The Underrated Kindness of the INTJ Personality Type
If you’re reading about INTJs online, you could be forgiven for assuming they’re not the kindest people around. INTJs are often stereotyped as blunt, rude people who never consider other’s feelings. Even the INTJs themselves joke about this. My sister is an INTJ, and a while back when I wrote a post about how other people view INTJs she suggested with her typical dry sense of humor that I just save myself some time and confirm they really are “unfeeling bastards.”
Joking aside, this robotic stereotype is far from accurate, as anyone who’s actually friends with an INTJ can tell you. Once an INTJ lets you see past the tough, intelligent self they present to the world it’s not too hard to discover that there’s a kindness to them that’s often underrated.
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A real-life example of INTJ kindness
The INTJ I know best is my sister. She probably won’t want me to talk about her too much, but I’d like to share with you one specific example (don’t worry – I got her permission before publishing this). If you talk with her about why she went into chemical engineering for her career you’ll discover two key motivations: 1) she loves applied science and math, and 2) she wanted to make money.
Those might not sound particularly “kind” on the surface, but if you pry a little more you might find out one reason she wants to make money is so that she can give it away. In fact, she’s shared with me that being able to provide financially for our parents in their old age is one of the main reasons she chose a lucrative career path. She’s an incredibly generous person towards artists, causes she cares about, and people she knows have a legitimate need. My sister is intelligent, sarcastic, blunt, efficient, and occasionally intimidating (as you’d expect from an INTJ), but she is also deeply and truly kind.
This isn’t an isolated case. There are plenty of real-life examples of INTJs volunteering at animal shelters or with Habitat for Humanity, staying stubbornly loyal to their closest friends, or lending a listening ear (and some practical advice) when someone needs help.
What’s going on inside
When we’re looking at INTJs in terms of Myers-Briggs® theory, it’s useful to take a look at their function stack. If you’re not familiar with cognitive functions, you can check out my post “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever” and Susan’s post “The Cognitive Functions – What Are They?” for an overview of how that all works.
INTJs lead with Introverted Intuition, which is a pattern-recognizing, big-picture learning process. Their auxiliary function is Extroverted Thinking, an efficient, detail-oriented decision-making process. Those are the two mental processes that INTJs are the most comfortable with, but they also consciously use two others. Introverted Feeling is their tertiary process, and it’s a personal, authenticity-focused way of making decisions. Their inferior process (which often shows up when they’re stressed) is Extroverted Sensing, a learning process that’s experiential and sensation-focused.
For purposes of this discussion, the one we want to look at most closely is their tertiary Introverted Feeling. This process is all about staying true to yourself and acting in accordance with your personal values. Personality Hacker gave it the nickname “Authenticity” because it asks, “Does this feel right to me?” It works with an INTJ’s Introverted Intuition to take in information about what’s going on, and then decide how to respond in a way that feels authentic. Then Extroverted Thinking helps find a way to take that action into the outer world.
Types that lead with Introverted Feeling are widely considered some of the kindest personality types. INTJs use the same mental process that INFPs and ISFP lead with. They’re just not as comfortable with it, and they hide it better. In many cases, they don’t trust their Feeling side and are reluctant to use it for decision making, especially when they’re younger. Generally, people don’t really start to develop their tertiary function until they’re in their 20s or 30s. At that point, the typical INTJ will be much more comfortable acting on the Feeling side of their personality.
Recognizing INTJ kindness
Sometimes, INTJ kindness doesn’t come in a form that people readily recognize. Of course, INTJs are kind in traditional ways like offering to do dishes when staying over at a friend’s house or driving to pick up a family member whose car broke down. But they also show kindness in ways that are very much influenced by their personality type.
One example is INTJ honesty. INTJs can be really good listeners. However, they’re not the sort of person who will just listen to you rant about something then offer empty platitudes about how it’ll all turn out in the end. They’re strongly motivated to find efficient, effective solutions to problems. If an INTJ is trying to solve your problems or offering you blunt, honest feedback it is often meant as a kindness. Unless you tell them that you just need a listener, not a problem-solver, the kindest and most helpful thing from their perspective is to try and help you reach your goals and improve your life.
Another thing to know is that INTJs are much more sensitive than many people give them credit for. They appreciate honesty, and healthy INTJs welcome constructive comments. But if you’re nasty to them or betray them, an INTJ will shut down their softer more vulnerable side. It’s not that they’ll withhold kindness if it’s not reciprocated. It’s just that they’re unlikely to let you get close enough to see their kinder, gentler side very often if you’ve proven you can’t be trusted with their authentic selves.
It’s also worth noting that INTJs rarely recognize themselves as kind. My sister, for example, is consistently shocked by how many people describe her as “nice.” INTJs tend to brush off comments about their kindness or suspect that they’ve somehow fooled people into thinking they’re nicer than they actually are. If you’re an INTJ, don’t underrate your own kindness. It’s okay to let others – especially the people you value and trust – realize that you can be a nice person.
What are your experiences with INTJ kindness? Let us know in the comments! Want to get an eBook about your INTJ personality type? Check out Susan’s eBook: The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist.
Other Articles You Might Enjoy:
What It Means to be an INTJ Personality Type
The Shadow Functions of the INTJ Personality Type
10 Things That Excite the INTJ Personality Type
7 Reasons Why You Need an INTJ Friend in Your Life
About the Author:
Marissa Baker is the author of The INFJ Handbook (available in the Amazon Kindle Store). You can find her online at LikeAnAnchor.com where she blogs about personal growth and development from a Christian perspective.
You’re absolutely right about this. I never applied to the stereotypical heartless and emotionless INTJ type myself. I may come off as blunt, rude, or arrogant at first sight but deep down I’m none of these. I just, for many reasons, want to hide them and not show them easily. It made me really surprised when I read about your sister’s wish to earn money just so she could provide her parents financially; because I’m the same! I studied cellular and molecular biology since I LOVE biology and it also has a high salary where I live.
Given that the feeling is based on values then if your values as an INTJ revolve around helping others or kindness then of course this will be something that is important and will easily be picked up by others. I’ve been told numerous times that I’m generous and helpful – this is because I’m hugely motivated and value helping people by finding them great solutions to their problems. I’m pretty sure that most INTJs don’t kick kittens either! We just don’t give out compliments that are not warranted. You know you get the truth from an INTJ and that in itself is kind.
I will admit I’m floored when someone, who is not my mother, calls me kind. When exactly did I give you that impression? More importantly why??? I have always been seen as rude, direct, blunt, doesn’t play well with others, needs to learn interpersonal skills, and just freaking weird.
I want to help people. It’s why I’m in the job I am, helping people stay healthy by getting their stupid wellness visits, but I have been told so many times to stop badgering people about the visit. I hate the human interaction, love the fact I can help people. I embrace the INTJ side of me. And the extrovert that comes out around the people I trust most.
I’ve only met one person who I can quite confidently say is an INTJ so, as an obligatory disclaimer, I don’t want to over-extend my ‘observations’ to all INTJs (I guess I’m stating the obvious here but well, given my personality type & stage of development I felt this needed to be said). An INTJ can often show kindness in ways that to a large proportion of society appear antithetical to what constitutes socially mandated acts or, more broadly, ways of expressing kindness. I greatly appreciate that they’ll call you out on your own BS & tell the truth to ACTUALLY help you in the long run as opposed to offering overt emotional support & affirmations that everything will be ok (yes we all need this sometimes but for some types & dependent upon individual context, that can actually do more harm than good). When you don’t take their advice (which is based on deep insight) and repeat the same mistakes over & over again I’d imagine for an INTJ they’d feel like banging their head against a brick wall so the fact that they keep going is a genuine act of kindness in & of itself. INTJs can about improving you & helping you to understand yourself more in, shall we say, some quite unorthodox ways that can really test your limits, but as much as I despise cliches “if there’s no pain then there’s no gain.” As a fellow NT type I do find it difficult to understand & share my own emotions in ways that most people would recognise, so there’s some relatability here so I do appreciate that even what most would consider as pretty ambiguous signs of vulnerability, actually for an INTJ (who I have hurt in the past) is, in fact, quite profound. Perhaps, ironically, even though INTJs have the stereotype of being “the coldest humans” this particular INTJ has actually helped improve my own emotional intelligence or at least helped me to strengthen my own cognitive strengths to offset my weaknesses. I also appreciate their sardonic sense of humour; irony & absurdism is sometimes the antidote you need when you’re at your lowest point & that doesn’t go unnoticed. A direct kind word would be appreciated at times though (please to strategise a way of killing me off for saying this though 🤪🤓)
“Truth is like the stars; it does not appear except from behind obscurity of the night. Truth is like all beautiful things in the world; it does not disclose its desirability except to those who first feel the influence of falsehood. Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness.”
– Kahalil Gibran