Disclaimer: YES, a lot of this post is tongue-in-cheek. I am not actually trying to change the behavior and the mental processes of everyone in the world who is not an INTJ (or who is not me). It’s partly my own venting of things that frustrate me, partly (for non-INTJs) insight and advice about our way of thinking and seeing the world, and partly (for INTJs) a “Haha, if only, right?” kind of inside joke. If you’re wondering whether or not to take any of this personally, just repeat to yourself: ‘It’s just one person’s overly opinionated blog post, I should really just relax.’
Months ago, I wrote How Not to be Hated by an INTJ, which surpassed I’m Not a Sociopath, I’m Just an INTJ as my most popular blog once it was shared on Reddit and some Facebook groups. This sequel will provide a few more tips for keeping the INTJs in your life from hating you.
1. Is it obvious? Then don’t say it.
I’m not saying that INTJs are smarter than everyone else—it’s just that our brains tend to be three steps ahead. Whatever joke, observation, or piece of advice you’re about to say, we probably anticipated it. That’s partly why we hate small talk—most of it is obvious, like the weather. INTJs choose their words and their time carefully, unwilling to waste either. If you say something that went without saying, it may trigger irritation or disdain from the unfortunate INTJ who is within earshot.
This is most frequent with unsolicited advice. The general rule of thumb is: Didn’t ask? Don’t tell. Even if an INTJ is complaining about something, don’t try to fix the problem unless they actually ask for help. Whatever you’d recommend probably has already been considered, tried, and failed. Just nod and let the moment pass.
2. Don’t act like you know more than you really do.
A problem with INTJs is that, even if we know not everyone thinks like we do, we still expect them to. We want things to be logical and make sense—even other people, much to our disappointment. INTJs are great at knowing what they know and don’t know. They’re unlikely to tackle an issue beyond their capabilities; unfortunately, we expect other people to be like this, too.
INTJs often can tell if another person is full of crap, which hits a number of INTJ red buttons. A falsely knowledgeable front goes against the INTJ disdain of sugarcoating and being disingenuous. Talking about something beyond one’s knowledge flies in the face of the INTJ’s appreciation for competency. Listening to a person who doesn’t actually know what they’re talking about is a waste of time.
As a type that values logic and practicality over emotions and pride, we tend not to understand why someone would try to put up a front to salvage their feelings. If you don’t know something, don’t fake it—be honest about your ignorance, and don’t waste our time.
3. If you DO know, speak up!
Did an INTJ just call you by the wrong name? Say something offensive? Is there spinach between their teeth? Do you have bad news that they will have to find out eventually? Tell them. Don’t spare feelings. We INTJs might not like what we hear, but we would rather have all the facts than feel good. The INTJ will be more mortified by finding out they’ve been living in ignorance than by anything negative you have to tell them. Suck it up and get it over with. (Side note: If an INTJ is upset by something you tell them, odds are that it’s not personal, so relax.)
Most INTJs would rather…
4. Avoid surprises at all costs.
Like I said, INTJs want to have all the facts. INTJs want to know what they’re getting into. We like to perform cost-benefit analyses to decide if something is worthy of our time and resources. Do not deliberately plan any sort of surprise for an INTJ, unless you have known that INTJ for a very long time and are 150% certain that the surprise would be accepted. Even then…think again.
5. Don’t expect us to feel or react a certain way.
I like to emphasize that INTJs are not emotionless robots or unfeeling monsters. Things that send most people into paroxysms of joy or despair may leave us unmoved. (“Common feelings common men can bear,” to paraphrase Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.) I, for example, am completely bored when I hear about marriage proposals, and I don’t understand why other people like to hear about them. That doesn’t mean an INTJ is always unmoved. Shortly before I left for my trip to England last year, I told a friend that I was “bouncing off the walls” with excitement. (She said, “I wouldn’t have guessed that,” because I was not literally bouncing off the walls.) Don’t assume that what you see on an INTJ’s surface is what’s going on underneath. And again, don’t take it personally if an INTJ doesn’t react the way you expect or want.
6. Understand that pointing out flaws is different from being a pessimist.
INTJs are big on problem-solving, which makes us good (too good) at criticizing and consulting. This can lead to accusations of negativity and pessimism by lesser beings who are content to live with the sub-par.
Don’t accuse an INTJ of just “being negative” without trying to understand this problem-solving tendency. Yes, problem-solvers and pessimists both focus on flaws, but for different reasons. Pessimists usually can’t see the positive side of an issue, or they refuse to, and just want something to complain about. An INTJ can see the positives, but often ignores them to focus on the flaws, because they mean to do something about them (or tell someone else what to do about them), bringing everything up to its full potential.
I can’t tell you how many times I was yelled at as a child for correcting my mother and—gasp!—other elders when they got a fact or a quote wrong. I really did not understand why everyone got mad, because I did not understand why they wouldn’t want to know the correct version. And I’ve been called a pessimist and negative, too, for daring to notice that things aren’t always perfect.
And that last one, I’m sure, is why this post is going to get a good share of criticism. But it’s okay, because…