Writing about INTJs is something of a challenge when you aren’t one, yourself. Nevertheless, they remain among the rarest and most interesting human beings in the world worth evaluating and writing about.
An INTJ is likely someone you knew at one point or another in your life. She is the friend who warned you not to make a drunken, impulsive decision shortly before you made it, anyway. He is the guy at work who cannot abide your slow, inefficient methodologies so he completely restructures your work flow so that it’s faster and less repetitive. She is the (somewhat cynical) realist who readily points out holes in your logic your friend’s logic, your boss’s logic, and your neighbor Fred’s logic. This friend or aquaintance wasn’t someone to turn to for emotional affirmation or pointless banter. This is someone you turn to when you really want or need to get things done. INTJs, being among the most intelligent demographic aren’t just thinkers, they are also doers. They are smart, reliable, honest, efficient, and creative in a way that is refreshing on many levels for many other types.
Fiercely loyal, serious in tone, direct in communication style, INTJs are a hard win but a solid win. Once you’ve won them, they are the best ally you could possibly ever have but getting to that point can be a painful, laborious process. That’s because INTJs have really high standards for themselves and for others close to them. They do not wish to see themselves as mediocre in quality nor do they wish to be sorrounded by hoards of riffraff. INTJs value quality over quantity, preferring perfection or something very close to it.
Like the NFs I love to write about, INTJs are highly dynamic in their thinking processes, almost to the point of being paradoxical. It lends them a depth and complexity that is unusual for rational types. I affectionately call INTJs “The Pragmatic Idealists” because their pragmatism isnt your garden variety practicality but rather a work of deep conviction and creativity. INTJs don’t just ask the question “Does it work?” They also ask how it works and why it should work? They sift and filter through mountains of information, gladly tossing out the erroneous and extraneous and solidly integrating reliable information into their mental construct. If an INTP’s mental construct is made of pure electrical energy, making random lightening connections, then an INTJ’s mental construct is electrical energy protected and guided by fiber optics or copper wiring in a structured way. There are no random connections. Every connection serves a purpose and every memory or lesson learned is neatly filed away for future reference.
Another metaphor would be to say that INTJs build a solid foundation for their house (mental processes). They are less distracted and less easily influenced or swayed than other types. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage for INTJs, making nature’s proverbial compromise that they must sacrifice a bit of flexibility for a bit of strength and conviction. This also helps make INTJ the most independent type on the MBTI spectrum. Not only are INTJs decisive but they are independently so. Their decisions are not guided by social pressures, pathos, or the unsubstantiated opinion of others. INTJs make independent, critical thinking decisions which solely honors the principles of practical logic and objective truth. INTJs don’t care about popular opinion, their own personal biases, or even about being right. INTJs happily prove themselves wrong again and again through rigorous testing of the truth. Once they reach a conclusion, they can be confident that they possess truth in the purest form.
This should not imply that INTJs aren’t emotional creatures. That depth I was eluding to earlier is a somewhat mysterious driving force for INTJ convictions. They are fumbling children when it comes to emotions, particularly strong emotions but are often remarkably genuine when it comes to their moral values. Unlike many ENTJs, INTPs, and ENTPs, INTJs in particular seem to be guided by a moral compass. There is a serious undertone to the INTJ’s main persona, which gives the impression that life is not a joke to them. INTJs do have a goofy, playful side but it is typically more innocent and childlike than the derisive humor of NTP types. INTJs do express themselves with sarcasm but it looks, sounds, and feels different than the derisive style preferred by NTPs. INTJs summon their inner child to alleviate boredom, stress, and tension. They regularly slip into carefree personas, often preferring to use puns and play on words to satiate Ni and Fi at the same time.
INTJs also alleviate stress by engaging in sensory activities. INTJ hobbies (unlike their work) are usually highly engaging for eyesight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. They’ll get into dancing, car racing, outdoor activities, sports, music, cooking, etc. INTJs rarely pursue intellectual/cerebral hobbies as a way of relieving stress, rather finding it to be either pointless or even counterproductive to that end. They do, however pursue knowledge out of curiosity and practical purpose as well as genuine excitement but those motives seem to be independent of stress relief. INTJs are excitable when not stressed, transitioning either into hyper focus or ‘big picture’ structuring by quickly running through a list of to-dos. Once dedicated to a project, an INTJ will see it through to the end, often going back to improve the end result even further.
But there’s more to being an INTJ than just being hyper-efficient and strategic. INTJs are also lazy.
The irony is that INTJs will often put a ton of work in at first just to make sure they don’t have to put in a ton of work later. The less repitive work, the better. Easily bored, they will replicate a process only a few times before they decide to dwindle down the steps to even fewer. Lazy shits, they are but brilliantly so.
INTJs are also sensitive.
You heard me right. I said they’re sensitive. (Are you Rationals rolling your eyes at me, yet?) Unlike INTPs, their TJ cousins cannot necessarily let criticisms and rejections roll off their backs. The reason is Tertiary Fi, which is an introspective function that evaluates its own self. INTJs, like all Fi users, tend to internalize things rather than experiencing feelings externally like Fe users. The result is that INTJs can take things far more personally than another rational type would. INTJs tend to experience social anxiety more frequently than other rational types and tend to ruminate on interactions with others more. INTJs are also intuitive in a way similar to INFJs. Though they prefer (and often demand) direct, honest communication, many INTJs are also sensitive to lies and subtle differences in behavior. Being devoted and loyal by nature, relationships are high cost/high investment endeavors and INTJs invest their emotions fully, making them hyper aware of any changes which might alert them to high risk situations where great loss is probable. INTJs handle pain in a variety ways however my observations have been that they either fight harder or they use the INFJ door slam method of pain mitigation. INTJs sulk in private until they’ve decided how they feel or at least how to proceed.
Many INTJs have described to me many times the general feeling of disassociation they have from what they care about versus what the rest of the world cares about. There is great discrepancy there leading the INTJ to feel very much like an alien visiting earth and trying to human along with all the other human earthlings. This means figuring out what appropriate emotion to have in any given situation. INTJs have feelings for sure but they are often not what the rest of the world would or should feel. This is how the INTJ sees it, anyway as they have to watch TV and movies, post on Internet forums, and ask real life people “How should I feel about this?”. They might have an inkling like “I should be mad about this.” But then they must decide if the event is worth having the emotion, using Te to ask others for their grand expertise on the subject (someone who knows how normal people act).
In this way, INTJs are essentially lifelong actors playing the role of a normal human being with normal feelings and reactions. If they were Fi-dominant Authenticators (like INFPs), they might feel weird about this too but they’re not and they don’t. They’re so used to it that many are scarcely even cognizant of it by age 30. Perhaps they’ve fully integrated with humans by that age or perhaps they’ve just developed lightening fast, memorized responses. I’m inclined to say it’s the second one.