Hi. My name is Joe and I’m a INTJ personality-type. I am Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judging. Here is where you say, ”HI JOE!”
My entire life I’ve felt different. Especially in social situations. I would see those extroverts just jumping into situations without forethought, and wonder how on earth they did it. In my mid twenties (and a quite a few times since) I learned why. By learning my Myers-Briggs personality type.
Each and every time I have taken the MBTI Personality test, I’ve landed squarely in the top right corner. A place shared with only 1-2% of the population.
The first time I read the results, it was creepy. It was like the document was actually written about me, personally. It described me perfectly. But reading it helped me become content with myself. Those “flaws” that I’ve always had, were definable and fit into a big picture….and INTJs like big pictures.
I have truly benefited and exploited my INTJ attributes since then. But there is not a day that goes by that I kind of wish I was a little more “center” on the personality-type chart. Certain components of life, just clash with me and my personality type and it is a daily struggle to get through or past them.
Throughout my life, I’ve continuously struggled with small-talk. I always wondered how people could gain such enjoyment out of conversations, where in my eyes, none of its participants have anticipated gains from.
A discussion topic about something that either I can gain from, or I can add to usually keeps my attention. But I find it difficult to join the conversation, unless the topic is predefined. Those other conversations about weather, sports teams, what’s-in-front-of-me-at-this-moment, or gossip, make my skin crawl and I often secretly make fists in frustration during meetings.
…INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance, they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation….making them easy to misread and understand
– INTJ Profile [TypeLogic]
INTJs are big picture types; we always look at the total situation. So, I often feel that pointless conversations wasted on me, are simply multiplied by the number of people involved. I also think they see and feel the same way. So the larger the group participating in a non-goal orientated discussion, the more uncomfortable I feel.
I work in an organization of roughly 30-40 people. Being military related means that there are quite a few “office functions” beyond that of a normal office. For instance, commander’s calls, promotions ceremonies, formal military award ceremonies, etc.
As a veteran, I feel I should attend the “ceremonies”, out of respect. But as an INTJ personality type, I (normally) avoid the small-talk after parties. I know in my common sense side of brain that there can be value gained, but that is not how me and other INTJs think.
In my analytical mind, I weigh the time spent on fruitless conversation verses that spent on development projects. Goal orientated project time always wins.
How to network without uncomfortable small talk? Welcome to my world. With an entrepreneur spirit, the drive to get things done, and the tools to do it, networking is truly my Achilles heal.
While online social networks have greatly aided INTJs like myself by allowing us to “filter” the small talk and pick and choose our conversations, it does not replace real handshake networking.
To startup a discussion with someone, without knowing what value-added I can offer that person is a 20ft hurdle for me. Without this, I feel like I will be perceived as only wanting something from them, which is not networking.
I truly envy the CEO, bloggers, co-workers who can find a common opener to begin a discussion, without feeling like it is all about “them”.
Television and Video Games
When I was a kid we had an Atari 2600, and I had a Apple IIc, both of which had a ton of games. During that time, and no time since have I ever really enjoyed playing the games others enjoy. I’ve always viewed them as working toward a goal which would, basically, self-destruct once you’ve met it.
I had more enjoyment out of coding my own games, than playing them. The coding had an end goal with reward; a finished product that could later be improved upon. Once you’ve played and won Donkey Kong, you done…you’ve gained nothing.
The same goes for television. I’ve enjoyed sitcoms throughout my life, because I’ve always viewed them as 30 minute nuggets of entertainment, without any commitment or anticipated gains. I have always enjoyed TV shows like Seinfeld, The Office and 30 Rock. A half hour, each of which (for the most part) can be enjoyed without commitment to an entire season.
Dramas on the other hand, I’ve never enjoyed (with the exception of West Wing, in which I constantly learned stuff). Shows like Lost, require too much commitment without reward. Once they reveal that everyone on Lost is from outer space, what will you have gained?
I would much rather watch Biography, Nova, Current, or even Jeopardy. I gain something from these programs; knowledge. I feel as though my time is not wasted.
Telling an INTJ to just get over it, is about the same as telling people in depression to cheer up, or people with migraines to take an aspirin. We are hardwired this way, and can not just change. We can try to be more like “normal” people, we simply are not, and it will always feel like a square peg in a round hole.
It is best that we leverage the strengths of our personality, and try to build mental bridges to the other personality types. I will never be the “life of the party”, at least without a lot of alcohol. And I accept that. But I will be the one formulating the strategic plan for the best layout of food in kitchen to facilitate the best traffic flow. Accept it.
Fellow INTJs – Lance Armstrong, Peter Jennings, Colin Powell, John F. Kennedy, Michelle Obama, Susan B. Anthony
8 thoughts on “My Struggles as a INTJ Personality Type”
I too am an INTJ personality type. Small talk is not my strength — although I’ve at least tried to engage in it when necessary. For a female, being this type (INTJ) has been even tougher. Because you’re misunderstood and you come off as unfeminine.
I try to strike a balance between being a stringent INTJ and improving on “weak” areas.
So best wishes to all the INTJs.
I agree with you Donna, it is quite difficult to be a female INTJ. I don’t mean to be divisive or in some way hold our struggles apart from other INTJs… we all struggle.
There is an expectation though on people (women in particular) to be socially well-balanced. To be polite, gracious and engaging.
Most days I feel like a man in a movie from the 1950s. Cold, analytical, with no one to understand what is going on up top, but brilliant when put to work.
In work environments I do so well! As soon as the small-talk begins, or the invitations go out for after-work drinks, I’m out. I know I should go and “network”, connect with others, etc. but I’m already offering my best at work… what on earth could I have to contribute outside of it.
As another female INTJ, I laughed when I read the part about presenting as unfeminine. My own son has told me I’m really a man because I like math, science and Football(American and World Cup).
I feel your pain as an intj. Have you worked out how to crack the networking code since the article? Any tips?
I am an INTJ female and over the years I’ve forced myself to network and socialize. It helps if you see it as playing a character outside of yourself. It just takes a little practice, literally fake it till you make it. It gives an odd freedom, just because I’m an INTJ does not mean I’m shy in any way, I just don’t see the need for social formalities and get easily drained. I think being an INTJ is a tremendous advantage, because my socializing is calculated. I socialize in short bursts as a “character” with purpose, intensity, and genuine interest in people. Then I go back to my cave and hibernate for a few days haha
“see it as playing a character outside of yourself. It just takes a little practice, literally fake it till you make it. It gives an odd freedom”
Exactly this. My entire 32 years of INTJ quiet observation and calculated analysis can be simplified to be focused on one area: human perception.
Socializing usually requires some advanced notice, a lot of mental preparation and planning (and backup plans for unexpected anything) .. I really do see it as playing a role though, utilizing all the data I’ve gathered constantly observing and analyzing how “normal” people behave and interact. So for (planned) social/networking events, I view it the same as the Final PowerPoint presentation that is the only means of portraying your months of research and hard work in grad school.. except it’s my time to shine and feel something positive from SOCIAL events for a change. It feels good when i get home and feel like I pretended to be a normal human so well (a nice change from the guilt that comes from bailing on plans)
BUT, and there’s a big but, and that’s actually why I’ve been seeking out intj connections.. In order to play these roles and pull off the facade of socializing, I often utilize self medicating methods. The things I use are not harmful themselves, and when I’m centered and using moderately they pose no problem. but i worry about dependence or overindulgent tendencies during the “funks”. Now I realize drinking coffee before human interaction or drinking alcohol at a wedding is normal social behavior, but it’s concerning to me because I realize I’m using it for the end of being a less awkward human. And that makes it feel wrong, like I’m cheating on my social test. Any other INTJs wanna share substance related experiences?
You need an extrovert partner. Problem solved.
I’m an INTJ and I resonate adequately with your struggles. I cope through exposing myself in extroverted milieus. Give it a shot on surrounding yourself with talkative, outgoing and jubilant people. During the first 30 minutes or so, use your profound observation skills to calculate how you would adjust to their gestures and conversations. Being an INTJ gives you the palpable right to examine people, without being obvious and caught. Take that leap outside of your comfort zone and try to socialize, without being picky. You’ll soon understand how different people act, this increasingly your intelligence on social relationships. He, this sounded sarcastic. Eventually, you might get used to it, and end up transitioning into a chameleon. I’m trying to master switching energy types, aka being an ambivert, depending on the crowd, so that I wouldn’t be socially awkward. So far this is my main concern due to being INTJ.