In defense of the INTJ

For those of you familiar with Meyers-Briggs personality typing, when you hear INTJ, you think “emotionless, misanthropic perfectionist with no social skills who is really good at math or science research.”

It’s a pretty shallow misunderstanding of the type.

It is true that the INTJ does not suffer fools gladly, genuinely is an introvert, so needs that alone time to recharge, is an intuitive thinker who gathers knowledge systems, and is highly unlikely to be the life of the party.  But we are human. (In fact, it is invariable that every INTJ I know has a terrible temper, though usually strongly leashed).

It’s the knowledge systems part that people get wrong.  I was talking about the whole Meyers Briggs thing to someone once.  I have a job opening a gym a couple of mornings a week.  I’m there at five in the morning, and it’s my job to check people into the gym, sign people up for memberships, generally helping them and doing my best to help them have a pleasant experience so that they’ll keep on coming back.  I’m cheerful.  I make a note of personal details as best I can.  I do my best to remember names.  I pay attention and am helpful.  I try to be playful and fun.  And I chat with members…

I mentioned being an INTJ.  After the protest of “You’re not an introvert!”* we were able to have an actual discussion about the perception of the INTJ v. a very serious reality of the type.

Anyone would agree an INTJ is very good at learning necessary skills.  In fact, I doubt there is any type in existence more notorious for it.  So, social skills?  They’re skills.  You can learn them.

Many of us do gravitate to professions in which social skills are not a big deal, so we don’t develop them.  But not all of us do.  Do you think Thomas Jefferson, that quintessential INTJ, had the political career he had with lousy social skills?  Oh, I doubt he was any Bill Clinton, but friends, you can’t become politically powerful without social skills. It’s a flat-out impossibility. You have to be able to create a cadre of people who trust you and are allied with you, people who trust your leadership.

So, look at your INTJ.  Now back to me…

Between the gym job and the fact I am a teacher means that to be effective at my jobs, cheerfulness, amiability, and the ability to help people feel happy and engaged are necessary skills.  I have to be able to spot a confused face, an embarrassed face, excited body language and so on. Otherwise, I could NOT DO MY JOB.

What’s core to an INTJ?  Learning the skills necessary to accomplish the goal.

Social skills count.  They really do.  That means we can and will smile and be amiable when the situation calls for it.  (Though after a whole day of it, yes, an isolation chamber starts looking attractive).

Stop selling us short!

*If someone only knows me professionally, I can almost count on that comment if a discussion of type comes up.

One Reply to “In defense of the INTJ”

  1. You know, when you say social skills are skills, and you can learn them, I envision Sheldon Cooper’s whiteboard flowchart of how to make friends…. 🙂

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