which case, we will do just about anything for you.


How to Drive an INTJ Crazy (Really Damn Fast)


Social norms and conventions are the Achilles Heel of every INTJ. Some of us handle social interactions better than others, but almost all of us find society's rules and regulations concerning polite conversation to be maddeningly shallow and stupid. It is normal for an INTJ to show up to a club or social gathering and not have the first clue how to walk up to someone and say, "Hi, my name is...".

The basic reason for this is that extreme introverts in general, and INTJs in particular, prize quality over quantity when it comes to conversation. Talking about random trivial superficial shit is of no use to us - we do not care about your child's softball game, the weather, or the latest sportzball scores. If we wanted to know about any of those things, we would ask - or, better yet, go look it up on the internet.

The single fastest way to drive an INTJ absolutely insane in a very short amount of time is to drop him (or her) straight into the middle of a crowded, noisy room with no quiet bathroom stalls, no exits, and no time to himself. Within an hour his mind will simply shut down from the extreme sensory overload and he will enter into a catatonic state from which it is very difficult to extract him.

This lack of skill with socialising leads many INTJs to overthink the entire process of going out, and many of us will almost always choose to stay at home instead.

Here is an actual thought process from an INTJ:

Well, let's see, it's 4pm now and I just spent the last two hours at brunch with my friends... So I'll get home sometime between 4.30 and 5 and probably take a nap for at least an hour, maybe more... So then it will be 7pm by the time I surface and am somewhat human again... So should I go out to a bar tonight by myself and try to meet people?

So if I leave at 7, there won't be anyone at the bar... And I want to eat dinner at 9 and get to sleep around 11... And bars and clubs are really noisy and crowded places anyway... And I DO have several good books sitting on my e-reader right now, plus a lot of stuff to write, and about ten other trivial but suddenly extremely important things that I could do instead...

Screw it, I'm staying in.

Suffice to say that we need a really good reason to get out of the house sometimes.


How to Date an INTJ


It ain't easy - but you might be shocked to realise that it is MUCH harder for us than it is for you.

See, INTJs prize honesty, openness, and trust above all other things. If you lie to us, if you cheat on us, if you pretend to be someone that you are not, you will break us, possibly beyond repair.

We like to come across as heartless, arrogant, incredibly and offensively blunt assholes - because, for the most part, that is exactly who and what we are. But we do in fact have feelings of our own. And when we find someone that we really, truly care about deeply enough to want to be with that person, and we discover that said person either lied to us or cannot/will not be with us for whatever reason (however justified), then we experience pain and abject misery on a level that is simply indescribable.

A close approximation might be as follows:

Imagine being dunked in acid, or eaten alive by ants, or snapping a shin-bone against someone's knee, or being stabbed, repeatedly, with a dull and rusty blade.

Now imagine all of those things happening at the same time, over and over, for days or weeks or even months on end.

And then imagine not having the capacity, the ability, or the willingness to unburden ourselves and tell anyone else what we are going through. Imagine having to bear that kind of pain all alone with no outlet beyond smashing things or lifting dangerously heavy weights or beating the crap out of a heavy bag - all of which provide only temporary palliative relief.

That is what it feels like to an INTJ when his or her heart is broken.

It is bad enough when that happens to us once. When it happens several times, especially in quick succession, many of us simply give up. Everyone has limits to how much pain he or she can endure, and after enough experiences of real heartbreak, many of us shut down. We would rather live alone and adrift than ever have to go through that pain again.

Therefore, do not put us through it - because the one thing worse than an emotional INTJ, is an emotionally unbalanced INTJ. It is all too easy for an INTJ, especially a socio-sexually unsuccessful one, to get tipped right over the edge and come completely unglued.

And that is where serial killers often come from, by the way.

So how do you avoid this particularly catastrophic state of affairs?

Well, you could start here:

DON’T MESS UP THE PLAN
Similar to efficiency, INTJs love a good plan. The quote “failing to plan is planning to fail,” attributed to Benjamin Franklin, is quite appropriate to the INTJ mindset. When someone comes along and ruins the plan, INTJs can take that as a sign of disrespect. If you’re not the planning type, it might be surprising to you how much effort goes into drafting a plan. When you discard the plan, or mess up the plan, it’s equivalent to wasting the INTJ’s time. Worse than ruining a plan is the person who takes control of a plan without understanding it, or with no vision other than the desire to be the one in charge. If you’re not a fan of plans, you should probably look for friends with other MBTI types. If you’re okay with plans, but find that you are a chronic plan destroyer, then know that your spontaneous ways may be a source of aggravation for the INTJ.

Don’t Need attention all the time
INTJs need their alone time. They aren’t going to text you 24/7. They aren’t going to hang out with you every second of every day. Pushing them to do so will only annoy them. If you are in serious need of attention, your INTJ is there for you, to the best of their ability, but needing constant attention is one way to ruin a relationship with an INTJ.


If you are already dating an INTJ, here are some useful tips to avoid screwing it up really badly:

You feel a little bit like they’re studying you.
INTJs are interested in people – what makes them tick, what pushes their buttons and how they operate on a rational and emotional level. In the initial stages of getting to know an INTJ it can feel like they’re constantly analyzing you – most conversations are focused on you and you are constantly hearing the words “Interesting,” or “I see.” It takes a bit for the INTJ to shift the focus onto him or herself – they like to listen first and reveal their opinions second.

Sex is as mental as it is physical.
To the INTJ, arousal is not purely instinctual. Attraction begins in the mind and the best way to get them in the mood is to mention a sexual fantasy that gets them thinking – hard. INTJs are creative, kinky lovers who view some parts of sex as a challenge. They want to constantly improve their game and continually get their partner off in better, more creative ways. This type enjoys the mental connection that comes with sexual intimacy just as much as they enjoy the raw physical component.

They react best to direct communication.
INTJs have no patience for passive-aggressive comments or subtle remarks. If something is amiss in the relationship, they appreciate being told point-blank what is wrong and what the best course of action would be to fix it. INTJs want to maintain harmony in a relationship – they simply don’t care to achieve it through guesswork.

And, just as a bonus, there are a few closely guarded secrets that we will let you in on, just for the hell of it:

INTJs are fiercely loyal.
Or rather, we’re methodically loyal. This is part of our wiring. From a young age, most INTJs have a hard time understanding when someone doesn’t really mean what they say. As adults, this translates to us being wary of people who don’t keep their word or follow through on plans.

To us, honesty is not just ethical, but practical. Any dishonesty in a system means results cannot be predicted or trusted. A relationship is a system and we need to be able to project a strong chance of long-term happiness.

(Plus, many of us have been burned in the past. We let very few people into our “inner circle,” and when we do, we have high expectations. A single let-down can leave scars.)

Loyalty doesn’t mean just fidelity. We have a sense of personal dedication to our partner, and we expect to receive that in return. We want a partner who believes in our work, our goals, and our abilities. We believe competence and loyalty go hand in hand; we do not trust a partner who simply cheers for us if we cannot also count on their counsel and good judgment.

When we feel that you provide this, there will be no question of our loyalty in return. We are the type of partner who will drop everything and come to you in your time of need (or more likely, rearrange everything so nothing gets dropped). You can count on us.

You need to be a lot more blunt.
INTJs are so honest that we easily rub people the wrong way. But we’re not offended by bluntness in return. In fact, we prefer it. This is especially true from someone we love. Don’t worry about hurting our feelings — be brave and speak up loudly.

Did we hurt you? Tell us how. Do we have a bad idea? Tell us why. Should we change something? Tell us. We can take it.

This is so simple that I think some partners are scared of it. It sounds like a trick. We’ve all dealt with someone who says they want you to speak your mind, then blows up when you do. That person is not an INTJ.

To an INTJ, understanding and resolving a problem is much more important than avoiding confrontation. We view confrontation-avoidance as weak, and even deceptive. See the loyalty section above.

When we argue, it doesn’t mean we’re upset.
Most people argue to make a point, express anger or get their way. INTJs argue to test ideas.

We are perpetually kicking the tires on what we think we know. We don’t mind being proven wrong. We love being proven wrong if it means we learn something new. But sometimes we forget that not everyone feels this way.

If your INTJ critiques something you don’t want critiqued, it’s okay to tell us to stop. We’re not doing it out of a lack of respect. We’re doing it to help! But, if it’s a recurring problem, just remind us that sometimes you need to be affirmed. We’ll get better at it with time.


And there you have it. You'll forgive me if I act like a smug bastard right now, but I have to say, this is one of the most comprehensive guides to dealing with INTJs that you will find out there - and, because it was written by one, it is also extremely accurate and highly informative. You're welcome.

Of course, if you didn't read it, that is entirely your problem.

Now go away, I need my alone time. I'm so far behind on my list of THE GRAND TOUR Season 2 episodes that it is not even funny.

Comments

  1. Fortunately, Us ISTP Hufflepuffs tend to get along pretty well with INTJ's. As long as we keep changing the subject.

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