For an INTJ personality type, it’s easy to feel misunderstood. The stereotypes about us are that we’re robots and mad scientists. And in reality, we really can come across as blunt or uncaring. But INTJs also make great friends, and we care deeply about the people around us. If you have an INTJ in your life, here are five things we probably won’t tell you out loud—that really will help you understand us:
1. Planning might stress you out, but it makes us more chill.
I think most people in the world feel over-planned. They’ve got too many things to do in any given day, they’re not sure how they’ll ever get it all done, and often they just want to blow it off and do something spontaneous.
Now reverse everything in that sentence, and you understand INTJs.
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INTJs thrive on planning. This isn’t just some neurotic tic; we use our checklists and schedules to get a lot done—and it helps us manage stress. The flip side is spontaneity itself is stressful. The worst thing you can do to an INTJ friend is show up at their house unannounced. Second worst? Invite them out—only 45 minutes before you want to meet them.
2. You can change our minds. Really.
INTJs are known for being debaters. When we’re young, we do this relentlessly (we tend to be that annoying kid who argues just for fun). As we get older, we lose interest in debating just for the heck of it, but we still subject every new idea to scrutiny. We don’t accept anything as truth until we’ve looked under the hood.
But that doesn’t mean we’re not flexible. Quite the opposite: the whole reason we’re arguing with you is to test out your idea. Yes, I get that this can be annoying, but it means we think you’re onto something. Or at least we’re willing to hear you out. If we already knew your idea was flat wrong, we wouldn’t bother to debate with you.
The motto for many INTJs is strong opinions, lightly held. If we talk through your idea and find out it’s right, we’ll probably immediately admit we were wrong and join your side. Kind of refreshing, right?
3. Yes, we do want to be invited out. But we might not go.
Two months ago I met a fascinating ENTP personality type who is basically everything I want in a friend. We have the kind of conversations where every other sentence is an “aha!” moment, and I hope we’re friends for life. But I have already turned down at least nine invitations to hang out with him.
Why? Because that’s how INTJs are. It’s not because we’re unsociable and it’s not even because we’re recharging our introvert battery (or at least, it’s not only that). Rather, it’s because we schedule our downtime almost as tightly as our work time. If I finish my work at 5 p.m., I already have plans for my gym time, my creative writing time, and my reading-a-book-while-eating-dinner time. Each of these things matters to me and, if I skip them for something else, I feel like I failed at something important. Every INTJ has different “downtime” activities, but most of them are focused on learning, creating, or meeting personal goals. These aren’t hobbies; they’re things we consider as important as work or friends.
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Eventually I will see my new ENTP friend again. But until then, the thing that means the most is he keeps inviting me out. He doesn’t hold my past cancellations against me, and he makes it clear that he really values my company. This is something INTJs don’t get often (understandably, since we turn so many people down) and it feels good.
4. We show our love by helping you get stuff done.
In his book The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman suggests that there are five main ways people express their love: physical touch, gifts, words of affirmation, quality time together, and acts of service.
Recently, I asked a group of about 20 INTJs to take the test and find out their love language. Every single one of them had “acts of service” as either their main love language or their secondary one. (There was one exception to this trend, but she later decided she was not INTJ.) This means that having an INTJ in your life comes with a tradeoff: on the one hand, we probably won’t coo with sympathy when you’re having a bad day. On the other, we will help you destroy that bad day and have more and better days.
As an example of what this looks like, here’s a quote from a friend who’s dating an INTJ man:
“It was Christmas Eve, and on top of family obligations, I was still working on a past-deadline project for my job. I told my boyfriend how stressed out I was, and all I really wanted was a hug. Instead, he thought for a minute, took the shopping list, and proceeded to do every errand on my plate—so I could finish my work. It ended up being a really good Christmas.”
5. When we’re hurt, we don’t want to be comforted—we want a solution.
The funny thing about our love language is it goes both ways. Every INTJ has had the experience of telling a friend or loved one about a problem they’re dealing with, only to have the friend respond with kind words and a sympathetic touch on the shoulder. Sweet, right? Yeah, except it leaves the INTJ wondering how long we have to hold the hug before we can start making a list of possible solutions.
We’re not curmudgeons. We know these sympathetic gestures are expressions of how much you care, and that you want us to feel better. It’s just that what actually makes us feel better is seeing a way forward.
If you have an INTJ in your life and they’re having a bad day, it’s cool if you give into the impulse to hug or reassure them. But once that’s over, try saying this:
“How can I help you solve it?”
I guarantee your INTJ will be happier.
Do you have an INTJ in your life? What’s the weirdest behavior you’ve noticed about them, or the one that’s been hardest for you to deal with? Leave a comment below and share your story. How have you learned to understand your INTJ?
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