Recently, I have been challenged on they way in which I relate to and understand people and situations. For those of you reading this blog that know me well, you might say I have a “very high EQ and manage relationships well.” Those of you who know me but haven’t lived life with me may believe I am guarded and standoffish, borderline rude. And to those who only knew me in certain roles I’ve held over the years may believe that I am, as some people have called me, “the black widow, the grim reaper, the angel of death, the velvet hammer or lymph node (meaning that I clean out the toxins in organizations).” Sadly that is not all I’ve been called but those get the point across.
To the latter, I say, I am sorry you experienced me that way and have those impressions of me and my heart for others. To the middle group, I hope this blog sheds some light on who I really am. I don’t ever intend to make others feel uncomfortable. To the former, my closest friends, thank you for taking the chance to get to know me and loving me in spite of my shortcomings. I’m forever grateful.
To help you understand me better it might be helpful to understand that I am a classic INTJ on the Myers-Briggs indicator, which means, simply put, that I live in my head. I live in the world of ideas and strategic thinking the majority of the time. And I have been known to be so caught up in my own head that I will start a conversation in the middle instead of the beginning. Realizing about 5 minutes into the conversation that the person is completely lost. I know it sounds odd to so many, but to any of you INTJs out there, I believe you can relate.
Because I live in my head and love to learn, I value intelligence, knowledge, and competence and have extremely high standards for myself. Most those high standards are ones I’ve created in my mind or in my own value system. So when I make a mistake it sometimes takes me to a place in my head where I almost feel like I’ve committed a cardinal sin. Living in my head is often tough to overcome especially when I’ve made a mistake. I become very introverted, strategizing on how not to make that mistake again. I know, some of you may be laughing at this point. Mistakes are mistakes, and I’ve learned that, but you know, some times I just can’t help it.
INTJs are natural leaders and typically rise to positions of leadership in organizations because they can objectively determine the reality of a situation and its root cause. The statistics on INTJs reveal that they comprise only 2% of the population and women only make up .08% of INTJs. INTJ women can be intimidating to men and women. As an INTJ female, in a male dominated world, well, it has presented its challenges for sure. I don’t fit the typical woman profile and approach the world from a more objective and realistic view than from empathy or emotions. Throughout most of my life, I have felt out of place, as if something were wrong with me simply because I didn’t necessarily feel something others felt. But rather I analyzed situations and came up possible options to help. I have learned there is nothing wrong with me…I just approach the world through a different lens. (There is a great article that was updated this year about INTJ Women and it is well worth the read. Click here to read it. )
The natural ability of the INTJ to thrive in complex situations makes them good at their professions. You probably know a few and recognize them in movies, television shows, etc. Growing up and even now I find that when watching movies I identify more with the rational and logical characters such as Spock, C-3P0, and Gandalf. They were my favorites, simply because I could relate to their logic. Silly I know, but so true. I even had a C-3PO necklace that I proudly wore.
If you’ve ever seen the movies Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr. you might begin to understand how the INTJ approaches the world. In the movies, when Sherlock Holmes is confronted with an issue, the movie slows down, shows you what he is thinking as Sherlock talks out the problem on how he’s going to solve it. It’s impressive and speaks to me because it captures the reality of where INTJs go in their minds when they look at the world and problems. They can “see” if you will, in their mind’s eye all the different ways to solve the issue along with any snags they might face. The down side to all of that is, when an INTJ is tired and the brain doesn’t rest, they can over analyze everything. Well, I do at least.
INTJs can be intimidating if their people skills are not refined and earlier in my life, I was frequently told I was intimidating. But the truth is I love people! Thank goodness I have other strengths that offset the INTJ tendencies to be all in their head. I love people…all kinds of people and have worked diligently over the years to understand myself so that I can better care for and love others. I don’t always hit the mark. I am human but I do try to do better every day. When confronted with how I appear to others, I am always willing to talk about it; it’s most likely that I didn’t realize what I did because I was in my head.
I am frequently misunderstood, like most people. I am pretty corky. I know that at times I’m more in my head than in the present world. I know that I often over analyze things. I get things wrong and sometimes I cause people to think I’m rude or ungrateful. But that is not my heart…I deeply love others. So if you catch me at a moment in time where I’m in my head, please don’t make assumptions, just talk to me, I might just be ready to share what I’ve been pondering.