I’m Not Cold and Emotionless. I Have a ‘Thinking’ Personality.

A woman with a "thinking" personality type

People often wrongly assume that “Thinking” personalities like the ISTJ, ISTP, INTJ, or INTP are devoid of emotion.

No one likes to be known as cold, heartless, or even “ice queen,” but I’ve gotten this comment about my personality far too often. Once, an ex-boyfriend said I was cold and “unreachable.” In a totally different setting, a friend of a friend called me cold and “snobbish.”

Those words haunted me for a long time, until I took a psychology class and understood myself better. I must say, understanding my personality is one of the best things that’s happened to me. The self-awareness that comes with better understanding how I tick means that I’m not as easily brought down by other people’s opinions as I used to be.

After learning that I’m an introvert as well as a “Thinking” personality type in the Myers-Briggs system (specifically an ISTP), the “cold” reference never bothered me again. My decisions are influenced by logic, and I prefer to get the facts of a situation as opposed to giving more weight to my emotions or personal values. Thinking personality types are those with a “T” in them, like the INTP, ESTP, or ISTJ.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)

Those who take the time to get to know me understand that I’m not cold and snobbish. In fact, I can be a real softy when around those I care about.

Here’s why Thinking introverts like me might appear cold — and why, in reality, that’s usually far from the truth.

Why Thinking Introverts Appear Cold

I’ve been called cold when I didn’t respond to situations as it was expected of me. Situations like not celebrating as expected, not reciprocating a heartfelt comment, being terrible at comforting someone, not jumping in ecstasy when presented with a well-meant gift, or generally just not showing strong emotions when it seemed called for.

Failure to display exuberant emotion might seem cold and may be taken very wrongly by others. It may seem like it’s hard to know what a Thinking introvert is feeling. Often, a Thinking introvert will analyze a situation and form very different scenarios in their mind than others would.

For example, when my boyfriend gives me a gift for no special reason, I think things like, “Does this mean the relationship is serious? Oh, now I have to get him a gift! He bought me a book, he really is awesome!” Even though I’m grateful for the present, I usually fail to display how I feel at the moment because other thoughts are running through my mind — even though I am really happy.

Thinking introverts like the INTJ, INTP, ISTJ, and ISTP tend to be incredibly misunderstood because they don’t say much about what they feel. In the above-mentioned gift scenario, these personality types may simply say thank you, showing little emotion, and yet that gift means a lot to them. If you take the time to observe, you will notice how delicately they treat it or keep it close.

Showing emotion can be challenging for Thinking personalities — especially for thinkers who are also introverts, because all introverts are private and reserved by nature. Thinkers are likely to detach themselves when feelings are involved. Due to their analytical and logical nature, they may inadvertently hurt the feelings of others without knowing it. Sometimes they put logic in situations where it’s not called for.

Let’s take a look at some more differences between Thinking and Feeling types.

Thinkers vs. Feelers

One of the dimensions of Myers-Briggs personalities is the Thinking aspect. The theory is that each person presents as either an Extrovert or Introvert, a Sensor or Intuitive, a Thinker or Feeler, or a Judger or Perceiver. Taking a reliable personality assessment is a good place to start in determining your preferences.

It’s often the Feelers who perceive the Thinking types as cold. (Feelers are personality types with a letter “F” in them, such as the INFJ, INFP, ESFJ, etc.) It’s not uncommon for Feeling and Thinking types to clash on certain issues, whether they’re introverts or extroverts.

This conflict happens because Feelers assign more value to what they and others care about on a personal level, as well as the emotions and perspectives of everyone involved. Thinkers, on the other hand, rely more on impersonal logic. Neither way is superior to the other; in fact, we need both ways in the world. In essence, the Feeling type is why we have strongly empathetic people and the Thinking type is why we have very logical people.

To illustrate this difference, let’s use a simple example involving a Thinking husband and a Feeling wife. The wife’s sister has just died so she comes to her husband crying. The husband is pained by his wife’s sorrow and thinks of how he can help. So he answers, “I will take care of the funeral costs.” The wife gets hurt by the words of her husband. She says, “My sister just died, and you’re already thinking about the funeral? I’m hurting here!”

The wife expects comfort from her husband. Her heart is bleeding, and a hug and some comforting words is what she really needs at that moment. The husband, on the other hand, understands the wife is hurt and thinks that the best way he can help is by solving a problem — the funeral costs. Thinking personalities tend to seek solutions while maybe all that was needed was a listening ear.

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Relationships Between Thinkers and Feelers

Relationships between Thinkers and Feelers have their pros and cons. Even though they clash at times, they can balance each other with logic and empathy. The Feeling type brings magic and softness to the relationship, while the Thinker brings a more objective perspective.

When two Thinking personalities are in a relationship, everything is about impersonal logic. There is trust and rational decision-making, and they will show affection differently — probably no tears of gratitude.

Of course, this isn’t to say that Thinkers will never show emotion and Feelers will never use logic; these terms refer to general ways we operate, and aren’t meant to put us in a box. There are many factors that make up who you are, and a personality assessment like the MBTI should be just one tool to help you understand yourself and grow.

In fact, over the years, I have learned that sometimes the people in my life really do just need a hug and kind words. It’s something I try to give them, even though it will probably never feel completely natural to me. Relationships work best when we can meet each other halfway.

Quit Calling Thinkers ‘Cold’

If you stop to think about it, you’ll probably realize that you have at least one Thinking personality in your life. You may have dismissed this person as rude, robotic, or emotionless. You may have even called them “cold” to their face.

But please know that deep down, this person does have tender spots in their heart. So please don’t ever call a Thinking type cold. We do have emotions. We just have a different way of showing them.

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