When we talk about the INTJ personality type, stereotypes are often the first things to come to mind. INTJs are the mastermind personality, smarter than everyone else. They’re also the villain type counting such characters as Moriarty, Emperor Palpatine, Maleficent, and Jaffar among their ranks. Common descriptors include aloof, intelligent, blunt, sarcastic, loyal, and cold.
Clearly, the people who claim Myers-Briggs® types feed you an unrealistically positive view of yourself didn’t read very many INTJ articles. Even the ego-stroking articles that highlight INTJ’s intellect almost immediately mention drawbacks like loneliness because of how they come across to others with their “take-no-prisoners” attitude.
I suppose it’s not surprising, then, that I’ve talked to quite a few INTJs who assume people don’t like them. I’ve also seen quite a few people online bear this out, saying they “can’t stand” INTJs because some aspect of their personality rubs them the wrong way. Even INTJs themselves perpetuate the stereotypes. For example, my INTJ sister suggested (half in jest) that I title this post “Are INTJs really unfeeling bastards?” and answer simply: “Yes. Yes, they are.”
With all that said, you might think this post is just going to be about how much people dislike the INTJ personality type. But once you step off the Internet and start meeting INTJs in person, many people find that they really do like being around people with INTJ personality types. And many INTJs find that they often make better impressions on people than they expected they would.
“Wow, you’re so smart” is a comment the typical INTJ hears quite often. The INTJ may or may not believe this. Some soak in the praise and think of themselves as intellectuals or geniuses. Others will deflect such comments, saying they simply work hard and that other people overestimate their intelligence.
Intelligence is a tricky concept to define, and no single Myers-Briggs® type is inherently smarter than the others. The way INTJ minds work, however, does line-up well with our typical understanding of logical intelligence. People with this type prefer to make decisions based on impersonal, logical criteria. They are curious about the world and tend to amass quite a large collection of information. They also relate their ideas with confidence and appreciate engaging in intellectually challenging discussions. All this comes together to make other people see INTJs as smart.
An INTJ’s honesty can be interpreted in different ways by different people. INTJs do not naturally sugar-coat things, though they can learn if they decided it’s a worth-while part of engaging with society. Typically, though, they don’t see the point in tip-toeing around the truth. They want to be honest and direct with their thoughts, opinions, and feelings and they want others to do the same.
Depending on the other person’s personality type, personal preferences, and expectations this trait can be seen as refreshing or as rude. Some people see INTJs as insulting, blunt, or even nasty. Others see INTJs as direct, forthright, and practical. While some INTJs intend to be rude, most of them are simply motivated by a desire to engage with others and the world around them in an efficient, logical, and honest way. Recognizing and appreciating that is one step towards making friends with an INTJ.
INTJs tend to be self-reliant individuals who spend a good amount of time alone, as many introverts like to do. They don’t like to be controlled and they want to do things their own way. Others may describe them as aloof loners who don’t like other people, but that’s not exactly what’s going on. People who see INTJs as independent and self-reliant are much closer to the truth than those who judge them more harshly.
It’s very important to INTJs that they are able to take care of themselves. They want to be in control of situations and not have to rely on others to get things done the right (i.e. efficient) way. They also don’t mind spending time alone, though they don’t want to be alone all the time. They are independent, not antisocial.
All TJ personality types love efficiency and effective solutions. Personality Hacker nicknamed the cognitive function that TJ types use as either their lead or co-pilot process “Effectiveness“ for this very reason. People observing INTJs can see this trait in every aspect of their lives. How they work, the way they shop, what they choose to do in their free time. That’s not to say all INTJs schedule every single minute of their lives, but they are as a whole very efficient people.
It’s easy for those around INTJs to see that they prefer the most straight-forward way of doing things. Let’s skip the small-talk and get right to business. Maybe it’d be a good idea to optimize dating by staring with a questionnaire. Stop debating and implement the solutions I’ve already optimized. This type of thinking all contributes to INTJs’ earning a reputation for efficiency.
The combination of INTJ intelligence, honesty, independence, and efficiency come together to make them a type that others can find very intimidating. Many INTJs are also said to have “resting bitch face,” which can add another layer to their intimidating persona.
“Intimidating” is one of the more common impressions that people are likely to take away from meeting an INTJ, though they might also simply label them as extremely competent and/or confident. This sort of impression usually happens in settings where the INTJ is engaging with something logically and displaying their strengths. If you start talking with an INTJ about personal matters and asking for emotional counsel they’ll probably seem more intimidated than intimidating.
This description is typically one that baffles INTJs, yet it’s one that quite a few people will use for them. The INTJ who is described as “nice” probably thinks that this has to do with them learning to keep their mouths shut and not share all their thoughts. If people really knew what I thought, the INTJ thinks, they wouldn’t mistake me for being nice.
There may be some truth to that, but I think it’s more about the fact that certain people recognize there’s more to the INTJ than the no-nonsense shell they show to most of the outside world. While INTJs don’t like having to rely on other people, they do appreciate social relationships. They will cultivate good relationships with people in their most valued networks and they will also invest in important friendships. Once they’ve established a relationship, INFJs are intensely loyal to the people they care about and they will go out of their way to show that care in the best ways they know how.
Your turn: what are your experiences with perceptions of INTJs? Share in the comments!
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