“How are you an INTJ? You’re too nice!”
This was said to me by one of my friends the other night while we were talking about the Myers-Briggs types. I know she meant well by it, I wasn’t offended by it, and I’m certainly not here to dispute the validity of it. However, what she said made me think, and I believe it’s evidence of one of the biggest misconceptions regarding INTJs and the Meyers-Briggs personality types as a whole.
I’ve written about something similar before when I ranted about INTJ representation in fiction and how I was tired of being cast as the villain. Stereotypically, INTJs are callous, arrogant, and overall unkind people. As I stated in that earlier post, this stereotype is actually very rarely the truth, but how can that be? If INTJs are supposed to have these traits of fierce independence and confidence, how can they be kind? I’m not gonna pretend I have all the answers, but I’d like to provide a few thoughts on the matter.
First, someone’s Myers-Briggs type only shows a part of their personality. Really, this is the case with any personality test. You can do the MBTI, Enneagram, your Hogwarts house, D&D alignment, whatever – no matter how scientific these tests are, they can never describe all of the intricacies of someone’s personality. At most, they’re meant to help you understand your own natural tendencies and help you grow as a person. They’re not meant to be labels that you identify yourselves as.
Let me give you an example: I have three friends who are also INTJs, and overall, we have some pretty basic similarities – we’re all studying the same subject at school, for starters (and all of us wear glasses, but I don’t think that has to do with personality). However, there are also some differences that make us distinct from one another. Friend 1 is more extroverted than I am, and Friend 2 is more introverted than I am. Friend 1 also appreciates physical contact, while Friend 2 and Friend 3 are very adamant about personal space (I end up somewhere in the middle). And, even though we may all be studying the same subject, we have different career aspirations. Overall, we do have many similarities, but there are also differences because we are different people, but the MBTI isn’t going to tell you that.
Going from there, a person’s maturity often influences how much they reflect the stereotypes of their personality type. As a general rule, INTJs tend to be weaker when it comes to emotional situations, but over time, we can learn how to handle our emotions in a healthy and productive way. This goes back to personality types only showing us our natural tendencies – INTJs have a natural tendency to look at things from a purely rational perspective and “lock up” their emotions, but that doesn’t mean they can’t change over time.
Second, personality types aren’t related to a person’s morality. Yes, certain traits can be good or bad, but in general, there is no personality type that is objectively superior or inferior to another (despite what the internet may think).
There are certain traits that, when taken to the extreme, can lead to a person doing bad things. Perfectionism, a common INTJ trait, could lead to someone doing very bad things under certain circumstances, but in normal situations, it just means we get really frustrated when things don’t go exactly right. In the same way, ENFJ is a type commonly seen in “good” people, and they tend to be charismatic leaders. However, that trait could be twisted into bad stuff under the right (wrong?) circumstances.
Personality types have strengths and weaknesses, they’re not “good” or “bad” most of the time. We all need to be careful that we don’t let our strengths become our weaknesses (e.g. confidence becoming arrogance), and we need to develop our weaknesses so that we can be better as people.
Now, to answer the “kindness question” my friend asked me.
We know that personality types doesn’t describe a person’s entire personality, and we know that types aren’t related to someone’s morality. With that in mind, it’s clearly possible for INTJs to be good and kind people, but how? Here’s my theory:
INTJs stick to their principles and are not easily swayed. If you want to change an INTJ’s mind, you need to provide them with some pretty strong evidence, especially when you’re challenging one of their strongest beliefs. Because of this, the things that INTJs learn at a young age often stick with them, particularly when they internalize these things and believe them themselves rather than just believe them because their parents told them to.
For me, I was raised Christian and taught that kindness is important. Since then, I’ve adopted this teaching as my own, and I stick with it. Therefore, even though I’m an INTJ, I’m not usually a jerk to other people, especially without reason.
Another thing that might come into play is the INTJ’s idea of loyalty and friendships. Many INTJs (and other MBTI types as well) are very choosy in who they invest their time in. If you manage to become friends with an INTJ, they’re pretty much gonna stick by you for forever (they just might not text you for weeks on end… sorry guys). We treat those in our “inner circle” with respect and kindness, which could also answer the “kindness question.”
Like I said, I don’t have all the answers, these are just some thoughts as to why INTJs can be nice. We’re not monsters, guys. In fact, no human being is limited by their personality type – it doesn’t determine how good or bad of a person we are. The choices we make and the way we treat other people is what’s important, and your personality type isn’t an excuse.