My temperament type is INTJ or Rational-Mastermind and I’ve known that over many tests over the arc of my life and here is a fun link to a fancy online report on my personality type that makes it really easy and clear to understand how your type affects you and others around you.
If you decide to get tested for your personality type for the first time, please have it done in person by a professional so your results can be deeply studied and then explained to you.
Now I will make a brief attempt to explain some, but not all, of the oddities of the INTJ personality type. I am not making any excuses. I am just telling you what many of us are like and where we are coming from.
We are kind of rare. We make up less than 1% of the population. These “Marks of the INTJ Rational-Mastermind” are from my experience. Not all INTJs are created from the same bolt but many of us share some suggestions of these marks.
Oh, and when I say “we” let’s say I mean “me” because if I don’t I will be attacked by the other INTJ Rational-Masterminds who see themselves as independent and above being included in this prattle:
We are Information Hounds
We must know. We must always be learning and researching something new. I have 27 magazine subscriptions and my Post Office Letter Carrier is not happy lugging all that paper my way every week. I have 1,200 books in my bedroom alone. I read 12 online newspapers every morning. My books are my friends. I mark them up. I dog-ear them. I write all over them.
Books are tools that are friends. I listen to the TV, radio, my CD player and surf the web all at the same time. It drives people nuts! I promise you I comprehend it all. I am listening and watching and memorizing it all. Please don’t complain about wasting electricity or needing more room for your clothes in the bedroom. There are newscasts to memorize and friends that need shelves!
We Are Not Cold and Distant
We do not see ourselves as being cruel, cold, distant, unbending, unforgiving, mean, icy or impossible but sometimes people use those words to describe us. We are factual… some might say “lawyerly.”
We like references that back up ideas. When you accuse us of inappropriate past behavior and we ask when it happened, and where we were and what the weather was like and who was with us, please don’t take those questions as being argumentative or difficult. We are just trying to place ourselves back into that space and time to re-examine what you did not appreciate so we can fix it later.
We are not necessarily trying to catch you in a lie, or in a disremembered moment, in order to win the argument. We don’t live in the past or really even ruminate much on past events — unless we are actively correcting something for future use — so any clues and hints you can provide to help place us back in time and space helps us a great deal and we are probably not trying to give you a hard time.
We Are Viciously Loyal
We do not betray and we do not tolerate betrayal in others. Our word means everything to us because promises influence our acts. We do not collect friends or affection. We pick a couple of people and stick with them forever. We are not picky or choosy.
We just know what we want and we don’t want to waste an instant deceiving someone else’s good intentions if we are not interested. You always know where you stand with us. If we like you, we say so. If we don’t, we won’t have to say it out loud for you to know.
We Do Not Make the Same Mistake Twice
If we screw up it is rare if we willingly do it again. We are fixers. We are forward thinkers. We like to re-imagine the future with new behaviors that will result in errors not happening a second time.
Emotional? Heck, yah!
Sure we get angry. We are not emotionless. We have passion and magnitude and we express it when our values are violated (see Loyalty above) and that passion often gets misunderstood for anger.
Sometimes we are not great about sensing how you and others feel so you need to tell us so there is no doubt and if you are taken aback by what you feel is anger, ask us: Are you angry? We will likely be surprised at the question because we are probably just excited, hurt or trying to passionately explain the position we value.
We are sometimes accused of being disconnected from the rest of society. We aren’t disconnected to the present. We place the present past behind us because we are already in the future. Funerals, for me anyway, are a waste of time because we are not our bodies.
That thinking, I have learned, is offensive to many people on a plethora of levels. I am extremely connected to what is important to me but that interest does not sit looking back. Life stands in front of you and that includes everything that has already come before.
As future thinkers, we have, at times, the uncanny ability to know what will happen in the future before most of the people around us. That ability is sometimes interpreted by others as being “arrogant” and we work on trying to keep our mouths from always saying “I told you so” because that doesn’t go over well even though we are right to say it.
In meetings I am fond of saying “Moving forward…” and “What’s next?” because getting stuck repeating the details of what has already been discussed is historic and problem-solving is anticipatory. INTJs are prescient.
We have the gift of, not predicting the future, but of knowing what will happen before it happens based on cultivating, chalking out and extending the current situation. Sometimes that can be scary for us because we can see something bad happening before our eyes before it actually happens.
We are not, however, mind-readers, so you can never assume we know something about how you feel unless you directly tell us. We don’t like to guess how you’re feeling so instead of playing with us, just lay it all out on the table.
No Living in the Past
The past is not of great interest to us. What’s done is over and what we think about today can change tomorrow, so let’s get a Plan and then a Plan B plus a Plan C and… so we can always stay ahead of the curve.
We live in the ether beyond the cutting edge and sometimes that place is a little isolating. We are often alone but never lonesome. We live without regret but that doesn’t mean we are content. What’s done is done. I find myself thinking two years ahead of others in what will be and what must be and what why be.
We Don’t Chat
We are not chatters. We don’t do small talk. We don’t need to drone on about the weather or our families. We are not terribly concerned about being liked or not. We are to-the-point. I tell people I work with that when it comes to criticizing me or my work to “be blunt and cruel, it saves time” and some people get offended by that statement because they think I am asking them to be mean and to insult me. I am not.
I am asking them to get to the point. Don’t poke around the issue. Stab at it! It’s okay to be direct and decisive with us. It’s pretty hard to hurt our feelings when it comes to work. We don’t like busy work. We like to get things done the right way first and move on… so know what you want before you tell us what you need.
Sometimes We Disappear
Disappearing is, perhaps, one of the most annoying things some INTJs do that people dislike. I promise you we are not trying to insult you or to hurt your feelings by leaving. We leave, usually without comment, from groups or meetings or parties or get-togethers because we become interested in something else. It’s that simple.
We decide to investigate elsewhere. No malice is intended in disappearing. We don’t see it as disappearing. We see it more like, “moving on…” When I get asked later, You said good-bye before you left, right? and I stammer out an Uhh as an answer, I realize my host probably wondered what
happened to me.
Saying good-bye is a ritual that seems silly because I will see everyone again soon; but manners and societal norms require following particular stations of behavior in a standard order and I need to be more alert and adhere to those expectations in public where I can easily be misunderstood. We do great in one-on-one situations. When there are more than three people in the room we tend to hang out in corners by ourselves. Mingling is not a strong INTJ trait because it usually involves idle chatter.
When I warn people beforehand I am not good in non-structured group activities with people I don’t know because I am “painfully shy” I usually get laughed at for awhile because they think I’m kidding. A more helpful response is, “hang out with me and I’ll introduce you to some people.”
Right and Wrong
We generally have strongly-held values about right and wrong and “right and wrong” for many of us are defined in a social sense and not necessarily a religious one. We know the world is grey but doing the right thing — the promises we make to each other kind of morality — is important to us because it helps shape the world into the worthy and the unworthy of our involvement.
Seeing Justice done is a vital element for us because it carves the right stake in society.
That wraps up a quick glimpse into markers for helping you identify and, perhaps, better tolerate, INTJ Rational-Masterminds
lurking in your midst.
Don’t despair the one-percenters!
We may be awkward but we aren’t that awful! Don’t run from us. We make loyal allies, we can help you figure stuff out and we are really good at creating plans that stretch five years into your future… if you can find us before we disappear.