6 Things the INTJs in Your Life Probably Won’t Tell You About Themselves

IntrovertDear.com INTJ wish you knew emotions

If you have an INTJ personality type in your life, there’s a lot that they probably wish you knew. But there are also things we might not tell you—especially about our emotional side. As INTJs, we don’t like to show emotions (in fact, just writing this article was like pulling teeth). But that doesn’t mean our emotions never affect us. Here are six things that INTJs wish you knew—but we’ll probably never tell you:

1. We have occasional outbursts, and they’re weird.

For a personality type known as “robots,” INTJs have a deep emotional core. We keep this largely hidden from the world, not as a protective measure but simply because we tend to view feelings as private. Expressing them in public is awkward, like forgetting to put on pants.

But those feelings are surprisingly sensitive. Your INTJ is likely to come equipped with:

  • A strong sense of dignity
  • Extremely specific tastes
  • Deep and often misplaced insecurities
  • The constant feeling that we aren’t achieving enough
  • A code of morals that we don’t talk about unless something violates it
  • An urge to take control in any situation where any of the above are threatened

Basically, if you cross a samurai style code of honor with the idealism of Gandhi and then give it imposter syndrome, you have a working model of the INTJ’s emotional core. (In personality type theory, this is known as our underdeveloped “Introverted Feeling” or Authenticity function.)

So what happens when those feelings get stirred up? Usually nothing. Most of the time, we keep that nonsense under tight wraps and deal with it privately or by talking to a trusted friend. But sometimes our emotions come out in a sudden burst that shocks everyone, including ourselves.

This usually happens when:

  • Someone affronts us personally
  • We witness a display of incompetence
  • Something strikes us as fundamentally unjust

Then we suddenly get indignant, non-cooperative, and even angry. If the situation is beyond our control, we may rant. If it’s something we can influence, we rip into it with withering critique. Or we may become stubborn and throw up roadblocks until it’s addressed.

Try sitting in a car with three INTJs when another driver cuts them off and you’ll see what I mean.

So what can you do about this? Well, ultimately it’s on the INTJ to learn how to accept and deal with their emotions (as an INTJ myself, just writing that sounds icky). But, if you witness one of these outbursts, it does help if you realize that this is a very vulnerable moment for your INTJ friend. We probably don’t want to talk about it directly, but if you offer to help us with the problem, it goes a long way.

2. There’s nothing we appreciate more than someone trusting our advice.

INTJs have a weird set of strengths and weaknesses. Our biggest strength is that we can eyeball a problem and almost immediately see a way to make it better, or even solve it outright. Our biggest weakness? Well, often, we’re terrible at communication.

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The result: INTJs can spend our time making great suggestions, or bringing up very accurate insights, only to be told we’re wrong. This is not a pleasant feeling. In fact, many INTJs identify with the story of Cassandra, the ancient prophet who was cursed to see the future but never have anyone believe her. It’s probably our biggest pain point as human beings.

INTJs can get better at communication, of course—and all the other skills needed to get our ideas out of our notebooks and into the world. But for many of us, nothing feels better than having someone else listen to our advice, take it seriously, and try it out. Fixing problems is what we’re best at. When someone notices that and starts to use our advice, it’s an almost spiritually fulfilling experience.

3. We smile more with emoji than we do with our faces.

INTJs have a well-deserved reputation for never smiling. Even when we’re happy, we tend to wear a neutral, focused expression (because we’re often happiest when we’re deep in thought) that others misread as anger. INTJs can and do learn to overcome this, but one look at the kinds of selfies we take is enough to prove the point.

Something funny happens, though, when we start texting or writing an email—suddenly we’re all emoji. For most INTJs, this isn’t natural either; we all go through a phase of rolling our eyes and griping that people don’t use correct punctuation anymore. But what we lack in social graces we more than make up for in our language skills—and emoji are, basically, just another written language. They’re basically a way to code emotions. And coding we can handle.

As a result, I find myself very easily switching to the appropriate written tone for whoever I’m texting to, and using emoji like I’m 17 years old—even though the INTJ grimace is locked on my face in real life.

4. It doesn’t make us feel good to be told we’re smart.

Anyone who knows an INTJ knows we often don’t take compliments well. I find this is doubly true when we’re praised for our intelligence. Since we’re known as masterminds and bookworms, you’d think there’d be no higher compliment you could give us than to tell us how smart we are. And occasionally it is satisfying—perhaps when a new boss notices it and calls it out. But as INTJs, we probably already know we’re smart; we’ve been told that all our lives. What we really value is what we do with it.

This is because INTJs don’t view intelligence as a static thing (you’re either “smart” or “not smart” and that’s that). We view intelligence as a constant process of learning more about the world. As a result, accomplishing things in the world matters a lot. Achievements in any field are, to us, a measure of applied intelligence.

This focus on tangible achievements is why INTJs react so weirdly to compliments: if we’re already succeeding at our goals, we basically see praise as superfluous, because we’re happy without it. And if we’re not succeeding at our goals, being told we’re smart actually hurts—it underscores that we had the talent to succeed, so the failure must be our own fault. This is a self-pity loop that mature INTJs grow out of, but we’ve just about all experienced it at some point or another.

So, is there any kind of compliment that does make an INTJ’s day? Absolutely. With our great strengths comes a long list of weaknesses, especially the social skills mentioned above. Some of us spend years working to improve in these areas, and any praise we get is surprisingly meaningful. A simple, “You’re really great at handling clients,” or “I never would have guessed you think of yourself as a nerd; you’re always so charming” will melt an INTJ’s heart. (If it’s sincere, of course.)

5. We agree with you more than you think (really).

INTJs can be argumentative. But, unlike most people, we don’t always argue because we’re upset. We argue because we like to test out new ideas.

This can lead to major communication problems. For example, we may argue for something as a hypothetical only to have other people think we really believe it. Or, we might find ourselves in a one-hour discussion that we think is really deep, meaningful talk—but the other person thinks it’s a fight. The other day my girlfriend had to stop me in the middle of speculating about the job market and ask, “Wait, are you just talking out ideas or are you about to quit your job and move to Nepal?”

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In polite conversation, this is on us as much as it is anyone else—we simply need to learn to rein in our debating and theorizing, and most of us do so by our mid-20s. But it also means many of us bite our tongues about our most interesting thoughts and ideas because we don’t want to upset anyone. This is part of why INTJs seem to “check out” from conversations: we’re running through all the possibilities in our head instead of saying them out loud.

The flip side of this is, once we’ve kicked an idea around enough, we often get convinced that you’re right. At that point, we will completely drop the argument (or the ruminating) and simply agree with you. But I think we often don’t emphasize enough that we really have come around to your way of thinking—that we’re on your side. Or, more accurately, that we’ve always been on the side of “let’s find the right answer,” and we’re proud to know someone like you who helped us find it.

6. Once you’re “in,” we’ll back you up for life.

INTJs can take a long time to warm up to a new person. We often prioritize our work over our personal lives, giving us very little time to meet new friends. And we have high standards, preferring to surround ourselves with a few very interesting, thoughtful people. If you have an INTJ in your life, it may have taken you months or years to get “in” with them.

But once you are, you’re incredibly important to us. Bringing you into our inner circle means we think we can learn from you. It means that you stand out to us from all the other people we meet, and that we want to give you our respect, our affection, and our time. As a result, you’ll find that we’re patient, tolerant, and willing to stand by you even when other people would judge you. And, of course, we’ll offer way too much advice—see above. 🙂

How many INTJs do you have in your life? Have you seen any of these emotions and tics come out? Are there other behaviors you’ve noticed? Leave a comment below and tell us more.

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Read this: 5 Things the INTJs in Your Life Wish You Knew About Them

  • ’nuff said.

    Thanks – I’ll be sharing passing this around….

  • Kazual Moore

    I want to forward this to all of my friends who simply ” Don’t get it!” This article was perfectly on point!

  • Rupali G

    Infj here. I relate to number 2. The intj’s in my life give the best advice. They can assess my situation as it exactly is (the Ni), and then give reliable feedback that works.

  • @Rupali: Yay! Success 🙂

  • oneblankspace

    Sometimes we smile more with emoji because we don’t know exactly what we want to say and want to say something before we figure out what it is. Everything relevant may have already been said, if we are the 30th person to comment on a facebook post.

  • Chestnutella

    This is so on point. I have 2 INTJ’s in my life. A special someone and a friend. That special someone cannot take compliments really well, we were just arguing about it 2 days before this article got posted. So this article just helped me in understanding him better. I could relate to the emotional outburst, the giving of advices, not smiling in real life, everything from 1 to 6. But my special someone doesn’t really like pointing out things that I find out about him regarding INTJ’s (which are true though.) Anyway, thanks for this INTJ manual! Hoping to read more from you soon! – From an INFJ.

  • Chandiwana T

    4 is totally on point for me.

  • Lucy

    I’m going to be marrying an INTJ soon and these are all on point. However what about when they shut you out and not tell you?! I don’t quite understand at the moment and it really upsets me. I don’t know he is doing this and I’m worried it may ruin my relationship 🙁

    • John Harrison

      Please wait. He needs quiet time to process emotion. He always comes back. He lives and dies with integrity and great loyalty. When he comes back his appreciation is unbounded.

  • Lilian Moreno

    @lucy As an infj with 3 intj friends and an intj father, I find that intjs just need time alone to process and are not trying to be rude or disloyal. They would rather work things out in their heads, after removing themselves from an emotionally charged situation. They probably think they are doing you a favor by the “shutting out” but I find intjs to be extremely loyal. But you absolutely have to be on their side and never betray them. That is unforgivable. They are very private and don’t like their personal lives discussed with others. I do find that intjs take directness very well. You basically have to be very straightforward and respectful about what is bothering you and ask for what you want or need. If at all possible for them they will do their best to rise to the occasion, unless they fundamentally disagree with what you’re asking them to do or can’t do what you ask.

  • @Lucy — Lilian is right.

  • Anka S.

    Really poignant insights, Andre. Thank you for writing this. My husband is an INTJ (I’m INFJ) and I’ve noticed all of these things in a very big way. (No. 4 especially; It actually causes him anguish to be told he’s smart. I think he’s brilliant, but I can’t tell him for all the reasons you described.) After 12 years it still surprises me what a wonderful combination INTJ+INFJ makes. No. 6 is one of the things that makes INTJs so amazing. As an INFJ I need to feel that depth of love and connection. INTJs are no-nonsense when it comes to love and connection. When they care it’s with their whole heart and full dedication. (I loved that “samurai style code of honor” description, because it’s so true.) Based on my experience, when an INTJ makes a decision, he does not falter. He may not be perfect, but he will try with everything he’s got. And usually he’ll succeed brilliantly. Because INTJs really are brilliant. (But don’t tell them.) 😉

  • I am an INTP/INTJ and I agree with all of these- perfectly well done and said! Aside from myself, I haven’t met any other INTPs or INTJs so of course my behavior may be abnormal to my peers XD

  • Lisa Stone

    haha! Oh, yes… my partner is an INTJ (scientist), and this all rings very true of him. He is an incredibly sweet, tolerant and very loyal guy, who is delighted when I heed his suggestions, and has a maddeningly unstoppable flow of advice… I find it intriguing that such quirks come together in clusters (like these personality types), that really do seem to mean things… It makes me wonder quite a bit about our usual sense of what ‘personality’ means, and the choices that we make – or judge at least like choices…
    Anyway thanks, I really enjoyed this one.

  • Yet Another INTJ

    I am the only confirmed INTJ I know.
    I laughed at the line about crossing bushido with Ghandi’s idealism and imposter syndrome, though I don’t think imposter syndrome is necessary.
    Full agreement with 1 and 2.
    Partial agreement with 3. I personally don’t use emojis at all, because my face isn’t doing that, and it seems silly to pretend it is (ditto for “lol”, “rofl”, and even “haha”). But yes, during daily life, I often forget to upload expressions onto my face if I’m not consciously trying or I’m not genuinely excited.
    Majority of agreement with 4. I don’t have any positive or negative emotional result from that, UNLESS I strongly respect the complimenter’s intelligence, which produces a strong positive. Typically, it’s the equivalent of stating a known fact, and taken as a tally mark toward ‘this person is trying to be nice/friendly’.
    Full agreement with 5 and 6.

  • Christen M. King

    I’m probably the only female INTJ on here (recently discovered… heavily in denial) and I think this solves a lot of the anxiety I’ve been having about being a terrible INFP (I tend to switch between INFP and INTJ at different points in life. Weird, I know.). It’s also quite liberating as I realized I can do SO MUCH more with my intelligence and career than I’ve been doing. Thanks for the post. I really appreciate it.

  • robynquinn

    I’m an INFJ/INTP but deff an INFJ 1st! Especially according to this blog. Every thing above is def me. My mom and brother are also INFJs. We all have mutual admiration for 1 another. I can’t stand being complimented about anything tho not just intelligence.

  • SplittingInfinitives

    INFJ. My best friend is an INTJ and have known her for 25 years. Slow to warm is correct for an INFJ as well. It is a lifelong friendship once we do warm up.

  • Brianne Toma

    #6 We’ll also drop you like a dirty tissue if we find anything about you against our #1. Loyal, yes. Ruthless, yes.

  • Yukiya

    #6. Once you’re ‘in’, we’ll be very protective of you. No one could harm those who belongs to us.

  • Lina

    #5 Or, we might find ourselves in a one-hour discussion that we think is really deep, meaningful talk—but the other person thinks it’s a fight. – This, I cannot emphasize how true this is. Very often I believe I’m having a normal debate and I’m quite enjoying it undisturbed, and people somehow get the impression of me being belligerent and argumentative. Yes, because they cannot prove me wrong, I must be stubborn, certainly.