The following is based on personal observation and one or two web sources. All of the 16 MBTI types are based on four pairs of counterbalancing attributes (four pairs make 16 possibilities, believe it or not): there are ESFJs, INTPs and so on (there are also IDIOTs but that's an entirely different type system). By the way, MBTI means Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
I am an INTJ and INTJs have the following characteristics:
- Introverted (as opposed to Extroverted)
- iNtuitive (as opposed to Sensing)
- Thinking (as opposed to Feeling)
- Judging (as opposed to Perceiving)
Explaining what all this means in theory is best left to the many websites that deal with MBTI.
What it means in practice is much more interesting (indeed, the simple fact that I am more interested in the practical consequences than in the theory of something is in itself a characteristic of INTJs):
- INTJs are rational animals. Deeply rational. In fact, they are so rational that other people are tempted to think of them as cold, heartless, cynical et cetera. On the other hand, INTJs believe that everybody is as rational as they are (what other choice is there anyway?), and they are completely (oh, I know what I am talking about!), yes, completely flabbergasted when they interact with people for whom rationality is not the one and only credo.
- But their rationality has a crazy streak — that is the iNtuitive bit from above. An INTJ sometimes does inexplicable things because he simply knows they'll work. That may not be rational in any conventional sense, but for an INTJ it's still somehow rational. Probably one of the things one can't explain.
- INTJs love ideas, love to put things to the test, love to tear them apart, so that they can see their inner workings. There are two main reasons why they love to do these things. They want to understand how something works and they look for ways to make it work even better. Incessantly. They are completely efficiency-driven. And they don't stop at the front door: INTJs see themselves (and others) as systems (albeit rather complicated ones) and, like any other system, these systems can be (at least partly) understood and hopefully coaxed into working more efficiently.
- INTJs are given to ignoring conventional sources of authority: rank, title, swagger or sanctitude won't sway them much. Rational arguments (or a big-enough wad of dollar bills) will, though.
- INTJs are a self-confident bunch. Sometimes others mistake this for simple arrogance (INTJs often come over at first as arrogant dogs) but in fact this has more to do with the fact that they know very well what they do know and, more importantly, what they don't know.
- An INTJ builds a complex world system in his mind (and starts with that early in life); he updates this system continuously. Literally all the time: an INTJ's brain is a giant pattern-matching machine that works round the clock.
- Their world system and total reliance on it is one reason why INTJs can seem to be very opinionated people (let's face it: they are opinionated!).
- INTJs don't care very much what others think of them. Or put differently, their world system is mostly independent of whether others understand and support it. This is in a way completely rational: it's their system and they have to live with it.
- But if someone presents a valid argument they can't tear apart, INTJs are able, even eager, to adapt their system in a very short amount of time. They adore truth much more than any system they've built. Because for them their system is only a working model of The Truth, nothing more, nothing less.
- INTJs are perfectionists. They want to make things as good as humanly possible… and then some. On the other hand they are too pragmatic to lose track completely. At some point their iNtuition kicks in and they realise that it's just not worth the additional effort and they chuck it in.
- In their pursuit of perfection INTJs are unsparing of themselves and of other people. They almost never give praise (and why should they? They simply expect that everyone gives their best, much as they do, so there's no need for praise) and they don't expect praise for their work in turn. In fact, they are more often than not embarrassed by praise lavished on them.
- Small talk, social interaction, getting warm with strangers — that kind of thing is not their forte. They can be very good verbally, but they crave substance and not idle talk. (Substance helps them with system building and understanding things while idle talks for them is exactly that: idle). That trait makes them seem aloof and awkward in many social situations.
- Then again, they can be fanatically loyal once they have a working relationship with someone (and not just their partner or spouse). They look at relationships as they look on everything else: a project whose inner workings can be understood and optimised, by Thinking or iNtuitively.
In sum, INTJs are pretty strange animals. But we're all strange in our ways, so what the heck:-)
If you ever meet an INTJ, here's my short guide on how to handle him or her.
$updated from: INTJs.htxt Wed 18 Apr 2012 16:02:44 thomasl (By Thomas Lauer)$